12 Top War Moviesby IMDb-Editors | created - 16 Sep 2014 | updated - 18 Sep 2014 | Public
Sponsored by 'Fury,' David Ayer's WWII drama that arrives on October 17, we look at 12 of the top war films of all time.
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. Fury (2014)
R | 134 min | Action, Drama, War
A grizzled tank commander makes tough decisions as he and his crew fight their way across Germany in April, 1945.
Votes: 388,469 | Gross: $85.82M
We haven't seen David Ayer's latest project yet, but we're excited for him to leave the streets of Los Angeles for this shift into WWII with one of the strongest ensemble casts of the year.
2. Apocalypse Now (1979)
R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, War
A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.
Votes: 557,996 | Gross: $83.47M
One of the best films made about any war also has an incredible documentary about its production; if you have 5 straight hours to spare some evening, watch Francis Ford Coppola's Redux version of Apocalypse Now if you have access to it followed by the doc Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse from co-directors George Hickenlooper, Fax Bahr, and Eleanor Coppola.
3. Das Boot (1981)
R | 149 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller
The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth and sheer terror.
Votes: 213,845 | Gross: $11.49M
Proof that 1970s-style filmmaking continued into the 80s, this case study in cinematography (and claustrophobia) was an endurance test for the cast and crew.
4. The Deer Hunter (1978)
R | 183 min | Drama, War
An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.
Votes: 288,135 | Gross: $48.98M
Another example of fine practical filmmaking, Michael Cimino's epic was released as the haunting memories of Vietnam were still fresh on our minds. The two Russian Roulette sequences would become classic scenes with an unfortunately heavy legacy.
5. Downfall (2004)
R | 156 min | Biography, Drama, History
Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.
Votes: 309,730 | Gross: $5.51M
The scene in which Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) cycles away from Berlin is one of the most poetic and optimistic scenes from the end of a war that we've seen. (It's up there with Paths of Glory.)
6. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
R | 116 min | Drama, War
A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.
Votes: 620,239 | Gross: $46.36M
Stanley Kubrick's shot-in-England Vietnam film may suffer a bit whenever the camera isn't trained on Lee Ermey and Vincent D'Onofrio, but the parallels Kubrick draws between drill instructors and their grunts are more provocative than some viewers might ever admit.
7. La Grande Illusion (1937)
Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
Votes: 31,378 | Gross: $0.17M
A WWI story with its own troubled (critical) history has always been a masterclass in unsentimental filmmaking.
8. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
R | 153 min | Adventure, Drama, War
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.
Votes: 1,148,441 | Gross: $120.54M
Because sometimes we want to set you off: this is Quentin Tarantino's second best film, and his most surprising upon its release. Who felt it would be as big as it was at the global box office?
9. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Approved | 228 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama
The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.
Votes: 246,793 | Gross: $44.82M
Having recently watched Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif in David Lean's true epic at San Francisco's Castro Theatre, we'd argue it is one of the riskiest Hollywood productions of all time.
10. Paths of Glory (1957)
Not Rated | 88 min | Drama, War
After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.
Banned in France until 1975, Stanley Kubrick proved Francois Truffaut wrong - one can make an anti-war movie.
11. Platoon (1986)
R | 120 min | Drama, War
A young soldier in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.
Votes: 356,102 | Gross: $138.53M
Oliver Stone also proved Truffaut wrong, and Stone's disorienting filmmaking style has never been as effective.
12. Ran (1985)
R | 162 min | Action, Drama
In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
Votes: 101,260 | Gross: $3.52M
Akira Kurosawa imports King Lear elements to feudal Japan for his magnum opus, which he made at the age of 75.
13. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
R | 169 min | Drama, War
Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
Votes: 1,131,174 | Gross: $216.54M
Steven Spielberg best-crafted war film, one that reveals the hallmarks of a true filmmaker.