This year’s Independence Day is a little different.

Between rising coronavirus counts, canceled fireworks shows (but fireworks everywhere, anyway), and social-distancing orders, it might just be safest to stay home and pop on a movie to celebrate. And between the release of Hamilton and a selection of movies available to stream, there’s no shortage of films from which to choose.

Here, we’ve rounded up 15 movies worth watching right now, from serious historical dramas to classic summer blockbusters. Heck, you can even stream them in your own backyard.

Check out our list below:


With a release just before Independence Day, Hamilton is begging for a holiday watch party. This taped production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical is a historical, hip-hop-heavy chronicle of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. (2020, PG-13)

Available on: Disney+ starting July 3

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

It may be more than 80 years old, but this Jimmy Stewart flick is still relevant. Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, who unexpectedly becomes a state senator and refuses to sell out his idealistic views in the face of government corruption. Not a bad choice in an election year. (1939, NR)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube


Considered one of the first true summer blockbusters, Jaws takes place on Fourth of July weekend in a small beach town being terrorized by a great white shark, which seems like a quaint danger nowadays. Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), however, is loathe to close the beaches, fearing the town’s economy will suffer — sound familiar? (1975, PG)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, HBO Go, HBO Max, HBO Now, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube


Director Ava DuVernay’s Selma is a powerful study of racial injustice in America. Dr. Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) leads voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965. Following the marches that year, the landmark Voting Rights Act was passed, prohibiting racial discrimination at the polls. Truly a movie worth a rewatch in this moment. (2014, PG-13)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Get on the Bus

Virtually all Spike Lee joints are worth a watch on the Fourth of July, but this drama may be the most apropos right now. Set in 1995, the film follows a group of 15 Black men on a cross-country bus journey from Los Angeles to Washington, where they plan to attend that year’s Million Man March. (1996, R)

Available on: Netflix

Rocky IV

What? You thought we’d forget about Philadelphia’s favorite fictional son? In what is easily the most patriotic of the Rocky series, Sylvester Stallone once again portrays Rocky Balboa to take on Soviet boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and avenge the death of former rival Apollo Creed. Russian adversaries also feel strangely current right now. (1985, PG)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube


This historical drama follows the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment — one of the first Black regiments in the Union Army during the Civil War. Starring Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington, among others, this one is packed with an all-star cast and plenty of history. (1989, R)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube.

Born on the Fourth of July

Based on a true story, this movie earned Tom Cruise his first Academy Award nomination for his role as Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. The film, directed by Oliver Stone, follows Kovic’s life over a two-decade period, as he goes from a Marine who is paralyzed during a battle to a prolific antiwar activist. (1989, R)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Starz, Vudu, YouTube

A League of Their Own

With an all-star cast including Madonna, Geena Davis, and Rosie O’Donnell, this empowering comedy-drama tells a fictionalized story of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which got its start during World War II. Funny and feminist, this flick was preserved in the National Film Registry in 2012 for its cultural significance. (1992, PG)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Forrest Gump

Few films touch on as many 20th-century historical events and pop culture developments as this 1995 best picture winner from director Robert Zemeckis. From desegregation and the Vietnam War to Watergate and the invention of the smiley face, Tom Hanks’ titular character is there for it all. (1994, PG-13)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Starz, YouTube

The Tuskegee Airmen

This historical drama from HBO focuses on the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, who fought in World War II. Starring Laurence Fishburne and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, it earned a 1996 Peabody Award and three Emmys. (1995, PG-13)

Available on: Google Play, HBO Go, HBO Max, HBO Now, Vudu, YouTube

Independence Day

This sci-fi classic has humanity uniting to defeat a common enemy in the form of extraterrestrial invaders destroying the planet. Plus, Will Smith, Philadelphia’s favorite nonfiction son, stars as Captain Steven Hiller, a tough-talking Marine who fistfights aliens and spouts off lovably cheesy lines. Let’s hope 2020 keeps its challenges terrestrial. (1996, PG-13)

Available on: Amazon, AMC, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube


Actor Daniel Day-Lewis won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln in this biopic. Rather than span the length of Lincoln’s life, the movie focuses on its final four months and highlights his efforts to abolish slavery with the passage of the 13th Amendment. (2012, PG-13)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Hidden Figures

Sending John Glenn to orbit the Earth in 1962 is one of NASA’s defining moments, but it never would have happened without the work of the three Black female mathematicians — Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) — and this film gives the three their long overdue moment in the sun. (2016, PG)

Available on: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube.

All the Way

Based on the Robert Schenkkan play of the same name, Bryan Cranston adapts his Tony Award-winning stage role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in this HBO film. The story focuses on Johnson, newly in office after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, as he works to pass the pivotal Civil Rights Act of 1964. (2016, TV-14)

Available on: HBO Go, HBO Max, HBO Now, iTunes, YouTube