CLASSIC CLIPS TOP 25 GREATEST WAR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

The Criteria for our top 100 list are as follows: 1) Ground Breaking Cinematography and Special Effects (excluding CGI, which we consider, mostly but not entirely, to be over used and a lazy form of Art), 2) Groundbreaking and/or Original Plot, 3) Superlative Screenplay (original or adaptation), 4) Great Acting, 5) Great Directing and Producing, 6) Great Film editing, including Sound, and, 7) Lasting, memorable and original Musical Score. Other criteria include character development, level of suspense, intrigue, tension and sustained interest. The list of movies below contain at least one or more of the above elements, beginning with our pic for the # 100 spot.

 

25. Wings (1927)
The First Ever Oscar Winner for Best Picture at the 1st Academy
Awards Presentation in 1929

Wings is a 1927 and 1929 American silent war film set during World War I, produced by Lucien Hubbard, directed by William A. Wellman, released by Paramount Pictures, and starring Clara Bow, Charles Rogers and Richard Arlen. It won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. Gary Cooper appears in a small role which helped launch his career in Hollywood.

The film, a romantic action-war picture, was rewritten by scriptwriters Hope Loring and Louis D. Lighton from a story by John Monk Saunders to accommodate Bow, Paramount's biggest star at the time. Wellman was hired as he was the only director in Hollywood at the time who had World War I combat pilot experience, although Richard Arlen and John Monk Saunders had also served in the war as military aviators. The film was shot on location on a budget of $2 million (equivalent to $29.24 million in 2020) at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, between September 7, 1926 and April 7, 1927. - Source Wikipedia

With World War I afoot, David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) and Jack Powell (Charles "Buddy" Rogers) join the military with an eye toward flying American fighter planes. They leave behind Mary Preston (Clara Bow), a local girl who's in love with David but committed to Jack. Dispatched to France as newly minted pilots, the men take to the skies in one of the war's climactic air battles, and as frantic Mary longs for the safe return of both men, one pays the ultimate price for his bravery. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


Shoulder Arms (1918)

 


 

24. Sergeant York (1941)
Winner of 2 Academy Awards, Including Best Actor

Sergeant York is a 1941 American biographical film about the life of Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated American soldiers of World War I. Directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper in the title role, the film was a critical and commercial success, and became the highest-grossing film of 1941.

The film was based on the diary of Sergeant Alvin York, as edited by Tom Skeyhill, and adapted by Harry Chandlee, Abem Finkel, John Huston, Howard E. Koch, and Sam Cowan (uncredited). York refused, several times, to authorize a film version of his life story, but finally yielded to persistent efforts to finance the creation of an interdenominational Bible school. The story that York insisted on Gary Cooper for the title role comes from a telegram producer Jesse L. Lasky wrote to Cooper pleading with him to accept the part, to which he signed York's name.

Cooper went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, while the film also won Best Film Editing and was nominated in nine other categories, including Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Walter Brennan), and Supporting Actress (Margaret Wycherly). The American Film Institute ranked the film 57th in the its 100 most inspirational American movies. It also rated Alvin York 35th in its list of the top 50 heroes in American cinema.

In 2008, Sergeant York was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." - Source Wikipedia

Prize-winning Tennessee marksman Alvin York (Gary Cooper), a recent convert to Christianity, finds himself torn between his non-violent beliefs and his desire to serve his country when recruited to fight in World War I. Kindly Major Buxton (Stanley Ridges) convinces York to engage in battle, where the pacifist's prowess with a rifle earns him honors as he continues to struggle with his decision to kill. Howard Hawks directs this adaptation of the real York's memoirs. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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23. Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
Winner of 2 Academy Awards

Twelve O'Clock High is a 1949 American war film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force, who flew daylight bombing missions against Nazi Germany and Occupied France during the early days of American involvement in World War II. The climax includes a thinly disguised version of the Black Thursday strike against Schweinfurt.

The film was adapted by Sy Bartlett and Beirne Lay, Jr., with uncredited contributions by director Henry King, from the 1948 novel 12 O'Clock High by Bartlett and Lay. It stars Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill, Millard Mitchell, and Dean Jagger.

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two: Dean Jagger for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Thomas T. Moulton for Best Sound Recording. In 1998, Twelve O'Clock High was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". - Source Wikipedia

In 1942, an American Air Force unit stationed in England is plagued with morale problems until no-nonsense Brigadier General Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) assumes command. His tough leadership is initially resented by not only his pilots but his second-in-command (Hugh Marlowe), a West Point graduate and son of a general. But, with the help of a hotshot flying ace (Robert Patten) and a sympathetic administrator (Dean Jagger), the unit pulls together into a gung-ho fighting crew. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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22. Paths of Glory (1957)
Kirk Douglas's Finest Performance

Paths of Glory is a 1957 American anti-war film co-written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack, after which Dax attempts to defend them against charges of cowardice in a court-martial.

The film was co-produced through Kirk Douglas' film production company, Bryna Productions, and a joint venture between Stanley Kubrick and James B. Harris, Harris-Kubrick Pictures. In 1992, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. - Source Wikipedia

During World War I, commanding officer General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready), to attack a German trench position, offering a promotion as an incentive. Though the mission is foolhardy to the point of suicide, Mireau commands his own subordinate, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas), to plan the attack. When it ends in disaster, General Mireau demands the court-martial of three random soldiers in order to save face. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


Hamburger Hill (1987)


 
 

21. American Sniper (2014)
Nominated for 6 Academy Awards

American Sniper is a 2014 American biographical war drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall. It is loosely based on the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (2012) by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. The film follows the life of Kyle, who became the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history with 255 kills from four tours in the Iraq War, 160 of which were officially confirmed by the Department of Defense. While Kyle was celebrated for his military successes, his tours of duty took a heavy toll on his personal and family life. The film was produced by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, and Peter Morgan. It stars Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, with Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Kevin Lacz, Navid Negahban, and Keir O'Donnell in supporting roles. - Source Wikipedia

U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) takes his sole mission -- protect his comrades -- to heart and becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history. His pinpoint accuracy not only saves countless lives but also makes him a prime target of insurgents. Despite grave danger and his struggle to be a good husband and father to his family back in the States, Kyle serves four tours of duty in Iraq. However, when he finally returns home, he finds that he cannot leave the war behind. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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20. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Winner of Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects

Tora! Tora! Tora! (Japanese: トラ・トラ・トラ!) is a 1970 epic war film that dramatizes the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The film was produced by Elmo Williams and directed by Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku, and stars an ensemble cast including Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotten, So Yamamura, E.G. Marshall, James Whitmore, Tatsuya Mihashi, Takahiro Tamura, Wesley Addy, and Jason Robards. It was Masuda and Fukasaku's first English-language film, and first non-Japanese film.

The tora of the title is the two-syllable Japanese codeword used to indicate that complete surprise had been achieved. Japanese being a language with many homophones, it is a coincidence that tora also means "tiger." - Soure Wikipedia

The Film is a dramatic retelling of the Pearl Harbor attack and details everything in the days that led up to that tragic moment in American history. As United States and Japanese relations strain over the U.S. embargo of raw materials, Air Staff Officer Minoru Genda (Tatsuya Mihashi) plans the preemptive strike against the United States. Although American intelligence agencies intercept Japanese communications hinting at the attack, they are unwilling to believe such a strike could ever occur on U.S. soil. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


Pearl Harbor (2001)



 


 
 

19. Midway (1976)
Another Mirisch Corporation Master Production

Released in the United Kingdom as Battle of Midway, 'Midway' is a 1976 American Technicolorwar film directed by Jack Smight and produced by Walter Mirisch from a screenplay by Donald S. Sanford The film features an international cast of stars including Charlton HestonHenry FondaJames CoburnGlenn FordEd NelsonHal HolbrookToshiro MifuneRobert MitchumCliff RobertsonRobert WagnerJames ShigetaPat MoritaJohn FujiokaRobert Ito and Christina Kokubo.

The music score by John Williams and the cinematography by Harry Stradling Jr. were both highly regarded. The soundtrack used Sensurround to augment the physical sensation of engine noise, explosions, crashes and gunfire. Despite mixed reviews, Midway became the tenth most popular movie at the box office in 1976. A remake film of the same name was released in 2019.

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18. The Alamo (1965)
A Classic, Epic Film, Nominated for 6 Academy Awards

American historical epic war film about the 1836 Battle of the Alamo produced and directed by John Wayne and starring Wayne as Davy Crockett. Based on the 1836 standoff between a group of Texan and Tejano men, led by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna's forces at the Alamo in San Antonio Texas.  - Source Wikipedia

The film took home one of its six Academy Awards nominations: Best Sound Editing. - Source Classicclips.ca

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17. The Longest Day (1962)
Winner of 2 Academy Awards

The Longest Day is a 1962 American epic war film, shot in black and white and based on Cornelius Ryan's 1959 non-fiction book of the same name about the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. The film was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, who paid author Ryan $175,000 for the film rights. The screenplay was by Ryan, with additional material written by Romain Gary, James Jones, David Pursall, and Jack Seddon. It was directed by Ken Annakin (British and French exteriors), Andrew Marton (American exteriors), and Bernhard Wicki (German scenes).

The Longest Day features a large international ensemble cast including John Wayne, Kenneth More, Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Steve Forrest, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, Stuart Whitman, Tom Tryon, Rod Steiger, Leo Genn, Gert Fröbe, Irina Demick, Bourvil, Curd Jürgens, George Segal, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka, and Arletty. Many of these actors played roles that were essentially cameo appearances. In addition, several cast members had seen action as servicemen during the war, including Albert, Fonda, Genn, More, Steiger, and Todd; Todd was among the first British officers to land in Normandy in Operation Overlord, and he participated in the assault on Pegasus Bridge. - Source Wikipedia

In 1944, the U.S. Army and Allied forces plan a huge invasion landing in Normandy, France. Despite bad weather, General Eisenhower gives the okay and the Allies land at Normandy. General Norma Cota (Robert Mitchum) travels with his men onto Omaha Beach. With much effort, and lost life, they get off the beach, traveling deep into French territory. The German military, due to arrogance, ignorance and a sleeping Adolf Hitler, delay their response to the Allied landing, with crippling results. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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16. The Green Berets (1968)
The Most Under Rated War Film of all Time!

The Green Berets is a 1968 American war film directed by John Wayne and Ray Kellogg and starring John Wayne, David Janssen and Jim Hutton, based on the 1965 novel by Robin Moore. Much of the film was shot in the summer of 1967. Parts of the screenplay bear little relation to the novel, although the portion in which a woman seduces a North Vietnamese communist general and sets him up to be kidnapped by Americans is from the book.

The Green Berets is strongly anti-communist and pro-South Vietnam. It was released at the height of American involvement in the Vietnam War, the same year as the Tet Offensive against the largest cities in South Vietnam. John Wayne was so concerned by the anti-war sentiment in the United States, he wanted to make this film to present the pro-military position. He requested and obtained full military cooperation and materiel from 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson and the United States Department of Defense. John Wayne bought out Robin Moore for $35,000 and 5% of undefined profits of the film. - Source Wikipedia

A cynical reporter (David Janssen) who is opposed to the Vietnam War is sent to cover the conflict and assigned to tag along with a group of Green Berets. Led by the tough-as-nails Col. Mike Kirby (John Wayne), the team is given a top-secret mission to sneak behind enemy lines and kidnap an important Viet Cong commander. Along the way, the reporter learns to respect why America is involved in the war and helps to save the life of a war orphan whose life has been destroyed by the conflict. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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15. Platoon (1986)
Winner of 4 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone, starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Keith David, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp. It is the first film of a trilogy of Vietnam War films directed by Stone, followed by Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven & Earth (1993). The film, based on Stone's experience from the war, follows a U.S. Army volunteer (Sheen) serving in Vietnam while his Platoon Sergeant and his Squad Leader (Berenger and Dafoe) argue over the morality in the platoon and the conduct of the war. - Source Wikipedia

Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) leaves his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he's on the ground in the middle of battle, his idealism fades. Infighting in his unit between Staff Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes nearby villagers are harboring Viet Cong soldiers, and Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), who has a more sympathetic view of the locals, ends up pitting the soldiers against each other as well as against the enemy. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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14. Dunkirk (2017)
Nominated for 8 Academy Awards

Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II through the perspectives of the land, sea, and air. Its ensemble cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy.

Dunkirk portrays the evacuation with little dialogue, as Nolan sought instead to create suspense from cinematography and music. Filming began in May 2016 in Dunkirk and ended that September in Los Angeles, when post-production began. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film stock. Dunkirk has extensive practical effects, and employed thousands of extras as well as historic boats from the evacuation, and period aeroplanes. - Source Wikipedia

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions

Dunkirk (1958)

 

 
 

13. Zulu (1964)
Time Out Magazine Ranked it the 93rd Best British Film Ever

Filmed on a grand scale, Zulu is a rousing recreation of the January 22, 1879, siege of Rorke's Drift in Natal, Africa. An army of 4,000 Zulu warriors have already decimated a huge British garrison; now they are on their way to the much smaller Rorke's Drift. A Royal Engineers officer (Stanley Baker) is determined to stand his ground, despite having only a skeleton garrison at his command. His steamroller tactics are constantly at odds with those of a by-the-book lieutenant (Michael Caine), who feels that a retreat is called for, but it becomes clear that if the garrison is to survive, they'd better pay heed. Jack Hawkins and Ulla Jacobsson are also on hand as an idealistic missionary and his somewhat more pragmatic daughter. Richard Burton provides the narration for Zulu, closing the film with the observation that 11 of the 1,344 Victoria Crosses awarded since 1856 were bestowed upon the survivors of Rorke's Drift. Zulu was followed in 1979 by a "prequel," Zulu Dawn. -Source Rotten Tomatoes

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12. The Great Escape (1963)
Nominated for 1 Academy Award

How this film was passed up by literally every Top 100 list on the internet (and we've searched at least 100 sites) is mind blowing! On top of that, it received only one Academy Award Nomination for Film Editing. The film features an-up-and-rising, Super-Mega-Star-Studded Cast: Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn, all of whom made Hollywood history in their first major roles in the 1960 sensation "The Maginifcent Seven, with the lead role played by, at the time, super-star Yul Bryner. "The Great Escape stars James Garner, Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Donald Pleasence and David McCallum. The film was based on actual events; however, numerous compromises were made for commercial appeal, such as including Americans among the escapees (none of whom were actually American, but Canadian and British). The Great Escape was made by The Mirisch Company, released by United Artists, and produced and directed by John Sturges. - Source Classicclips.ca

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11. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Perhaps Stanley Kubrick's Best Film

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war drama film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Herr and Gustav Hasford. The film is based on Hasford's 1979 novel The Short-Timers and stars Matthew Modine, Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio and Adam Baldwin.

The storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their boot camp training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, primarily focusing on privates Joker and Pyle, who struggle under their abusive drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. The second half of the film portrays the experiences of two of the platoon's Marines in Vietnamese cities Da Nang and Huế during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. The film's title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by military servicemen.

The film received critical acclaim, grossed $46.4 million against a budget of $16 million, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Kubrick, Herr, and Hasford. In 2001, the American Film Institute placed the film at number 95 in its poll titled "AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills."

Stanley Kubrick's take on the Vietnam War follows smart-aleck Private Davis (Matthew Modine), quickly christened "Joker" by his foul-mouthed drill sergeant (R. Lee Ermey), and pudgy Private Lawrence (Vincent D'Onofrio), nicknamed "Gomer Pyle," as they endure the rigors of basic training. Though Pyle takes a frightening detour, Joker graduates to the Marine Corps and is sent to Vietnam as a journalist, covering -- and eventually participating in -- the bloody Battle of Hué. - Source Wikipedia

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10. Braveheart (1995)
Winner of 5 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

Braveheart is a 1995 American historical drama film directed and co-produced by Mel Gibson, who portrays Sir William Wallace, a late-13th-century Scottish warrior. The film depicts the life of Wallace leading the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The film also stars Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan and Catherine McCormack. The story is inspired by Blind Harry's 15th century epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace and was adapted for the screen by Randall Wallace.

At the 68th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, and Best Sound Effects Editing.

The film tells the story of the legendary thirteenth century Scottish hero named William Wallace (Mel Gibson). Wallace rallies the Scottish against the English monarch and Edward I (Peter Hanly) after he suffers a personal tragedy by English soldiers. Wallace then gathers a group of amateur warriors that is stronger than any English army.

 

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Honorable Mentions

The Patriot (2000)

 

 
 

9. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Winner of 5 Academy Awards

An epic romantic drama film The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during World War I and then the October Revolution. the eighth highest-grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada. At the 38th Academy AwardsDoctor Zhivago won five OscarsBest Adapted ScreenplayBest Original ScoreBest CinematographyBest Art Direction and Best Costume Design; it was nominated for five others (including Best Picture and Best Director), but lost four of these five to The Sound of Music. It also won five awards at the 23rd Golden Globe Awardsincluding Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Actor - Source Motion Picture Drama for Sharif

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8. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Winner of 3 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

The Thin Red Line is a 1998 American epic war film written and directed by Terrence Malick. It is the second screen adaptation of the 1962 novel of the same name by James Jones, following the 1964 film; however, this film is not considered a remake. Telling a fictionalized version of the Battle of Mount Austen, which was part of the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Pacific Theater of World War II, it portrays soldiers of C Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, played by Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas and Ben Chaplin. The novel's title alludes to a line from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Tommy", from Barrack-Room Ballads, in which he calls British foot soldiers "the thin red line of heroes", referring to the stand of the 93rd Regiment in the Battle of Balaclava of the Crimean War. - Source Wikiedia

In 1942, Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) is a U.S. Army absconder living peacefully with the locals of a small South Pacific island. Discovered by his commanding officer, Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn), Witt is forced to resume his active duty training for the Battle of Guadalcanal. As Witt and his unit land on the island, and the American troops mount an assault on entrenched Japanese positions, the story explores their various fates and attitudes towards life-or-death situations. Source Rotten Tomatoes

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7. Patton (1970)
Winner of 7 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

Patton, is a 1970 American epic biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott as Patton and Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North, who based their screenplay on Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farago and Bradley's memoir, A Soldier's Story.

Patton won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Scott also won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of General Patton, but declined to accept the award. The opening monologue, delivered by Scott as General Patton with an enormous American flag behind him, remains an iconic and often quoted image in film. In 2003, Patton was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". The Academy Film Archive also preserved Patton in 2003. - Source Wikipedia

Biography of controversial World War II hero General George S. Patton. The film covers his wartime activities and accomplishments, beginning with his entry into the North African campaign and ending with his removal from command after his outspoken criticism of US post-war military strategy. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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6. The Deer Hunter (1978)
Winner of 5 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

The Deer Hunter moves from the steel mills outside of Pittsburgh to the mountains of Pennsylvania to the jungles of Vietnam as it explores the upheaval faced by a tight-knit group of Russian Americans when three of their number enlist to serve in Vietnam. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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5. Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
Winner of 7 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

If you only ever see one David Lean movie… Well, don’t. Watch as many as you can. But if you really insist on only seeing one David Lean movie, then make sure it’s Lawrence Of Arabia, the movie that put both the sweeping and the epic into sweeping epic with its breath-taking depiction of T.E. Lawrence’s (Peter O’Toole) Arab-uniting efforts against the German-allied Turks during World War I. It’s a different world to the one we’re in now, of course, but Lean’s mastery of expansive storytelling does much to smooth out any elements (such as Alec Guinness playing an Arab) that may rankle modern sensibilities.

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4. The English Patient (1996)
Winner of 9 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

Romantic war drama film directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje and produced by Saul Zaentz. The film tells the story of Count László de Almásy, who is burned from a plane crash and tells his past story in flashbacks involving a romantic affair, while he is tended by a nurse. The film was released to critical acclaim, and received 12 nominations at the 69th Academy Awards, winning nine, including Best Picture, Best Director for Minghella, and Best Supporting Actress for Juliette BinocheRalph Fiennes, playing the titular character, and Kristin Scott Thomas were Oscar-nominated for their performances. The film also won five BAFTA Awards and two Golden Globes. The British Film Institute ranked The English Patient the 55th greatest British film of the 20th century. - Source Wikipedia

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3. Schindler’s List (1993)
Winner of 7 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who sees an opportunity to make money from the Nazis' rise to power. He starts a company to make cookware and utensils, using flattery and bribes to win military contracts, and brings in accountant and financier Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to help run the factory. By staffing his plant with Jews who've been herded into Krakow's ghetto by Nazi troops, Schindler has a dependable unpaid labor force. For Stern, a job in a war-related plant could mean survival for himself and the other Jews working for Schindler. However, in 1942, all of Krakow's Jews are assigned to the Plaszow Forced Labor Camp, overseen by Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), an embittered alcoholic who occasionally shoots prisoners from his balcony. Schindler arranges to continue using Polish Jews in his plant, but, as he sees what is happening to his employees, he begins to develop a conscience. He realizes that his factory (now refitted to manufacture ammunition) is the only thing preventing his staff from being shipped to the death camps. Soon Schindler demands more workers and starts bribing Nazi leaders to keep Jews on his employee lists and out of the camps. By the time Germany falls to the allies, Schindler has lost his entire fortune -- and saved 1,100 people from likely death. Schindler's List was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture and a long-coveted Best Director for Spielberg, and it quickly gained praise as one of the finest American movies about the Holocaust. - Source Mark Deming, Rovi

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Honorable Mentions


The Pianist (2002)



 
 

2. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
Winner of 7 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

The Bridge on the River Kwai opens in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Burma in 1943, where a battle of wills rages between camp commander Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) and newly arrived British colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness). Saito insists that Nicholson order his men to build a bridge over the river Kwai, which will be used to transport Japanese munitions. Nicholson refuses, despite all the various "persuasive" devices at Saito's disposal. Finally, Nicholson agrees, not so much to cooperate with his captor as to provide a morale-boosting project for the military engineers under his command. The colonel will prove that, by building a better bridge than Saito's men could build, the British soldier is a superior being even when under the thumb of the enemy. As the bridge goes up, Nicholson becomes obsessed with completing it to perfection, eventually losing sight of the fact that it will benefit the Japanese. Meanwhile, American POW Shears (William Holden), having escaped from the camp, agrees to save himself from a court martial by leading a group of British soldiers back to the camp to destroy Nicholson's bridge. Upon his return, Shears realizes that Nicholson's mania to complete his project has driven him mad. Filmed in Ceylon, Bridge on the River Kwai won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary British filmmaker David Lean, and Best Actor for Guinness. It also won Best Screenplay for Pierre Boulle, the author of the novel on which the film was based, even though the actual writers were blacklisted writers Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, who were given their Oscars under the table. - Source Hal Erickson, Rovi

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1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Winner of 5 Academy Awards

Epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat The sheer bludgeoning, blood-spilling, visceral power of its Omaha Beach, D-Day-landing opening act ensured that Spielberg’s fourth World War II movie set the standard for all future battle depictions. Its shaky-staccato-desaturated style (courtesy of Janusz Kaminski’s ingenious cinematography) - newsreel made cinema - has been oft-copied, but rarely bettered. The film has been widely hailed as one of the best films ever made. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." - Source Wikipedia

 

 

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Honorable Mentions


Apocalypse Now (1979)

All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)

Bat 21 Movie
Bat*21 (1988)