Watching movies has long been a popular pastime. They’re entertaining and informative, and they are the perfect bonding activity for families and friends. This coming Independence Day, spend time with your loved ones or alone by watching the best Fourth of July movies.
Exciting Fourth of July Movies to Ignite the Spirit of Patriotism
If backyard barbecues and outdoor picnics don’t appeal to you, having a movie marathon this coming Independence Day is the next best thing. The great thing about movies is that there is something for everyone, and you can watch them with other people or by yourself. In line with the upcoming holiday, here are the best July 4th movies to add to your queue.
1. Air Force One
In this 1997 classic, Harrison Ford plays President James Marshall, a veteran on a flight back to the United States after a diplomatic visit to Russia. Aboard Air Force One with him are his family and several members of his cabinet. But, thanks to a mole, communists led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman) manage to hijack the plane. While Vice President Kathryn Bennett (Glenn Close) negotiates from the White House Situation Room, Marshall must race against the clock to save everyone.
2. Apollo 13
Released in 1995, “Apollo 13” tells the story of astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise on their mission to the moon in the Apollo 13 spacecraft. The mission was supposedly the third to make a moon landing, but an explosion mid-flight throws a wrench into their plans. With no power and the craft running out of oxygen, the three astronauts, along with NASA’s flight controllers, must improvise scientific and mechanical solutions in order to return home safely. The film is based on a true story and stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton.
3. Born on the Fourth of July
“Born on the Fourth of July” is a biographical drama depicting the story of Sergeant Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) over 20 years. Beginning with Kovic’s childhood, the film shows his service in the military, his subsequent paralysis during the Vietnam War, and his eventual commitment to anti-war activism. Based on Kovic’s own autobiography, “Born on the Fourth of July” is certainly one of the best 4th of July movies out there today.
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
While Marvel films aren’t usually the first thing most people think of for the Fourth of July, “Captain America: The First Avenger” is an exception. Set in the middle of World War II, the film depicts Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and his journey to becoming a superhero.
Rejected for military recruitment multiple times due to his health, Rogers agrees to be the subject of a classified experiment to become the world’s first super-soldier. Though the experiment is a success, Rogers is relegated to doing promotions for the war instead of fighting in it. But, his determination and newfound power lead him to defeat Hydra, but not without losing some things that are important to him.
5. Forrest Gump
Released in 1994, “Forrest Gump” stars Tom Hanks as the titular character and depicts his life through several decades, following him through his childhood, teenage years, military service, and other endeavors. This comedy-drama film explores different themes and places Forrest in the middle of some of history’s most significant events. Hanks won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Forrest Gump. The movie also stars Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field.
6. Girls Trip
The Fourth of July isn’t limited to war films, and “Girls Trip” is a prime example of that. This 2017 film stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Hadish, and Jada Pinkett Smith as four friends who head to New Orleans to attend the Essence Music Festival on the 4th of July weekend. Having grown apart through the years, the four girls take the opportunity to reconnect and find lifelong friends in each other.
7. Hidden Figures
Another film that showcases female talent, “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race. Henson plays Katherine Goble, a mathematician whose calculations served a key role in the success of the first crewed spaceflight, Apollo 11, and the Space Shuttle mission. Meanwhile, Spencer’s Dorothy Vaughan was NASA’s first African-American supervisor and Monáe’s Mary Jackson was NASA’s first female African-American engineer.
8. Independence Day
When talking about Independence Day movies, it’s hard to leave out the movie of the same name. Released in 1996, the film depicts the story of different groups of people as the Earth faces an extraterrestrial attack. Banding together, the world launches a counterattack on the aliens on the Fourth of July. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Randy Quaid, Mary McDonnell, Robert Loggia, and Vivica A. Fox.
Although it isn’t exactly a patriotic film, a portion of “Jaws” does take place over the July 4 weekend. This groundbreaking movie, released in 1975, follows police chief Martin Brody, marine biologist Matt Hooper, and professional shark fisherman Quint as they hunt a great white shark that’s been terrorizing the beaches of Amity Island. The film stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw.
As its name suggests, “Lincoln” tells the story of President Abraham Lincoln during the final 4 months of his life as he pushes to pass the Thirteenth Amendment and abolish slavery. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the titular president in an Oscar-winning performance. Other cast members include Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adam Driver, and Tommy Lee Jones.
11. National Treasure
For a taste of adventure, “National Treasure” is the film for you. This 2004 film follows historian Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) as he searches for the lost treasure of the American Freemasons by decoding and following a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, Gates is not the only one looking for the national treasure. The film also stars Sean Bean, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Plummer.
12. Saving Private Ryan
Starring Tom Hanks as U.S. Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller, “Saving Private Ryan” takes place during the Invasion of Normandy during World War II. The film follows Miller and his squad as they look for the only surviving brother of the Ryan family to get him home. Matt Damon stars as Private first class James Francis Ryan. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is known for its harrowing depiction of war and violence.
13. The Patriot
Another historical war film, “The Patriot” is set during the American Revolutionary War in 1776. It follows Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a farmer who doesn’t want to go to war with Great Britain, as he is forced to lead the Colonial Militia after one of his sons is murdered by British Colonel William Tavington (Jason Isaacs). If you want patriotic movies, it doesn’t get any more patriotic than “The Patriot.”
14. Top Gun
On the subject of the best 4th of July movies, “Top Gun” definitely takes one of the top spots. Released in 1986, the film depicts naval aviators as they train at the U.S. Navy’s Fight Weapons School, also known as TOPGUN, and compete for the TOPGUN trophy. The film follows Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) as he hones his skill, falls in love, and learns a few lessons along the way. “Top Gun” has turned into a cult classic and even spawned a sequel 36 years later.
15. Zero Dark Thirty
Released in 2012, “Zero Dark Thirty” dramatizes the hunt for and killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after almost a decade. It stars Jessica Chastain as CIA intelligence analyst Maya Harris, her portrayal of whom earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The film also earned Kathryn Bigelow her second Academy Award nomination for Best Director, which she previously won for “The Hurt Locker.” Other cast members include Jason Clarke, Chris Pratt, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini, and Mark Duplass.
This coming Independence Day is the best time to curl up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie. If you can’t choose among these Fourth of July movies, then go for a movie marathon. Either way, you’ll have a grand time.
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