The 5 Best Movies to Watch on Independence Day (And How to Watch Them)

After you’ve had a bit too much of the sweltering heat and overcrowded beaches, there’s nothing better on the Fourth of July than kicking back with a nice, cold beverage in an air-conditioned room and watching a movie.

Unlike Christmas and Halloween, there actually aren’t that many movies that specifically revolve around the Fourth of July. But there are a few of them, as well as some others that don’t take place on Independence Day but are just so darn patriotic that it doesn’t even matter.

Here’s a look at the best movies to watch on the Fourth of July and how you can watch them.

1. Jaws 

Roy Schneider with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth in Jaws

Jaws | Universal

Steven Spielberg’s horror-adventure masterpiece Jaws is perfect to watch on just about any occasion, but especially the Fourth of July.

After all, there are few films that more accurately capture the feeling of summer than Jaws does during its opening act, which takes place on a packed beach on Independence Day weekend. It’s because this is such a popular weekend that the mayor doesn’t want to close the beach after a shark attack, leading to utter chaos. Even if you’re watching in the comfort of an air-conditioned room, you’ll practically feel the beating sun, sand, and water on your skin during the movie.

Jaws, unfortunately, isn’t streaming anywhere, but you can rent it on Amazon or any other major video rental service. AMC will also be having a Jaws marathon today, with the first movie beginning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern and then playing again at 7:15 p.m.

2. Independence Day

Independence Day | Fox

Of course, there’s also Roland Emmerich’s 1996 alien-invasion film Independence Day, which has essentially become to the Fourth of July what A Chrismas Story is to Christmas.

The film takes place in the days leading up to the Fourth of July, with Independence Day arriving near the end as President Thomas J. Whitmore delivers one of the great movie speeches of all time. Despite the movie occasionally being a bit dumb, you’ll find yourself pumping your fist and getting ready to crack open a beer and punch an alien in the face by the end.

If you subscribe to STARZ, the movie is available to stream on their app and website. It’s also available on all major video rental services.

3. Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger | Paramount Pictures

Why not celebrate Independence Day this year with the Star Spangled Man himself, Captain America?

There are three films to choose from, but for the purposes of a July 4th rewatch, The First Avenger is definitely the best option, if only for the spectacular Star Spangled Man musical montage sequence. This is a film where you can see Captain America punch Hitler in the face more than once, so what more could you ask for? Plus, if Avengers 4 fan theories are to be believed, this year’s Independence Day may be the last one before Steve Rogers bites the dust next summer. Let’s enjoy our time with him while we have it.

You can rent Captain America: The First Avenger on any major video rental service, but FX will also be playing it on Wednesday, both at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and again at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

4. Team America: World Police 

Team America: World Police | Paramount Pictures

Assuming there aren’t any kids around, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America: World Police will simultaneously make you feel patriotic and guilty for feeling patriotic.

This 2004 comedy revolves around an antiterrorism task force which, as established in the opening sequence, seems to constantly leave all the places they claim to be saving a lot worse off. It ruthlessly satirizes both American foreign policy and the self-importance of Hollywood elites like Alec Baldwin and Michael Moore, so there’s something for just about everyone to get mad at.

The movie is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re prepared to celebrate the holiday in a totally different, much more crass way, you can watch Team America: World Police on any major video rental service. Considering how graphic it is, don’t expect to see it playing on TV, though.

5. Top Gun

Top Gun

Top Gun | Paramount Pictures

Any Fourth of July would be a fine time to rewatch Top Gun, the 1986 Tom Cruise film that takes place at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School. But this year is a particularly appropriate one.

After all, just one year from now, a sequel will be rolling into theaters. Top Gun: Maverick is a proper second installment with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer both returning, and it will be released on July 12th, 2019. If you haven’t seen the original in a while, you’ll probably need a refresher, so what better day than today?

Like Independence DayTop Gun is available for streaming on STARZ. You can also find it on any major video rental service.

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