20 Of The Best Nuclear War Films

by will-finney | created - 10 May 2011 | updated - 19 May 2011 | Public

Films that show the build up and/or detonation and/or aftermath of nuclear war or nuclear bomb attack

Films in no particular order.

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1. Threads (1984 TV Movie)

112 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, War

92 Metascore

The effects of a nuclear holocaust on the working class city of Sheffield, England and the eventual long-term effects of nuclear war on civilization.

Director: Mick Jackson | Stars: Karen Meagher, Reece Dinsdale, David Brierly, Rita May

Votes: 9,581

2. By Dawn's Early Light (1990 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 100 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

The crew of a nuclear bomber attack the Soviet Union while the President of the United States tries desperately to regain control of his military after his helicopter crashes during a ... See full summary »

Director: Jack Sholder | Stars: Powers Boothe, Rebecca De Mornay, James Earl Jones, Martin Landau

Votes: 2,449

3. The Day After (1983 TV Movie)

Unrated | 127 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

The effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.

Director: Nicholas Meyer | Stars: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Steve Guttenberg, John Cullum

Votes: 12,763

4. A Boy and His Dog (1975)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

A young man and his telepathic dog wander a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Director: L.Q. Jones | Stars: Don Johnson, Jason Robards, Susanne Benton, Tim McIntire

Votes: 15,009 | Gross: $6.90M

5. On the Beach (1959)

Approved | 134 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins

Votes: 10,781 | Gross: $11.00M

6. Planet of the Apes (1968)

G | 112 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

79 Metascore

An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans

Votes: 154,508 | Gross: $33.40M

7. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

PG | 95 min | Comedy

96 Metascore

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn

Votes: 408,222 | Gross: $0.28M

8. Fail-Safe (1964)

Not Rated | 112 min | Drama, Thriller

American planes are sent to deliver a nuclear attack on Moscow, but it's a mistake due to an electrical malfunction. Can all-out war be averted?

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver, Dan O'Herlihy

Votes: 17,439

9. The War Game (1965 TV Movie)

48 min | Drama, War

A docudrama depicting a hypothetical nuclear attack on Britain.

Director: Peter Watkins | Stars: Michael Aspel, Peter Graham, Dave Baldwin, Kathy Staff

Votes: 5,614

10. Right at Your Door (2006)

R | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

57 Metascore

A dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles, jamming freeways and spreading a toxic cloud.

Director: Chris Gorak | Stars: Mary McCormack, Rory Cochrane, Tony Perez, Scotty Noyd Jr.

Votes: 12,043 | Gross: $0.06M

11. Testament (1983)

PG | 90 min | Drama

The life of a suburban American family is scarred after a nuclear attack.

Director: Lynne Littman | Stars: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Rossie Harris, Roxana Zal

Votes: 5,236 | Gross: $2.04M

12. Miracle Mile (1988)

R | 87 min | Action, Drama, Romance

A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

Director: Steve De Jarnatt | Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar, Lou Hancock

Votes: 7,976 | Gross: $1.15M

13. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

R | 137 min | Action, Sci-Fi

75 Metascore

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Votes: 890,662 | Gross: $204.84M

14. When the Wind Blows (1986)

84 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama

A naive elderly British rural couple survive the initial onslaught of a nuclear war.

Director: Jimmy T. Murakami | Stars: Peggy Ashcroft, John Mills, Robin Houston, James Russell

Votes: 8,690 | Gross: $0.01M

15. Crimson Tide (1995)

R | 116 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

66 Metascore

On a U.S. nuclear missile sub, a young First Officer stages a mutiny, to prevent his trigger happy Captain from launching his missiles, before confirming his orders to do so.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, Matt Craven, George Dzundza

Votes: 92,508 | Gross: $91.40M

16. Unthinkable (2010)

R | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A psychological thriller centered around a black-ops interrogator and an F.B.I. Agent who press a suspect terrorist into divulging the location of three nuclear weapons set to detonate in the U.S.

Director: Gregor Jordan | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Michael Sheen, Stephen Root

Votes: 79,641

17. WW III: World War III (1998 TV Movie)

94 min | Documentary, War

This mock documentary uses archival footage, interviews and reports taken out of context and staged interviews to highlight a possible escalation into a nuclear war. In this feature, ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Stone | Stars: Boris Sichkin, Christoph Gutknecht, Boris Lyoskin, Hans Sievers

Votes: 210

18. The Sum of All Fears (2002)

PG-13 | 124 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

45 Metascore

C.I.A. analyst Jack Ryan must stop the plans of a Neo-Nazi faction that threatens to induce a catastrophic conflict between the United States and Russia's newly elected President by detonating a nuclear weapon at a football game in Baltimore, Maryland.

Director: Phil Alden Robinson | Stars: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ian Mongrain, Russell Bobbitt

Votes: 95,949 | Gross: $118.91M

19. The Fourth Protocol (1987)

R | 119 min | Thriller

John Preston is a British Agent with the task of preventing the Russians detonating a nuclear explosion next to an American base in the UK. The Russians are hoping this will shatter the "special relationship" between the two countries.

Director: John Mackenzie | Stars: Michael Caine, Pierce Brosnan, Ned Beatty, Joanna Cassidy

Votes: 8,072 | Gross: $12.42M

20. Fail Safe (2000 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 86 min | Drama, Thriller

Cold War tensions climb to a fever pitch when a U.S. bomber is accidentally ordered to drop a nuclear warhead on Moscow.

Directors: Stephen Frears, Martin Pasetta | Stars: Walter Cronkite, Richard Dreyfuss, Noah Wyle, Brian Dennehy

Votes: 5,300



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