Do you ever wonder why war movies always have high ratings? War movies usually come the most close to showcasing accurate emotions. All the negative emotions get played very dramatically and drastically compared to real life war scenes.
War isn’t something to pride upon but war times definitely make one realize resilience, comradeship, hope, integrity, and all the heavy emotions that a person can go through. So from peacetime to frontlines, we bring you the best war movies to relive a turmoil of emotions while you relish war strategies. Check out the best war movies that have been ever made:
War Movies You Should Watch
Apocalypse Now (1979)
IMDb – 8.4/10, Reviews
The war is at an all-time peak in Vietnam, and U.S Army Captain Willard gets assigned a mission. Colonel Lucas and a general assign Willard a task that officially doesn’t exist, nor will anyone know about this.
Willard has been tasked to find Walter Kurtz, the colonel of the mysterious Green Beret. His army has entered Colombia by crossing the borders. His hit-and-run tactics are responsible for many casualties to the Viet Cong and the NVA.
All the top officials believe Kurtz has completely lost it. Therefore, Willard is to put an end to this mayhem. Willard travels through the Nung river aboard a U.S Navy patrol boat to reach his destination.
Upon arrival, he finds out that the person he is supposed to eliminate is one of the most decorated soldiers in the U.S Army. His crew members have to rendezvous with Kilgore, a surfer-type Lt Colonel.
After some excruciating fights where some of his crew members died, Willard, Chef, and Lance reach the camp of Colonel Kurtz. It’s one of the challenging war movies to watch but rewards the audience with an immersive experience like none other.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
IMDB – 8.3/10, Reviews
The plot revolves around T.E. Lawrence, a British Lieutenant who possesses immense knowledge about the native Bedouin tribes. Lawrence is tasked with finding Prince Faisal and is sent to Arabia.
He is supposed to serve as a liaison between Arabs and Britishers in their unified fight against the Turks. Not satisfied with his orders, Lawrence rebels against his superiors. With the help of Sherif Ali, a native, Lawrence undertakes a long journey on a camel across a desert to reach a well guarded Turkish outpost and attack it.
The visual storytelling of this film is hands down one of the best you will get to experience. Lawrence of Arabia is available with Youtube premium or depending on your OTT subscription, on Prime Video.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
IMDB – 7.5/10, Reviews
‘The Hurt Locker’ takes us through an immense experience following the lives of some of the most elite soldiers. Their jobs were to disarm live bombs amidst ongoing battles, risking their lives to save others.
The plot follows James, a new sergeant with impressive skills. James takes over a highly skilled team of elite soldiers and manages to surprise them on his very first mission. He assigns Sanborn and Eldridge, his two subordinates, a reckless task and plunges them into a deadly urban combat game.
As the team hurries to find ways to control their new boss, who is seemingly too wild, the city goes into chaos. Unfazed by the destruction and deaths, James’ true character emerges and affects everyone in a way that’ll change their lives forever. The movie is available at Prime Video.
Army of Shadows (1969)
IMDB – 8.2/10, Reviews
Set in the year 1942 when France was under German occupation. The story is about a civil engineer turned French resistance commandant, Philippe Gerbier. After being betrayed by a French collaborator, Philippe gets denounced and imprisoned in a concentration camp.
He somehow manages to escape from the depths of hell, joins his camp, and has the traitor executed for his crimes. The movie leaves no stone unturned in telling the story of the French resistance and what it was like to live during those times as both the head writer and co-writer were veterans of the Shadow Army.
All the resistance members lived in solitude and fear while constantly relying on each other under the Gestapo threat of arrest. The audience gets to experience the command structure followed by the members and how everyone carried out orders.
IMDB – 7.8/10, Reviews
Set in the year 1940, French and British soldiers are fending off German soldiers. Four hundred thousand are stranded on Dunkirk, a French port town, and waiting to be rescued. The only way to get them off the city is via sea.
But the Germans have superiority in the air and are constantly bombing the rescue ships and the beach. No one’s there to oppose them, and they are taking their sweet time in picking off the remaining soldiers.
The situation is quickly getting out of hand. In a dire attempt, the already weary British navy is sent along with civilian boats to rescue the soldiers. The plot revolves and captures this story from the eyes of one such soldier trapped in this unfavorable situation, along with two Royal Air Force fighters and a couple of civilians who undertake the journey to Dunkirk.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, ‘Dunkirk’ offers a great cinematic experience. The music from Hans Zimmer complements each scene keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, making it one of the best war movies. You can stream this movie on Prime Video.
IMDB – 7.5/10, Reviews
Starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, and Michael Pena, ‘Fury’ is one of the best war movies on Netflix. It’s April 1945, and the Allied forces are making their last push deep into the European territory. The story follows Wardaddy, a sergeant who’s faced multiple battles and has learned through the experiences.
He commands a Sherman tank and commands his five-person crew behind the enemy lines on a dangerous mission. Wardaddy and his team already have enough problems on their hands, outnumbered and without any ammunition. But still, a rookie is thrust in his command.
Will this group succeed in its mission and be able to strike at the very heart of Germany? You can stream this movie on Netflix with your subscription.
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
IMDB – 8.1/10, Reviews
‘The Battle of Algiers’ showcases the dire lengths the people of Algiers went to for their independence from the French. The plot is based on a file made public by the Algerian government and shows both sides of the coin, from the perspective of Algerian’s and the French.
The French foreign legion is recently defeated in Vietnam and is forced to leave. With their heads lowered in shame, the regiment now wants to prove that they can do incredible feats. The Algerians have had enough of the French and enjoy their independence from them. A clash between the two is now imminent.
The movies show the cruel methods used by both sides while the French stuck to extreme torture, the Algerians took to bombing the soda shops. A complete look at war and the ugly sides to it.
Eye in the Sky (2015)
IMDB – 7.3/10, Reviews
Starring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul, the film follows Colonel Katherine Powell, played by Helen. Katherine is an experienced military officer based in the U.K. She’s in command of a drone operation that’s top secret.
Her mission is to capture terrorists in Kenya. She has troops on the ground who feed her inside information, and through satellite surveillance, Helen figures out the terrorists are planning an attack through suicide bombing.
With this information, her mission changes from capturing the terrorists to killing them. Lieutenant Steve Watts, an American pilot, is tasked with completing the mission. But as he is about to engage, a nine-year-old girl mistakenly enters the kill zone.
The mission suddenly gets more complicated as it triggers an international dispute over warfare’s moral and political implications. One of the best thought-provoking war movies that’ll make you question the sanctity of wars. Stream this movie with your Prime Video subscription.
Schindler’s list (1993)
IMDB – 8.9/10, Reviews
Directed by the legend Steven Spielberg, ‘Schindler’s List’ stars Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley and is one of the best war movies on Netflix.
Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, was a German businessman and extremely greedy. Amidst the brutal treatment of Jews by the Germans, Oskar becomes an unlikely sympathizer of the Jews.
Based on a true story, Schindler turns his factory into a refuge center and begins to help out the less fortunate Jews. Oskar, with his philanthropic efforts, managed to save about 1100 Jews from getting gassed at Auschwitz.
The movie showcases the grim portrayal of people during the holocaust and shows the good in all of us. Audience members will find it hard to pull back their tears as the film progresses. Stream this amazing movie on Netflix.
IMDB – 8.7/10, Reviews
Directed by Claude Lanzmann, the run time for the documentary is more than 9 hours and portrays every single event regarding the holocaust. Claude includes interviews of the survivors as well as the witnesses.
He even includes talks by ex-nazi members, whom he had to record secretly as they only agreed to an audio-only interview. Claude’s interviewing style paints a clear picture of the atrocities done by German nazis as he presses for all minute details.
In ‘Shoah,’ some of Claude’s subjects show how the feeling of anti-semitism that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews is still alive in people across Germany, Poland, and places where the Nazis fled to.
Despite its long runtime and challenging nature of the documentary, if one manages to sit through it, they’ll likely come out as a new person with a changed outlook on life. One of the best war movies of all time tells its audience never to forgive the atrocities done by cruel people.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
IMDB – 7.4/10, Reviews
Based on the true story of the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist leader of Al-Qaeda, after the attacks in September 2001.
Maya, a CIA operative, has her first experience in the interrogation room after the attacks. She has to grill the prisoners to learn the truth about Al Qaeda. Extreme torture methods are used on the terrorists, which Maya opposes. But she figures this might be the only way for them to speak the truth.
Scarred emotionally by the cruel attacks done by Bin Laden, Maya leaves no stone unturned and pursues every possible lead that she can. In 2011, her work finally seemed to pay off as a U.S Navy Seal team and was sent to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden.
It is a tough film to watch as it shows state-sponsored torture on the detainees but doesn’t fail to impress the audience with the most extensive search in human history. Netflix streams this movie so you can watch this with your subscription.
Son of Saul (2015)
IMDB – 7.5/10, Reviews
‘Son of Saul’ follows the life of Saul Auslander. Saul was a Hungarian prisoner who worked at the Sonderkommando and was responsible for carrying out burials at Auschwitz Crematoriums. Two days into his life as a member, Saul gets tasked with the funeral of a young boy.
He takes the boy for his son and tries to accomplish a nearly impossible task. He tries to find a rabbi to bless the corpse of the boy for a proper burial.
While speculations are going on, the Sonderkommando can be closed at any moment, Saul’s motivation remains undeterred. Even if it means the last thing he will ever do, Saul vows to save the remains of his son, for whom he could never do anything while he was alive.
A painfully poetic war movie that doesn’t let go of its authenticism shows the truth of a concentration camp.
IMDB – 7.3/10, Reviews
Set in the year 1865 in the backdrop of the American Civil war. The war is winding down to an end, and Abraham Lincoln is willing to do everything in his power to ban slavery forever from his nation. This constitutional amendment will be a landmark achievement and will set a precedent for future presidents to come.
However, Lincoln knows it’s a race against time if he wants to make this amendment a law. If, by any chance, peace comes before the bill is passed, the Southern states will do everything in their power to stop the law.
Lincoln is willing to do everything he can to muster enough votes. But this is not as easy as it seems because if the war ends early, they will save thousands of lives. Abraham must confront his conscience on whether to keep the whole nation or end the fight early.
An excellent obituary for one of the most outstanding leaders ever to emerge and directed wonderfully by Steven Spielberg. It’s one of the best civil war movies.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
IMDB – 8.6/10, Reviews
Set in the year 1944, the movie begins on a beach in Normandy, where the Allied invasion is ongoing. Captain Miller leads the members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion in a dire attempt to secure the beachhead.
A fierce battle ensues in which two brothers lose their lives, and earlier their third brother was reported dead in New Guinea. The news of the death of all three is supposed to reach their mother, Mrs. Ryan, on the same day.
George C. Marshall, the United States Army Chief of Staff, is presented with an opportunity to help Mrs. Ryan from extreme grief when he learns of Private James Ryan, a fourth brother. The Marshall decides to send out eight men, including Captain Miller and two members from his Battalion, to help save private Ryan.
The camera work of Steven Spielberg brings such realism to this movie that makes it simply unique, making it one of the best war movies of all time. Watch this movie with your Netflix subscription.
Three Kings (1999)
IMDb – 7.1/10, Reviews
The plot follows a small group of American soldiers posted in Iraq, known to be adventurous. The Gulf war is coming to an end, and before leaving, they anyhow want to lay their hands on a hidden cache of gold.
The gold is rumored to be hidden in the desert somewhere close to their base. They get their hands on a map which they believe will take them to the location. They undertake the journey hoping to find riches but what they see is something they never expected.
The soldiers come across a group of people who desperately need their help, making them rise to a challenge that propels them to the height of heroes and changes their lives in ways unimaginable.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney, and Ice Cube, ‘Three Kings’ is one of the best war movies you will ever see.
The Imitation Game (2014)
IMDB – 8/10, Reviews
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. ‘The Imitation Game’ is based on the real-life story of Alan Turing, a legendary cryptanalyst. The movie portrays and follows the events surrounding Alan and his team of code-breakers as they race against time to break the encryption system of the German Enigma code.
He and his team work at Bletchley Park, Britain’s top-secret Government Code, and Cypher School. The film chronicles the darkest days of World War II. If you are unaware of the breaking of the Enigma code and Alan Turing’s life, then it will be a fascinating watch. Watch it on Netflix with your subscription.
The Pianist (2002)
IMDB – 8.5/10, Reviews
The film is based on the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman. His book is titled “The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story Of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945.” Wladyslaw was a pianist for the Polish Jewish radio station.
As World War II begins, he sees Warsaw change gradually but with drastic consequences. Eventually, Szpilman gets lodged into the Ghetto of Warsaw. However, during operation Reinhard, he gets separated from his family.
From this moment until the end of the war, all the prisoners are released from the concentration camps. Szpilman hides in several places among the ruins of Warsaw. A fantastic work of art complemented by superb acting by the characters bringing realism to the movie.
The sublime direction by director Polanski makes it a touching portrayal of the holocaust and one of the best war movies on Netflix.
Waltz with Bashir (2008)
IMDB – 8/10, Reviews
The story is about Ari Folman, who spends his night at the bar with an old friend. One day, Ari’s friend tells him a story about his recurring nightmare. In his dreams, he gets chased continuously by 26 dreadful dogs.
Every night the same number of dogs chase him continuously until he wakes up drenched in sweat. The two men discuss this and conclude that somehow his nightmares are related to their Israeli mission in the early eighties during the first Lebanon war.
Ari, himself can’t remember a thing about the time he spent in the army. Mystified by this, Ari embarks on an adventure to interview his comrades and old friends who served together with him.
He won’t stop until he discovers the truth about himself, and as he delves deeper into this, his memory begins to fill up with creepy images. He ends up serving as a reminder of the atrocities of war and why he chose to forget about it all.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
IMDB – 8.3/10, Reviews
‘Full Metal Jacket’ shows both sides of the coin while depicting what war does to humanity. We get to witness the mindset of military personnel and how the Vietnam war changed the marines. The first half of the movie is about the cruel Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and his recruitment and training process amateurs go through.
The second half of the movie follows Joker, one of the recruits who undertook the hellish training program. He worked as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, and his main job was to focus on the text offensive.
The film offers an experience like none other, and with every minute passing by, you will find your eyes glued to the screen paying attention even to the side characters.
No Man’s Land (2001)
IMDB – 7.9/10, Reviews
The film’s about the war between Bosnia and Herzegovina during the year 1993. The conflict between the warring sides is at an all-time peak. Nino and Ciki, one Bosnian and one Serb, after various skirmishes and many injuries, get trapped in the no man’s land.
They both took turns in trading insults which often got dark, and sometimes agreeing with each other on common ground. If things weren’t already complicated enough, another Bosnian falls into the pit beside them.
Apart from being wounded, he can’t even move because he landed on a bouncing mine. The two men come to a mutual decision and wave their white flags. Upon seeing their flags, both sides call upon the UN but are provided with no help.
An English reporter, along with a French soldier, arrives at the site to help. ‘No Man’s Land’ shows the vicious nature of war and the inevitable suffering it causes all.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
IMDB – 7.3/10 , Reviews
Based on the true story of one man’s extraordinary attempt at survival. In 1965, Dieter Dengler, a German-American U.S. Navy pilot, was tasked with a classified mission of bombing Laos. During the expedition, his propeller gets hit, and his plane crashes in the jungle.
Soon the villagers gather around and arrest him; a little later, he is handed over to the Vietcong, who torture and put him in a prisoner camp. In the center, he meets five mentally challenged guards and prisoners.
Dieter grows a connection with Duane and plans an escape. However, Gene, who’s mentally unstable, opposes the idea. Their plans get delayed, but after finding there’s no more food because of the constant bombings and the guards intend to kill them. Dieter grows impatient and sets his plan in motion.
However, after an unexpected betrayal, he and Duane escape to the jungle only to realize that the jungle is worse than the prison.
Last Day in Vietnam (2014)
IMDB – 7.6/10, Reviews
The Vietnam war is coming to an end, and during the final weeks, the South Vietnamese people are sent into a frenzy. As the North Vietnamese Army is slowly advancing towards Saigon and the panicked people want to escape desperately.
American soldiers on the ground face a moral dilemma, to evacuate as per the orders of the White House or try to save as many South Vietnamese as they can. If they don’t obey their orders, everyone will be charged with treason. But will they be able to live with themselves if they don’t save the helpless citizens?
Skilled cinematography and excellent sound effects bring this fantastic war movie to life.
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
IMDB – 7.5/10, Reviews
Set in the year 1943, the British Army is making dire efforts to save 2000 people trapped in the Islands of Kheros. All their efforts are in vain as the Germans have two powerful cannons installed on the Navarone Island.
The cannons are sinking every allied ship that’s being sent for the rescue mission. The allied powers attempt an aerial attack but to no avail. Their next plan of action is to send six men disguised as fishermen to blow up the guns of Navarone Island.
Major Roy Franklin, Captain Keith Mallory, Colonel Andrea Stavros, Corporal John Anthony Miller, CPO Butcher Brown, and Spyros Pappadimos are assigned to the team. All men are heavily experienced in their respective fields. Their skills range from climbing mountains to a top engineer to a world-class assassin.
The movie ups its pace with every moment passing by, keeping the audience engaged and making it one of the best war movies on Netflix.
These were out handpicked and best war movies so far. Do you think we missed any good war movies? Mention in the comments and we will update this list! Meanwhile, check out other lists from us:
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Jahnavi is a content writer who loves to binge-watch on Netflix, Disney+, and Prime in her free time. She loves to discuss plots, stories and characters – real and imaginary with anyone who enjoys it.