Entertainment

The Best War Movies Ever  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
465k votes 30.1k voters 678.1k views 385 items

List Rules Movies about war and soldiers, or that use a war as a primary setting.

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!

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26
Ranker Video
Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda
Midway, released in the United Kingdom as Battle of Midway and in the US on video as The Battle of Midway, is a 1976 Technicolor film directed by Jack Smight and produced by Walter Mirisch from ...more
27
American Sniper is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Groff
American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is based on the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal ...more
28
All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres, ZaSu Pitts
All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John ...more
29
The Hurt Locker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Evangeline Lilly, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Renner
The Hurt Locker is a 2008 American film about a three-man Explosive Ordnance Disposal team during the conflict in Iraq. The film was produced and directed by Kathryn Bigelow and the screenplay ...more
30
The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
gamedemon24 added Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman
The Patriot is a 2000 American epic historical fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich. Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is driven to lead the his own group of men during the ...more
31
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
SanGv added Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen
Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more
32
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Trioxin245 added Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre
Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more
33
Ranker Video
Dbo878 added Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite
The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same ...more
34
Ranker Video
AlanRapsey added Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins
Zulu is a 1964 epic film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January 1879. It depicts 150 British soldiers who successfully held off a force of 4,000 ...more
35
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin ...more
36
The Thin Red Line is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
George Clooney, John Travolta, Sean Penn
The Thin Red Line is a 1998 American ensemble epic film written and directed by Terrence Malick. Based on the novel by James Jones, it tells a fictionalized version of the Battle of Mount ...more
37
Ranker Video
Mark Hamill, Lee Marvin, Robert Carradine
The Big Red One is a WWII film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill, released in 1980. It was written and directed by Samuel Fuller. It was heavily cut on its original release, but a restored ...more
38
Inglourious Basterds is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
gschwayze added Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger
Inglourious Basterds is a 2009 German-American war black comedy film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, Michael ...more
39
Hacksaw Ridge is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Josh Winter added Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war film about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacificist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry ...more
40
Battle of Britain is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer
Battle of Britain is a1969 action film directed by Guy Hamilton.
41
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Lear... is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
James Earl Jones, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, more commonly known as Dr. Strangelove, is a 1964 political satire black comedy film that satirizes fears of a nuclear ...more
42
Good Morning, Vietnam is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, J. T. Walsh
Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American comedy film written by Mitch Markowitz and directed by Barry Levinson. Set in Saigon in 1965, during Vietnam, the film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ ...more
43
Paths of Glory is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Kirk Douglas, Adolphe Menjou, Richard Anderson
Paths of Glory is a 1957 American film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. Set during WWI, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer ...more
44
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Don Rickles
Kelly's Heroes is a 1970 comedy film directed by Brian G. Hutton, about a group of WWII soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don ...more
45
Master and Commander: The Far ... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Trioxin245 added Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Joseph Morgan
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 epic historical drama film co-written and directed by Peter Weir, starring Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, with Paul Bettany as Stephen ...more
46
The Guns of Navarone is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn
The Guns of Navarone is a 1961 British-American action/adventure film directed by J. Lee Thompson. The screenplay by producer Carl Foreman was based on Alistair MacLean's 1957 novel The Guns of ...more
47
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket
Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more
48
Where Eagles Dare is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, Michael Hordern
Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 WWII action film starring Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure. It was directed by Brian G. Hutton and shot on location in Austria and Bavaria. Alistair ...more
49
Ranker Video
BekkiWirthwein added Clint Eastwood, Mario Van Peebles, Marsha Mason
Gotta' love Eastwood in this... Tough as nails.. and reading Ladies Home Journal... ~laffin'~
 
Heartbreak Ridge is a 1986 American film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film also co-stars Mario Van Peebles, Marsha Mason, and Everett McGill. The ...more
50
Ranker Video
John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Frankie Avalon
The Alamo is a 1960 American historical epic film about the 1836 Battle of the Alamo produced and directed by John Wayne and starring Wayne as Davy Crockett. The picture also stars Richard ...more