The Best Movies to See in Theaters for National Cinema Day


Films on the roster for National Cinema Day include Oppenheimer, Barbie, Jurassic Park, Blue Beetle, Gran Turismo and more! Universal Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures/Murray Close via Getty Images/Hopper Stone/SMPSP/™ & © DC Comics/Gordon Timpen

For the second year in a row, movie theaters across the country are celebrating National Cinema Day. This Sunday, August 27th, theater goers will be able to secure $4 tickets to everything from the weekend’s newest movies to summer’s biggest hits to some exciting re-releases. Movie fans are spoiled for choice here, so we’re breaking down the major titles that you can see this Sunday.

Gran Turismo

Neill Blomkamp “draws the audience into the driver’s seat” in Gran Turismo, a movie that splits the difference between biopic and video game adaptation with exciting results. It tells the story of Jann Mardenborough, a teen who excelled at the Gran Turismo video game and was able to break into the world of racing. The largest release of the weekend, there will be plenty of showtimes for anyone who’s got a need for speed. Read Emily Zemler’s review for Observer here.


For a similar level of action in a very different vein, viewers can give Bottoms a watch. This movie takes the high school sex comedy to new heights—not only does it focus on a couple of gay teens, but it shows them combatting their sexual repression by starting an all-female fight club. On the whole, it’s “a brilliantly bizarre movie that pushes boundaries and packs a punch.” Read Laura Babiak’s review for Observer here.


Another new release may sound like it has a bit of a familiar plot: Liam Neeson must outsmart a shadowy, ransom-seeking baddie in order to protect his family. Retribution plays out like one of the actor’s usual action flicks from the past decade or two (effectively exciting if a bit formulaic), though this one takes from a classic like Speed just as much as it does from Taken. Read Rex Reed’s review for Observer here.

Blue Beetle

In spite of DC’s middling theatrical record, Blue Beetle stands out from its peers. This superhero movie has charmed critics with its emphasis on its lead character (Xolo Maridueña) and his extended family as opposed to otherworldly aims. It’s the first superhero movie to star a Latino (and one of the few big-budget blockbusters to do so), and it includes an excellent Latino ensemble cast and a unique sensibility about everything from 20th century revolutionaries to contemporary gentrification—plus it’s got plenty of action.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

For lighter, more child-friendly fare, theaters will certainly have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem locked and loaded for families this Sunday. The newest entry in a long line of movies, Mutant Mayhem has garnered some of the best reviews of the greater franchise, with critics hailing it as “the best coming-of-age comedy of the summer” as well as a “rowdy good time.” It’s sure to be fun for the whole family.


Gleefully low-brow in a way that few movies are these days, Strays makes for a raunchy, refreshing watch about talking dogs. A kind of anti-Homeward Bound, the movie features Will Ferrell as Reggie, a chronically abandoned pup whose journey home sees him befriending dogs voiced by the likes of Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher and Randall Park. From there, “it’s like Wedding Crashers, with man’s best friend instead of Bradley Cooper.” Read Emily Zemler’s review for Observer here.

Talk to Me

For a movie that’s sure to shock your system, try Talk to Me. This Australian horror flick was picked up by A24 after a heated bidding battle, and anyone who’s seen it and lived to tell the tale can tell you why it’s such a hot commodity. The film revolves around a group of teens who’ve found a way to commune with the dead by reaching out to an embalmed severed hand. Things go wrong like you’d expect them to, but the movie makes creepy work of it all.


There’s a good chance you’ve already seen Barbie (it became the highest-grossing movie of the year in the U.S. earlier this week), but why not see it and bask in its pink glory all over again for just $4? Greta Gerwig’s imaginative opus strikes a balance between “unhinged whimsy, deep humanity and comedic bliss.” If nothing else, there’s so much going on on-screen that you’re sure to catch a few new gags the second time around. Read Emily Zemler’s review for Observer here.


You’d be paying just over a dollar an hour to watch Oppenheimer this Sunday, a spectacular deal for one of Christopher Nolan’s grandest films yet. The discount applies to special format screenings as well, so you’d hardly be splurging if you decided to catch the film as Nolan intended it, in IMAX 70mm—trust us, it makes a difference. It’s the movie that Christopher Nolan “has been preparing to make for his entire 25-year career,” per Dylan Roth. Read Rex Reed’s review for Observer here.


One of the exciting re-releases you can catch this weekend has actually been in theaters for a hot minute. Production and distribution NEON have put out a remastered, 4K version of Park Chan-wook’s contemporary classic Oldboy for its 20th anniversary. Intensely enthralling (and incredibly violent), it’s a good idea to see this revenge tale on as big of a screen as you can. Its action is brutal and bruising, its camera work expert, and its story is one you won’t forget.

Lady Bird

If you’re thinking of seeing Barbie again, why not make it a Greta Gerwig double feature? Theaters are re-releasing Lady Bird for National Cinema Day, and it couldn’t come at a better time. This sweet-but-sharp coming-of-age movie rings true to the experience of girls and their mothers everywhere, with a winning pair of performances from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf (plus a hilarious supporting turn from Timothée Chalamet). It’s hard to believe Gerwig’s directorial career began only 6 years ago, but her affinity for it shines through. Read Rex Reed’s review here. 

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is gearing up for a special re-release for its 30th anniversary, and audiences everywhere can enjoy Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking film in theaters as if it were 1993—for about the same price as they would’ve paid in ‘93, too. The dinos are just as realistic, the dialogue just as quotable, and Jeff Goldblum just as, well, Jeff Goldblum all these years later. If you’re up for a summer classic, theaters have you covered.

American Graffiti

Another movie with an anniversary-related re-release is American Graffiti. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, George Lucas’ dramedy breakthrough is a far cry from the high-concept adventures that the filmmaker would become famous for. The movie (which features Harrison Ford in one of his earliest roles) follows a group of teens in the early ‘60s before the start of a new school year, ending up as a kind of darker Dazed and Confused as its characters cruise around their small town on the last night of summer. 

Sunday’s National Cinema Day Means $4 Movie Tickets—Here’s What to Watch

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