Best War Movies For Remembrance Day

Bob Roberts
• Monday, 11 January, 2021
• 9 min read

Tom Hanks portrays Captain Miller, an English teacher by trade who’s tasked with finding and returning the last surviving Ryan brother home to his mom. Photo: Amazon.ca James Cagney’s charisma as a song-and-dance man shines in this classic musical set in the early days of World War II.

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The Hurt Locker gives a searing look at the lives of soldiers sent in to dispose of bombs and booby traps in Baghdad. Jeremy Runner’s performance personifies “grace under pressure.” He gives the impossibly tense ticking bomb scenes a human center.

In all, The Hurt Locker depicts the psychological costs of war as it repeatedly jolts the audience with tense explosions. Photo: Amazon.ca Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson star as “Casualty Notification Officers” in this heartbreaking drama about the men tasked with informing military families that their loved ones have died.

The film depicts the personal toll on the families and the men who deliver grave news about the ultimate sacrifice. Photo: Amazon.ca George C. Scott’s opening monologue as General Patton, delivered in front of an enormous American flag, remains one of the most iconic images in film.

Scott won the Best Actor Oscar for his riveting portrayal of the notorious general, but famously refused to accept the award. The opening speech, both rousing and controversial, suggests the difficult stakes faced in battle and the grit of fighting spirit.

Both flawed and heroic, Patton epitomized the heart of war, and showed it was just as brave to fight as it was to be spoken your mind unabashedly. Photo: Amazon.ca Meg Ryan stars as the first female officer to receive a posthumous Medal of Honor in this drama about the Gulf War.

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Denzel Washington investigates her story and gets closer to his own battle scars as he tries to determine whether Ryan as Captain Walden deserves the honor. Poignant scenes include a visit to the daughter she left behind and Matt Damon’s portrayal of the toll of combat trauma.

Photo: Amazon.ca Brad Pitt leads a crew of Sherman tank soldiers during World War II in this brutal, haunting depiction of camaraderie during wartime. At first, he can’t pull the trigger, but we watch as he learns to shoot and kill, not only for his own survival, but to aid the men who fight alongside him.

Top war films for Remembrance Day | Toronto Sun Skip to Content Bruce Kirkland Nov 10, 2013 • November 10, 2013 • 2 minute reshare Copy Link Email Facebook Reddit Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr The long tradition of Remembrance Day, which began in Britain in 1919, honors members of armed forces who have died in the line of duty while serving Commonwealth countries.

As a small token of our appreciation for what they have done, as a salute to the fallen who are buried in Flanders Fields and a thousand other battlefield graveyards, we look at the bestwarmovies ever made. The point is that one should never confuse the agonizing tragedies and stupidities of war with the willingness of heroic individuals to wage it for honorable reasons.

With that in mind, I have broken the war movie genre into four categories (although you could easily argue for plenty of overlap): My choice for the best war (or anti- war) movie ever made is Coppola's classic, especially after he produced the extended Apocalypse Now Redux version in 2001.

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Critics and audiences alike didn’t think Pearl Harbor did WWII justice, but here are 29 other films that scored a 7/10 rating or higher on IMDb. The Michael Bay -directed film starred Ben Affleck, Josh Barnett and Kate Beckinsale and follows the story of two best friends as they go off to war.

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Whether portraying the folly or glory of armed conflict, outstanding war films place the best and worst of our shared humanity in stark relief: on the good side lies our capacity for courage and sacrifice in the interest of a cause bigger than ourselves; on the other, we confront our innate barbarity and impulse toward aggression, which thousands of years of civilization have failed to eradicate. These special movies not only recreate the horror of combat, but also portray the human toll war takes beyond those who fall on the field of battle; most pointedly, it examines what becomes of veterans returning home to face a world that will never feel the same again.

Eventually, these nimble craft will play a vital role in turning the tide in the Pacific theater, allowing General MacArthur to fulfill his famous promise to return there in glory. The legendary director John Ford delivers a powerful human tale of faith and hope sustained during the darkest days of the war for the Allies.

Montgomery (father of Elizabeth from “Bewitched”, and a decorated PT boat Captain himself during the conflict) delivers a remarkably human, unmanned performance as the embattled but Stoic Brinkley, while the Duke cements his own growing stardom with a charismatic turn as Ryan. 9) Patton (1970) -- Director Franklin J. Shaffer's rich portrayal of the controversial, larger-than-life World War II general recreates all the excitement and drama of the European front, while exploring one career officer's outsize ambition to expand his own role in this historic conflict.

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We see how Patton's unusually aggressive style most always yielded the desired results on the battlefield, yet so rankled both superiors and subordinates that the top leadership position he craved-and the adulation that went with it- would inevitably elude him. After he and his fellow students are cajoled into signing up for battle in a wave of patriotic fervor, Bauer arrives at the front only to experience a merciless onslaught of death and deprivation that quickly calls into question all the nobler sentiments that led him there.

The movie transcends dated elements to convey the full horror of this juncture in history, and the recurring tragedy of youth and innocence senselessly lost. Acres is ideally cast as the green Bauer (the actor's experience in this role actually led him to become a conscientious objector in World War 2), but the unprepossessing Wilhelm is particularly memorable as Kandinsky.

The behind-the-scenes story of this film approximates the jaw-dropping scope of the very event it portrays: In 1962, legendary producer Zanuck spared no expense in bringing this long but gripping recounting of the D- Day Allied invasion to the big screen. 6) Apocalypse Now Redux (1979) -- During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is given the unusual assignment of tracking down and eliminating rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a decorated career officer who has broken the chain of command and is presumed insane.

Director Francis Ford Coppola's re-edited “Redux” version includes new scenes which help clarify some loose ends in the original cut of this acknowledged masterpiece. “Apocalypse” stands as a wildly ambitious, mesmerizing acid-trip of a war movie that melds together the savage themes of Conrad's “Heart of Darkness” (on which it's based) with the inherent waste of Vietnam.

For the ideal double feature, follow this with (Francis's wife) Eleanor Coppola's revealing documentary on the jinxed production of this film, Hearts Of Darkness (1991). 5) From Here To Eternity (1953) -- Based on James Jones' epic novel, this sprawling tale of love and fate at a critical time and place in our country's history follows two intersecting story lines: first, disillusioned army sergeant Milt Warden (Burt Lancaster) begins a torrid affair with his commanding officer's bored, neglected wife (Deborah Kerr), while at the same time, the young, horn-playing Private Predict (Montgomery Lift) finds romance in the arms of a club hostess (Donna Reed), before becoming a tragic victim of his own past boxing prowess.

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Top-notch acting (Guinness won an Oscar after initially turning down the role), authentic atmosphere and a brilliant script add up to grand adventure and powerful human drama. Beyond the graphic scenes of the group's inhuman, unbearable captivity, the film shakes us up even more in the aftermath, as the stalwart Michael goes searching for his old friends, a perilous and selfless act of love and loyalty.

A virtuosic, hard-hitting war film by Hollywood icon Steven Spielberg, “Ryan” opens with an intensely violent 24-minute battle sequence that many claims is the most realistic ever committed to celluloid. Aided by a first-rate cast including Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, and Giovanni Ribs, “Ryan” honors the sacrifice of soldiers while acknowledging that war truly is hell-on-earth.

1) The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) -- The great Sam Goldwyn produced this groundbreaking movie about the plight of returning servicemen at the end of the Second World War. The film follows the unique readjustments to civilian life faced by three veterans who all hop the same transport home: There's Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), an officer and pilot coming back to a dead-end job and an uncertain relationship; Al Stephenson (Fredric March), an older soldier returning to a loving family and stable career with (seemingly) little to worry about, and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), a sailor who has lost both his hands in combat, and already abhors the pity he expects to receive from his parents and fiancée.

Thanks to William Tyler's expert, understated direction, each of the three characters that make up this remarkably sensitive, perceptive picture is subtly drawn, evoking the complex challenges that confront veterans of all ranks. Even with the requisite dose of sentimentality and romance, this brilliant film never strays far from its central premise that no matter what you return to in a time of peace, war changes you forever.

In the past few years alone, we’ve had Christopher Nolan’s epic ensemble drama Dunkirk, Mike Newell’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. As The Guardian points out, Wikipedia’s compilation of First World War cinema lists just over 130 films; there are 10 times more about its 1939 successor.

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Perhaps the lack of easy moral clarity, and the grueling but often inert nature of trench warfare, just doesn’t appeal to Hollywood as much as an indisputable triumph against evil. Australia lost eight and a half thousand men in the bloody and ultimately futile Gladioli Campaign against the Ottoman Turks during the First World War.

The great Australian director Peter Weir, who had already made Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and would go on to make Witness (1985) and The Truman Show (1998), captured an elegiac image of life before the recruits found themselves in hellish conditions in the Middle Eastern theater. It follows in a tradition of French rural family sagas like Jean De Florette or Manon DES Sources.

Rama Late on in Argentinean director Lucretia Martel’s startling, highly original new feature, Rama, a character who has just had both his arms cut off, is advised to “shove your stumps in the sand … if you don’t bleed out, you’ll survive.” It’s a grisly, darkly humorous moment in a film that continually surprises us with both its brutality and its lyricism. Seventeen years after the Taliban were ousted from power in Afghanistan following the US invasion, the plight of women in the country hardly appears to have improved.

Early Man Much of the pleasure in Yardman films has always lain in their gently ironic, Alan Bennett-like humor. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri Writer-director Martin McDonald has a host of award-winning plays behind him, but his movies haven’t always lived up to his stage work.

Director John Kaminski relies on editing, sound effects and off-screen action to crank up the tension. Written and directed by Greta Ger wig, it offers an utterly winning mix of humor, poignancy and sharp-eyed social observation.

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Ger wig approaches her subject with the same tenderness and affectionate irony with which the adolescent Lady Bird regards Sacramento. Ger wig also shows Lady Bird’s heroism as the young heroine strives against the odds to become the very best version of herself she can be.

The American writer-director (whose credits include Taxi Driver, American Gigolo and Affliction) had taken to making movies like the sour Hollywood satire The Canyons with Lindsay Loan and the cartoonishly violent Dog Eat Dog, shot cheaply, aimed at a VoD audience. The Happy Prince Oscar Wilde goes to ruin in Rupert Everett’s debut feature as director.

Everett also wrote and stars in the film, giving a grandstanding performance as the Irish writer at the end of his life, after his release from prison, where he has been doing hard labor for “gross indecency”. It is loosely based on a true story of a boy called Giuseppe Di Matteo whose father, an ex-member of the Sicilian Mafia, turned “grass” against his erstwhile associates.

It’s affecting precisely because Armstrong (played with quiet intensity by Ryan Gosling) doesn’t feel the continual need to boast about his mission. Dogman is one of the best Italian films of recent times, a modern day Neo realist fable that bears comparison with the great work of Fellini, Rosellini, De Sick et al. Its main character, the dog groomer Marcello (Marcello Monte), is a wonderful creation: loveable, vulnerable, seedy and comic all at the same time.

Russian-born Lewis Milestone made a bold attempt to adapt Erich Maria Remarque’s superb novel about the physical and mental duress of German soldiers in the trenches of First World War into a Hollywood epic. Banned in Nazi Germany (where it was considered anti-German) and in Australia, Italy, France and Austria, it remains the definitive First World War movie.

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Director Stanley Kubrick, fresh from the narrative experimental flop The Killing, applied a straightforward treatment to this tale of a failed First World War attack on the Germans. Kirk Douglas gives an infallible performance as the officer who refuses to let another man be court-martialed after the attack.

William A Hellman’s gallant and sentimental tale set the standard for how we depict the battles of the skies. The winner of the very first Academy Award for Best Picture in 1929, the film follows two rival pilots, Jack (Charles “Buddy” Rogers) and David (Richard Allen), who put their differences aside and become heroes while fighting in France.

The original “it girl”, Clara Bow, is also on hand to provide the film’s star power. David Lean’s depiction of British Army colonel TE Lawrence’s experiences as a military advisor in Arabia during the First World War won seven Academy Awards in 1963, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The 6ft 2in Peter O’Toole memorably portrayed the 5ft 5in Lawrence as a heroic figure, while the historical accuracy of the 1917 Attack on Arab leaves much to be desired, but the film remains a widescreen epic unlike anything else in cinema. A testament to Charlie Chaplin’s ability to find comedy and humanity in the bleakest of circumstances, later put to such famous use in The Great Dictator (1940), Shoulder Arms managed to capture the reality of the trenches while still providing comfort to a world trying to process its horrors.

The film stars Chaplin as a hapless recruit to the “awkward squad”, although the majority of the movie is revealed to be a dream sequence.

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