Weird History The Best War Movies Ever  

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341.6k votes 23.8k voters 554.6k views 442 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!

list ordered by

1
8,006 3,015
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel 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

2
6,625 2,628
Full Metal Jacket is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey 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

3
4,309 2,848
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Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more

4
4,549 2,269
Platoon is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe 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

5
6,976 1,135
Band of Brothers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Donnie Wahlberg, Damian Lewis, Dexter Fletcher Band of Brothers is a 2001 American WWII drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom ...more

6
3,170 2,287
The Bridge on the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins 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

7
5,015 2,008
Black Hawk Down is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom 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

8
4,194 2,913
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson 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

9
4,036 2,135
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley 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

10
3,691 1,494
Patton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Paul Frees 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

11
3,421 3,476
300 is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey 300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took ...more

12
3,000 1,661
Glory is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick 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

13
4,075 1,536
We Were Soldiers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Mel Gibson, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jon Hamm 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

14
2,601 1,682
Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Uwe Ochsenknecht 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

15
2,197 1,538
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Jason Robards Jr., Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten 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

16
2,907 1,374
The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner 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

17
2,272 1,713
The Deer Hunter is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American epic drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian American steelworkers and their service in Vietnam. The film stars Robert De ...more

18
2,194 1,602
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Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott 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

19
3,381 2,065
The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
2,533 932
The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Sean Connery, John Wayne, Richard Burton 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

21
1,966 1,327
Letters from Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley, Kazunari Ninomiya Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 Japanese-American film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood, starring Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya. The film portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the ...more

22
2,863 1,408
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Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Ed Harris 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

23
2,723 1,997
Inglourious Basterds is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
2,217 938
The Dirty Dozen is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson 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

25
1,892 943
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Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford 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

26
1,660 977
All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
1,619 950
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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

28
1,412 870
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John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, Richard Jaeckel Sands of Iwo Jima is a 1949 war film starring John Wayne that follows a group of United States Marines from training to the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. The movie also features John ...more

29
3,082 1,396
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 29 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

30
1,458 989
The Guns of Navarone is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
2,061 1,483
The Hurt Locker is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
2,860 1,134
American Sniper is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
1,689 785
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Don Cheadle, Dylan McDermott, Courtney B. Vance Hamburger Hill is a 1987 American war film about the actual assault of the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division 'Screaming ...more

34
2,604 1,874
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
1,963 932
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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

36
1,606 1,108
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
1,459 772
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Trioxin245 added Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness 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

38
1,579 714
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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

39
1,480 684
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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

40
1,492 855
Good Morning, Vietnam is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
1,514 722
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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

42
1,537 950
MASH is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Robert Duvall, Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould MASH is a 1970 American satirical black comedy film directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner, Jr., based on Richard Hooker's novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The ...more

43
1,291 767
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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

44
1,139 770
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
1,033 830
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Lear... is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
1,020 1,019
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best War Movies Ever
Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski, scripted by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody. It is based on the autobiographical book The ...more

47
927 826
Paths of Glory is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
1,062 744
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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

49
1,105 770
Where Eagles Dare is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
1,005 656
Battle of Britain is listed (or ranked) 50 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.