Entertainment

'Forrest Gump' 1994 directed by Robert Zemeckis. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images)
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis Historical/Getty Images

20 Of The Best Movies To Watch This 4th Of July

In between your hot dog and fireworks, of course.

Rain or shine, the 4th of July is always a great time. There’s really nothing better than grilling up a hot dog in the heat of July while celebrating Independence Day under a sky of fireworks. But if rain is threatening to cancel your plans or you simply want to take it easy this year, turn on one of these great movies on the 4th of July. From biographical films about historical figures to movies about baseball and more of America’s favorite pastimes, there’s plenty to stream.

First things first: it’s important to note that not all of these movies are family-friendly. (If you’re looking for a kid-friendly flick, we’ve got you covered here.) For example, some movies, like The Patriot, show the gorier side of the fight for America’s freedom, while others, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, show the dangers of getting too caught up in 4th of July partying.

But there are also a few options on this list that your kids can enjoy, too. Films like An American Tail and Hidden Figures do a good job at explaining history in a way that’s both entertaining and easy for kids to understand.

So consider putting on one of these films during your 4th of July weekend — all of them will go great with a slice of apple pie.

An American Tail

After a young mouse is separated from his family while immigrating from Russia to the United States, he lands in New York City where he meets a melting pot of animals who help him search for his loved ones. This film is a fun and creative way to explain how people got to the United States to kids.

Stream An American Tail, rated G, on Peacock.

A League of Their Own

There is nothing more American than baseball and apple pie, and A League of Their Own celebrates the former. This 1992 film, which takes place in the 1940’s, follows alongside a professional all-women’s baseball team from the midwest that springs up during World War II, as they learn to put their differences aside to play ball.

Stream A League of Their Own, rated PG, on HBO Max.

Armageddon

When an asteroid threatens to collide with earth and kill its inhabitants, it’s up to a driller, played by Bruce Willis, to go into space, drill into its surface, and detonate a nuclear bomb on it. This high intensity action film about the potential end of the world will make you so much more grateful for the land you live on.

Rent Armageddon, rated PG-13, on YouTube Movies for $3.99.

Born on the 4th of July

Tom Cruise stars as Ron Kovic, an ambitious young soldier who enlists in the army during the Vietnam War and returns home permanently paralyzed from his battle. Ron then devotes his life to being a critic of the war in this 1989 film based on a true story.

Rent Born on the 4th of July, rated R, on Amazon Movies for $3.99.

Captain America: The First Avenger

During the throes of World War II, Steve Rogers attempts to enlist in the military, but is rejected due to his small size. After Steve is accepted into an experimental program, he gets turned into Captain America — a superhero who leads the fight for freedom. Come on, it’s Captain America.

Stream Captain America: The First Avenger, rated PG-13, on Disney+.

Forrest Gump

Born with a low IQ, Forrest Gump challenges himself to do great things, and becomes a witness to some of America’s most memorable events from the 20th century. Between fighting in the Vietnam War, meeting presidents, and becoming an investor in Apple computers, Gump is truly one of the greatest (fictional) American men.

Rent Forrest Gump, rated PG-13, for $7.99 on YouTube Movies.

Gangs of New York

Set in early Manhattan, Gangs of New York follows a young Irish immigrant, released from prison, who seeks revenge for his father’s death. This look into a very young New York City gives glimpses into how the city and the nation became so diverse.

Rent Gangs of New York, rated R, for $3.99 on Amazon Prime Video.

Glory

This film tells the incredible story of Col. Robert Gould and America’s first unit of Black soldiers, who fight for the opportunity to be placed into the heat of the battle during the United States’ Civil War.

Rent Glory, rated R, on Google Play for $3.99.

Harriet

This biographical film tells the story of Harriet Tubman, a Black women who escaped from slavery in order to lead other slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. You can’t talk about freedom without talking about Harriet Tubman, and this film explains why.

Buy Harriet, rated PG-13, on YouTube Movies for $14.99.

Hamilton

This taped performance of the Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Hamilton, tells the story of founding father, Alexander Hamilton, through hip-hop, jazz, and R&B music. It’s like, the most entertaining history lesson, ever.

Stream Hamilton, rated PG-13, on Disney+.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures tells the very true story of three Black women at NASA who were responsible for helping with the launch of astronaut, John Glenn, into space. It’s easy to celebrate the brains behind one of the most significant missions in the United States by watching this movie.

Stream Hidden Figures, rated PG, on Disney+.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

On the 4th of July, four best friends accidentally hit a pedestrian on their way to the beach, decide to dump the body in the water, and vow to never bring up what happened. One year later, their secret threatens to ruin their lives for good. This film, set during 4th of July weekend, is a great thriller to add into your movie marathon mix.

Stream I Know What You Did Last Summer, rated R, on HBO Max.

Independence Day

Aliens threaten to destroy the world on the 4th of July, but it’s up to one man — a Marine played by Will Smith — and a group of survivors to stop the aliens and save the planet.

Stream Independence Day, rated PG-13, on HBO Max.

Lincoln

Learn more about President Abraham Lincoln in this biographical film, which covers the four final months of Lincoln’s life and his efforts to abolish slavery through the 13th Amendment. There’s no better way to pay homage to this country than by learning about one of its greatest presidents.

Stream Lincoln, rated PG-13, on HBO Max.

Men In Black

Jay and Kay are two special agents of the secret organization, Men In Black, which is tasked with supervising alien lifeforms in the United States and removing them from the existence of humans. When the agents discover a plot to assassinate two ambassadors living in New York City, it’s up to them to save the day. This film was released on July 4th weekend in the United States in 1997, so you can party like it’s the ‘90s when you put this film on.

Rent Men In Black, rated PG-13 on YouTube Movies for $3.99.

Miracle

Herb Brooks is a hockey player turned coach who took a group of kids and turned them into the most unbelievable hockey team to play at the 1980 Olympics. It’s the perfect movie combining patriotism and sports.

Stream Miracle, rated PG, on Disney+.

Miss Juneteenth

A single mother and former beauty queen enters her daughter in the Miss Juneteenth pageant — a pageant which offers winners full scholarships to college. The film pays tribute to Juneteenth — the holiday commemorating the day that all slaves were told of their freedom in the United States.

Rent Miss Juneteenth, rated 16+, on Amazon Prime Video for $3.99.

The Patriot

Benjamin Martin is a peaceful farmer and former war hero who gets swept into the Revolutionary War when his life at home is disrupted and his son enlists.

Stream The Patriot, rated R, on Netflix.

The Sandlot

Watch one of the best films about America’s favorite pastime, baseball, through the eyes of Scotty Smalls — the new kid in town who makes friends with a group of kids who play baseball at the sandlot. There is no better film that celebrates baseball, the summer time, and the feeling of being young.

Stream The Sandlot, rated PG, on Hulu.

Selma

Dr. Martin Luther King marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to fight for the opportunity to allow Black people to vote in the United States during one of the milestone moments of the Civil Rights movement.

Rent Selma, rated PG-13, on YouTube Movies for $3.99.