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10 Best Military Movies of All Time From The Experts

Inspired by the Oscars and the lauded film Dunkirk, we thought we would poll our office military veterans to find out both the best and most realistic military movies. After consulting the experts, we read through many popular reviews before finalizing our contenders. With the list below, we have you covered for your next Netflix night in!

The military genre portrays history through the heightened, unpredictable, and often lawless lens of war. We narrowed our search by focusing on the actual battlefield and warfare rather than the civilian perspective. Read through the descriptions to see how many of these movies you have seen and if you agree with the list.

Best

Apocalypse Nowmovie poster 1

    • Year: 1979
    • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
    • Conflict: Vietnam War 
    • Francis Ford Coppola's depiction of Captain Willard might have recreated war as art, but also highlights it's capacity to turn men into monsters. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and lauded as one of the best films ever made, this difficult tale is worth a watch.

Dunkirkmilitary movies 2

  • Year: 2017
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Conflict: World War II

This emotional rollercoaster of a film honors the fact-based story of British civilians coming to the rescue of thousands of soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. Dunkirk was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Saving Private Ryanmilitary movies 3

  •  Year: 1998
  • Director: Steven Spielber
  • Conflict: World War II

This Hollywood blockbuster is truly a feat of storytelling. Expertly combining the weight of Europe in the final weeks of World War II with heroic characters, viewers will be on the edge of their seat from the first minute.

military movie 10

Patton

  • Year: 1970
  • Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
  • Conflict: World War II

An ode to a controversial figure from World War II, Patton pays tribute to George S. Patton by neither apologizing, nor exaggerating. The iconic representation of the late general depicts the historical character as he was, meaning egotistical, violent and often callous. Watch if you are in the mood for a biographical war film. 

military movies 4

Full Metal Jacket

  • Year: 1987
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Conflict: Vietnam War

Full Metal Jacket is a naked portrayal of the effects of war on the human spirit. The story follows a U.S. Marine who observes his platoon from training to the frontlines. The film received critical acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination.

Lawrence of Arabiamilitary movies 5

  • Year: 1962
  • Director: David Lean
  • Conflict: World War I

A true Epic, Lawrence of Arabia follows T.E. Lawrence through the Arabian Peninsula during World War I. This film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won seven for good reason. Lawrence is an unapologetically flawed hero who shows another side to the war in Europe. 

military movies 6

In the Army Now

  • Year: 1994
  • Director: Daniel Petrie, Jr.
  • Conflict: World War II

This comedy follows two goofballs who enlist in the United States Army Reserves under the lure of the recruiting slogan: "One weekend a month, two weeks a year". Believing their commitment to be minimal, the film shows their service abroad and heroic return home.

Most Realistic

military movies 7We Were Soldiers

  • Year: 2002
  • Director: Wolfgang Petersen
  • Conflict: Vietnam

We Were Soldiers depicts the Battle of Ia Drang and the insurmountable odds the American soldiers faced upon landing at the base camp for a Northern Vietnamese army division. This shows the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War.

military movies 8Das Boot

  • Year: 1981
  • Director: Randall Wallace
  • Conflict: Vietnam War

Available for viewing as a full length film or a mini series, Das Boot puts life on a WWII German U-boat on display. Claustrophobic, bored, and filled with terror, this realistic depiction is an experience more than a movie.

military movie 9

All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Year: 1930
  • Director: Lewis Milestone
  • Conflict: World War I

Milestone's war drama had such an impact on its viewers that the League of Nations suggested it be shown around the world until the word "war" is removed from dictionaries. The story follows young German schoolboys who are pushed to volunteer for the army, and quickly tells the tale of early twentieth century war. We would reserve watching unless you are in the mood for a heavy dose of the horrors of humanity. 

 

Sources: Paste Magazine | Rotten Tomatoes

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