War movies are some of the most popular films around. They offer a unique and interesting perspective on one of the most dramatic events in human history. They can also be extremely entertaining and suspenseful.
However, not all war movies are created equal. Some are better than others, and some are downright classics. The films on this list are some of the best war movies of all time, and they depict different wars, from World War II to medieval wars. They tell powerful stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and they are all worth watching.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998)
Saving Private Ryan is a powerful war drama that follows a group of soldiers as they embark on a dangerous mission to save a private whose brothers have all been killed in battle. The intense scenes, gripping plot, and well-crafted characters make this movie one of the best war movies of all time.
Casablanca is a classic World War II movie set in the Moroccan city of the same name. It stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, a nightclub owner who is drawn into the conflict when he meets Ilsa Lund (played by Ingrid Bergman), a former lover who is now married to Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a freedom fighter who is attempting to escape the Nazis. As Rick becomes more involved with assisting Ilsa and her husband, he is forced to make difficult decisions about which side he should choose.
Casablanca has earned numerous awards over the years, including three Academy Awards in 1943: Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein). It is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time.
SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993)
Schindler’s List is a powerful and harrowing film about the Holocaust, starring Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who risked his life to save Jewish workers from the concentration camps. Featuring stunning cinematography and flawless acting, this Oscar-winning movie tells an important story while keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.
GRAND ILLUSION (1937)
Grand Illusion is a French film that tells the story of two French prisoners of war during World War I. Directed by Jean Renoir, this movie was hailed for its poignant portrayal of friendships between men from different social classes and explores themes such as elitism and nationalism.
THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966)
The Battle of Algiers is an Algerian film that chronicles the struggle for independence from French colonial rule. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, this movie is remarkable for its realistic and objective portrayal of the events, which makes it both a gripping drama and an important historical document.
Dunkirk is a World War II movie directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. The movie tells the true story of the evacuation of British troops from the French town of Dunkirk in 1940. Nolan’s expert direction and use of innovative filmmaking techniques make this an edge-of-your-seat thriller that is also one of the most visually stunning war movies.
THE PIANIST (2002)
The Pianist is a powerful and moving drama about the Holocaust, directed by Roman Polanski. The movie stars Adrien Brody as Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survives persecution in Nazi-occupied Warsaw thanks to his talent and determination. Featuring an incredible performance from Brody, as well as masterful direction from Polanski, The Pianist is a must-see movie.
THE HURT LOCKER (2008)
The Hurt Locker is a tense and gripping war movie set during the Iraq War. The film follows a US Army bomb squad as they attempt to defuse bombs in Iraq, under the leadership of Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). Featuring superb direction from Kathryn Bigelow, who was the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director, The Hurt Locker is an unforgettable war movie.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
Lawrence of Arabia is a sweeping epic about T.E. Lawrence, the British officer who helped the Arabs fight for independence from Ottoman rule during World War I. Featuring an all-star cast and breathtaking cinematography by Freddie Young, this classic movie is a good option for a rainy day movie session.
SON OF SAUL (2015)
Son of Saul is a Hungarian movie about the Holocaust, directed by László Nemes. The movie follows Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig), a member of the Sonderkommando, Jews who were forced to work in the concentration camps. Son of Saul is an intense and harrowing movie that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Spartacus is a historical epic about the slave revolt led by the gladiator Spartacus, during the end of the Roman Republic. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas in an Oscar-nominated performance, this movie has incredible action sequences and infinitely quotable dialogue.
EYE IN THE SKY (2015)
Eye in the Sky is a powerful and gripping war movie set during modern-day drone warfare. The film follows Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) as she attempts to carry out a mission that could change the course of the War on Terror. But when things go wrong, Powell must make tough moral decisions about how far she is willing to go to get the job done. Featuring superb performances from Mirren and Alan Rickman, who plays the British Foreign Secretary, Eye in the Sky is a must-see war movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
THE BOAT (1981)
The Boat is a World War II movie set on a German submarine. The film follows the crew of the U-96 as they attempt to survive the perils of warfare, including attacks from Allied forces and hunger. This gripping movie features strong performances from Jürgen Prochnow as the Captain and Herbert Grönemeyer as the First Engineer. If you are a fan of tense war movies, don’t miss The Boat.
Lincoln is a historical drama about the final months of Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency, during which he worked to pass the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife Mary Todd Lincoln. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Lincoln is a beautiful and moving movie that is sure to leave you feeling inspired. Whether you are a fan of historical dramas or powerful war movies, Lincoln is a must be in your list.
THREE KINGS (1999)
Three Kings is a war movie set during the first Gulf War. The film follows a group of US soldiers who attempt to steal a cache of gold that was hidden by Saddam Hussein. But when they discover that the gold is being used to buy supplies for the Iraqi people, they must decide whether to keep the gold or do the right thing. Featuring superb performances from George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, Three Kings is an intense and thought-provoking war movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat. So if you are looking for a powerful and memorable war movie, be sure to check out Three Kings.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)
Inglourious Basterds is a war movie set during World War II. The film follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers, who have been recruited by Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) to carry out brutal raids on the Nazis behind enemy lines. With great direction from Quentin Tarantino and incredible performances from Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, and Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds is definitely a must-see war movie.
HACKSAW RIDGE (2016)
Hacksaw Ridge is a war movie set during World War II. The film follows Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon or kill anyone during the war. Doss served as an Army medic and saved the lives of 75 men, despite being under constant enemy fire. Hacksaw Ridge is an incredible and moving war movie, featuring outstanding performances from Garfield and Vince Vaughn.
THE IMITATION GAME (2014)
The Imitation Game is a war movie set during World War II. The film follows Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a mathematician who was recruited by the British government to crack the German Enigma code. With the help of his team, Turing succeeded in breaking the code, which helped to shorten the war and save countless lives. The Imitation Game is a must-see war movie that is sure to leave you feeling inspired. So if you are looking for a powerful and moving war movie, be sure to check out The Imitation Game.
’71 is a war movie set during the Northern Ireland conflict. The film follows Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell), a British soldier who is stranded in Belfast after his unit is ambushed by Irish Republican Army militants. With no one to help him, Hook must find his way back to safety through the hostile city streets. ’71 is an intense and thrilling war movie that is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat.
Glory is a war movie set during the American Civil War. The film follows Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), who leads the first all-black regiment in the Union Army. With great direction from Edward Zwick and outstanding performances from Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Cary Elwes, Glory is a must-see war movie that is sure to leave you feeling inspired.
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992)
The Last of the Mohicans is a war movie set during the French and Indian War. The film follows Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), a skilled hunter who is forced to help two sisters reach their father, a British colonel. Along the way, they must navigate through enemy territories and fight against fierce warriors from the Huron tribe. With great direction from Michael Mann and outstanding performances from Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, and Wes Studi.
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (2006)
Letters from Iwo Jima is a war movie set during World War II. The film follows General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), who leads a small force of Japanese soldiers to defend the island of Iwo Jima against an American invasion. Despite facing impossible odds, Kuribayashi and his men fought tenaciously, doing everything they could to protect their homeland.
COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996)
Courage Under Fire is a war movie set during the Gulf War. The film follows Colonel Serling (Denzel Washington), who is investigating the death of a fellow officer, Lieutenant Hagerty (Meg Ryan). Serling’s investigation leads him to believe that Hagerty may have been killed by friendly fire.
MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (2003)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a war movie set during the Napoleonic Wars. The film follows Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), who leads his ship, HMS Surprise, against an enemy frigate. Along with excellent direction from Peter Weir and outstanding performances from Crowe, Paul Bettany, and Billy Boyd, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is an incredible war movie that is definitely one of the best movies of all time.
This World War II drama tells the story of a tank crew fighting to survive against impossible odds. The film stars Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, and Shia LaBeouf, and it is directed by David Ayer.
Braveheart tells the story of Scottish warrior William Wallace, who fought for his country’s independence from England. The film stars Mel Gibson in the leading role and won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (1997)
This film tells the story of a Jewish father and son who are sent to a concentration camp during World War II. The movie follows their struggle for survival, as well as their unique bond that brings them through the dark times.
PRIVATE BENJAMIN (1980)
This comedy-drama tells the story of a spoiled socialite who decides to enlist in the army after her husband dies on their wedding night. The film stars Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan, and Armand Assante, and it received critical acclaim for its humor and powerful themes.
THE LONGEST DAY (1962)
The Longest Day is a classic World War II movie that tells the story of D-Day from the perspective of both the Allies and the Germans. The movie is full of intense action, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
LONE SURVIVOR (2013)
Lone Survivor is based on the true story of a group of Navy SEALs who were ambushed by the Taliban. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, and Taylor Kitsch, and it is directed by Peter Berg.
WE WERE SOLDIERS (2002)
This war drama tells the story of a group of American soldiers who are sent to fight in the Vietnam War. The movie stars Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, and Sam Elliott, and it was praised by critics for its realistic depiction of battle and moving themes of courage and sacrifice.
BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)
This harrowing war drama tells the true story of a group of American soldiers who were ambushed by Somali militants in 1993. The movie is full of intense action, and it will leave you feeling both shocked and deeply moved.
This historical drama tells the story of the first all-black regiment in the Union army during the Civil War. The film stars Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman, and it received critical acclaim for its powerful themes of courage and perseverance.
THE PATRIOT (2000)
The Patriot is a historical war drama that tells the story of a farmer who takes up arms against the British army during the American Revolution. The film stars Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, and Jason Isaacs, and it is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the Revolutionary War.
THE THIN RED LINE (1998)
This war drama tells the story of a group of American soldiers who are fighting in the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. The movie is well-crafted and intensely moving, and it will stay with you long after the credits roll.
FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
Full Metal Jacket is a classic war drama that tells the story of two Marines who are fighting in Vietnam during the late 1960s. The film stars Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, and Vincent D’Onofrio, and it is considered to be one of the best war movies ever made.
THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
The Deer Hunter is a harrowing Vietnam War movie that follows a group of friends as they are drafted into the war and their lives are changed forever. The movie is full of intense scenes and powerful performances, and it will stay with you long after you watch it.
Platoon is a gripping and intense war drama that follows a young soldier as he fights in the Vietnam War. The movie uses realistic battle scenes and well-developed characters to tell an unforgettable story about war and its effects on soldiers.
APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
Apocalypse Now is a thought-provoking Vietnam War movie that follows a soldier as he journeys upriver in search of an enemy colonel. The intense, surreal scenes make this film one of the most memorable war movies ever created. Whether you are a fan of war dramas or not, it is definitely worth watching.
WAR HORSE (2011)
War Horse is an epic and moving war drama that follows a boy as he attempts to find his horse after the animal has been sent off to fight in World War I. The film won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and it is a must-see for anyone interested in great filmmaking or the history of WWI.
AMERICAN SNIPER (2014)
Based on the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, American Sniper is a gritty and intense war drama that follows Kyle as he fights in Iraq. The film stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, and it received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the horrors of war.
HONORABLE MENTION: THE FOG OF WAR (2003)
The Fog of War is a documentary about the Vietnam War, told from the perspective of former United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The film is eye-opening and informative, and it provides a different perspective on the war than most other movies on this list. Whether you are a fan of war documentaries or not, The Fog of War is definitely worth watching.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of war movies out there that cover different aspects of the human experience. These are just a few of the best war movies of all time, so be sure to check them out. And, if you know of any other great war movies that should be on this list, let us know in the comments!
Source: Rotten Tomatoes