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The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked

Updated April 30, 2021 528.0k votes 36.4k voters 769.8k views376 items

List RulesVote up the best films about wars and soldiers or that use wars as a primary backdrop.

From classics like Saving Private Ryan to newer entries like Dunkirk and 1917, this list ranks the best movies about war, battles, and military conflicts. These films recreate some of the most significant events in world history from a variety of perspectives and with a variety of purposes and intentions. Some top war films attempt to recreate as realistically as possible the events they depict, either from an omniscient perspective permitted by historical study or from the point of view of the soldiers and civilians involved in the conflict itself. Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, for example, was both praised in its time and heavily criticized for bringing a "you are there" sense of realism - and little outside or cultural perspective - to a recreation of the Battle of Mogadishu. The best war movies of all time differ widely in their handling of the subject matter, but they all strike a chord with viewers now and in the time when they came out.

Some of the greatest war films use war as a backdrop to look at larger issues - such as man's inhumanity to man or the crippling impact of post-traumatic stress - or just as a meditation on war itself. Still other films like Glory and Band of Brothers examine the personal drama of a few individuals, and mine it for larger insights about the meaning of war and the impact that violence has on individual human lives.

Finally, some war films - particularly those made during the classic Hollywood era - are simply adventure films with war providing a compelling setting and situation. The Great Escape, for example, remains a classic not because of its grand ideas about the nature of war, but because it is a ceaselessly entertaining spectacle. No matter what type of film, there's no denying that these are certainly the best war movies ever.

Vote up your favorite war films to move them up the list, and if your favorites are not yet represented, make your own version of the list and add them! Then check out the best war movies on Netflix.

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  • 1
    12,116
    4,632

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

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  • 2
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    Black Hawk Down

    Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy

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  • 3
    6,034
    2,705

    Patton

    George C. Scott, Karl Malden

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  • 4
    6,486
    2,685

    We Were Soldiers

    Mel Gibson, Lyndon B. Johnson

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  • 5
    8,924
    4,269

    Full Metal Jacket

    Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

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  • 6
    4,509
    2,128

    The Longest Day

    Sean Connery, John Wayne

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  • 7
    6,620
    3,235

    Platoon

    Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen

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  • 8
    6,291
    3,018

    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

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  • 9
    4,729
    2,191

    The Great Escape

    Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough

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  • 10
    3,432
    1,502

    A Bridge Too Far

    Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins

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  • 11
    3,072
    1,504

    All Quiet on the Western Front

    Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres

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  • 12
    4,451
    2,143

    Das Boot

    Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer

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  • 13
    3,338
    1,641

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole

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  • 14
    3,625
    1,717

    The Dirty Dozen

    Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland

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  • 15
    4,609
    2,016

    American Sniper

    Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

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  • 16
    4,477
    2,046

    Enemy at the Gates

    Rachel Weisz, Jude Law

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  • 17
    4,782
    2,277

    Gladiator

    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

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  • 18
    3,530
    766

    Hacksaw Ridge

    Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington

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  • 19
    4,771
    2,411

    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

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  • 20
    4,963
    2,889

    The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Alec Guinness, William Holden

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  • 21
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    Tora! Tora! Tora!

    Jason Robards Jr., Martin Balsam

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  • 22
    2,680
    1,204

    Zulu

    Michael Caine, Stanley Baker

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  • 23
    6,431
    3,987

    Apocalypse Now

    Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford

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  • 24
    3,246
    1,380

    The Last of the Mohicans

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe

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  • 25
    3,313
    1,705

    Letters from Iwo Jima

    Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley

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