After The Fireworks, Here Are 13 Movies For Your July 4th Celebration

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I Know What You Did Last Summer
Photo: Columbia Pictures.

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Listen, we know you plan to spend the majority of your Independence Day having fun in the sun, or barbequing with your friends and loved ones. But when you’re done, here are the best July 4th movies to cool down with. We get it, no one wants to spend their whole day cooped up in front of the TV, but if you need a water break or a nice way to wind down after the fireworks, we’ve got you covered with a variety of different flicks that will certainly peek the interests of movie-lovers from all walks of life and across various generations.

For the uber-patriotic, there are flicks like Independence Day and Pearl Harbor, and for those who are more chill about this whole red-white-and-blue ordeal, we’ve got classics like Glory, The Godfather, and Forrest Gump. We’ve also added in some horror flicks and a Marvel movie. Since July 4th is in the middle of the week this year, we can’t think of a better way to unwind with a full stomach (and hopefully a full glass of wine) to watch a movie that you’ve seen a dozen times or tune into something that you’ve meant to watch for years.

a league of their own After The Fireworks, Here Are 13 Movies For Your July 4th Celebration

Image: Columbia Pictures.

In honor of the OG colonies, here are 13 movies to watch this Independence Day–when you’re not binging Season 3 of Stranger Things of course.

A League of Their Own

We will always hit like a girl thank you, very much, which is why we stand for A League of Their Own. Loosely based on a World War II-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the film stars Geena Davis and Lori Petty as a pair of competitive sisters who form the Rockford Peaches when all the men are off to war.

The ladies are managed by a drunken ex-player, portrayed by our icon, Tom Hanks. If you rent the movie on Amazon Home Video, just remember, “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”

The Godfather

The Godfather I and II are some of the best films in American cinematic history, and for that reason alone, we’ve included the first flick in our list. Thanks for coming to our TED Talk. The Godfather is about an American family building their way (despite all of the illegal shit) up through the generations. It’s a quintessential 20th-century story, and you won’t regret diving into it.

Rent the movie on Amazon Home Video (and the rent The Godfather Part II when you’re finished).

Independence Day

Ok, this one is super obvious, but it’s Will Smith in the ’90s so we couldn’t just pass it up. After all, the Fresh Prince is an American icon. 1996’s Independence Day follows Army Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) who must work with his fellow soldiers and President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) to save ‘Merica when some aliens descend upon the country on July 4.

A year before Men In Black, you can watch Will Smith punch aliens. Also, it may be slightly cathartic to watch the capitol building go up in flames. But don’t take our word for it, watch Independence Day yourself as a July 4 treat.

Catch it streaming on Hulu.

Hidden Figures

Sometimes the true heroes are those working behind the scenes. 2017’s Hidden Figures is a stellar story about the Black women working behind the scenes at NASA. It’s the true story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who worked tirelessly despite discrimination, racism, and sexism to help launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

You can rent the flick on Amazon Prime Video.

Saving Private Ryan

Obviously, this list is our love letter to Tom Hanks and we accept that. We would only recommend Saving Private Ryan if you’re prepared to spend your July 4 bawling your eyes out. The acclaimed film follows Captain John Miller (Hanks) who takes his troops behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) whose three brothers have all died in combat.

It’s a film about the unimaginable sacrifices our troops have made to keep us safe.

You can rent the flick on Amazon Prime Video.

Apollo 13

“Houston, we have a problem.” What’s more American than going to space? Based on the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) find themselves amid disaster when an oxygen tank explodes. The rest of the mission is about perseverance and tenacity when your life is literally at stake.

Catch it streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


As one of  Steven Spielberg’s first films, 1975’s Jaws isn’t exactly “patriotic” but it still works. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley–Jaws is set on July 4, and the classic thriller follows a sleepy beach town that is sent into a tizzy when a killer shark begins ravaging people. It doesn’t help that the town’s police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) and the mayor, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) are at odds about how to proceed.

Catch it streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Forrest Gump

Yes, it’s another Tom Hanks movie, get into it. If you want to take a trip across America (literally and culturally) in the late 20th century, then look no further than Forrest Gump. Hanks plays Forrest, a young naive man reflecting on his life through Presidents Kennedy and Johnson’s administrations, the Vietnam War, and Watergate and other various events that have shaped the country,

Honestly, it’s a brilliant piece of cinema and wonderfully reflective for an entire generation of people.

You can rent the flick on Amazon Prime Video.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

We had to give you a bit of horror with the July 4 heat.

I Know What You Did Last Summer is a classic ’90s teen horror flick starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. The film follows the group of teens whose relaxing July 4 weekend takes a horrible turn when an evil fisherman suddenly stalks them. We know you secretly live for it.

Catch it streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


We have to thank Rocky for giving us Michael “Bae” Jordan’s Creed. Over 40 years ago, Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in a little movie called Rocky about an underdog boxer looking to make it big. It was a massive hit and has spawned several new movies and an entirely new franchize. Legit, generations of Americans have struck by this story.

Catch it streaming on Hulu.


You can’t understand the history of the United States or the current state we are in unless you understand our past in all of it’s mangled, bloody ugliness. Glory isn’t an easy film to watch, but that’s what makes it essential viewing. Set during the Civil War, the film follows the first Black Union regiment (Union of course) helmed by Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) who must confront his own prejudices.

Starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman as formerly enslaved men turned soldiers; the film is about the sacrifices that were made and the lives that were lost for the freedoms that people of color are still striving for today.

Also, a young Denzel? Yes, please. You can rent the flick on Amazon Prime Video.

Pearl Harbor

We don’t typically live for war movies, but Pearl Harbor is an exception (mostly because it’s also a romance movie). The film is based on the real-life events that began World War II and follows two best friends (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) who fall for the same woman (Kate Beckinsale). Also, it’s a Michael Bay flick, so there are lots of explosions and whatnot.
You can rent the flick on Amazon Prime Video.

Captain America: The First Avenger

You can be mad if you want to, but Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the best origin stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, we said it. The World War II-set film follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who after being rejected by the US military for his small stature, is transformed into the ultimate soldier to combat the Nazis.

You can rent the flick on Amazon Prime Video.