War or armed conflict between two states always result in human casualties and leave a disastrous impact on human life. Though war or offensive war is prohibited under the United Nations charter, human history is full of wars’ frequent occurrence.
War is hell, but every generation on earth has witnessed the horror of war. Our civil society gave its best to promote peace and played an active role against the war.
In the same way filmmakers, as part of civil, brilliantly made war movies or anti-war movies and gave their best possible abilities in promoting humanitarian thoughts.
Top war movies sent messages of peace and left lasting effects on viewers’ minds against the madness of war.
Here are the top ten best war movies of all time.
Table of Contents
- 10. Rome, Open City – 1945
- 9. The Deer Hunter – 1978
- 8. BraveHeart – 1995
- 7. Paths of Glory – 1957
- 6. Born on the Fourth of July – 1989
- 5. Das Boot – 1981
- 4. Schindler’s List – 1993
- 3. The Thin Red Line – 1998
- 2. Full Metal Jacket – 1987
- 1. Apocalypse Now – 1979
- Honorable mentions
- Conclusion on Best War Movies
10. Rome, Open City – 1945
Rome, the open city, is the masterpiece that reveals Rome’s Nazis’ occupation and the audacious resistance of Italians. Rossellini, director of the movie, started work on the script with writer Fellini Soon, German tanks marched towards Rome and obliterated the city in June 1944.
By January, he started shooting the film in the streets of Rome. The story of the movie is based on facts of the underground resistance of Italians against Germans. The main character of the secret agent is played excellently by Marcello Pagliero. He was the agent cornered by Germans.
Aldo Fabrizi came in the role of priest, who used his office for liberation. Anna Magnani, a young wife, gave her life while hiding her life partner. The whole team justified their roles. It is the movie. We can say that made history in top war movies of the past century.
9. The Deer Hunter – 1978
This movie was directed by Michael Cimino, which tells the impact of the Vietnam War on American working-class steelworkers’ lives.
The film opens in Clairton, PA, where three friends Mike (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken), and Stan (John Cazale), get together to celebrate the wedding of their friend Steve (John Savage).
They then go for final deer hunting in nearby mountains, where they were captured by the Vietcong soldiers, who compel them to play Russian roulette for the V.C.’s amusement. During their escape plan, Steve loses his legs. The Russian roulette aspect was extensively condemned in this top war movie of the late 70s.
8. BraveHeart – 1995
This movie is directed by Mel Gibson, who also played the main role in the movie. The movie is focused on medieval times of Scottish and English war history.
The story begins with young Wallace, who lost his brother and father fighting the English and becomes in the custody of his uncle. Twenty years later, he returns after completing his study and meeting with her childhood friend, Murron.
They fall in love and marry in secret. The very next day of their marriage, the girl was killed by an English soldier. In revenge, he single-handedly slays the whole English foot platoon. Full-fledged war starts between England and Scotland after joining other villagers as Scotland was struggling against English tyranny.
Gibson won the best director award, as every movie scene is perfectly directed and filmed.
7. Paths of Glory – 1957
This is one of the perfect movies ever made. Kubrick, the director of the movie, loved the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb and decided to make a film on its story. Kirk Douglas played the French officer role and gave an excellent performance.
It was banned for several years in France, Germany, and Switzerland because the film’s story was based on facts. It is a must-see war movie.
6. Born on the Fourth of July – 1989
Born on the Fourth of July is an Oscar-winning movie directed by Oliver Stone to portray the Vietnam War’s impact. It is the true story of Ron Kovic, a small-town athlete. This character is played by Tom Cruise, who decides to fight in the Vietnam War, witnesses the horror of war, and unintentionally slays his own man.
During the war, he receives a bullet wound that leaves him paralyzed. Much later, he turns back to everyday life again and becomes an active antiwar activist. This is a very sentimental work of Tom and Stone. Tom was nominated for Oscar for his superb performance in this top war movie of the era.
5. Das Boot – 1981
Das Boot is the greatest movie made on the horrors of the Second World War. It is an autobiographical novel-based movie. The story revolves around the lives of a fearless U boat captain and his inexperienced crew in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas.
The ship was sent in said seas to attack the allied shipping and cut the supply of necessary things to enter Britain. The film also has a short television series. After watching this movie, you will understand why putting it in fifth place in our top ten war movies of all time.
4. Schindler’s List – 1993
Schindler’s list is also based on facts. Schindler was a German businessman who plans to make money in occupied Poland. He opened a factory in Poland and got the military contracts by using flattery tactics. He hired cheap Jewish laborers.
His sole purpose was making a profit. By the time he realized the Jewish population’s plight, he had begun using his position to save Jewish employees from forced labor camps. He lost all his fortune during this process but saved thousands of lives.
The movie won seven Academy Awards and got the title of the best American film about the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg, director of the movie, won the title of best director.
3. The Thin Red Line – 1998
This is also an autobiographical novel-based movie directed by Terrence Malick. The movie depicts the Second World War’s melancholic rumination, human and nature destruction.
It tells about the Guadalcanal campaign fought in 1942 in the Solomon Islands. There are so many different but interesting aspects of the movie. This is a fantastic war movie with a lyrical direction of Malick. It is a true combination of multiple numbers of emotions.
2. Full Metal Jacket – 1987
Stanley Kubrick, the movie director, made this film after a seven-year gap between his last film, The Shining. It tells the experiences of the Vietnam War and depicts the problems of marine volunteers.
The first half deals with the problems and stress associated with military indoctrination in training camps in a light way. Still, the twist comes in the second half when one of the recruits kills his drill instructor and commits suicide in response to the pressure.
The movie is declared a big cinematographic success. If you really are searching for a top war movie, then watch Full Metal Jacket.
1. Apocalypse Now – 1979
This is the best film among the top ten war movies ever made. Coppola, the director of the movie, completed this film under challenging conditions. As the cyclone destroys the movie’s set and its main star Sheen, was replaced because of his heart attack in the middle of the movie.
The story of the movie is based on the book Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad. In the movie, Captain Willard is sent to Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who sets himself as a God among a local tribe.
Coppola did excellent work on every scene in the film. It lefts long-lasting effects on the minds of viewers about the madness of war. The film won two Oscars and many other awards for best cinematography, sound, and picture.
Stalingrad – 1993
The story follows a group of German soldiers, from their Italian R&R in the summer of 1942 to the frozen steppes of Soviet Russia and ending with Stalingrad’s battle.
Saving Private Ryan – 1998
Fury – 2014
A grizzled tank commander (Brad Pitt) makes tough decisions as he and his crew fight their way across Germany in April 1945.
Conclusion on Best War Movies
So there you have it: a list of best war movies of all time. I’m sure there are many other war movies that you watched, but they didn’t make it to the list for some reason. Please add them in the comments.
Don’t know where to watch these war movies? I’ve compiled a list of the 18 best free websites to watch movies online legally.