War movies have been enjoyed by families across the globe for many decades now. The reason is simple, they are good and clean entertainment. Dramas may bore some people while romance may cause a lot of boys to fall asleep, and not everyone is alright about horror. However, when it comes to action-packed war movies, just about everyone is ready to sit down and have a good time. Here is our pick for the 25 best war movies of all time:
25. Braveheart (1995)
Taking place during the 14th century in Scotland, the commoner William Wallace, after losing the love of his life simply because she was trying to defend herself from rape, decides that Scotland has had enough of the cruel English Tyranny and leads his men in a mighty rebellion against the ruling English men.
24. The Thin Red Line (1998)
This film takes place in 1943 during the U.S. offensive of World War II as it nears its end within Guadalcanal. To put an end to the campaign, the US Army arrives with a full squad of soldiers and equipment.
The story is about how the team’s resources are exploited by a Colonel who is self-centric, a war-fatigued Sergeant, a coward Private who always runs away, and a Company Commander who is struggling with his leadership abilities.
23. The Longest Day (1962)
A retelling of D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Longest Day is told from the different perspectives of the USA, France, Germany, and Britain. The Marshall, Erwin Rommel, rallied the defenses as part of the Reich’s Atlantic Wall to stop the invading Allied forces.
Meanwhile, the Allied powers wait for the weather to become calm before they launch Operation Overlord.
22. Where Eagles Dare (1968)
The film takes place in 1944 when an American General is captured and imprisoned within a heavily defended German fortress. A rescue attempt is launched at once by British Intelligence, as the general holds valuable information.
But as the mission unfolds, double as well as triple agents begin to appear within the rescue team ranks along with the added mystery of an American Lieutenant assigned to the mission for mysterious reasons.
21. Last of the Mohicans (1992)
This classic movie is set in the 18th century in North America during the French and Indian War. A white man, adopted by birth by the last few members of a dying tribe called the Mohicans unknowingly becomes the protector of the two daughters of a British colonel.
These daughters have been targeted by a sadistic and vengeful Huron warrior, Magua, who has dedicated his life to destroying the colonel’s life for past injustice.
20. Glory (1989)
Taking place during the American Civil War, this film tells the story of Officer Shaw who worked in the Federal Army during the Civil War and volunteered to lead the very first squad of black soldiers.
The film deals with racism as Shaw gets forced to deal with the prejudices of not only the enemy (which issues specific orders to kill commanding officers of black soldiers) but also of his very own fellow officers.
19. The Deer Hunter (1978)
Directed by Michael Cimino, and starring a cast of some of the most famous names in Hollywood history, The Deer Hunter is a film that shows the hardships soldiers and their loved ones face after they return from a conflict.
Few films truly show the horrors of war more tragically than this one, and the climactic scenes can be very difficult to watch. That being said, the movie is a terrific example of epic filmmaking, and it has been acknowledged as one of the finest war movies ever made by many critics and film aficionados.
18. Downfall (2004)
A German war film based on the book series “Inside Hitler’s Bunker”. The film depicts the very last days of Adolf Hitler’s reign over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Traudl Junge, the narrator as well as Hitler’s final secretary, tells us about the Nazi dictator’s final 10 days that were spent in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII and how he eventually chose suicide as the last option for himself.
17. La Grande illusion (1937)
Set during the First World War, two French soldiers, Captain De Boeldieu and Lieutenant Marechal are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp where they befriend different people.
After several escape attempts, they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress that seems impossible to escape from and are forced to suffer.
16. Patton (1970)
Featuring an electrifying performance from the great George C. Scott as the celebrated U.S. General, Patton – the film is considered to be one of the greatest World War 2 films of all time. It won numerous Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, plus it continues to influence movie buffs and aspiring filmmakers to this day.
The movie depicts General Patton as he leads his men to victory in Europe, and it also gives viewers an accurate glimpse into life in the military during the time in which he served and led.
15. Platoon (1986)
This 1986 war film depicting events of the Vietnam War was directed by Oliver Stone, and it stars Charlie Sheen as a college dropout who has volunteered for combat duty. It is based, partially, on Stone’s own experiences as a U.S. infantryman, and it was one of the first films about the Vietnam War to paint the conflict in an unflattering light.
Though it drifts away from the conventions of most popular war movies. but it is unique and imaginative in its storytelling, and it features some wonderful performances from all of the involved actors.
14. The Great Escape (1963)
The movie takes place during World War 2 and is based on a true story about a group of allied prisoners of war (POWs) who are all put in a presumably unescapable camp.
These POWs, however, are all escape artists who try their best to outwit their jailers and dig the escape tunnel in hilarious ways (using boats, trains, and planes to free themselves from occupied Europe).
13. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
This movie was divided into 2 segments, with one part following a group of recruits in a training camp who are under the command of the brutal Sergeant Hartman.
And, the other part focuses on those recruits – Joker, Animal Mother, Rafterman, and others facing real combat scenarios such as sniper ambushes – as they traverse through the North Vietnamese resistance.
12. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
This 1957 movie directed by the legendary David Lean is an all-time classic that features a stunning performance by Alec Guinness, many years before he became famous to younger audiences for portraying Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars films.
The movie follows a group of British prisoners of war as they are made to work on the construction of a crucial bridge over the titular river. The movie builds an amazing amount of tension between Guinness’s character and the prison camp’s nefarious colonel, played by Sessue Hayakawa, before eventually releasing the tension spectacularly.
The movie is considered by many to be one of the greatest war movies of all time, and some also consider it to be one of the most enjoyable films of any genre.
11. Come and See (1985)
An ingenious drama and psychological thriller film that is set in the Soviet war that took place during the Nazi-German occupation of the Byelorussian SSR.
The movie tells us the story of Flyora and Glasha as they are forced to team up with the Soviet resistance to fight against the Germans. They witness the brutality of war and survive horrifying situations that force them to lose all their childlike imaginations and slowly become insane.
10. Paths of Glory (1957)
Paths of Glory is a very class-conscious film that is based on a real episode that took place during World War I. The film tells the tale of a group of soldiers who refuse to perform an impossible mission and how cruelly their commander treats them for disobeying.
This film tries to portray how wrong is the theory that all soldiers are simply pawns in a General’s chess game.
9. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Letters from Iwo Jima is an American war film that is in the Japanese language and tells the story of the fierce bloody battle of Iwo Jima that took place between the United States and Imperial Japan during World War II.
8. The Big Red One (1980)
The Big Red One talks about the horrors of seeing people die and being replaced over and over again during a war.
A veteran sergeant of World War I returns to serve the First Division, Big Red One, in World War II along with 3 other survivors during D-Day at Omaha Beach. They experience survivor’s guilt and re-experience the pain and cruelty of war.
7. The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Hurt Locker tells the incredible tale of a bomb squad that is forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of the Iraq War.
Their new leader is a loose cannon and seems indifferent to death as apparent by his will to sacrifice anything. However, his true character is slowly revealed in a terrific way that changes each man’s life forever.
6. La Battaglia di Algeri (1966)
Set in 1954, this film is a telling of one of the bloodiest battles in history. The film starts with the NLF shooting several Policemen, causing the police to counter-attack, killing many civilians.
The NLF further retaliates which invokes the police to call in the military which then uses torture to break the NLF. However, after many years of struggle, the Algerians finally gained the independent peace they longed for in 1962.
5. Das Boot (1981)
Das Boot is a German 1981 epic war film that takes place when Destroyer class ships were more in demand than U-boats.
The film depicts the tale of a U-Boat crew’s missions and how they maintained their professional standard as soldiers and attempted to accomplish impossible tasks all while obeying the ideology of the government that they served.
4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
This classic from 1998 was directed by Steven Spielberg, and it starred actor Tom Hanks as the leader of a group of Army Rangers who have been ordered to find Private James Francis Ryan amid the harsh realities of World War II.
According to the story, Private Ryan is the last surviving brother of four who served in the conflict, and it is the government’s goal to ensure that he comes back home safely. The movie is widely hailed for its realistic depiction of the storming of Omaha Beach, and for its uplifting themes of unity and hope in the face of great tragedy.
3. Army of Shadows (1969)
This film is based on a book of the same name. The film tells the tale of a small group of resistance fighters as they move between safe houses to keep undercover, work with Allied militaries, kill the informers and spies, and try to evade the capture and execution that they know will soon become their fate.
2. Apocalypse Now (1979)
This film takes place in 1969 when special forces Captain Willard is sent into the jungle to find and kill renegade Colonel Kurtz. However, as he descends into the jungle, he steadily succumbs to the insanity around him caused by the bloody Vietnam War.
His crew begins using drugs and are slowly killed off one by one while Willard continues his journey becoming less and less the man he was before the mission and more of a monster that likes violence.
1. Schindler’s List (1993)
The story revolves around Oskar Schindler, who is an ordinary German businessman that becomes concerned about Jews being persecuted by the Nazis and decides to hire as many of them as he can to save their lives.
Honorable Mention: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, Shosanna Dreyfus, a Jewish refugee, plans to assassinate Nazi leaders with a German war hero while calling them to a theater play.
This play, however, attracts the attention of Jewish American soldiers who attend the play to also assassinate Hitler and all of his top generals. With both parties having set their eyes on the death of the Nazi elite, their plans collide and lead to a historical event.
Did you like our list of the best war movies of all time? Feel free to suggest any more war films that you know in the comments below!