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The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked

Updated August 28, 2020 552.9k votes 35.0k voters 755.5k views374 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
    Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    12,215
    5,035

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 2
    The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    4,747
    1,749

    The Longest Day

    Sean Connery, John Wayne

    Released1962

    Directed byDarryl F. Zanuck, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki, Andrew Marton, Gerd Oswald

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  • 3
    Full Metal Jacket is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    9,598
    3,961

    Full Metal Jacket

    Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

    Released1987

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

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  • 4
    Patton is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    6,386
    2,178

    Patton

    George C. Scott, Karl Malden

    Released1970

    Directed byFranklin J. Schaffner

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  • 5
    Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    7,835
    2,818

    Black Hawk Down

    Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy

    Released2001

    Directed byRidley Scott

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  • 6
    The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    4,964
    2,034

    The Great Escape

    Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough

    Released1963

    Directed byJohn Sturges

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  • 7
    We Were Soldiers is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    6,816
    2,165

    We Were Soldiers

    Mel Gibson, Lyndon B. Johnson

    Released2002

    Directed byRandall Wallace

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  • 8
    A Bridge Too Far is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    3,590
    1,442

    A Bridge Too Far

    Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1977

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

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  • 9
    Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    3,503
    1,660

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole

    Released1962

    Directed byDavid Lean

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  • 10
    Platoon is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    7,033
    3,389

    Platoon

    Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen

    Released1986

    Directed byOliver Stone

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  • 11
    All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    3,223
    1,532

    All Quiet on the Western Front

    Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres

    Released1930

    Directed byLewis Milestone

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  • 0
  • 12
    Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    6,644
    3,149

    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 13
    The Dirty Dozen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    3,819
    1,774

    The Dirty Dozen

    Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland

    Released1967

    Directed byRobert Aldrich

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  • 14
    Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    5,031
    2,307

    Gladiator

    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2000

    Directed byRidley Scott

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  • 15
    Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    4,667
    2,278

    Das Boot

    Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer

    Released1981

    Directed byWolfgang Petersen

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  • 16
    Enemy at the Gates is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    4,716
    2,065

    Enemy at the Gates

    Rachel Weisz, Jude Law

    Released2001

    Directed byJean-Jacques Annaud

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  • 17
    American Sniper is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    4,868
    2,002

    American Sniper

    Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

    Released2015

    Directed byClint Eastwood

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  • 18
    Glory is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    5,033
    2,459

    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

    Released1989

    Directed byEdward Zwick

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  • 0
  • 19
    Tora! Tora! Tora! is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    3,966
    1,990

    Tora! Tora! Tora!

    Jason Robards Jr., Martin Balsam

    Released1970

    Directed byRichard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda, Kinji Fukasaku

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  • 0
  • 20
    The Bridge on the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    5,238
    3,125

    The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Alec Guinness, William Holden

    Released1957

    Directed byDavid Lean

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  • 0
  • 21
    Zulu is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    2,800
    1,208

    Zulu

    Michael Caine, Stanley Baker

    Released1964

    Directed byCy Endfield

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  • 22
    Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    6,810
    4,305

    Apocalypse Now

    Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford

    Released1979

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

    If you like this film, be sure to check out our list of the best Vietnam War movies.

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  • 23
    Hacksaw Ridge is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    3,605
    760

    Hacksaw Ridge

    Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington

    Directed byMel Gibson

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  • 0
  • 24
    Sands of Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    2,731
    1,320

    Sands of Iwo Jima

    John Wayne, Forrest Tucker

    Released1949

    Directed byAllan Dwan

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  • 0
  • 25
    Sergeant York is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
    1,869
    874

    Sergeant York

    Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan

    Released1941

    Directed byHoward Hawks

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