With it being Memorial Day weekend, I started thinking what are some of my favorite war films since there are a lot of good one so when it came to narrowing them down to only 10 it was tough to do so but after some time I DID IT!!!...There will be some universal fan favorites and probably a few that depending on how far back you go back with the era of films you watch may not know a few of the films.
Also none of the movies on my list are based around the current wars that are going on now. I would've add Zero Dark Thirty which I'm a fan of but I don't really consider that a war movie per se, The Hurt Locker doesn't make the list either because I haven't seen it all the way threw probably will do a review of that film in the future, the closet movie to present day will be the number 10 film. all of the rest take place in the older wars...anyway enough of me rambling lets do this.
10. Red Dawn (1984)
This movie is a more of a what if scenario about how World War III could happen, one thing I like about this movie is that the cast who at this point in time which was led by Patrick Swayze and a bunch of up and comers stars in the making after Swayze is most notable Charlie Sheen(I wonder If this is the last time I mention his name on this list). its a cold war film that deals with Russians and Cubans taking over the U.S. and setting up shop.
One of their points of entry is in a small mid western town where only a handful of young teens escape capture and manage to fight back. the movie plays very realistic (unlike its remake that came out a few years ago) some good action scenes and a few emotionally scenes is what helps this movie
kick off the countdown.
Glory might shock some who read this as it comes in kinda low on the list, but its my list and I have my reasons. this is the first movie that shows an all black group of soldiers actually fighting and being the main focus of a war movie and stars two of my favorite actors(Can you believe Matthew Broderick was more well known at the time, surprising right) a some what known at the time Morgan Freeman, and a young Denzel Washington who basically cement that he would be a major star in one powerful scene where he is forced to remove his shirt and take a beating.
The one probably I have with Glory is that even though its based on/Inspired by a true story there are some historically inaccurate with the story which is way it comes in low on the list, but other then that its a very good movie, and some what gets overlooked when list like these are made, but there are strong performances threw out and the final battle scene is one sure not to be forgotten .
8. Hamburger Hill (1987)
Hamburger Hill is inspired by the true events that took place over a 10 day period where a group of soldiers are trying to secure a hill during the Vietnam war, once again we have a virtually unknown cast of young men some who would go on to be stars most notable are Dylan McDermott, Don Cheadle). the movie was one of the first war movies I ever seen so takes to it and the fact that I've always been into the Vietnam war is one of the reasons I enjoy this movie, but the biggest thing about this movie that I like where a lot of other steer clear from is the realistic and harrowing ways death is dealt with, I don't think before and even after to some degree has a war movie shown people being blown literally to small pieces where noting is left like this one did.
Hamburger Hill earns it name which also is the real name that the hill was given because of all of the ground up young men who died on the hill, a few scenes that always stick out to me is first the friendly fire accident after what was a successful battle up the hill and the final scene of Steven Weber's character which most seeing it might think its unrealistic but its an interesting imagine to say the least.
Unfortunately Hamburger Hill came at a time when people were finally getting pass the Vietnam war stuff and also it was a tough act to follow after the hit of Platoon which came a year earlier, but if you enjoy war movies and haven't seen this one. I recommend checking this on out.
7. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Just like number 8 this movie gets vastly over looked because it was competing with the Spielberg/Hanks huge hit that was released the same year...what was it's name again LOL...The Thin Red Line like a war movie that didn't make the list is heavy star studded probably most star studded cast all time either past stars, current stars or future stars and I'm not including the ones that were cut from the final film.
The Thin Red Line which is based off a book about soldiers of war, who aren't just battling the enemy but each other and in some cases themselves, its hard when you have a long list of very good actors in a film to pick out any standouts but there are a few for me Sean Penn as a world weary sergeant gets the bulk of screen time who you will see one way in the beginning but of the course changes and probably changes again because of the war, Jim Caviezel in one of his earliest roles character seems like a fish out of water but in a good way because of his character spiritually and way of thinking ( I think this role had something to do with him being casted in The Passion Of The Christ) and then last but not least is Nick Nolte who I don't know how he survived making the movie with all the yelling he does in a few key scenes.
This was Terrence Malick's first film in over 20 years and he delivers a very emotionally and powerful war movie which you don't see to many like this, the battle scenes are crafted beautifully(if you can say that about war) like I said earlier its to bad this movie was overshadowed by that other movie in 98' because this one deserves a lot of high praise as well.
6.The Great Escape (1963)
Another star studded cast that takes place not on a battlefield but yet in a German POW Camp, with British and U.S. soldiers who instead of sitting and waiting to be freed or killed which every comes first decide to work together to free themselves from the camp, one thing about The Great Escape its some what a fun movie to watch which isn't always the case in war movies, the secret planning and then execution of those plans play almost heist films like. Steve McQueen steals the movie with his coolness probably way his character in the movie was dubbed The Cooler King, one of the most memorable scenes is that of him showing off his motorcycle skills during the escape. there are a
few emotional scenes but for the most part this is the only movie on the list that a family could sit and watch together.
5. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Yet again another star studded cast but this group aren't so nice of guy, but they are just right for Lee Marvin's Major Reisman who is assigned this group of killers and sociopaths and even psychopaths in one members case. Where The Great Escape is fun for the most part, The Dirty Dozen is just that Dirty as their mission is basically a suicide mission but if these men survive they could begin their lives over again.
a few standouts here are John Cassevettes as Victor Franko who represents the anti authority figure perfectly with his wise cracks and care free way of thinking towards everyone and everything , and Telly Savalas as Maggot who represents the some men just want to watch the world burn group and shouldn't have been allowed to go along on the mission from the get go.
This is one of Quentin Tarantino's inspirations for his film Inglorious Basterds and during the final battle you can see why.
4. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Even though by 1987 most people where somewhat getting away from Vietnam war movies and after Platoon being a huge hit the year before, Full Metal Jacket Directed by Stanley Kubrick none the less still kept focus on this war time period just a bit longer,with how Kubrick focus the first half of the movie on the young recruits in boot camp and the stress that can put on a man, some excel and some crack under pressure and one character does just that and Kubrick masterfully shows that character downward spiral into madness perfectly and only in Kubrick fashion.
the second half of the movie focuses on the war itself where a few of the recruits from the first half have made it and are now in the shit and in more ways then one, during this part of the movie Kubrick shows the different personality of all of the all the guys who have been there for a long. there aren't a lot of battle scenes in Full Metal Jacket majority of the battles especially in the first half takes place inward, but the actual war scenes are directed very well few notable scenes are during an ambush were the LT is killed, and Kubrick films the forward progress of the soldiers from a POV where you feel as if you are right there with these guys.
The second and probably one of the best parts of the movie is the whole deal with a sniper who picks off a few guys and the slow motion way that its done would make Sam Peckinpah stand up and applaud it is...Full Metal Jacket some what takes little things from past war movies and really turn then on itself which Kubrick was very good at doing.
3. Platoon (1986)
I've mentioned this film a few times among previous films on this less because this war film became some what of a standard of war films during the 80s with a stars in the making cast Williem Dafoe and Tom Berenger are the old guys here at that time and Charlie Sheen (hey he was also in the number 10 spot film) is caught between the two fathers fighting for control of his soul, also look out for a young Johnny Depp too, what separates Platoon from a lot of the other war films of this time and before is that writer/Director Oliver Stone himself fought in the Vietnam war and to some degree these are things that he experienced doing his tour of duty.
Sheen narrates the audience threw this madness of group of guys who are aligned with either the free spirits group led by Elias (Dafoe) or the Jarhead true army group led by Barnes (Berenger) which plays out the course of the movie and is more of the true war that is being fought instead of against the enemy.
Dafoe really standouts as the good natured Elias who wants to do the right things and his final scene leaves a lasting image long after the movie is over, so much so that his image is on the posters and cover for the movie.
The battle scenes are really good ones and are executed like true battle situations (once again doesn't hurt to have a veteran behind the camera) one lasting imagine from one of the first battle scenes is the slow reveal of the Vietcong slowly approaching out of the darkness.
Even though I enjoy Platoon so much it only comes in at number 3 which means what two films could be better then this one.
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Spielberg directed and Tom Hanks starring war film about a group of soldiers who risk their lives to go find a young Private Ryan to get him back home safely,not only has one of the best opening battle scenes but one of the best scenes in any movie period. the events that happens on Omaha beach is what kick starts the whole mission to save Private Ryan because all 3 of his brothers are killed on that beach at the same time and the army doesn't want to have to send their mother 4 letters about her sons.(would they actually do something like that in real life?)
Hanks leads a group of soldiers among them veteran actor Tom Sizemore who gives his finest performance in his career, and a young Vin Diesel (two years before his breakout role in Pitch Black), the group swiftly moves threw the county where they meet up with other groups of soldiers, and meeting up with the wrong Private Ryan played by Nathan Fillion which is a awkwardly funny scene in an otherwise serious movie.
Saving Private Ryan plays like a true Spielberg film where you get to know enough about each character except Capt. Miller (Hanks), even his own men take bets on what he does back home, stuff like this is what makes Saving Private Ryan good because the audience gets emotionally invested in the characters weather you like them or not, by the time they and the audience finally meets with the correct Private Ryan (Matt Damon) and lets him know they are there to take him back, if the journey to get him was hard well the journey to get him back home is even that much tougher.
One of the best things about Saving Private Ryan to me is the realistic natural that Spielberg presents the film so much so that even when its shown on network television its not edited, its shown the way war is ment to be seen right in you're face and unapologetic. I know a lot of fans enjoy the opening battle scene but me personally I enjoy the final one a little bit more, just like in Hamburger Hill this movie doesn't shy away from seeing bodies blown to bits and shy away from blood neither.
Spielberg's film as good as it is took a lot away from the other war film of that year The Thin Red Line, but one is ment to touch us all in the way that Spielberg has mastered over the years. but one movie out does Saving Private Ryan on my list.
1. Apocalypse Now (1979)
If you take the previous 9 films on this list and mix them up in a blender together you get Apocalypse Now. this movie to me is the best war movie, based off the book Heart of Darkness Francis Ford Coppola takes us on a journey that doesn't just change its characters but anyone who watches it.
The opening scene of Martin Sheen laying in a bed in a hotel room, where his self destruction plays out to The Doors haunting The End gives us a glimpse of what's to come.
where other cast in war movies are star studded or up and comers for the most part. this movie has all of that with stars like Robert Duval as a wild man Colonial who decides to destroy a village just so he can surf is one of the best sequences in the movie but way out there moments too and his speech has been engrained in film buffs minds forever "I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning...)
Small cameo appearance by Harrison Ford, a very young Laurence Fishburne, and Dennis Hopper who in my opinion sums up exactly what this movie is all in his character overall...but the man who gets the top billing Marlon Brando is something of ying and yang in this movie on one hand his performance is powerful and some what other worldly but on the other hand he caused more problems then any one by not reading the script, and gaining weight for a role that didn't warrant it, I guess we had to take the bad in order to get the good, but Ford Coppola never worked with Brando again after this film so bad won out over good there.
Ford Coppola directs a film that was a challenge from the word go, watch the documentary Heart of Darkness to get more about that, but some how after 3 year of filming all of it paid off with a harrowing range of emotions that leaves you spent after watching this film, even though the film was really good back in 79 Ford Coppola himself was really satisfied with it years later so he decided to re release it in theaters in 2001 as Apocalypse Now Redux that adds additionally footage that makes it that much more surreal.
Well there it is my top ten war films of all time, I'm sure some you agree with and others you may not agree with, so comment you're thoughts of my list, make you're own list and also agree or disagree with mine, thanks for reading