Special Report

50 Best Military Movies of All Time

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Every war has horror and heroes, terror and triumph, winners and losers. This is why it is such a popular subject matter for cinema, serving as the basis for hundreds of great films.

While all military movies deal with war in some capacity, they can vary dramatically in their approach. For instance, films such as Robert Altman’s “M*A*S*H” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” both use comedy to convey their messages. Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter” is more grim, exploring the darkness of war.

24/7 Wall St. has identified the 50 best military movies of all time by creating an index based on metrics such as user and critic ratings from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. The list includes classics as well as more recent, well-received films.

Click here to see the 50 best military movies of all time.

The best military movies include films from every decade starting with the 1930s. These films are about 17 different conflicts or wars. Even so, half of the movies on the list are about World War II. The second-most popular subject among movies on the list is World War I, with five films.

Stanley Kubrick directed three of the motion pictures on the list – more than any other director. He’s followed by David Lean, Clint Eastwood, and Mel Gibson with two each. The latter two directors also starred in one of the films on the list.

To determine the best military movies of all time, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on each film’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating. To be considered, each film had to have at least 10,000 total user ratings between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 approved Tomatometer critic reviews. Each film also had be classified as a war film by IMDb. Movies that were classified under the war genre but did not sufficiently relate to the military were removed at 24/7 Wall St.’s discretion.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

50. A Midnight Clear (1992)
> Director: Keith Gordon
> Starring: Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

49. Crimson Tide (1995)
> Director: Tony Scott
> Starring: Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, Matt Craven
> Conflict: Post-Cold War

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

48. Black Hawk Down (2001)
> Director: Ridley Scott
> Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore
> Conflict: Somali Civil War

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

47. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
> Director: Peter Weir
> Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd
> Conflict: Napoleonic Wars

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

46. A Soldier’s Story (1984)
> Director: Norman Jewison
> Starring: Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Art Evans
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

45. American Sniper (2014)
> Director: Clint Eastwood
> Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
> Conflict: Iraq War

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Source: Courtesy of Olive Films

44. Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
> Director: Allan Dwan
> Starring: John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

43. Lone Survivor (2013)
> Director: Peter Berg
> Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
> Conflict: War in Afghanistan

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

42. Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
> Director: Brian G. Hutton
> Starring: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

41. Gettysburg (1993)
> Director: Ron Maxwell
> Starring: Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Stephen Lang
> Conflict: American Civil War

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

40. Braveheart (1995)
> Director: Mel Gibson
> Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan
> Conflict: First War of Scottish Independence

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

39. Fury (2014)
> Director: David Ayer
> Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

38. The Big Red One (1980)
> Director: Samuel Fuller
> Starring: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

37. Sergeant York (1941)
> Director: Howard Hawks
> Starring: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie
> Conflict: World War I

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

36. The Sand Pebbles (1966)
> Director: Robert Wise
> Starring: Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Candice Bergen
> Conflict: Chinese Civil War

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

35. Wings (1927)
> Director: William A. Wellman, Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast, .
> Starring: Clara Bow, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Richard Arlen
> Conflict: World War I

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

34. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
> Director: Michael Mann
> Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means
> Conflict: French and Indian War

Source: Courtesy of Twilight Time

33. Salvador (1986)
> Director: Oliver Stone
> Starring: James Woods, Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy
> Conflict: Salvadoran Civil War

 

32. Mister Roberts (1955)
> Director: John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, Joshua Logan
> Starring: Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell
> Conflict: World War II

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31. The Guns of Navarone (1961)
> Director: J. Lee Thompson
> Starring: David Niven, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

30. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
> Director: Robert Aldrich
> Starring: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

29. The Longest Day (1962)
> Director: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki
> Starring: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

28. The Caine Mutiny (1954)
> Director: Edward Dmytryk
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

27. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
> Director: Mel Gibson
> Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

26. M*A*S*H (1970)
> Director: Robert Altman
> Starring: Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt
> Conflict: Korean War

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

25. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
> Director: Clint Eastwood
> Starring: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

24. From Here to Eternity (1953)
> Director: Fred Zinnemann
> Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Netflix

23. Beasts of No Nation (2015)
> Director: Cary Fukunaga
> Starring: Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Ricky Adelayitor
> Conflict: Civil war in unspecified African nation

Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

22. Glory (1989)
> Director: Edward Zwick
> Starring: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes
> Conflict: American Civil War

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

21. Spartacus (1960)
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons
> Conflict: Third Servile War

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

20. Twelve O’Clock High (1949)
> Director: Henry King
> Starring: Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

19. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
> Director: Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth
> Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth
> Conflict: World War II

 

18. Platoon (1986)
> Director: Oliver Stone
> Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
> Conflict: Vietnam War

Source: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

17. The Hurt Locker (2008)
> Director: Kathryn Bigelow
> Starring: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty
> Conflict: Iraq War

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Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

16. Waltz with Bashir (2008)
> Director: Ari Folman
> Starring: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag
> Conflict: 1982 Lebanon War

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

15. Patton (1970)
> Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
> Starring: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

14. Stalag 17 (1953)
> Director: Billy Wilder
> Starring: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

13. The Great Escape (1963)
> Director: John Sturges
> Starring: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

12. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio
> Conflict: Vietnam War

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

11. Dunkirk (2017)
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

10. The Train (1964)
> Director: John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn
> Starring: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

9. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
> Director: William Wyler
> Starring: Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March
> Conflict: World War II

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

8. The Deer Hunter (1978)
> Director: Michael Cimino
> Starring: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
> Conflict: Vietnam War

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

7. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

6. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
> Director: Lewis Milestone
> Starring: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray
> Conflict: World War I

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

5. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
> Director: David Lean
> Starring: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

4. Apocalypse Now (1979)
> Director: Francis Ford Coppola
> Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
> Conflict: Vietnam War

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

3. Paths of Glory (1957)
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou
> Conflict: World War I

Source: Courtesy of The Criterion Collection

2. The Great Dictator (1940)
> Director: Charles Chaplin
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie
> Conflict: World War II

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
> Director: David Lean
> Starring: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
> Conflict: World War I

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