Favourite War Movies
5102 8.4 8.91. Schindler's List (1993)
There is no doubt about it: Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List is one of the best motion pictures in cinematic history. Its ability to trigger an emotional response through its brutal depiction of the holocaust is simply unprecedented.
Everything from Spielberg's direction to the three lead performances to John Williams' eloquent music is of a very high quality. Schindler's List is a film that must be seen at the earliest opportunity.
"This list... is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf."
5311 7.7 8.62. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan hits the ground running. In a 20-minute opening sequence, the horrors of World War II are displayed with unflinching honesty. This sequence depicting combat on Omaha Beach is extensively regarded as the best war scene in cinematic history. What follows is an intricate morality tale as a group of characters embark on a hunt for a single soldier who lost his three others brothers in the war.
Foreigners regard this as "American propaganda" - uh-huh, the same can be said for any war movie ever made. Enemy at the Gates could be considered Russian propaganda, for example. These invalid scrutinies are outrageous.
Saving Private Ryan is the best combat-driven war movie ever. Period. It's the second best World War II film, behind Spielberg's own Schindler's List.
"He better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb."
1172 6.4 7.13. Rambo (2008)
Rambo is an amazing motion picture, with its unrelenting depiction of the genocide in Burma, a bunch of exhilarating action scenes, and a heartfelt story that does justice to Rambo's character arc.
"When you're pushed... Killing's as easy as breathing!"
7980 8.2 8.94. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kin... (2003)
First of all, if the three Lord of the Rings movies were edited together, it'd be my favourite motion picture in history. Since there's no option to list the three movies in one entry, and I can't be fucked writing about each individual movie, I'm placing Return of the King on this list as an ambassador for the trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is phenomenal. It's groundbreaking, affecting, entertaining, riveting and absolutely amazing. If you haven't seen them, watch them without delay.
"Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!"
2256 7 7.75. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Director Ridley Scott is renowned for delivering excellent films directed to perfection, and Black Hawk Down is no exception. This sublime, powerful and haunting war movie is overflowing with hard-hitting action and brutal violence. Excellently written, excellently acted.
American propaganda this is not. This tells the story like it happened.
"Nobody asks to be a hero, it just sometimes turns out that way."
678 7.4 86. Glory (1989)
Glory is a truly excellent war movie. It's a powerful and poignant portrait of the first African American platoon in the Civil War (based on a true story).
Director Ed Zwick handles the material excellently, offering a depiction of the Civil War that bursts with utter authenticity. This is a truly excellent war movie that cannot be missed.
"Tommorrow we goes into battle, so Lordy, let me fight with the rifle in one hand, and the Good Book in the other. So that if I may die at the muzzle of the rifle... die on water, or on land, I may know that you blessed Jesus almighty are with me... and I have no fear."
1721 8 8.27. The Deer Hunter (1978)
Haunting. Memorable. Heart-breaking. Poignant. Utterly brilliant.
These words immediately entered my head when I finished watching The Deer Hunter for the first time; teary eyed and devastated. This Oscar-winning masterpiece is the best Vietnam war movie of all time, capturing everything from pre to post-combat (with combat in between, naturally).
War movies don't get much more perfect than this. Watch without delay.
"A deer has to be taken with one shot. I try to tell people that but they don't listen."
2261 7.7 8.28. Platoon (1986)
Oliver Stone is a very controversial filmmaker. Platoon was based on the director's own experience in the Vietnam War, and it scores as one of the best war movies in history. It's a riveting portrait of the effects the Vietnam War had on those soldiers forced to fight in it.
"I love this place at night. The stars... there's no right or wrong in them. They're just there."
1363 7.5 89. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Director Clint Eastwood rarely, if ever, delivers a faulty product. Letters from Iwo Jima is a mature, powerful war movie. Driven by compelling drama rather than combat, the film presents a stirring portrayal of a battle which marked a turning point in World War II.
"If our children can live safely for one more day it would be worth the one more day that we defend this island."
1024 8 8.310. The Great Escape (1963)
The Great Escape is such an excellent movie! An enjoyable, topflight World War II blockbuster that entertains all these years on. Brimming with authenticity, terrific acting, focused direction and just about everything else one could ask for, this masterpiece is simply perfect from top to bottom.
"I haven't seen Berlin yet, from the ground or from the air, and I plan on doing both before the war is over."
568 7.5 8.111. Patton (1970)
This is a great movie. A sprawling, absorbing three-hour character study concentrating on a distinguished figure in modern history. It's a long movie, but it never necessarily lulls.
An essential watch for any film buff.
"There's only one proper way for a professional soldier to die: the last bullet of the last battle of the last war."
1525 8.2 8.512. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Grave of the Fireflies may be labelled as a mere piece of Japanese animation, but it's also a powerful anti-war drama. Japan's Studio Ghibli have accomplished truly excellent results with this film, which contains some top-notch animation.
"September 21, 1945... that was the night I died."
1223 8 8.413. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Ah, the epic. David Lean's name has become practically synonymous with war epics after being responsible for this film in addition to Bridge on the River Kwai.
Lawrence of Arabia is a stunning film. Its epic scope is something that has to be seen to be believed. Filmmakers all these years later look back on Lean's classic movie for inspiration, including Steven Spielberg.
If you have the patience to sit through this phenomenal four-hour experience, it's worth it.
"My name is for my friends. None of my friends is a murderer!"
3304 8.1 8.514. Apocalypse Now (1979)
What more is there to say about Apocalypse Now?
This monumental achievement in the war genre is infused with riveting performances, hard-hitting action and disturbing images. The production may have been beset with a whole assortment of troubles, but even after all these years this masterpiece looks incredibly self-assured.
This film will forever remain ingrained in my memory. From the haunting monologue courtesy of Marlon Brando to the immortal line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning", Francis Ford Coppola's tour de force is a phenomenal piece of filmmaking. You're not even close to a film buff unless you've viewed this astounding motion picture.
"We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army."
938 8.4 8.515. Paths of Glory (1957)
In discussions regarding Stanley Kubrick's body of work, Paths of Glory is a film rarely mentioned. This extraordinary war film is a powerful saga of one man brave enough to stand against the corrupt military system. It's a riveting motion picture.
"See that cockroach? Tomorrow morning, we'll be dead and it'll be alive. It'll have more contact with my wife and child than I will. I'll be nothing, and it'll be alive."
3542 8.2 8.516. The Pianist (2002)
Roman Polanski may be a paeodophile, but he's an undeniably excellent director! The Pianist is about as powerful as Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List; conveying a moving tale about survival during dark days of World War II.
Fuelled by Adrian Brody's Oscar-winning performance (he threw everything he had at that role), The Pianist is poignant, powerful and haunting. A masterpiece!
"Thank God, not me. He wants us to survive. Well, that's what we have to believe."
950 6.6 7.217. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Director Oliver Stone's second attempt at a Vietnam motion picture is tour de force of monumental proportions. Platoon concentrated on the harsh conditions faced on the battlegrounds, whereas Born on the Fourth of July primarily examines veterans after they returned from the war, and how severely they were affected physically and mentally.
Tom Cruise's breakthrough performance is astounding as real-life veteran Ron Kovic who becomes an anti-war protestor after serving his country in Vietnam.
"People say that if you don't love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America."
1432 7.9 8.318. Downfall (2004)
Also known by its foreign title of Der Undertang, this brilliant production places us into Hitler's bunker during his final days. It depicts Hitler as a human being, but never asks us to empathise with him.
Bruno Ganz's performance is utterly perfect and chillingly believable, generating a screen persona of utter dread and intimidation. The film itself is powerful and engrossing beyond words. This is an exercise in patience - it's a long movie, yes, but every minute is essential to tell the story accurately.
"The war is lost... But if you think that I'll leave Berlin for that, you are sadly mistaken. I'd prefer to put a bullet in my head."
256 7.2 7.519. Gallipoli (1981)
Gallipoli is an absorbing drama based around the events of World War I, wherein Aussie soldiers endured difficult conditions to fight for their country.
The focus is on two major characters. We dig into their private lives before they're shipped off to war where they meet their inevitable fate. Emotional, haunting...remarkable!
"The thing I can't stand about you mate is you're always so bloody cheerful."
324 7.5 7.820. The Longest Day (1962)
This is a classic war epic done correctly. The PG rating facilitates very little violence and it's tame on the gore front, but the grand scale is phenomenal!
42 famous international stars feature in this excellent tale of D-Day, focusing on all the landings that transpired on that fateful day.
"You can't give the enemy a break. Send him to hell."
4298 7.6 8.421. Braveheart (1995)
An epic war movie of tremendous emotional impact, Braveheart is undoubtedly one of 1995's best features - and one of the best movies on Mel Gibson's filmography.
While the film is indeed long, it's a sprawling movie which chronicles the life of an interesting historical figure. It's never short of engaging, offering compelling drama and phenomenal battle sequences. This is one of the most essential motion pictures in history.
"It's all for nothing if you don't have freedom."
3430 8 8.422. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Born to Kill
During conversations regarding the greatest war movies of all time, Full Metal Jacket is frequently brought up. This Stanley Kubrick-directed Vietnam movie is simply superb from top to bottom - an excellent mixture of drama, combat and humour.
Looking at the film from the perspective of a typical Hollywood war movie, it's likely to disappoint viewers, and it indeed has over the years. The picture is long on set-up and short on action. Nearly half the movie is spent in Boot Camp training, and the latter sections in Vietnam seem to meander for a long time before building to their dramatic climax. All of these criticisms are true in a sense, and depending on what you want out of it may feel like a disappointment. However, when he made it, Stanley Kubrick wasn't interested in war movie conventions, nor was he ever known to cater to an audience's expectations. Full Metal Jacket shouldn't be looked at as just a war movie at all. Really, it's a Stanley Kubrick picture that happens to use the military and Vietnam as its backdrop. The movie is less about war itself than about the themes of isolation, paranoia, and institutional dehumanisation that are recurrent throughout Kubrick's works.
"These are great days we're living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we're gonna miss not having anyone around that's worth shooting."
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