Ideas for a July 4th Movie Marathon

July 4th Movie Marathon

You could spend all July 4th sweltering in someone’s backyard, eating greasy grilled food and waiting for the sun to set for your local fireworks show to begin — or you could celebrate America’s independence with a bit more culture and class, enjoying some incredible films that focus on American history and values. You can plan your very own July 4th movie marathon using the following list of the best movies to evoke the American spirit: 

Independence Day

What is supposed to be a carefree national holiday becomes a battle for the future of planet Earth when aliens attack! This is perhaps the most perfect action film ever made, and its showcasing of U.S. landmarks — New York skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, the Capitol Building and more — as well as the rousing speech from the president will make you proud to be an American.


Lin-Manuel Miranda’s magnum opus, “Hamilton” is a stage musical that forever changed what people expect from theater — and how people think about America’s founding fathers. Alexander Hamilton is so much more than his famous death by duel, and this musical showcases his life as well as the diversity of musical talent.


Before “Hamilton,” the most patriotic musical was undeniably “1776,” which tells the story of the First Continental Congress and the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. Starring John Adams but shining a light on many other important men in America’s colonies, this musical is a fun, educational and inspiring look at the very beginning of the U.S.

National Treasure

An action-adventure flick with a heist, riddles and romance — this might be the best movie of all time, and the fact that it focuses on Americana is just a bonus. In both “National Treasure” and its sequel, Benjamin Franklin Gates is eager to preserve his family’s legacy and discover the location of an American treasure hoard using little more than his extensive knowledge of American history.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

If you are looking for more classic Hollywood in your July 4th movie marathon, you can’t skip this 11-time Oscar-nominated film. Filled with political drama, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” follows a young entrepreneur unexpectedly appointed to the U.S. Senate. As relevant now as it was in 1939, you can appreciate the difficulty of democracy through the struggles of this film.

Forrest Gump

Another famous award-winner, “Forrest Gump” is a tour of some of the most important events in modern American history: the rise of rock and roll, the Vietnam War, the space race, the Civil Rights Movement, the creation of the smiley face and more. Both hilarious and heart-wrenching, this film shows you how to be the best American you can be.

Apollo 13

In 1970, astronauts aboard Apollo 13 intended to land on the Moon — but the mission did not go as planned. This film tells the story of what happened with Apollo 13, which relied heavily on American ingenuity, teamwork and solidarity to bring the astronauts home safely. You might order fireworks online to celebrate the dramatic conclusion (and take a much needed break from the screen).

Hidden Figures

Too often in American history, the stories of the workers behind-the-scenes are ignored. Through “Hidden Figures,” many Americans learned that the success of the U.S. Space Program was almost entirely thanks to female calculators — specifically, Black female calculators — who were poorly treated by NASA despite their important works.

The American President

For a bit of levity, your movie marathon might include this romantic comedy–slash–political drama from Rob Reiner and Aaron Sorkin. Striking a delightful balance between political machinations and romantic gags, this movie deserves more attention, especially on July 4th.


Both the most contentious and the most beloved president of all time, Abraham Lincoln is often misunderstood by the American public at large. This intimate look at Lincoln’s life during the Civil War brings humanity to this statuesque figure in American history, allowing us to celebrate him more thoroughly.

An American Tail

America is not only the people who were here at the nation’s founding; America is everyone who has come to this country seeking freedom and new opportunities. Though “An American Tail” is a children’s movie, telling the story of an Eastern European mouse family, its themes are exceedingly adult, and everyone can learn from the trials of Fievel and the Mousekewitzes.

In many ways, the history of film and the history of America go hand in hand. You can learn a bit more about our nation, revel in our shared culture and enjoy more than a few good stories with a 4th of July movie marathon.

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