There are few genres of film that are as universally beloved and respected as the war movie. From historical epics to small-scale dramas, the war movie has provided us with some of the most iconic moments in cinematic history. Whether it’s a heart-pounding action sequence or an emotional speech, there are certain war movies that have stood the test of time and remain as beloved today as they were when they first hit the silver screen. Here are 10 of the best war movies that have endured and captivated audiences for decades.
1) Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola’s classic war movie about the Vietnam War. Set in the 1970s, it follows a US Army captain as he is tasked with finding a mysterious and powerful colonel who has gone rogue in the jungle. A stunning visual masterpiece and a classic of its genre, Apocalypse Now is considered one of the greatest war films ever made.
2) The Deer Hunter
The Deer Hunter is a powerful and iconic war movie that tells the story of a group of friends from a small steel town who are drafted into the Vietnam War. It stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, and John Savage as they struggle to survive in the midst of the chaos of the war. The film captures the psychological trauma of war, making it a timeless classic that will never be forgotten.
3) Full Metal Jacket
This Stanley Kubrick classic tells the story of a group of US Marines during the Vietnam War. It follows them through their training and their experiences in the war. It is an emotionally powerful film that captures the harshness and brutality of war. A must-see for any war movie fan.
4) The Hurt Locker
This 2009 war drama directed by Kathryn Bigelow follows an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team during the Iraq War. The film won 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, and has become a classic for its realistic depiction of the horrors of war. It stars Jeremy Renner as Staff Sergeant William James, and is hailed as one of the best war films of all time.
5) Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 movie set in World War II, Inglorious Basterds follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers on a mission to take down the Nazi regime. The film stars Brad Pitt as the leader of the group, and Christoph Waltz as the infamous “Jew Hunter.” It’s an exciting and action-packed movie that’s sure to have you at the edge of your seat.
6) Letters from Iwo Jima
This 2006 war film tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers who fought there. It is a powerful and emotional tale of loss, courage and patriotism that has stood the test of time.
This Academy Award-winning war movie focuses on the Vietnam War and the story of a young soldier’s experience. The film follows his platoon as they fight their way through the jungle, encountering psychological and physical turmoil. The film is an intense look at the harsh realities of war, and is remembered for its gripping and realistic battle scenes.
8) Saving Private Ryan
A 1998 epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a group of soldiers on a mission to rescue a paratrooper whose three brothers have all died in combat. The film was praised for its realistic depiction of World War II and received 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It won five awards, including Best Director.
9) The Thin Red Line
A 1998 American war drama directed by Terrence Malick, The Thin Red Line follows the story of a US Army troop in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. It stars Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, and George Clooney. This film provides an intense and visceral account of the cost of war. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won one for Best Cinematography.
10) Tora! Tora! Tora!
Tora! Tora! Tora! is a 1970 Japanese-American war movie that tells the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor from both sides. The movie stars Martin Balsam, So Yamamura, and Joseph Cotten and is widely regarded as one of the most historically accurate war movies of all time. Despite its age, Tora! Tora! Tora! is still considered one of the greatest war films of all time and is sure to remain a classic for years to come.