Best War Movies

What makes a war movie, for purposes of this list? The war must be more than a mere backdrop to a part of the story, but an integral part of the whole, or the focus of a part of it. A battle scene helps, but is not necessary. Men in uniforms are a must. Fantasy movies with battles are out. Hope that's clear, though why I include Casablanca and not Gone With the Wind is a mystery even to me. Not to mention Pan's Labyrinth, or Manchurian Candidate, or Schindler's List, or Fort Apache. Maybe it is just sort of arbitrary.
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1.
Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
In Casablanca in December 1941, a cynical American expatriate encounters a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ Well, maybe I should disqualify this on the "mere backdrop" bit, but there are just so many people running around in uniforms.... ” - Hairy_Lime
 
2.
Duck Soup (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale. (68 mins.)
Director: Leo McCarey
“ Go! Break through the lines! And remember, while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are. ” - Hairy_Lime
 
3.
The General (1926)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines. (67 mins.)
“ An exciting, inventive, and very funny movie. Keaton is funnier just blinking than any Jud Apatow movie you can name. ” - Hairy_Lime
 
4.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop. (95 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ Yes, I realize three of my top 4 war movies are comedies/satires. ” - Hairy_Lime
 
5.
Army of Shadows (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
An account of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France. (145 mins.)
 
6.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it. (161 mins.)
Director: David Lean
 
7.
Kanal (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In 1944, during the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, Polish Lieutenant Zadra and his resistance fighters use Warsaw's sewer system to escape the German encirclement. (91 mins.)
Director: Andrzej Wajda
 
8.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
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. (216 mins.)
Director: David Lean
 
9.
Das Boot (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth, and sheer terror. (149 mins.)
 
10.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. (153 mins.)
Director: Francis Coppola
 
11.
Chimes at Midnight (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The career of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as roistering companion to young Prince Hal, circa 1400-1413. (119 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
“ Maybe not primarily a war movie, but the battle scene is epic in every sense of the word. ” - Hairy_Lime
 
12.
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A dramatized account of a great Russian naval mutiny and a resulting street demonstration which brought on a police massacre. (75 mins.)
Director: S.M. Eisenstein
 
13.
Stalag 17 (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer. (120 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
 
14.
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
During the German occupation noble, bourgeois and worker's partisan groups lived in peace with another. On the first day of freedom they start to fight each other. In these fights is weaved a most tender love story. (103 mins.)
Director: Andrzej Wajda
 
15.
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government. (121 mins.)
 
16.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work. (131 mins.)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
 
17.
Europa Europa (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A boy in Nazi Germany, trying to conceal that he is Jewish, joins the Hitler Youth. (112 mins.)
 
18.
Henry V (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France in 1415. (137 mins.)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
“ Hey, it has Agincourt! Know ye not Agincourt? ” - Hairy_Lime
 
19.
The Great Escape (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II. (172 mins.)
Director: John Sturges
 
20.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. (136 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
 
21.
Three Kings (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, 4 soldiers set out to steal gold that was stolen from Kuwait, but they discover people who desperately need their help. (114 mins.)
 
22.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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. (183 mins.)
Director: Michael Cimino
 
23.
Glory (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates. (122 mins.)
Director: Edward Zwick
 
24.
Patton (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The World War II phase of the career of the controversial American general, George S. Patton. (172 mins.)
 
25.
MASH (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war. (116 mins.)
Director: Robert Altman
 
26.
Gallipoli (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I. (110 mins.)
Director: Peter Weir
 
27.
The African Queen (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
In Africa during World War I, a gin-swilling riverboat captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship. (105 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
28.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
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. (169 mins.)
 
29.
The Longest Day (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view. (178 mins.)
 
30.
Breaker Morant (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers. (107 mins.)
Director: Bruce Beresford
 
31.
Ran (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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. (162 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
32.
Gettysburg (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War. (271 mins.)
 
33.
Richard III (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The classic Shakespearean play about a murderously scheming king staged in an alternative fascist England setting. (104 mins.)
 
34.
Sergeant York (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A hillbilly sharpshooter drafted in WW1 despite his claim to be a pacifist, who ends up becoming a war hero. (134 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
 
35.
Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A U.S. sub commander, obsessed with sinking a certain Japanese ship, butts heads with his first officer and crew. (93 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise