The obvious choice for a July 4th movie marathon would include a stirring speech from Bill Pullman and Will Smith punching an alien in the face. Few people can deny the joy in that, but here are some other classic options to invigorate your American spirit, in chronological order.
The Grapes Of Wrath, 1940 (Five Academy Award nominations)
John Ford's highly acclaimed adaptation doesn't come close to embodying the depth and despair of Steinbeck's classic novel about Depression-era migrant workers, but it still stands alone as a powerful meditation on family, resilience, and the American spirit. Though the movie may feel dated at times (it's nearly 75 years old, cut it some slack), Henry Fonda's performance as Tom Joad will always be a powerful testament to American endurance.
To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962 (Eight Academy Award nominations)
Another classic adaptation of a beloved novel—this one about a small Alabama town forced to confront its ingrained social ills. The story, told through the eyes of young Scout Finch, somehow examines issues of race, class, gender, and small-town myth, without losing its authentic emotional core. If you haven't seen it since high school, it's time to give it another chance.
Jaws, 1975 (Four Academy Award nominations)
There are few better ways to celebrate the Fourth Of July than with America's first true summer blockbuster. Spielberg's early masterpiece features a lively Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider (arguably at their best), as well as a giant animatronic shark and an iconic score that is still suspenseful. Throw on some boat shoes, pop some popcorn, and enjoy.
The Natural, 1984 (Four Academy Award nominations)
In this gem, Robert Redford plays a mysteriously gifted farm boy playing inspired baseball in pre-war America. Based on the novel of the same name by Bernard Malamud, The Natural tells the story of Roy Hobbs, the kid whose meteoric rise to glory is cut short by tragedy. It's a story about identity, humility, and redemption. And America's favorite pastime: baseball.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000 (Two Academy Award nominations)
Mostly known for its fantastic soundtrack (that had everyone falling in love with bluegrass), and a brilliantly comic performance from George Clooney, this celebrated film is perfect for your Independence Day marathon. It features chain gangs, train-jumping hobos, bank robbers, and yes, some authentic American music. It's bizarre and hilarious, and expertly written and directed by the Coen brothers, who take the Greek classic, The Odyssey, and make it a quintessentially American tale.
MORE MOVIES ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
• Tips for a Successful Movie Party
• Cinema Style: 20 Unforgettable American Movie Interiors
• Apartment Therapy Goes to the Movies
Re-edited from a post originally published 6.28.2012 - cm