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The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated August 7, 2020 546.2k votes 34.5k voters 749.5k views 378 items

List Rules Vote 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
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for ...more

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2
Full Metal Jacket is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Adam Baldwin

Released: 1987

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford's novel The Short-Timers. The film ...more

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3
Patton is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees

Released: 1970

Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

Patton is a 1970 American epic biographical film about U.S. General George S. Patton during WWII. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by ...more

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#71 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #5 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Sean Connery, John Wayne, Richard Burton

Released: 1962

Directed by: Darryl F. Zanuck, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki, Andrew Marton, Gerd Oswald

The Longest Day is a 1962 film based on the 1959 history book The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, about D-Day, the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, during WWII. The film was produced by Darryl ...more

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#129 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #3 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
Platoon is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe

Released: 1986

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe and Charlie Sheen. It is the first film of a trilogy of Vietnam War films by ...more

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6
Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom

Released: 2001

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American-British war film directed by Ridley Scott. It is an adaptation of the 1999 book of the same name by Mark Bowden based on his series of articles published in ...more

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7
The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner

Released: 1963

Directed by: John Sturges

The Great Escape is a 1963 American WWII epic film based on an escape by British and Commonwealth POW from a German POW camp during WWII, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard ...more

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#477 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #111 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #6 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

8
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

Released: 1993

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more

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9
We Were Soldiers is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Mel Gibson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jon Hamm

Released: 2002

Directed by: Randall Wallace

We Were Soldiers is a 2002 film that dramatizes the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965. The film was directed by Randall Wallace and stars Mel Gibson. It is based on the book We Were ...more

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10
Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Trioxin245 added Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness

Released: 1962

Directed by: David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the ...more

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11
All Quiet on the Western... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres, ZaSu Pitts

Released: 1930

Directed by: Lewis Milestone

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

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12
Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Uwe Ochsenknecht

Released: 1981

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

Das Boot is a 1981 German epic film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann. ...more

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#334 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #606 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #143 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

13
The Dirty Dozen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson

Released: 1967

Directed by: Robert Aldrich

The Dirty Dozen is a 1967 film directed by Robert Aldrich, released by MGM, and starring Lee Marvin. The picture was filmed in England and features an ensemble supporting cast including Ernest ...more

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14
A Bridge Too Far is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford

Released: 1977

Directed by: Richard Attenborough

A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan, adapted by William Goldman. It was produced by Joseph E. Levine and Richard P. Levine and directed ...more

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#1,122 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #221 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #9 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

15
Enemy at the Gates is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Ed Harris

Released: 2001

Directed by: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film's title is taken from William Craig's 1973 nonfiction book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad, which ...more

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#16 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #12 of 24 Brutal War Movies That Absolutely Got It Right #10 of 12 The 12 Most Inaccurate War Movies Ever Made

16
Glory is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1989

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more

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17
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
SanGv added Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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

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18
The Bridge on the River ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1957

Directed by: David Lean

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the ...more

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19
Tora! Tora! Tora! is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Jason Robards Jr., Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1970

Directed by: Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda, Kinji Fukasaku

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a 1970 American–Japanese film directed by Richard Fleischer and stars an ensemble cast, including Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, Sō Yamamura, E. G. Marshall, James Whitmore ...more

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#604 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #11 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

20
Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall

Released: 1979

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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

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21
American Sniper is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Groff

Released: 2015

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

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

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22
Zulu is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
AlanRapsey added Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1964

Directed by: Cy Endfield

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

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23
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

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#67 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #16 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott

Released: 1993

Directed by: Ronald F. Maxwell

Gettysburg is a 1993 epic film written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, adapted from the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg. The film starred Tom ...more

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#475 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #233 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Civil War Movies List

25
Sands of Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked
John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, Richard Jaeckel

Released: 1949

Directed by: Allan Dwan

Sands of Iwo Jima is a 1949 film starring John Wayne that follows a group of United States Marines from training to the Battle of Iwo Jima during WWII. The movie also features John Agar, Adele ...more

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