Top 8 Movies to Watch on the 4th of July

PHOTO: Nicolas Cage in "National Treasure"
Robert Zuckerman/Buena Vista Pictures

No plans for the 4th of July? If hitting the beach, gorging on barbecue and basking in the sun sounds like a nightmare for your precious mid-summer day off today, why not stay inside and celebrate America as we do it best: on the couch with a great movie. Here is a list of recommended films from ABCNews.com that explore and celebrate not only turning points in our rich, shared history, but offer plenty of blowing stuff up and kicking the snot out of alien invaders. Enjoy!

PHOTO: Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in Frost/Nixon
Ralph Nelson/Universal Pictures
Frost/Nixon

In 1977, it had been three years since Richard Nixon had resigned from the U.S. presidency in front of a worldwide audience of 400 million. Since that moment, he remained outside the public eye, and British talk show host David Frost, a journalist with a rep for lightweight fare, was desperate to interview him. Given a promise of a sizable payment, Nixon agrees. Ron Howard's take on the 2006 Peter Morgan play creates a palpable tension between the two damaged men as Michael Sheen's Frost breaks down Frank Langella's Nixon, forcing him to admit to his role in one of America's greatest political scandals, and that he "let the American people down." It's also in that interview that Nixon uttered that deathless line, "When the president does it, that means it's not illegal."

PHOTO: Daniel Day-Lewis stars in "Lincoln."
20th Century Fox
Lincoln

Steven Spielberg's examination of the Great Emancipator jettisons the traditional cradle-to-grave biopic format in favor of focusing on one of Lincoln's -- and America's -- defining hours: the passage of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. An understated central performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, which earned him his third Best Actor Oscar, is punctuated by Spielbergian moments of light comedy and buoyed by a stellar supporting cast, including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon Levitt.

PHOTO: Nicolas Cage in "National Treasure"
Robert Zuckerman/Buena Vista Pictures
National Treasure

If you're looking for more of a fun adventure than a stern history lesson this 4th, join Nic Cage's amateur cryptologist, who is joined by Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha as they race to find a legendary treasure trove hidden by the Freemasons during the American Revolution. Though it was widely perceived as a cash-in on the popularity of the novel "The Da Vinci Code," "National Treasure" proved to be enough fun to spawn a sequel, and there may be a third installment to come.

PHOTO: Scene from Independence Day
20th Century Fox
Independence Day

Now the inspiration for many a crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster, Roland Emmerich's 1996 masterstroke "Independence Day" sent Will Smith's career into the stratosphere with a fist to an alien's kisser and one simple line: "Welcome to Earth!" If you haven't seen it, which is unlikely, you'd better buckle in for two-and-a-half hours of alien invasion, exploding national monuments and a tear-jerking speech from President Bill Pullman, as America's bravest (Randy Quaid!): "Fight for our freedom -- not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution -- but from annihilation."

PHOTO: Kurt Russell in Miracle"
Buena Vista Pictures
Miracle

Named by Sports Illustrated magazine as the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century, the Miracle on Ice stands as a defining chapter of U.S. history. At the height of Cold War tension, a team of U.S. amateur and collegiate hockey players took on the long-dominant and heavily-favored Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. And won. The inspirational 2004 movie starring Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson and Noah Emmerich tells the tale of how the team overcame odds and united the nation.

Born on the Fourth of July

As he transitioned from action and comedy films into more serious fare, Tom Cruise delved into the role of veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone's adaptation of Kovic's autobiography. Kovic is transitioning from the brutality of the Vietnam war into the disillusionment of veterans returning home to an America that has turned against them. Stone's film, the middle installment of his lauded Vietnam trilogy, plummets viewers into a contentious topic during a decade when shifting ideals and activism fueled the country.

Glory

Considered one of the greatest films about the American Civil War, "Glory" has an all-star cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. Broderick plays Col. Robert Gould Shaw, who leads the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first U.S. Army unit to be made up entirely of African-American men. The film, which looks at the July 1863 assault on Fort Wagner, won up-and-coming Washington his first Oscar.

PHOTO: Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney in John Adams
Kent Eanes/HBO
John Adams

If you're planning to spend Independence Day inside, why not marathon one of the most acclaimed miniseries of the past decade? HBO's "John Adams" takes viewers through the political life of our nation's second president, and looks at the United States' first 50 years. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney lead the cast as John and Abigail Adams in the series, which took home a record-shattering 13 Primetime Emmy Awards. Bonus: You can currently stream the whole series on HBOGo.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...