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The Greatest World War II Dramas 

Ranker Film
Updated July 22, 2020 796 votes 167 voters 4.8k views 35 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite dramatic movies set during WWII.

Set during a time of global unrest, the best World War II movies deal with life-or-death scenarios at every turn. The top World War II dramas feature complex characters fighting for humanity and often falling in love during this turbulent era. This is a list of the greatest WWII drama movies including everything from The Bridge on the River Kwai to In Another Lifetime to The Pianist.

What films will you find on this list of the best movies set during World War II? The timeless classic Casablanca focuses on the relationship between Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund as they reconnect after many years apart. The only problem is Ilsa is now married to a Czech Resistance leader who is wanted by German forces. The English Patient is another good romantic movie set during the Second World War. The 2016 film Allied follows a pair of spies as they fall in love and play mental games with one another. Other good films featured on this list include Flags of Our Fathers, The Railway Man, and Sunshine.

Which World War 2 dramas are your favorites? Give the best films a thumbs up to move them to the number-one spot on the list, and please add any movies that are missing.

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1
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Released: 1942

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

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

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#29 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #418 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
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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#1 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #1 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Longlisted on The 50 Highest Grossing '90s Movies, Ranked

3
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
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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#8 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #115 of 120 Movies That Need Sequelslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
The Great Escape is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
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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#7 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #26 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Long #477 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

5
Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
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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#12 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #334 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #606 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

6
Flags of Our Fathers is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Jamie Bell

Released: 2006

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Flags of Our Fathers is a 2006 American film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood and written by William Broyles, Jr. and Paul Haggis. It is based on the book of the same name ...more

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#61 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #44 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #34 of 81 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time

7
The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
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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#4 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #3 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
Enemy at the Gates is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
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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#15 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #16 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #12 of 24 Brutal War Movies That Absolutely Got It Right

9
Fury is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman

Released: 2014

Directed by: David Ayer

Fury is a 2014 American film directed by David Ayer. A grizzled tank commander (Brad Pitt) makes tough decisions as he and his crew fight their way across Germany in April, 1945.

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10
The Thin Red Line is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
George Clooney, John Travolta, Sean Penn

Released: 1998

Directed by: Terrence Malick

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

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#37 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #46 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #316 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

11
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox

Released: 2002

Directed by: Roman Polanski

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

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#94 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #41 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Longlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Downfall is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Alexandra Lara, Bruno Ganz, Thomas Kretschmann

Released: 2004

Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Downfall is a 2004 German film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's reign over Nazi Germany in 1945. The film is written and produced by Bernd ...more

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#52 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #60 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #88 of 235 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

13
Windtalkers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Nigel Fong added Nicolas Cage, Mark Ruffalo, Christian Slater

Released: 2002

Directed by: John Woo

Windtalkers is a 2002 American film directed and produced by John Woo, and starring Nicolas Cage and Adam Beach. The film was released in the United States on June 14, 2002.

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#55 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #381 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #8 of 113 The Best Native American Movies

14
Valkyrie is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard

Released: 2008

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Valkyrie is a 2008 American-German historical thriller film set in Nazi Germany during WWII. The film depicts the 20 July plot in 1944 by German army officers to take down Adolf Hitler and to ...more

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#72 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #61 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #286 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

15
The English Patient is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth

Released: 1996

Directed by: Anthony Minghella

The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje and produced by Saul Zaentz. The film was ...more

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#210 of 378 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #388 of 693 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Bent is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Bent Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Ian McKellen

Released: 1997

Directed by: Sean Mathias

Bent is a 1997 British/Japanese drama film directed by Sean Mathias, based on the 1979 play of the same name by Martin Sherman, who also wrote the screenplay.
17
They Fought for Their Co... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Firebird added Sergei Bondarchuk, Vasily Shukshin, Yuri Nikulin

Released: 1975

Directed by: Sergei Bondarchuk

They Fought for Their Country is a 1975 Soviet war film directed by Sergei Bondarchuk. It was entered into the 1975 Cannes Film Festival. The film is the story of a Soviet platoon fighting a ...more
18
Midway is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore

Released: 2019

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Midway is a 2019 American historical action drama film directed by Roland Emmerich. The story of the battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the soldiers who fought it.
19
Resistance is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Jesse Eisenberg, Ed Harris, Édgar Ramírez

Released: 2020

Directed by: Jonathan Jakubowicz

Resistance is a 2019 biographical drama film directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz. The story of how Marcel Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg) and a group of Jewish Boy Scouts worked with the French Resistance ...more
20
Waiting for Anya is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Anjelica Huston, Sadie Frost, Jean Reno

Released: 2020

Directed by: Ben Cookson

Waiting for Anya is a 2020 British war film directed by Ben Cookson, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. A young shepherd named Jo (Noah Schnapp) and a widow named Horcada (Anjelica Huston) ...more
21
In Darkness is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Weronika Rosati, Benno Fürmann, Maria Schrader

Released: 2011

Directed by: Agnieszka Holland

Hidden is a 2011 film directed by Agnieszka Holland.
22
Greyhound is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Tom Hanks, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Elisabeth Shue

Released: 2020

Directed by: Aaron Schneider

Greyhound is a 2020 war film directed by Aaron Schneider, based on The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester. During World War II, an international convoy of 37 Allied ships, led by Commander Ernest ...more

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The Most Memorable 'Greyhound' Quotes #243 of 371 The Best Movies Based On Books #100 of 218 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

23
American Guerrilla in th... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
PietraChandlerRadcliff added Tyrone Power, Jack Elam, Robert Barrat

Released: 1950

Directed by: Fritz Lang

American Guerrilla in the Philippines is a 1950 war film starring Tyrone Power as a U.S. Navy ensign stranded by the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Based on the story of ...more
24
Crash Dive is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
PietraChandlerRadcliff added Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Harry Morgan

Released: 1943

Directed by: Archie Mayo

Crash Dive is a World War II film in Technicolor released in 1943. It was directed by Archie Mayo, written by Jo Swerling and W.R. Burnett, and starred Tyrone Power, Dana Andrews and Anne ...more
25
The Painted Bird is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest World War II Dramas
Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel, Barry Pepper

Released: 2020

Directed by: Václav Marhoul

The Painted Bird is a 2019 internationally co-produced war drama film directed by Václav Marhoul, it is an adaptation of Jerzy Kosiński's novel of the same name. A young Jewish boy is ...more

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