Special Report

The 50 Best Movies About World War II

It would not be overstating the facts to say that World War II, the most consequential event of the 20th century, has been the subject of more movies than any other conflict. (Its predecessor has inspired numerous good films as well, however. These are the best movies about World War I.)

To determine the best World War II movies, 24/7 Tempo developed an index of movies using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of Dec. 15, 2022, weighting all ratings equally. (Documentaries were not considered.) Directorial and cast credits are from IMDb.

Virtually every nation involved in the conflict has produced motion pictures with a World War II theme, but the majority of those on this list are American. Some of them – including “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” and “Stalag 17” – are among the most honored in filmdom. Eleven movies on our list have received a 100% Freshness rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. (Here’s a list of the best war movies of all time.)

A lot of the movies on the list that were made during World War II got tagged as propaganda upon their release, including “Mrs. Miniver,” “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” and even “Casablanca.” Films such as “The Enemy Below,” “Three Came Home,” and “Decision at Dawn,” made after the war, had the perspective to offer a more nuanced depiction of the former enemies.

The earliest film on the list is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Foreign Correspondent” from 1940, made before the United States entered the war. World War II obviously continues to hold the public’s interest, as there are eight films released in the 21st century on list. These include “JoJo Rabbit” (2019), “Dunkirk” (2017), “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016), and “Letters from Iwo Jima” (2006).

Click here for the 50 best movies about World War II

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