The 10 greatest war movies ever!

ANZAC Day is coming up, and we at Quickflix have decided to celebrate by selecting the 10 greatest war movies ever! It might be a controversial list, but hey, what war isn’t?

10. Apocalypse Now

“We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army.”

Any film that almost kills its director has got to be worth watching at least once. Francis Ford Coppola may have survived this war, but he arguably lost the battle in 1997’s Jack. The horror, the horror…

9. Full Metal Jacket

“The dead know only one thing: it is better to be alive.”

Ah, Kubrick. Full Metal Jacket might not be your best war film, but it’s definitely the best one to feature a shotgun suicide that takes place on the toilet.

8. Gallipoli

“As fast as a leopard.”

Before Mel’s, umm, incident, he was Australia’s number one son. His breakout role in this iconic Aussie feature is one of the reasons for his ascent to stardom. While his star may be waning, Peter Weir’s masterpiece never does.

7. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

“This is the second time he’s done this to me. There will not be a third.”

Surprise! You forgot about this movie didn’t you? Considering its only six years old, AND scored a massive 10 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), it’s astounding how quickly this movie was forgotten by the masses in the shadow of one Captain Jack. Never mind. Rusty Crowe’s Captain Aubrey is one hell of a war hero, and MAC is one war film worth remembering.

6. Letters from Iwo Jima

“We soldiers dig. We dig all day. This is the hole that we will fight and die in. Am I digging my own grave?”

The stronger of Clint Eastwood’s World War 2 films (the other being Flags of Our Fathers), Letters is a unique look at war from the so-called enemies perspective. It’s a rare example of the Japanese receiving a humane depiction from the WW2 era, and it’s truly effective. As always, Eastwood knows what he’s doing. To see a director that doesn’t know what he’s doing, watch Pearl Harbour.

5. Platoon

“Shut up! Shut up and take the pain! Take the pain!”

Oliver Stone isn’t the most, ahem, balanced director the world has ever seen, but goshdarnit that’s why we love him. It’s a brutal depiction of the Vietnam War, featuring Charlie Sheen before he was lost to that other haunting graveyard … Two and a Half Men.

4. Three Kings

“Are we shooting?”

The Gulf War hasn’t been given the honour of many cinematic outings (which is ironic considering the war itself had its very own sequel). Three Kings is easily the best, featuring George Clooney as a sardonic major who intends to steal Kuwaiti gold. And he’s still charming!

3. Downfall

“In a war as such, there are no civilians.”

Although it’s been endlessly parodied online, Der Untergang is a horrifying and endlessly disturbing account of the final days of the Third Reich. Of course, we all know the ending. But it’s still great to watch Adolf Hitler’s deluded psyche as he unwittingly marches to his defeat. That guy sucked. Big time.

2. Dr. Strangelove

Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”

I know, cheating right. How can our FAVOURITE COMEDY be our 2ND FAVOURITE WAR MOVIE too? Because it’s Strangelove, that’s why! I argue that a person can learn more about human nature, military arrogance and political bureaucracy in Kubrick’s masterpiece than from any other history book. Oh, and it has a character named Merkin Muffley. Perfect.


“Attention, all base members must report for a drug test for marij- marijua-… disregard last transmission.”

Yep, we picked a film with no actual war scenes to be our greatest war movie ever. But how can you go past Robert Altman’s classic satire? Before it was a beloved sitcom, MASH was a hilarious, biting, drug-infused, Cannes-winning, oddball masterpiece of double-entendres, one-liners and umm suicide. Most importantly, it gave the world Gary Burghoff, and for that we are eternally grateful.

What are your favourite war movies? Any fans of Pearl Harbor out there?

36 Responses to “The 10 greatest war movies ever!”

  1. Jarhead rivals Three Kings for a Gulf War perspective, in my not very humble opinion, it’s probably better. And if you say another bad word about Oliver Stone, I’ll find you and dammit, I might tell you my opinion. And none of us want that!!!

  2. Helloooooo, Saving Private Ryan anyone???

  3. I don’t know how Jarhead is not on this list?Also – while I know it is a TV series, Band Of Brothers gets my Honourable Mention.

  4. All Quiet on the Western Front – surely must be the greatest war movie ever.

  5. Very weird picks on this list. Whatever happened to The Guns of Navarone, The Great Escape, Dambusters, Where Eagles Dare, Laurence of Arabia or countless other classics. Most on this Quickflix list doesn’t deserve to be on the list.

  6. Well this is generating some heat!! Bear in mind this is just Simon’s top 10, I don’t agreee with him either, and we’re more than happy to hear anyone’s Top 10 if they wish to post.

  7. I would have thought Saving private Ryan, We were soldiers, Black hawk down, possibly the dirty dozen would have made this list

  8. To Hell and Back (1955) is a favourite of mine. Stars Audie Murphy.

  9. No Saving Private Ryan or Blackhawk down???? Mash as number one??? you must be kidding…

  10. Saving Private Ryan is great – but it loses ALOT of steam towards the end. Let’s say in came in 11th place.As for Black Hawk Down – meh.

  11. Mash and Three KingsYou have go to be kidding\

  12. Hey Quickflix ever heard of All Quiet on the Western Front and Saving Private Ryan.

  13. This is a joke. The email sucked me in as a great idea but the person who selected these has no idea. They’ve just scanned the list of titles and picked them at random. I seriously doubt if this person has seen any of the movies on his list let alone some of the great suggestions by others. You’ve lost me.


  15. Your DVD reviewer is drawing a salary under false pretences. I note however that noone has stepped up to the plate & been brave enough to enter their own list. I have set one criterior only: Modern history, which rules out some of the Biblical & other classics such as Gladiator or Mongol.Honourable ommissions first:Blue MaxJarheadFull Metal JacketOpen CityDownfallYoung Lions10) Apocalypse Now9) We Were Soldiers8) The Best Years of Our Lives7) Zulu6) Lawrence of Arabia5) Letters From Iwo Jima4) Stalingrad3) Gallipoli2) Das Boot1) All Quiet On The Western Front (1933 version)

  16. Sure, it’s all subjective but what about:The Thin Red Line

  17. you guys clearly have no idea!What aboutZuluLawrence of ArabiaDas BootThe Dirty DozenCross of IronBridge on the River KwaiWhere Eagle Darethe great escapeBreaker morantin which we serveWatch some decent movies guys before you make half a list!!

  18. I think to be a “war” movie surely it must involve some combat scenes? Otherwise do we include Schindler’s List, The Pianist and all other movies set during war times.

  19. "Master & Commander" – top ten greatest war movie ??? Is that someone's idea of a practical joke ??? Wouldn't make the top 100 in my list of best war films….

  20. Everyone gets so excited and agressive about war movies, which i suppose is quite fitting for the genre.How about “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence?”

  21. Given that most of the movies made on this list were made in the last 30 odd years, it gives a rather poor reflection of the reviewers limited tastes – A few missing classics -Paths Of GlorySpartacusThe Bridge On The River KwaiAll Quiet On The Western FrontThe Great DictatorBack To BataanCatch-22Thirty Seconds Over TokyoThey Were ExpendableDas BootStalag 17Ballad of a SoldierThe Guns of NavaroneThe TrainThe Battle Of AlgiersPattonCross of IronBreaker MorantGloryAnd so on and so on….

  22. Has anyone seen Come and See?Or The Human Condition?

  23. How about The Lost Battalion? or We Were Soldiers? or even Windtalkers?They are the 3 best to date…The ones that don’t get mentioned and that are under rated

  24. How about The Lighthorsemen. In terms of historical significance, they opened up the way to Jerusalem.

  25. I have forgotten what it was but it was a great war movie that I have recommend to everyone. The english, french and german talking movie about the first christmas on the western front in 1915, where they all come together to bury the dead, play scoccer and have a church service. Beautiful. It was on the abc telly around xmas time last year. My brother and father would say Battle of Britian, they can say that move word for word.Others I thought would good were band of brothers and saving private ryan. I also liked schindlers list and the pianist.

  26. “Full Metal Jacket might not be your best war film, but it’s definitely the best one to feature a shotgun suicide that takes place on the toilet.That weren’t no shotgun, Listen to Gomer (Vincent D’Onofrio) as he loads the weapon in the toilet, “Seven point six two, Full metal jacket”, he was referring to the round the rifle took.On the top ten point, i’d addDas BootThin Red LineEnemy at the GatesOthers suggestions were also good.

  27. Das BootSchindlers ListSaving Private RyanAnd though it seems that you want to concentrate on ‘modern warfare’ themed films, how about…GloryBraveheart

  28. ah, nothing like a spirited back-and-forth!I’d say great suggestions all round (even if my ego has taken a bit of a bruising).In my defence, I will say that I tried to mention films that captured the essence of the different wars, from the Napoleonic era (Master and Commander) to WW1, WW2, Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf and even the Cold War. I also tried to mention films that are RARELY called ‘greatest ever war films’. MASH for instance, may not have any battle scenes, but I think, more importantly, that it captures the spirit of the time, and the feelings of many during war-time. Films like Three Kings and Letters from Iwo Jima show war from the persepctive of “the enemy”, who are often excluded from having any humanising features in many warfilms.And as for Dr Strangelove – well, when it comes to war, sometimes you have to laugh, so that you don’t cry.I know that a lot of classics missed the cut (yes, all great films), but I stand by my 10.An anonymous poster mentioned the following war film: “the first christmas on the western front in 1915, where they all come together to bury the dead, play scoccer and have a church service”.Not sure if this is the exact one, but the film “Joyeux Noel” covers that same event. Hope that helps anyone looking for it.And to Pete, I can only apologise for my shotgun/rifle mistake. I hope that in time, you’ll forgive me.

  29. here’s a question: are there any films about the recent war in Iraq that people are fans of? Curious to see if anyone digged Lions for Lambs, Rendition, Redacted etc…

  30. how about WINDTALKERS, THE TUSKEE AIRMEN, THE ODD ANGRY SHOT, WE WERE SOLDIER. pearl harbour was a romance film within a war though the special effects were realistic,enemy at the gates was a good look at the eastern front.

  31. Pearl Harbour: Possibly one of the worst movies ever made. What a waste of money.

  32. Hey fellas, If you can handle black & white film, check out John Mills in "Ice Cold in Alex'.

  33. “Come and See” is the best war movie I have ever seen, but sadly it’s not on DVD here. And as for all the heated debate…you guys need to relax a little and stop taking it so personally. This is after all SIMON’S top 10, not the ALL-TIME HISTORY OF FILM top 10. We asked you to post your favourites, but most of you just want to rag on our reviewer. Step up to the plate if you have the gumption, people!!!

  34. Yeah I agree about Pearl Harbour being one of the worst movies ever made; reminds me of the huge waste of money that was the Titanic.As for the actual list, Come on brother, how could you put Apocalypse Now last on the list! I'd put it in the top 5 at least & way better than Mash for Christ sake!Although I agree that Three Kings ain't a bad flick, surely Jarhead is a much greater depiction of the gulf war? This isn't a Top Ten list, but I'd rate the following as much better than most on the list.Simon, please don't take it personally, but I really do think that the list really sucks brother.Catch-22Thin Red LineThe Great EscapeAll Quiet on the Western FrontBlack Hawk DownGloryBridge on the River KwaiZuluLawrence of ArabiaThe Guns of NavaroneWe Were SoldiersSaving Private Ryan (though I personally wouldn't have picked it as a top tenner)Schindlers ListBetter luck on the next list.And DVDman, relax, we're all just so very shocked at how appalling this list is; this is an open forum; there's been no bad language or wanton abuse; we are all allowed an opinion aren't we?

  35. well Anon, we appreciate the comments regardless – I guess war just isn’t my genre. But next week we have TEN GREATEST SPACE THRILLERS – and if that one generates as much vitriol as this article, Lord knows what I’ll do with myself.Just kidding – I still think this War list is solid. (God, that must be frustrating for people to hear considering how much they hate this list.)BUT! Just to prove that all your comments are read and taken on board, I actually rented Paths of Glory and Stalag 17 last weekend(two war films that I was embarrassed to not have seen). I only hope that readers would similarly take my advice, and perhaps watch (or rewatch) Three Kings, Master and Commander and MASH. If we can’t share our love for films … what can we do?

  36. BATTLEFRONT!An old B/W movie, made about 10 years after the war, it's fekin quality. Filmed on location in the shell-holed ruins & in the snow covered woods during the 'Battle of the Bulge'.If you aint seen it, it's well worth a look.

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