Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan

Top 5: War Movies

Top 5

This weekend it’s Memorial Day here in the States and we remember those who fought in wars foreign and domestic so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have today.  The war movie has been a part of film since the beginning.  A staple of cinema through the early 1970’s, the genre virtually died off until it was redefined and revolutionized by one of the most important films ever made: 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. 

SPR took the mask off of war; stripped it of its glory.  The heroism and stories were still there, but this was no longer a fantastic enterprise that forged men.  This was a hell you survived.  In my top 5 list, I have three from before SPR and itself and one after.  The films that are before SPR are not solely war stories, though, as they deal with P.O.W. situations in two films and racism in the armed forces in a third.  I’ve also focused this just on American soldiers since the list is in honor of our holiday, so no disrespect meant to Gallipoli, Red Cliff, Schindler’s List, etc.
1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan

2. Glory (1989)

Matthew Broderick, Glory

3. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Alec Guiness, Bridge on the River Kwai

4. The Great Escape (1963)

Steve McQueen, The Great Escape

5. Black Hawk Down (2001)

Black Hawk Down

Honorable Mention: Patton, The Caine Mutiny, Inglorious Basterds, We Were Soldiers, The Hurt Locker

6 thoughts on “Top 5: War Movies”

  1. SPR showed the horrors of war while remaining patriotic. And it’s just plain brilliant. Easily the best war movie ever made. Bridge Over the River Kwai is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I’m glad you included it. I was going to point out that you left off Apocalypse Now, then I remembered how much you hate it. Also, it doesn’t seem right telling people to watch it on Memorial Day.

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    1. To me Apocalypse wouldn’t be a fit Memorial Day film like you said even if I didn’t loathe it, but I think we have a nice mix here. I think Scott’s Black Hawk Down does the second best job of conveying what Ryan does as to the chaos and brutality of war mixed with the best it can bring out in the human spirit.

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