The Mermaid parade, hot dog eating contests, family barbecues, the pool, fireworks…there are many things you can do on the Fourth of July , but we recommend you spend at least part of your holiday weekend watching movies as well. Not sure what to choose? Craving a few laughs? Want a not-so-common recommendation? We’ve got you covered. 

Here are some of our favorite movies that hold that special summer/Americana feel.

“Jaws”

Starting off with a classic! There’s no better way to celebrate the Fourth than with a day at the beach… well, unless that beach is being terrorized by a great white shark. Amidst thrill and terror, “Jaws” is drenched in mid-summer ecstasy – it’s the perfect watch for summer, not to mention the Fourth of July.

“Nashville”

Robert Altman’s “Nashville” is deeply American, both on the surface and underneath its themes. The movie is a tapestry of American life, telling the stories of 24 people who live, travel through and escape Nashville throughout the span of five days. The film presents a kaleidoscope of lives: mothers, fathers, actors, singers, politicians – everyone. “Nashville” is a deeply layered film with everything you need to celebrate American culture and its reputation, including a twang that rings through the film in voice and song. 

“Forrest Gump” 

Honoring America often means looking back on our country’s historical moments, and what better way to do it than in the lighthearted dramedy of “Forrest Gump.” The titular protagonist, Forrest Gump, is a lovable character who lives the American life of family, love and adventure….while coincidentally stumbling (or running!) into many of the most iconic moments from the 20th century.

“Dick” 

Similar to “Forrest Gump,” “Dick” takes a quirky turn on American history, mixing in a whole lot of satire, camp and some terrible puns. Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dust star as two teenage girls who wander off during a high school tour of the White House and accidentally become the official dog walkers of Richard Nixon. In doing so, they uncover the Watergate scandal (of course). 

“Smoke Signals” 

“Smoke Signals” begins on the night of July 4, 1976, yet the film nods at the hypocrisy of so-called American freedom. Travel across the country with two young Native American men, Victor and Thomas, as they share stories of their respective father and father figure, Arnold. While this movie is not the typical Fourth of July flick we often see on posters and advertisements, it is a move that honors a different view of the real America, and that’s something to celebrate. 

Best of Baseball: “A League of Their Own,” “Field of Dreams,” “42” and “The Sandlot”

Whether you’re a fan or not, nothing says America quite like baseball, and these movies combine that quintessential American pastime with a bit of drama and humor while honoring the sport, its historical moments and the culture surrounding it.

“A League of Their Own” tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and the female players who literally saved baseball during World War II. 

“42” also follows a momentous era of sports history, tracking the career of Jackie Robinson, the first African American athlete to play in Major League Baseball.

“Field of Dreams,” although nowhere near as educational or historically accurate (unless you believe ghosts are real…) is still a moving film about the greatest names of baseball and the power of family and memories.

If you need something to entertain the kids (or just can’t watch anything that requires concentration), “The Sandlot” celebrates nostalgia and summer freedom. It follows a group of neighborhood children who bond over baseball in the summer of 1962 in Los Angeles.

We hope you’ll enjoy some of our favorite picks this holiday weekend. 

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Kaitlyn Hardy is studying journalism and film at Emerson College. In addition to being a writer, Kaitlyn is also an avid reader, tea drinker, and movie watcher.