Couple celebrating the fourth of july on the  beach

The Best Independence Day Films to Watch This 4th July

Any excuse for a movie night? You'll love our pick of these great Independence Day films

By Shannon Wilson, 04 July 2016
The Best Independence Day Films to Watch This 4th July

Ah America. The land of the free has given us so much – from great BBQ inspiration to some of our favourite bands and artists, while also providing us with some major holiday inspo. While the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is typically one of the most American holidays of all time, you don't have to be an American to enjoy it. Why not get in on the act by hosting your very own movie night with some of these great Independence Day themed movies?

From biopics that document the signing of the Declaration of Independence itself, to films following patriotic Americans chasing the American dream and all manor of war epics, we've assembled a binge-worthy list of Independence Day movies for your Independence Day viewing pleasure.

So get the burgers on the go, fire up the DVD player and enjoy our rundown of the five best Independence Day movies to brighten up your 4th of July.

1. Independence Day

Why? It's all in the name!

What? No Fourth of July would be complete without this 90's classic, which is directed by Roland Emmerich. Taking place over – you guessed it – 4th July, Independence Day features American patriotism at it's finest, as we see everyone including the President of the United States (played by Bill Pullman) take on an alien invasion. Yes, that’s right – this film takes the idea of the American revolution but supplants the British for aliens.

Starring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, this is a disaster film with bite, featuring such classic scenes as the White House being blown up, Will Smith punching an alien in the face and the President personally flying a fighter jet in the attack against alien invaders. What more could you want from a Fourth of July movie?

As if that wasn’t enough, the film is actually celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year with a sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, currently in cinemas. So if you really want to celebrate, why not take a trip to your local cinema? You can stock up on snacks in your local Asda on the way.

2. 1776

Why: It's the signing of the Declaration of Independence like you've never seen it before... IN SONG

What: Didn't think it was possible to mix historical accuracy with catchy tunes? Think again – this film from Peter H. Hunt proves otherwise. Based on the stage musical of the same name, 1776 tells the story of the politics behind the signing of the Declaration of Independence, complete with musical numbers and costume changes. And yes, it does involve a singing Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as they, along with main protagonist John Adams (played by William Daniels), set out to convince the colonies that they actually do want independence from England, writing up a formal Declaration of Independence in the process. Now you really have heard it all.

3. Born on the Fourth of July

Why: Showcasing the darker consequences of the American dream, this Fourth of July themed movie is for those wanting a more meaty take on American liberty.

What: Not set on Independence Day but perfect for July 4th viewing nevertheless, director Oliver Stone's take on the Vietnam War has split audiences due to its unreserved take on the costs of fighting for freedom.

Following the real life story of Vietnam soldier Ron Kovic (played by Tom Cruise), we see first hand as he changes from bright-eyed young patriot into disgruntled anti-war and pro-human rights activist, mistreated by the very nation to which he sacrificed his ability to walk during the war.

This is definitely some of Tom Cruise's best work, showcasing a gritty character story that is as much about American independence as the American Revolution. Plus, with director Stone being a veteran himself, you know this will provide a great insight into the reality behind the American Dream.

4. The Patriot

Why? Because if you can't watch an epic war film on Independence Day, when can you? 

What? Ok, so right off the bat, you won't be watching Roland Emmerich's The Patriot for historical accuracy. For one, it really paints the British as the bad guys. However, what you will be watching it for is for how it takes this large, overwhelming subject matter and personalises it into a story we all can enjoy and relate to.

Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger give stunning performances as a father/son duo, who having suffered personal loss at the hands of the British army and take on their enemies with zeal, zest and a thirst for bloodlust during the battles of the American Revolution. Highly worthy of Independence Day viewing.

5. Jaws

Why? The ultimate Independence Day party... gone wrong.

What? Perhaps not the most obvious Independence Day movie, what people often forget is that the events of Jaws take place over the weekend of the Fourth of July ­– and who can resist adding this classic film to their Independence Day film-fest?

Following the events of a shark attack on a small tourist town called Amity Island, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) must capture the killer beast before he strikes again.

Of course there are some Fourth of July parallels should you wish to point them out to your family – the main one being that this is a small New English town besieged by an enemy that a rag-tag group take on without hope of winning – your classic fight for freedom!

Make sure to stock up on snacks and popcorn at your local Asda to make your Independence Day celebrations complete.