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5 best Netflix movies to watch on the 4th of July

Three people chat in Something's Gotta Give.

How do you celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s official birthday and unofficial day to gorge on hot dogs and other cooked meat? Do you watch fireworks light up the sky? Host a BBQ for your friends and family? Travel to another destination and live to regret it?

Here at Digital Trends, we celebrate July Fourth by doing what we do best: watch movies. And what better way to celebrate Independence Day than to access your Netflix subscription and watch some good flicks? The five movies chosen below aren’t explicitly patriotic or about America per se, but they all are a great way to pass the time while you eat food that’s bad for you or dodge unwanted relatives.

Need more recommendations? Then read our guides to the best movies on Netflix, best comedies on Netflix, and best action movies on Netflix.

Hit Man (2024)

Two people talk at a table in Hit Man.

Richard Linklater is the most American of directors working today, and I can’t explain why. Is it because many of his films, like Dazed and Confused and Boyhood, focus on the day-to-day life in the United States? Maybe. But there’s nothing ordinary about Hit Man, the director’s latest, which follows a meek philosophy professor, Gary Johnson, who moonlights as a mock hit man for the New Orleans police.

It sounds outlandish, but this plot is actually based on a true story. The movie embellishes the truth a bit when Gary becomes involved with an abused wife, Madison Masters, who wants to hire him to get rid of her deadbeat husband. Gary falls for Madison, which, naturally, complicates matters, and brings the both of them closer to danger than either one is comfortable with. One of the key charms of Hit Man is watching lead star Glen Powell flex his movie star charisma as the lovelorn Gary. When the movie is over, you’ll understand why Madison is won over by him, and why murder maybe isn’t such a high price to pay for true love. (I’m kidding; murder is always wrong.)

Hit Man is streaming on Netflix.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give.
Warner Bros.

If you feel like going to the beach but don’t want to sit in traffic all day or be bothered with other people, stay home and watch Something’s Gotta Give. The breezy comedy takes place largely at the immaculate Hamptons home of famous playwright Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), whose summer escape from the big city is disrupted by the presence of Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), a legendary womanizer who is seeing her twentysomething daughter (Amanda Peet).

When a heart attack leaves Harry confined to his bedroom, sparks fly between Erica and her unwanted guest, complicating matters for all involved. Throw in a young doctor lovesick for Erica (Keanu Reeves) and Erica’s sarcastic professor sister (Frances McDormand) who doesn’t mince words, and you have a screwball comedy for the modern age.

Something’s Gotta Give‘s plot is deliberately far-fetched, but what makes it work are the winning lead performances by Keaton and Nicholson as Erica and Harry, who first hate each other, then like each other, and … well, you know the drill. The movie’s beautiful locations, which includes a trip to NYC and Paris, make it ideal for those who want to escape this Fourth of July.

Something’s Gotta Give is streaming on Netflix.

Spider-Man (2002)

A man and a woman talk in Spider-Man.

There’s no shot more American than the one at the end of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, when our favorite wall-crawler (sorry, Nightcrawler) swings his way onto a building that holds a giant American flag. It’s a stunning, not-at-all subtle shot, but it works, because the movie before it is so full of rah-rah optimism and good cheer that it could sell anything, even Bush-era patriotism. Over two decades later, it still holds up, and is maybe even better than ever thanks to recent superhero dreck like Madame Web and The Marvels.

You know the story by now: nerdy high schooler Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, assumes the powers of a spider, and is New York City’s best hope against a mysterious flying menace known as the Green Goblin. You might also know that Tobey Maguire (The Ice Storm) still remains the best and definitive Spider-Man, while Kirsten Dunst (Civil War) and Rosemary Harris (Tom & Viv) fill their stock roles as Mary Jane and Aunt May with enough warmth and depth to make them fully three-dimensional.

As Green Goblin, Willem Dafoe (Nosferatu) steals the show whenever he’s onscreen, and the rousing Danny Elfman score might just make you stand up and start mock swinging all over your living room. If that happens, mind the vases and glassware, please.

Spider-Man is streaming on Netflix. Its sequel, the 2004 crown jewel superhero epic Spider-Man 2, is also streaming.

A Walk in the Woods (2015)

Two men talk outside in A Walk in the Woods.
Broad Green Pictures

What’s more American than watching two old men get lost in the woods? OK, that doesn’t sound like the most exciting movie ever made, but A Walk in the Woods works because it presents two interesting characters who aren’t necessarily soulmates, but who need to each other to make their way in and out of America’s wilderness. Insert your political/social allegory right here.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid star Robert Redford plays real-life writer Bill Bryson, a retired nonfiction author who decides to explore nature over the objections of his loving wife, Catherine (Emma Thompson). He teams up with his old friend Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte) and, along the way, rediscovers his passion for writing and reconnects with Stephen, whose gone down a different path since he last saw Bill. A Walk in the Woods is a quiet movie, but never boring; Bill and Stephen have a thorny but amusing friendship, one that holds your attention all throughout the film’s 104-minute runtime.

A Walk in the Woods is streaming on Netflix.

Burnt (2015)

A man stands behind a table in Burnt.
The Weinstein Company

Fourth of July usually involves two things: fireworks and food. Burnt has plenty of the latter, and as for the former, the movie, about a down-and-out chef working his way back up from disgrace, contains lots of drama that is just as explosive as any sparklers you can purchase at the store.

Maestro actor Bradley Cooper stars as Adam Jones, a scruffy superstar chef whose drug use has ruined his once-promising career. Now sober, he moves to London to claw back the respect of his peers while also attempting to run a restaurant with an unruly staff.

Does Adam rub people the wrong way but are ultimately won over by his roguish charm? I’ll let you discover the answer for yourself. Burnt is no The Bear, but it is an entertaining watch if you’re a foodie or are susceptible to the charms of Cooper or co-stars Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson, Omar Sy, and Alicia Vikander. I am, so that’s why I’m recommending this movie.

Burnt is streaming on Netflix.

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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