17 of the Best Movies To Watch for Independence Day

Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day, PopViewers.com
"Independence Day," Credit: 20th Century Fox

Lights, camera, fireworks! 🇺🇸

Hey, movie buffs and freedom lovers! Independence Day is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than by kicking back with a tub of popcorn and diving into a lineup of epic films that scream “USA!” louder than a bald eagle at a baseball game? Whether you’re planning a backyard BBQ, a cozy indoor gathering, or just some quality me-time, we’ve got the ultimate movie marathon to make your Fourth of July sparkle and pop!

From action-packed blockbusters that get your heart racing to heartwarming tales of American spirit, our list of the 17 best movies to watch on Independence Day has got something for everyone. So, grab your red, white, and blue snacks, settle into your comfiest chair, and let’s get ready to rock this patriotic party with some cinematic magic. Cue the fireworks, and let the binge-watching begin!

1. “Air Force One” – 1997

“Air Force One” is the thriller where President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) navigates a perilous hijacking aboard Air Force One. With Russian radicals led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman) seizing control, the commander-in-chief must exhibit unwavering bravery to rescue his family and cabinet members. Glenn Close shines as Vice President Kathryn Bennett, orchestrating tense negotiations from the White House situation room. This 1997 blockbuster merges political intrigue with heart-pounding action for a great movie to watch this Independence Day.

Air Force One, PopViewers
“Air Force One” – Sony Pictures

2. “Apollo 13” – 1995

Relive NASA’s harrowing 1970 moon voyage through the lens of Ron Howard’s acclaimed docudrama. When an oxygen tank rupture jeopardizes the crew’s return, astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon), and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) must innovate ingenious solutions to conserve dwindling resources. Masterfully depicting the teamwork between the astronauts and Houston’s mission control, “Apollo 13” pays tribute to American resilience and technological prowess in the face of unprecedented adversity.

UnApollo 13, PopViewers
“Apollo 13” – Universal Pictures

3. “Born on the Fourth of July” – 1989

Tom Cruise delivers a great performance as Ron Kovic, a idealistic soldier whose life trajectory is forever altered by paralyzing wounds from the Vietnam War. Based on Kovic’s autobiographical account, this 1989 film charts his transformation from an all-American youth to an impassioned anti-war activist, spotlighting the physical and emotional turmoil endured by many veterans. A searing indictment of the conflict’s costs, “Born on the Fourth of July” makes for a powerful and patriotic movie.

Born On The Fourth of July, PopViewers
“Born On The Fourth of July” – Universal Pictures

4. “Captain America: The First Avenger” – 2011

While Marvel’s superhero epics may not immediately spring to mind for July 4th, “Captain America: The First Avenger” is a great exception. Set during World War II, the 2011 film follows Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) indomitable determination to serve his nation despite being initially rejected due to his poor physique. After undergoing an experimental procedure, Rogers embraces his newfound abilities to battle the nefarious Hydra organization, with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) by his side.

pCaptain America, PopViewers
“Captain America: The First Avenger” – Paramount Pictures

5. “Forrest Gump” – 1994

Spanning several decades of American history, Robert Zemeckis’ 1994 masterpiece “Forrest Gump” follows the incredible life journey of its titular character, portrayed by an Oscar-winning Tom Hanks. From fighting in Vietnam to influencing pop culture phenomena, the good-natured Forrest intersects with numerous pivotal events, his unwavering spirit and loyalty to loved ones like Jenny (Robin Wright) serving as a heartwarming embodiment of patriotic values. Supported by a stellar ensemble cast including Gary Sinise and Sally Field, this iconic film blends laughter and tears into an unforgettable Independence Day viewing experience.

“Forrest Gump,” Paramount Pictures

6. “Girls Trip” – 2017

Not all 4th of July flicks need revolve around warfare and politics. “Girls Trip” offers a refreshingly raunchy yet heartfelt counterpoint, following four lifelong friends – Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith – who reconnect during a wild weekend at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. “Girls Trip” contains female empowerment and the enduring bonds of sisterhood, making this 2017 comedy a more conventional Independence Day selection.

Girls Trip, PopViewers
“Girls Trip” – Universal Pictures

7. “Hidden Figures” – 2016

Based on the remarkable true story, “Hidden Figures” shines a long-overdue spotlight on the pivotal contributions of three brilliant Black women – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) – who helped propel NASA’s success during the 1960s Space Race against Russia. Facing racial discrimination yet persevering with grace and intellect, these trailblazers’ calculations proved instrumental in achieving milestones like the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. This uplifting 2016 drama pays tribute to American ingenuity transcending prejudice.

enHidden Figures, PopViewers
“Hidden Figures” – 20th Century Fox

8. “Independence Day” – 1996

When discussing quintessential 4th of July cinema, few titles loom as large as Roland Emmerich’s 1996 blockbuster of the same name. As an extraterrestrial armada launches a devastating attack on Earth, an eclectic ensemble cast including Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman must unite in mankind’s defiant counterstrike against the invaders on America’s most symbolic holiday. Combining jaw-dropping visual effects with rousing speeches and popcorn thrills galore, “Independence Day” exemplifies the patriotic spirit of July 4th moviegoing at its most exhilarating.

eIndependence Day, PopViewers
“Independence Day” – 20th Century Fox

9. “Jaws” – 1975

While not overtly patriotic, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece “Jaws” unfolds partially over an ill-fated 4th of July weekend on Amity Island. As a voracious great white shark begins claiming victims, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) clashes with the greedy mayor over prioritizing public safety or profit during the lucrative holiday period. Teaming with marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw), Brody wages a primal battle to defend their community. “Jaws” has become a cultural touchstone with shredding thrills that everyone will remember.

Jaws, PopViewers
“Jaws” – Universal Pictures

10. “Lincoln” – 2012

As its title suggests, Steven Spielberg’s 2012 biographical opus “Lincoln” chronicles the 16th president’s (played by an Oscar-winning Daniel Day-Lewis) efforts to outlaw slavery by passing the 13th Amendment in the waning months of the Civil War. With an outstanding supporting cast including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film offers an intimate, nuanced portrait of Lincoln’s political maneuverings and moral conviction amid a nation torn asunder. “Lincoln” is a powerful Independence Day movie that reflects America’s history at the time.

Lincoln, PopViewers
“Lincoln” – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

11. “National Treasure” – 2004

For a more lighthearted yet no less thrilling Independence Day viewing option, Jon Turteltaub’s 2004 adventure flick “National Treasure” delivers in spades. When historian Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) stumbles upon a pivotal clue about the Freemasons’ fabled fortune, he finds himself in a frenzied race against rivals to decipher the encrypted map on the back of the Declaration of Independence itself. Brimming with escapist fun and a stellar supporting cast featuring Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, and Sean Bean, this popcorn flick celebrates America’s storied heritage with wit and flair.

National Treasure, PopViewers
“National Treasure” – Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

12. “Saving Private Ryan” – 1998

Steven Spielberg’s 1998 war epic “Saving Private Ryan” has become synonymous with depictions of combat’s horror and humanity. After three brothers are killed in action during the Normandy invasion, Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad are tasked with retrieving the sole surviving Ryan (Matt Damon) and sending him home. The film’s unprecedented 27-minute D-Day sequence remains a masterclass in filmmaking, while its poignant core story honors the profound sacrifices made to preserve American liberty, making it essential Independence Day viewing.

Saving Private Ryan, PopViewers
“Saving Private Ryan” – DreamWorks Pictures/Paramount Pictures

13. The Patriot (2000)

Get ready to march into battle with Mel Gibson in The Patriot (2000), a riveting epic that takes you straight to the heart of the American Revolution. This action-packed drama follows Benjamin Martin, a reluctant hero who must rally his fellow colonists to fight for their freedom against the British. With breathtaking battle scenes, powerful performances, and a story that tugs at your patriotic heartstrings, The Patriot is a cinematic salute to the bravery and sacrifice that helped shape a nation. It’s the perfect film to ignite your Fourth of July spirit and remind you of the fiery determination that defines America’s quest for independence.

“The Patriot,” Columbia Pictures

14. Miracle (2004)

Relive one of the most iconic moments in sports history with “Miracle,” the inspirational true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Kurt Russell stars as coach Herb Brooks, the visionary leader who galvanized a group of young, underdog players to achieve the unthinkable: defeating the seemingly invincible Soviet team and capturing the gold medal. This gripping film is a testament to American determination, teamwork, and the power of believing in the impossible. Perfect for your Independence Day celebration, “Miracle” will have you cheering from your couch and feeling a surge of patriotic pride as you witness one of America’s greatest sports triumphs.

“Miracle,” Walt Disney Pictures

15. Glory (1989)

Prepare to be moved by “Glory,” an extraordinary film that honors the bravery and sacrifice of the first all-black volunteer company in the Civil War. Led by the steadfast Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, played by Matthew Broderick, and featuring powerful performances by Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, “Glory” showcases the incredible courage and resilience of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Through gripping battle scenes and deeply emotional storytelling, this film not only highlights a pivotal moment in American history but also underscores the fight for freedom and equality that continues to resonate today. This Fourth of July, let Glory remind you of the profound contributions and heroism that have shaped our nation’s journey toward justice and unity.

“Glory,” TriStar Pictures

16. A League of Their Own (1992)

Step up to the plate with “A League of Their Own,” a heartwarming and hilarious tribute to the incredible women who kept America’s pastime alive during World War II. Directed by Penny Marshall and featuring an all-star cast including Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna, this film tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. As the nation’s men went off to war, these pioneering women took the field, proving that talent, tenacity, and teamwork know no gender boundaries. With unforgettable lines (“There’s no crying in baseball!”) and a story that champions perseverance and camaraderie, “A League of Their Own” is the perfect pick for your Independence Day celebration, celebrating the spirit and strength that define America.

“A League of Their Own,” Columbia Pictures

17. Top Gun (1986)

Strap in for high-octane thrills with “Top Gun,” the quintessential American action film that has defined cool for generations. Starring Tom Cruise as the daring and charismatic fighter pilot Maverick, this adrenaline-pumping movie takes you soaring through the skies with jaw-dropping aerial stunts and unforgettable rivalries. Directed by Tony Scott, “Top Gun” combines pulse-pounding action with a killer soundtrack, including the iconic “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. As Maverick and his fellow pilots train to be the best of the best, their courage, camaraderie, and competitive spirit embody the essence of American bravado. This Fourth of July, let Top Gun take you on a wild ride, celebrating the thrill of freedom and the fearless pursuit of excellence that defines the American spirit.

“Top Gun,” Paramount Pictures

Get ready to ignite your patriotic spirit with our handpicked lineup of historical epics, thrilling adventures, and thought-provoking dramas! This Fourth of July weekend, movie fans have a treasure trove of cinematic delights to explore. Whether you’re revisiting iconic classics or uncovering hidden gems, these films are sure to make your heart swell with American pride. So, dim the lights, grab the popcorn, and dive into unforgettable stories that celebrate the ideals, sacrifices, and triumphs that have shaped our nation’s unique journey. Let the movie marathon begin!

More On: