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Top 10 War Movies

Top 40 Best War Movies - 2011 List.Conquest, great leaders, love, death, national identity, brave last stands. This is what makes war so damn fun – to watch from a distance. These are the best war movies ever made.

How are we defining ‘war movie’ in this list? It has to be a real war, and a fighting soldier’s story.

10. THE HURT LOCKER (2009)

Best Picture winner about a U.S. explosive disposal team during the Iraq War. It’s an exploration of the psychology behind the lone soldier who walks toward the bomb that everyone else is running away from, often several times a day. Add to that the threat of sniper fire, baking heat and civilians whose loyalties could lie anywhere. It says little about the Iraq conflict itself but represents all soldiers who end up working a day job in hell. The Hurt Locker is a hughly suspenseful movie, with masterfully constructed set-pieces.


Classic Kubrick in its off-kilter poetic starkness, and dark humour. This is an unusual movie not least because it has only two (elongated) acts, instead of three. The first follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training, while the second depicts the experience of two of them in the Tet Offensive during Vietnam. The movie is less about the Vietnam war itself, more about how the Marine Corp turns recruits into killers, anchored by the most jaw-dropping portrayal of a drill instructor ever put to film.

8. PATTON (1970)

Perhaps the great war biopic, this follows U.S. General George S. Patton as he leads his men in North Africa and Europe during World War II. Co-scripted by Francis Ford Coppola, the movie starred George C. Scott and won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. The opening monologue, where Patton speaks to an unseen audience with an enormous American flag behind him, is one of the most iconic images in cinema. It’s a movie powered by an electrifying performance, of an intimidating half-crazed military genius juggling his ego, passion and patriotism. He here is dishing out some discipline –


A massive movie in every sense of the word, not least because it had six directors and a $10 million budget (making it the most expensive black and white movie in history until 1993). This dramatisation of D-Day also has an enormous cast including John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton and Robert Wagner, with everybody playing their own nationality. The story looks at the landings from a number of perspectives, to give a complete overview. It’s all about scale. How’s this for a wide shot? –


The original anti-war movie, and the granddaddy of virtually every movie on this list. It follows a group of German schoolboys as they are talked into enlisting in WWI by their jingoistic teacher and then slowly realise they’ve made a tragic mistake. Soon the notion of the enemy, of right and wrong, seem irrelevant as life in the trenches becomes one of misery, mutilation, anger and bewilderment. The scene where the soldier reaches for the butterfly at the end is poignant and unforgettable. The Nazis disliked what it said so much they released rats into the cinemas, then banned it. You can watch this great war movie free online right here –

Best War Movies (2011 List)
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  • Adam said

    what about Brotherhood (2004) it definitely deserves a spot on this list

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  • Joker said

    Ha! I knew Apocalypse Now would be number one. Great list.

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  • Thom said

    What, no Avatar? 😉

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      As the introduction mentions, it has to be a real war. Smurf war doesn’t count.

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      • pierre van der Venne said

        missing “Deer Hunter”. But as Sheridan mentioned, all out war flicks only.

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  • dan said

    would have added
    Memphis Belle
    and When Trumpets Fade

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  • gd smith said

    The Manchurian Candidate should be on any list of best war movies. The Korean war might not be most people’s favourite (that will always be WWII or Vietnam) but I’ve always thought the Korean War doesn’t get enough respect. The Manchurian Candidate gives you a bit of Korea and the Cold War!
    Air war and Britain are underepresented. So you also need Dambusters, Aces High, Reach For the Sky and possibley the Battle of Britain. These were made before CGI ruined air conflict.

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  • CINEPHILE420 said


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  • HoboWith AShotgun said

    It’s quite simple, Tropic Thunder is the best war movie, even though it technically isn’t elligible for this list.

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  • Leandro said

    Any best war movies list without “Idi i Smotri” (“Come and see”) and Renoir’s “La grand Illusion” is not a serious one…

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  • Jeff said

    Where is LOTR…??

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  • Dean said

    enemy at the gate. platoon. band of brothers. world at war.
    when we were soldiers.green berets. that is just a few not mentioned here. it is hard to list a top ten war movie based on real events because they all hold there own part of importance in history. i do not agree with apocalypse now being number one it is so over rated and would not make my top ten. just my opinion.

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  • Ju said

    I can’t believe everyone left out PEARL HARBOR!!!

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  • Paulwat said

    One of my all time favourites is Enemy at the Gates

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  • Jose A. Ortiz said

    I HIGHLY recommend UNC0MM0N VAL0R…It is a great war movie and yet I never see it mentioned as one of the best..

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  • tewrey said

    sniper reloaded, battle under orion, green zone, the hunt for eagle one: crashpoint, tigerland, missing in action (all three), the front line, combat zone, wheels of terror.
    All the best ones are left out, sad to say it, but, bad list.

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  • mel said

    best war film-all time. the train. burt lancaster’s finest


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