Best Movies to Watch on Independence Day
Here are the best movies to watch on the 4th of July!
Our Countdown Of The Most Patriotic Movies Of All Time!
Ready to celebrate Independence Day?! While you cook hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and shoot fireworks into the night sky, you've gotta put on a movie to enjoy too. The best films to celebrate July 4, 1776 bring together what makes America great: freedom and courage. These flicks bring those indispensable pursuits to life in awesome ways, showing off Americans who do whatever it takes to fight for what is right. I also included some political satire and important cautionary tales for good measure. Now light up the big screen TV and crank up the sound. Let do this 'Merica!
15. Top Gun
The biggest movie star in the world, Tom Cruise is at the height of his powers here playing hot-shot ace pilot Maverick, who, along with his funny co-pilot Goose (Anthony Edwards), woos his beautiful, no-nonsense flight instructor (Kelly McGillis) and faces off against arrogant rival Iceman (Val Kilmer) for the top spot at the most prestigious school in the U.S. Air Force. It's got a great soundtrack from Kenny Loggins and some excellent, unforgettable dialogue. This is a well-shot, fun-filled, very 80s action movie from the late Tony Scott.
14. Red Dawn
Every teenage boy's dream turns into a nightmare in this John Milius war film about the fictional third World War in which Russian and Cuban forces invade the U.S., forcing a group of adolescents to hideout in the woods and fight back against the commie invaders. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen lead a star-studded cast, including Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey, all of whom give outstanding performances as kids who must make impossible moral decisions in an effort to survive with their humanity still in tact. It might seem like a simple action flick, but it's so much more.
13. First Blood
After shocking the world with his first two Rocky movies, Sylvester Stallone took on his other most iconic role as John Rambo, an ex-Green Beret who's back stateside from the war in Vietnam. As he is pushed to the brink of sanity by his aggressive PTSD and a smalltown sheriff with a grudge, Rambo wages a one-man war in the woods outside of the city using his considerable survival skills to ward off bands of police officers, soldiers, and nature itself. It's a man vs. nature story, a man vs. man story, and a man vs. himself story, that's a strong commentary on the toll war takes on soldiers who can't leave the battlefield behind.
The ultimate 80s action film, Commando has Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering one-liners, firing gigantic weapons, and beating up bad guys in typical fashion, but there's more than just some simple blow-'em-up fun to be had here. The movie has Arnie waging a one-man war on the men who kidnapped his daughter, utilizing his particular set of skills against anyone in his way. It's so much fun to watch stuff blow up, but it's even better when there's an emotional core and compelling storyline which brilliant comic book writer Jeph Loeb's script has in spades.
11. Rocky IV
What might be the cheesiest Rocky film is also maybe it's most powerful. After developing the relationship between former rivals Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in Rocky III, this film took it to the next level by bringing Rocky to a new low only to have him rise again to take on his most fearsome opponent yet. The very personal battle between the American Balboa and a Russian boxer named Ivan Drago, at the height of the Cold War no less, is an intense and gruesome fight of flying fists, deadly determination, and international importance. Stallone brings some of his best work to the screen as actor, writer, and director in this one, and meanwhile Dolph Lundgren is a worthy villain in the franchise even if he's devoid of virtually any personality which in some ways makes him an even scarier mindless killing machine. Supporting players like Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, and Burt Young always ground the movie in realism focusing it in on the relationships. This is a movie you can stand up and cheer for.
10. Air Force One
Harrison Ford plays the best President ever in Air Force One. When a radical group of Russian terrorists take over President James Marshall's plane, it's up to the commander-in-chief himself to take them out and rescue his wife and daughter. This is a smartly paced, taut action film from Wolfgang Peterson and features a deliciously vile turn from the great Gary Oldman. There's lots of suspense, thrills, and chills here as Hollywood titans Ford and Oldman clash at 32,000 feet.
9. Independence Day
Perhaps the quintessential movie to watch on Independence Day, German director Roland Emmerich's silly sci-fi romp is a highly quotable, epic action disaster movie about invaders from another world, and the men and women of Earth who step up to take them down. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are a perfect odd couple pairing and Bill Pullman is awesome as the President of the United States who delivers the best speech ever captured on film. It's got a solid cast, smart script, and plenty of American landmarks going up in flames.
8. All the President's Men
An important story from our nation's troubled history, Woodward and Bernstein's exposure of the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon is a fascinating tale. Both Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman deliver knock out performances as the two determined journalists. The sense of paranoia Alan J. Pakula brings to the film is what makes it stand out as he orchestrates the lighting, score, and cinematography to make you feel uneasy. This is a movie every American needs to see, especially those who weren't around when these actual events took place.
7. Captain America: The First Avenger
Bringing a character like Captain America to the big screen is no easy task but director Joe Johnston did it with this throwback 1940s pulpy adventure film. Chris Evans shines as Steve Rogers, a patriotic, yet frail lad who wants to serve his country and is given that opportunity when he volunteers for a scientific experiment which turns him into a Super Soldier. He and his Howling Commandos battle the Nazis' deep science division HYDRA and it's leader Johann Schmidt a.k.a. Red Skull who's destructive plans would spell doom for the whole world. It's got a great score, intense action, and excellent characters like Tommy Lee Jones' grumpy Colonel Phillips, Sebastian Stan's loyal Bucky Barnes, and Hayley Atwell's intelligent woman-of-action Agent Peggy Carter. Plus, nothing's more American than a guy dressed in red, white, and blue punching Adolph Hitler.
6. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump shows us a lifetime in America through the eyes of a simple man. Tom Hanks portrays his best character ever as he traverses our complex world, meeting important historical figures along the way as he is confronted with difficult situations, yet never compromises his moral upbringing. The supporting cast is excellent with Sally Field as Forrest's caring Mama, Mykelti Williamson as his kind friend Bubba, Gary Sinise as his grumpy fellow soldier Lieutenant Dan, and Robin Wright as Forrest's worldly girl Jenny. This beautiful film remains Robert Zemekis' greatest achievement with it's remarkable script from Eric Roth based on Winston Groom's novel, Alan Silvestri's moving music, and the incredible special effects. Forrest Gump represents the American hero in all of us.
5. American Sniper
Director Clint Eastwood gave audiences his most poignant work in years with this anti-war film. Bradley Cooper is astonishing as real-life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and he pulls no punches by depicting the good, the bad, and the ugly of the deadly sniper's personal life. It's got an intensity and visceral quality that puts you in the middle of the battles and helps you understand the psyche of the people on the battlefield. Even with the fake baby, it's still an immensely important film to watch.
4. Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
The best political satire ever made, Stanley Kubrick's hilarious Doctor Strangelove is completely brilliant. With outstanding performances from George C. Scott, Peter Sellers, and Slim Pickens, the film shows us some high-ranking U.S. officials decision-making process on whether or not to launch nuclear warheads at our enemies. It's got an amazing screenplay and even though it mostly takes place in one location, it still manages to keep your attention without getting boring. This is the definition of political satire and remains the best anti-war film ever made.
3. Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg's harrowing portrayal of World War II, Saving Private Ryan doesn't hold back the horrors of war while also finding hope in the most dire circumstances. This cast is fantastic with Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, and Matt Damon turning in wonderful performances while Tom Hanks plays the confident leader and shows some vulnerability too. Sent to rescue the only surviving son of a widow, a ragtag group of U.S. Army soldiers question the validity of their mission and must learn to work together and sacrifice it all to save one life. From the emotional John Williams score to the incredible cinematography by Janusz Kaminski, this movie tells a moving story of courage, hope, and sacrifice.
2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Never has a film remained more relevant than the 1939 classic Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It's message of fighting political corruption and standing up for what's right has never gotten old and resonates now more than ever before. Jimmy Stewart does a superb job of bringing young idealistic senator Jefferson Smith to life as he faces deception, bribery, and blackmail on his brief stint on Capitol Hill. It's also got strong performances from the gorgeous and sassy Jean Arthur and seasoned actor Claude Rains who exudes confidence in every scene. Check this one out if you want to get inspired.
1. The Patriot
The best film to watch on the 4th of July is The Patriot. This is one of the few films that deals directly with the Revolutionary War which won our country's independence from England. It stars Mel Gibson as Benjamin Gates, a widower who's raising his seven children on a farm in South Carolina when British troops arrive on his doorstep. It's a trying time for the country and the man, as his sons want to get involved but his past as a soldier in the French and Indian War makes him reluctant to engage. This is Roland Emmerich's best film as it is able to blend drama, comedy, and action into a cohesive whole making for an epic story about family, war, and the cost of freedom.