Historically, wars are brutal events which took millions of lives and wasted plenty of resources. But they just make for fantastic material for films, don’t they?
Of the many war movies that have graced theaters over the decades, we’ve gathered up 10 of the best war movies of all time for your reading and later viewing pleasure.
Top 10 Best War Movies of All Time
The Wall (2017)
The Wall (2017) stars John Cena as a US Army sniper in Iraq who is badly wounded by another sniper as he was investigating a pipeline. The rest of the film is a thrilling and heart-thumping story of the ways he attempts to get out alive.
According to screenplay writer Dwain Worrell, he decided to write the second act of the film is that he was interested in the simplicity of the conversation between two people and how it can reveal a certain dynamic between characters.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Yes, yes, the film is technically about Diana Prince, but we chose to include the film because of its portrayal of her serving in World War I which is a war we don’t often see in movies.
If you’re a fan of DC movies, we’re betting you already know the story. Gal Gadot is Diana Prince an Amazonian princess turned superhero who leaves her home Themyscira to fight in the war and save the world.
The film is notable for its superb visuals and fights sequences. The story is also quite interesting seeing a female lead saving her male romantic interest instead of the other way around.
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) starts comedic genius Robin Williams in one of his first lead acting roles as a manic radio show DJ whose main job is to boost the US troops’ morale while at war in Vietnam.
The film is notable as it’s one of the few who approached the serious subject in a light, comedic manner while also humanizing the people fighting on both sides of the war. Williams’ amazing performance and the film’s excellent screenplay elevated the comedy to convey depth not usually seen in the genre.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Here we have another best war film by Stanley Kubrick, this time its Full Metal Jacket (1987).
Serving as Kubrick’s comeback film after a seven-year hiatus, the film follows a platoon of marines starting from their training and the subsequent Tet Offensive. It sought to examine the process of brainwashing, the emotional consequences of war and slaps the viewer with their own limitations as humans.
The film is praised for Kubrick’s superb landscapes and a fantastic performance by R. Lee Ermey.
Based on an inspiring true story, Defiance (2009) tells the story of three Jewish brothers who escape to the woods of their childhood where they fight off Nazis as an act of survival and begin to build a community with other refugees. It stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell as the Bielski brothers.
The film is a great portrayal of desperation and shows the importance of sticking together in life and death situations.
Schindler’s List (1993)
Although it didn’t portray much of the actual World War II battles, Schindler’s List is still an excellent film about the human cost of war.
The film is a harrowing adaptation of a novel, Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, which chronicles the life of Oskar Schindler and how he saved thousands of Jews from Nazis during World War II. It contains what is considered to be one of the most terrifying sequences in cinema which is the shower scene in Auschwitz.
Considered to be one of the greatest films in history largely because of director Steven Spielberg’s masterful storytelling, it won seven Oscar awards including best picture, best director, best original score and best-adapted screenplay.
The Hurt Locker (2009)
Kathryn Bigelow made history as the first woman to ever win an Oscar award for best director when she directed The Hurt Locker (2009).
Inspired by real accounts of a war journalist covering the US occupation of Iraq, the film sought to tell the story of the war from the perspective of people who live it– the soldiers. It specifically followed an American bomb squad and the harrowing nature of their work focuses on the emotional toll they suffer from it.
Despite getting backlash from veterans because of some inaccuracies, the film was still able to show an emotional look at the war that not many films achieve or even attempt.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Based on the life of British mathematician and war hero Alan Turing, The Imitation Game (2014) stars Benedict Cumberbatch in an incredible performance as Turing.
It portrays events surrounding Turing’s famous deciphering of the German Enigma machine which was vital to the Allied win during World War II. The film received praise from various groups for the film’s portrayal of Turing and his legacy as a gay man. What more, the film also won an Oscar for the best-adapted screenplay.
Christopher Nolan proves he is a prolific director with Dunkirk (2017).
Shifting from his usual suspense thrillers, Nolan shifts his directorial focus on this war film about the evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk, a beach in the north of France. The event is more formally known as Operation Dynamo and occurred between May 26 to June 4 of 1940.
The film, as is Nolan’s signature, is told in a non-linear narrative and switches between the perspective of various characters in the film. It features some notable performances by Mark Ryland and Tom Hardy. Dunkirk is one of the best war movies.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Dr. Strangelove…(1964) is a dark comedy satire film by Stanley Kubrick poking fun and exposing the frivolity of some aspects of the Cold War Era and the seemingly imminent threat of nuclear war and destruction.
Aside from its fantastic screenplay littered with plenty of quotable lines, the film is most memorable for Peter Sellers career-defining performance as three characters: a bumbling military captain, a weird German doctor and the president of the USA.
Did you see your favorite war film on our list? Which war movies would you have added? Tell us in the comments section below!