A good war movie can make us applaud as easily as it can make you cry- we delve into the action, heroism and sacrifices. As we wait for the release of Oppenheimer, we will take you through the lens of the cinematic universe with a list of the ten best war movies.

These are all gripping tales from World War II to narratives set in modern conflicts and tell the triumphs and tragedies by master directors as they show the soldiers’ battlefield exploits.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

You can’t have a list of the best war movies without Saving Private Ryan. The movie takes us back to the Normandy landings and the aftermath when searching for a soldier reported missing in action – Private James Francis Ryan. The cast consists of Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Tom Sizemore, who paint realistic depictions of war on the big screen. Watching this movie will transport you to chaos and confusion during battles. It has stunning visuals, action sequences and powerful performances.

1917 (2019)

1917 is about two soldiers’ journey to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap. Directed by Sam Mendes, 1917 is the newest movie on this best war movies list and has phenomenal Cinematography that won it the Oscar for that year. The movie stars Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay and Daniel Mays, along with Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth.

American Sniper (2014)

Based on a true story, American Sniper is a biography war drama by Clint Eastwood. It’s based on the life of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper. His story unfolds after the 9/11 attacks on the world trade centre as he becomes one of the deadliest snipers in American military history. You see the psychological toll of war and the ethical challenges that soldiers face when deployed and off duty. American Sniper explores; duty, patriotism and the human cost of war.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

The Hurt Locker – released in 2008 – tells the story of a three-man EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team during the Iraq War. The director (Kathryn Bigelow) takes us to the battlefield as Staff Sergent William James (Jeremy Renner) tries to defuse bombs while navigating the dangers and moral complexities of the war. Its cast includes Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty and Fellow Pearce, who portray the characters superbly. If you want to explore war’s psychological and emotional effects, then ‘The Hurt Locker’ is a must-watch.

Braveheart (1995)

Braveheart is a historical film directed and co-written by Mel Gibson, who plays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior. We see Wallace’s leadership of the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. His motivation is a personal tragedy and a desire for freedom which we see through breathtaking battle sequences, emotional depth and captivating performances.

Three Kings (1999)

Three Kings, directed by David O. Russel, takes us to the frontline during the Gulf War. Its cast includes George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze, U.S. soldiers who go AWOL in the final days of the Gulf War. They aim to steal a cache of gold buried in the Iraqi desert by Saddam Hussein. As they embark on the dangerous mission of searching for gold, the journey transforms into a moral dilemma as we are shown the devastating effects of war.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Quentin Tarantino directs this epic war movie set in Nazi-occupied France. It follows a group of Jewish American soldiers tasked with hunting and killing Nazis. Film stars; Brad Pitt, Christopher Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger and Eli Roth transport us to the front lines through their performances, where we meet two factions who adopt hardened tactics showing no mercy against each other. By far, this movie features one of the best scripts written by Tarantino and reinforced by the cast to make it a must-watch.

Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler’s List is another favourite on the list of the best war movies. This 1993 American epic historical film is directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Branko Lustig. It depicts the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, which tells the story of Oskar Schindler. Oskar is a German industrialist who employs thousands of Jews in his factories, thus saving them from the Holocaust. We also get to see stars; Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth, and Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern as they portray the characters superbly.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Full Metal Jacket, directed by Stanley Kubrick, follows a group of marines during the Vietnam War while still showing the training of recruits for the United States Marine Corps at Parris Island. It examines the psychological effects of combat portrayed by stars; Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onffrio and R. Lee Ermey. While it features realistic scenes, it will also force you to confront the harsh realities of war, dehumanization and the loss of individuality, which unfortunately continues to echo with us today.

The Thin Red Line (1998)

‘The Thin Red Line’ explores the Allied forces’ strategies during World War II. In this movie, we meet Private (Jim Caviezel), who, unfortunately, has decided to go AWOL and spend some time with the locals of the small South Pacific island. However, he is caught and forced to rejoin his command to fight the Imperial Japanese Army. This film showcases the brutality of war and the emotions felt by the American Soldiers when forced to fight an enemy they do not understand.

As we travel to the frontlines of conflicts and see what soldiers and warriors go through, you can continue the conversation and tell us which movie you feel should be on this list.

Abbas Jaffar Ali
Abbas Jaffar Ali

Abbas has been covering tech for more than two decades- before phones became smart or clouds stored data. He brought publications like CNET, TechRadar and IGN to the Middle East.


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