Top 10 Films: War

Top 10 War Films

War Collage

When you think of war, you think of the countless stories and memories people have of them.  For any war (fact or fiction), there’s always a story to tell.  No matter if it is about the battles or will to survive, the tales speak of endearment on so many levels.  The purity that comes with the chaos and calamity is an ironic thing, but it is also the same thing that gives an outlet to its effect on the human condition.  Humanistic qualities come out in the rawest form in a War, which makes the some of the best kind of films to watch.

War films are the most hardy and heartfelt kind of stories.  Beyond the drama, love, compassion and sometimes sacrifices you find in all other genres, the heart that pulls all of this together within this genre is the stories and everlasting memories.  A really great war film doesn’t only (or always) provide the calamity, gun battles, or all out ‘action’, a great war film brings out the deepest reaches of the human condition.  That realism gives it’s fragility as well as the strength.  When you feel the power of the scenes, the essences of the story becomes as real to you as it is for the people on screen.  With that being said, some films on this list might come as a surprise to some, but they fit the description of what makes it great.  With that being said, here are my top ten War films:



inglorious basterds10. Inglorious Basterds – This might be an odd choice for some (because it’s fictionalized); but this film takes into consideration another side of war that most never see. Behind all the ‘flash’ and ‘bang’; there is recklessness and crude-filled behavior behind the sophisticated. For smokes screen of an ‘image’; the dialogue of this film fuels the tension, giving you another ‘eerie’ eye of what War can be.  That rawness of dialogue (driven by the great Tarantino); is both witty and pulse pounding.  With multiple layers from the likes of Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz; this movie stands out as a definite classic of a war film on its own odd merits.




the last samurai9. The Last Samurai – A deeply underrated film; this one captures takes the ‘fish out of water’ scenario and places it in a different kind of war. It showcases a war of cultural change within the early 21st century in Japan. With Japan modernizing, a group of Japanese samurai try their best to keep traditions high, through the eyes of a captured Tom Cruise.  That might be an odd choice of character; but through Tom Cruise you get to see someone become a new person while learning the true meaning of honor, worth and family from his captor, played by Ken Watanabe.  With some inquisitive acting on display between Cruise and Watanabe; this film gives you an appreciation of heritage and how that kind of war can be just heartfelt as a traditional one.



braveheart8. Braveheart – A war for the people; this is a film that stands the test of time. No matter what era, the ideals of fighting for purpose, family and true heritage is put to the forefront in this one. What makes this one stand the test of time is it takes those ideals and grounds them.  With some very great authentic visual appeal, to superb acting from everyone in the film; Braveheart is an epic journey within a simple human tale.  This is a definite watch and fitting for this top film’s list.




the messenger7. The Messenger – This is a film that represents the ideals of what is ‘ethical’ and ‘humane’ at the same time. Here, you follow two American Soldiers (played by Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster), as they must deliver dire news about fallen soldiers to their families. There is a mix of great dramatic performances with some emotional moments that puts into perspective how war affects everyone involved on the home front.  If you’re looking for a good emotional invoking story during wartime; this is one for you.




the pianist6. The Pianist – This is another ‘different take’ on a war film; as it takes the perspective of the ‘civilians’ that are caught between the feuding sides. A very dire perspective, we follow a Polish Jewish musician as he struggles to survive against not only the war, but the complete destruction of his home, family and Polish Jewish community. Facing everyday with fear, anxiety and lack of hope; a man uses his love of music to survive and hide ‘under the radar’ from those looking to kill him because of his heritage.  One of the best performances ever from a leading man (Adrien Brody), you feel the raw helplessness of his situation, but cheer for him to keep living for that glimmer of a chance to be free.



black hawk down5. Black Hawk Down – This ‘pulse-pounding’ action film takes the perspective of soldiers trapped in Somalia after a helicopter crash. From the intensity of the scenes within the ‘no win’ scenario, this is a film that showcases the real worth of human struggle.  You get to see the purity of companionship and fighting for the man beside you.  The characters aren’t as deep on an individual perspective; but that depth is brought as a complete ‘package; as you get to see the struggle to get out alive together from this war-torn country.  This is a modern war film that touches a lot of people today, where that ‘realism’ bleeds in more than older war films.




the hurt locker4. The Hurt Locker – If there was ever a film that characterizes the effects of what war does to an individual, it is this film. A Best picture winner at the Oscars, the greatness in this film comes in the character performances, as you watch how the constant tours in Iraq have an effect of three individuals of an US Army bomb squad. The purity is like dancing on the edge of a knife, as you see them at their best and worst in the most intense situations that anyone can endear. The intensity of these situations is brought about in the fact that one false move could end their lives.  The screenplay is very subversive while using raw human interaction to bring out the tension, anxiety and stress that any generic thriller can hope to achieve even on a literal scale.  There are strong themes of value, trust and human worth in The Hurt Locker because of the clear apolitical perspective of how war affects the human psyche.  This is a truly deep, character driven film about war; a must watch.



schindlers list3. Schindler’s List – As mentioned before, not all war films are about the gun battles and glory road. Some war films are at their best when they put on display the endurance the other people have to do to survive. Being one of the best films ever created (number one on my top ten best of all time list); this film not only portrays a dire situation during WWII; but also the endearing sacrifice one man does to save hundreds of lives.  The portrayal of the Holocaust can be hard for some people to see; but Spielberg captures the ‘essences’ of human struggle from both sides.  From great performances to complex issues about human dignity, honor and trust, you will not experience a film as deeply moving as this one; (as it is also true story).




saving private ryan2. Saving Private Ryan – Even though Schindler’s List is my best film of all time; it can’t top what I believe Spielberg’s best foray into War Genre. This one not only captures the ideals of what human life means, but it puts on (in the ironic fashion of simplicity) the ideals and pressure of how important human life is on an individual scale. The intensity comes across through the great acting, direction and ‘war’ action scenes that are top notch.  This film brings full circle the ideas of story, human condition and raw vigor of what War can do to a person.  For all the greatness this film brings, it doesn’t top the number film on my list.




letters from iwo jima1. Letters From Iwo Jima – The combination of worth, passion, commitment and ultimate sacrifice for man and country; this film puts on display all of this in the most heartfelt of stories. Focusing on one of the most important Pacific Ocean battles in WWII; we get to see endearment and complexion on how war wears down a person’s psyche. Do you continue to fight for country and honor, or do you fight to protect the man beside you and get back to your family.  Another great value found here is it shows the Japanese side of the war.  You get to see that not all ‘enemies’ are evil, giving you the complexion that people fight for many other reasons even under the commandment of something they don’t believe.  With the best performance from Ken Watanabe to date, as well as Clint Eastwood’s best film, this humanizing tale will put on display something that is familiar, heartfelt and touching.  With war having many facades, this film puts all of them on display in the most important spectrum, story.  This is why it is one of the best films ever made, and my number one War Film.

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