Entertainment
35.7k voters

The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked

Updated August 28, 2020 537.9k votes 35.7k voters 765.0k 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.

Photo:
...more
  • Saving Private Ryan1
    11,955
    4,754

    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Amazon buy button

    More Saving Private Ryan 

    12 Small - But Accurate - Details From 'Saving Private Ryan'#3 of 50 The 50 Highest Grossing '90s Movies, Ranked

  • The Longest Day2
    4,627
    1,922

    The Longest Day

    Sean Connery, John Wayne

    Released1962

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

    Amazon buy button

    More The Longest Day 

    #27 of 175 The Best Movies Of The '60s#41 of 275 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

  • Patton3
    6,197
    2,296

    Patton

    George C. Scott, Karl Malden

    Released1970

    Directed byFranklin J. Schaffner

    Amazon buy button

    More Patton 

    #121 of 456 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time#10 of 46 35+ Great Political Movies Based on True Stories

  • Black Hawk Down4
    7,557
    2,912

    Black Hawk Down

    Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy

    Released2001

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Amazon buy button

    More Black Hawk Down 

    #25 of 28 The Best Movies With A Bird Name In The Title#11 of 20 Action Movies On Netflix That Are Just Right For A Saturday Afternoon

  • Full Metal Jacket5
    9,127
    3,988

    Full Metal Jacket

    Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

    Released1987

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Amazon buy button

    More Full Metal Jacket 

    Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Making Of 'Full Metal Jacket'#348 of 933 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

  • We Were Soldiers6
    6,625
    2,289

    We Were Soldiers

    Mel Gibson, Lyndon B. Johnson

    Released2002

    Directed byRandall Wallace

    Amazon buy button

    More We Were Soldiers 

    #198 of 541 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies#105 of 625 The Greatest Action Movies Of All Time

  • The Great Escape7
    4,842
    2,150

    The Great Escape

    Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough

    Released1963

    Directed byJohn Sturges

    Amazon buy button

    More The Great Escape 

    #26 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Long#33 of 261 The Best Ensemble Movies

  • A Bridge Too Far8
    3,522
    1,500

    A Bridge Too Far

    Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1977

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

    Amazon buy button

    More A Bridge Too Far 

    #86 of 553 The Best '70s Movies#221 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

  • Schindler's List9
    6,457
    3,097

    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Amazon buy button

    More Schindler's List 

    #2 of 82 The Best Movies Based on Non-Fiction Books#5 of 33 The Best Steven Spielberg Movies

  • Lawrence of Arabia10
    3,414
    1,660

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole

    Released1962

    Directed byDavid Lean

    Amazon buy button

    More Lawrence of Arabia 

    #74 of 149 The Best Adventure Movies#35 of 557 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

  • Platoon11
    6,778
    3,323

    Platoon

    Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen

    Released1986

    Directed byOliver Stone

    Amazon buy button

    More Platoon 

    #62 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked#35 of 170 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made

  • All Quiet on the Western Front12
    3,137
    1,523

    All Quiet on the Western Front

    Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres

    Released1930

    Directed byLewis Milestone

    Amazon buy button

    More All Quiet on the Western Front 

    #39 of 45 The Most Controversial Movies of All Time#16 of 46 Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Ranked

  • The Dirty Dozen13
    3,715
    1,744

    The Dirty Dozen

    Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland

    Released1967

    Directed byRobert Aldrich

    Amazon buy button

    More The Dirty Dozen 

    #11 of 24 The Funniest Movies About Jail#53 of 75 Which Ensemble Films Should Be Remade With All-Female Casts?

  • Das Boot14
    4,560
    2,200

    Das Boot

    Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer

    Released1981

    Directed byWolfgang Petersen

    Amazon buy button

    More Das Boot 

    #1 of 51 The Best Submarine Movies Of All Time#68 of 338 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

  • Gladiator15
    4,885
    2,255

    Gladiator

    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2000

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Amazon buy button

    More Gladiator 

    Gladiator Might Be One of The Most Historically Inaccurate Movies Ever#112 of 340 The Best Political Films Ever Made

  • American Sniper16
    4,736
    1,965

    American Sniper

    Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

    Released2014

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    Amazon buy button

    More American Sniper 

    29 Things Most People Don't Know About 'American Sniper'#1152 of 1,189 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

  • Enemy at the Gates17
    4,574
    2,029

    Enemy at the Gates

    Rachel Weisz, Jude Law

    Released2001

    Directed byJean-Jacques Annaud

    Amazon buy button

    More Enemy at the Gates 

    #10 of 12 The 12 Most Inaccurate War Movies Ever Made#8 of 35 The Greatest World War II Dramas

  • Tora! Tora! Tora!18
    3,863
    1,932

    Tora! Tora! Tora!

    Jason Robards Jr., Martin Balsam

    Released1970

    Directed byRichard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda, Kinji Fukasaku

    Amazon buy button

    More Tora! Tora! Tora! 

    #34 of 75 The Best Movies About Historical Battles#9 of 24 Brutal War Movies That Absolutely Got It Right

  • Zulu19
    2,742
    1,185

    Zulu

    Michael Caine, Stanley Baker

    Released1964

    Directed byCy Endfield

    Amazon buy button

    More Zulu 

    The Most Brutal Military Training Exercises Throughout History#527 of 665 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

  • Glory20
    4,879
    2,402

    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

    Released1989

    Directed byEdward Zwick

    Amazon buy button

    More Glory 

    #2 of 28 Civil War Movies List#6 of 85 The Greatest African American Biopics

  • The Bridge on the River Kwai21
    5,062
    2,973

    The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Alec Guinness, William Holden

    Released1957

    Directed byDavid Lean

    Amazon buy button

    More The Bridge on the River Kwai 

    #5 of 46 Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes#76 of 369 The Best Movies Based On Books

  • Sergeant York22
    1,850
    861

    Sergeant York

    Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan

    Released1941

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    Amazon buy button

    More Sergeant York 

    #233 of 277 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry#33 of 70 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940s

  • Apocalypse Now23
    6,583
    4,111

    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.

    Amazon buy button

    More Apocalypse Now 

    15 Stories From The Wild Life Of David Hackworth, Who Inspired Two 'Apocalypse Now' Characters#2 of 12 12 Major Films With So Many Development And On Set Disasters They Almost Didn't Happen

  • Hacksaw Ridge24
    3,589
    769

    Hacksaw Ridge

    Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington

    Released2016

    Directed byMel Gibson

    Amazon buy button

    More Hacksaw Ridge 

    #32 of 99 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time#158 of 450 The Best Movies For Guys

  • Letters from Iwo Jima25
    3,393
    1,737

    Letters from Iwo Jima

    Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley

    Released2006

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    Amazon buy button

    More Letters from Iwo Jima 

    #11 of 51 What to Watch If You Love 'Band of Brothers'#63 of 197 The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time