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Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick poster

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

47 Movies To Watch This July 4th Weekend

The United States is celebrating its 247th birthday this July 4, and with the holiday falling on a Tuesday this year, you might find yourself with an extended weekend and some extra hours to discover a new movie or revisit an old favorite. To commemorate the holiday, we’re offering 47 titles that celebrate America, are set during the holiday, or highlight American heroes and stories of courage. Some will make you laugh, others will make you cry, some are fictional action-adventure tales, and others are dramatic stories of fortitude and triumph. Not all are Fresh on the Tomatometer, but at least score high with audiences as beloved popcorn-movie fare — looking at you National Treasure.

Read on to find out which films we recommend for your holiday weekend screen entertainment and tell us about your favorite Fourth of July viewing habits in the comments.

Click through to the “Where to Watch” section of each film’s page to find out where the movies are available by streaming subscription or to rent or buy.

#1

1776 (1972)
68%

#1
Adjusted Score: 70004%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The nation's fathers harmonize their way through the founding of America in this musical adapted from a popular Broadway show.... [More]
Directed By: Peter H. Hunt

#2

Air Force One (1997)
79%

#2
Adjusted Score: 83094%
Critics Consensus: This late-period Harrison Ford actioner is full of palpable, if not entirely seamless, thrills.
Synopsis: After making a speech in Moscow vowing to never negotiate with terrorists, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) boards Air Force... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 103051%
Critics Consensus: A taut, solidly acted paean to the benefits of a free press and the dangers of unchecked power, made all the more effective by its origins in real-life events.
Synopsis: Two green reporters and rivals working for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), research... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 94733%
Critics Consensus: A charming romantic comedy with political bite, Rob Reiner's American President features strong lead performances and some poignant observations of politics and media in the 1990s.
Synopsis: With the end of his first term in sight, widowed U.S. President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) knows that overwhelming public... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#5

An American Tail (1986)
77%

#5
Adjusted Score: 85835%
Critics Consensus: Exquisitely animated, An American Tail is a sweet, melancholy, immigrants story.
Synopsis: A young mouse named Fievel Mousekewitz (Phillip Glasser) and his family emigrate from Russia to the United States by boat... [More]
Directed By: Don Bluth

#6

Apollo 13 (1995)
96%

#6
Adjusted Score: 103199%
Critics Consensus: In recreating the troubled space mission, Apollo 13 pulls no punches: it's a masterfully told drama from director Ron Howard, bolstered by an ensemble of solid performances.
Synopsis: This Hollywood drama is based on the events of the Apollo 13 lunar mission, astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#7

Argo (2012)
96%

#7
Adjusted Score: 113731%
Critics Consensus: Tense, exciting, and often darkly comic, Argo recreates a historical event with vivid attention to detail and finely wrought characters.
Synopsis: On Nov. 4, 1979, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, taking 66 American hostages. Amid the chaos, six... [More]
Directed By: Ben Affleck

#8

Armageddon (1998)
43%

#8
Adjusted Score: 54222%
Critics Consensus: Lovely to look at but about as intelligent as the asteroid that serves as the movie's antagonist, Armageddon slickly sums up the cinematic legacies of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay.
Synopsis: When an asteroid threatens to collide with Earth, NASA honcho Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton) determines the only way to... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#9

Black Hawk Down (2001)
77%

#9
Adjusted Score: 83187%
Critics Consensus: Though it's light on character development and cultural empathy, Black Hawk Down is a visceral, pulse-pounding portrait of war, elevated by Ridley Scott's superb technical skill.
Synopsis: The film takes place in 1993 when the U.S. sent special forces into Somalia to destabilize the government and bring... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#10
Adjusted Score: 88776%
Critics Consensus: Led by an unforgettable performance from Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July finds director Oliver Stone tackling thought-provoking subject matter with ambitious élan.
Synopsis: In the mid 1960s, suburban New York teenager Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) enlists in the Marines, fulfilling what he sees... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#11
Adjusted Score: 91106%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.
Synopsis: It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 77624%
Critics Consensus: Eddie Murphy was in full control at this point, starkly evident in Coming to America's John Landis' coasting direction.
Synopsis: Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#13

Da 5 Bloods (2020)
92%

#13
Adjusted Score: 110139%
Critics Consensus: Fierce energy and ambition course through Da 5 Bloods, coming together to fuel one of Spike Lee's most urgent and impactful films.
Synopsis: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#14

Devotion (2022)
81%

#14
Adjusted Score: 87031%
Critics Consensus: Honoring real-life history while delivering impactful drama, Devotion is a straightforward biopic elevated by standout performances from a talented cast.
Synopsis: Devotion, an aerial war epic based on the bestselling book of the same name, tells the harrowing true story of... [More]
Directed By: J.D. Dillard

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 85884%
Critics Consensus: Flags of Our Fathers is both a fascinating look at heroism, both earned and manufactured, and a well-filmed salute to the men who fought at the battle of Iwo Jima.
Synopsis: In February and March of 1945, U.S. troops fight and win one of the most crucial and costly battles of... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#16

Forrest Gump (1994)
71%

#16
Adjusted Score: 79246%
Critics Consensus: Forrest Gump may be an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message, but its sweetness and charm are usually enough to approximate true depth and grace.
Synopsis: Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field),... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#17

Gettysburg (1993)
77%

#17
Adjusted Score: 78350%
Critics Consensus: Gettysburg's reverent approach to history is balanced with the committed work of a talented cast - and the hard-hitting dramatization of a bloody turning point in the Civil War.
Synopsis: This war drama depicts one of the biggest events of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg. The massive... [More]
Directed By: Ronald F. Maxwell

#18

Glory (1989)
95%

#18
Adjusted Score: 99673%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made.
Synopsis: Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#19

Hamilton (2020)
98%

#19
Adjusted Score: 109313%
Critics Consensus: Look around, look around at how beautifully Hamilton shines beyond Broadway - and at how marvelously Thomas Kail captures the stage show's infectious energy.
Synopsis: The original Broadway production of the award-winning musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the treasury,... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Kail

#20

Harriet (2019)
74%

#20
Adjusted Score: 85970%
Critics Consensus: Harriet serves as a sincere tribute to a pivotal figure in American history -- albeit one undermined by its frustratingly formulaic approach.
Synopsis: From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad,... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#21

Hidden Figures (2016)
93%

#21
Adjusted Score: 108775%
Critics Consensus: In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked -- and crucial -- contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
Synopsis: Three brilliant African American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- serve as the brains... [More]
Directed By: Theodore Melfi

#22
Adjusted Score: 49943%
Critics Consensus: A by-the-numbers slasher that arrived a decade too late, the mostly tedious I Know What You Did Last Summer will likely only hook diehard fans of the genre.
Synopsis: A year after running over a fisherman and dumping his body in the water, four friends reconvene when Julie (Jennifer... [More]
Directed By: Jim Gillespie

#23

Independence Day (1996)
68%

#23
Adjusted Score: 73420%
Critics Consensus: The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.
Synopsis: In the epic adventure film "Independence Day," strange phenomena surface around the globe. The skies ignite. Terror races through the... [More]
Directed By: Roland Emmerich

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 102672%
Critics Consensus: A classic Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, Inglourious Basterds is violent, unrestrained, and thoroughly entertaining.
Synopsis: It is the first year of Germany's occupation of France. Allied officer Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) assembles a team... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#25

Jaws (1975)
97%

#25
Adjusted Score: 109190%
Critics Consensus: Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg's Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.
Synopsis: When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island,... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 87957%
Critics Consensus: Sentimental and light, but still thoroughly charming, A League of Their Own is buoyed by solid performances from a wonderful cast.
Synopsis: As America's stock of athletic young men is depleted during World War II, a professional all-female baseball league springs up... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#27

Lincoln (2012)
90%

#27
Adjusted Score: 103780%
Critics Consensus: Daniel Day-Lewis characteristically delivers in this witty, dignified portrait that immerses the audience in its world and entertains even as it informs.
Synopsis: With the nation embroiled in still another year with the high death count of Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln brings... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 90262%
Critics Consensus: Live Free or Die Hard may be preposterous, but it's an efficient, action-packed summer popcorn flick with thrilling stunts and a commanding performance by Bruce Willis. Fans of the previous Die Hard films will not be disappointed.
Synopsis: As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, veteran cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) carries out another routine assignment: bringing... [More]
Directed By: Len Wiseman

#29

Lone Survivor (2013)
75%

#29
Adjusted Score: 85336%
Critics Consensus: A true account of military courage and survival, Lone Survivor wields enough visceral power to mitigate its heavy-handed jingoism.
Synopsis: In 2005 Afghanistan, Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew "Axe"... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#30

Men in Black (1997)
91%

#30
Adjusted Score: 97178%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.
Synopsis: They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee... [More]
Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld

#31

Miracle (2004)
81%

#31
Adjusted Score: 86194%
Critics Consensus: Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness.
Synopsis: When college coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is hired to helm the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team, he brings... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#32
Adjusted Score: 110375%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington -- and returns with an uplifting ode to idealism that distills the strengths of its director and leading man.
Synopsis: When the idealistic young Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) winds up appointed to the United States Senate, he gains the mentorship... [More]
Directed By: Frank Capra

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 51705%
Critics Consensus: National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot.
Synopsis: Historian and code-breaker Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been searching his whole life for a rumored treasure dating back to... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 48258%
Critics Consensus: Parents might call this either a spectacle-filled adventure or a shallow and vapid CG-fest, depending on whether they choose to embrace this on the same level as their kids.
Synopsis: A night watchman (Ben Stiller) at a museum of natural history makes a startling discovery: Thanks to the unleashing of... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Levy

#35

The Patriot (2000)
62%

#35
Adjusted Score: 67240%
Critics Consensus: The Patriot can be entertaining to watch, but it relies too much on formula and melodrama.
Synopsis: Mel Gibson portrays Benjamin Martin, an unassuming man who is forced to join the American Revolution when the British threaten... [More]
Directed By: Roland Emmerich

#36

Patton (1970)
91%

#36
Adjusted Score: 99023%
Critics Consensus: George C. Scott's sympathetic, unflinching portrayal of the titular general in this sprawling epic is as definitive as any performance in the history of American biopics.
Synopsis: Biography of controversial World War II hero General George S. Patton. The film covers his wartime activities and accomplishments, beginning... [More]
Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner

#37

The Post (2017)
88%

#37
Adjusted Score: 110847%
Critics Consensus: The Post's period setting belies its bitingly timely themes, brought compellingly to life by director Steven Spielberg and an outstanding ensemble cast.
Synopsis: Katharine Graham is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper -- The Washington Post. With help from editor... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#38

The Right Stuff (1983)
96%

#38
Adjusted Score: 101214%
Critics Consensus: The Right Stuff packs a lot of movie into its hefty running time, spinning a colorful, fact-based story out of consistently engaging characters in the midst of epochal events.
Synopsis: This adaptation of the non-fiction novel by Tom Wolfe chronicles the first 15 years of America's space program. By focusing... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#39

Rocky (1976)
92%

#39
Adjusted Score: 101617%
Critics Consensus: This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.
Synopsis: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#40

The Sandlot (1993)
65%

#40
Adjusted Score: 70602%
Critics Consensus: It may be shamelessly derivative and overly nostalgic, but The Sandlot is nevertheless a genuinely sweet and funny coming-of-age adventure.
Synopsis: When Scottie Smalls (Thomas Guiry) moves to a new neighborhood, he manages to make friends with a group of kids... [More]
Directed By: David M. Evans

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 103220%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by another winning performance from Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg's unflinchingly realistic war film virtually redefines the genre.
Synopsis: Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#42
Adjusted Score: 83454%
Critics Consensus: Team America will either offend you or leave you in stitches. It'll probably do both.
Synopsis: When North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il (Trey Parker) orchestrates a global terrorist plot, it's up to the heavily armed marionettes... [More]
Directed By: Trey Parker, Matt Stone

#43

Top Gun (1986)
57%

#43
Adjusted Score: 64805%
Critics Consensus: Though it features some of the most memorable and electrifying aereial footage shot with an expert eye for action, Top Gun offers too little for non-adolescent viewers to chew on when its characters aren't in the air.
Synopsis: The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School is where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 122200%
Critics Consensus: Top Gun: Maverick pulls off a feat even trickier than a 4G inverted dive, delivering a long-belated sequel that surpasses its predecessor in wildly entertaining style.
Synopsis: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Kosinski

#45

U-571 (2000)
68%

#45
Adjusted Score: 72290%
Critics Consensus: Excellent cinematography and an interesting plot accompanied by a talented cast and crew make U-571 a tense thriller.
Synopsis: When a German U-571 submarine with a sophisticated encryption machine onboard is sunk during a World War II battle at... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Mostow

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: 95310%
Critics Consensus: James Cagney deploys his musical gifts to galvanizing effect in Yankee Doodle Dandy, a celebration of patriotic fervor as much as it is a biopic of George M. Cohan.
Synopsis: Brought to the White House to receive a Congressional Gold Medal from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Broadway legend George M.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#47

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
91%

#47
Adjusted Score: 105806%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, suspenseful, and brilliantly crafted, Zero Dark Thirty dramatizes the hunt for Osama bin Laden with intelligence and an eye for detail.
Synopsis: Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden becomes one of the most-wanted men on the planet.... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow