Tech: The 45 best war movies of all time, according to critics

share on:

"Apocalypse Now."

Metacritic's list of the most critically acclaimed war movies of all time finds contemporary films like Christopher Nolan's WWII thriller "Dunkirk" alongside classics like Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam epic "Apocalypse Now."

Many of cinema's greatest directors have pursued war and its inherently cinematic drama as a subject.

The Metacritic data we compiled here to track the most critically acclaimed war movies of all time finds contemporary films like Christopher Nolan's WWII thriller "Dunkirk" alongside classics like Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam epic "Apocalypse Now," and Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan."

The list consists of the highest-rated movies on Metacritic's site labeled with a "war" tag, and includes both feature films and documentaries.

Here are the 45 best war movies of all time, according to critics:

45. "City of Life and Death" (2011)

Critic score: 85/100

User score: 7.7/10

What critics said: "'City of Life and Death,' a stunning re-creation of the Japanese army's annihilation of Nanking in 1937, will make you flinch, even as you admire its brilliant black-and-white cinematography, breathtaking art design and unerring direction." — San Francisco Chronicle

44. "The Pianist" (2002)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: 7.7/10

What critics said: "A great movie on a powerful, essential subject — the Holocaust years in Poland — directed with such artistry and skill that, as we watch, the barriers of the screen seem to melt away." — Chicago Tribune

43. "City of Ghosts" (2017)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: 6.3/10

What critics said: "What 'City of Ghosts' does best is to humanize those who’ve suffered most from the conflict in Syria, educating us through both outrage and compassion." — Variety

42. "Children of Hiroshima" (1952)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "Shindô concocts a stylistic mix of odd experimental flourishes, female nudity, Soviet-style close-ups and baldly sentimental melodrama to emphasize the toll this disaster took; its cup may runneth over, yet the stark vibe is impossible to shake." — Time Out

41. "Das Boot" (1982)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: 6.5/10

What critics said: "Racing through the sub, squeezing through tiny openings, director Wolfgang Petersen's camera brilliantly evokes the claustrophobia and clamor of undersea battle." — TV Guide Magazine

40. "Last Days in Vietnam" (2014)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: 7.8/10

What critics said: "These stranger-than-fiction tales, piled one on top of the other in the most gripping way, not only mesmerize us, they also point up another of 'Last Days in Vietnam''s provocative points, that the chaos surrounding the evacuation was, in effect, the entire war in microcosm." — Los Angeles Times

39. "To Be or Not to Be" (1942)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "It's certainly one of the finest comedies ever to come out of Paramount, the allegations of dubious taste missing the point of Lubitsch's satire – not so much the general nastiness of the Nazis as their unforgiveable bad manners." — Time Out London

38. "Lincoln" (2012)

Critic score: 86/100

User score: 7.5/10

What critics said: "As unexpected as it is intelligent, thanks to virtuoso work from Spielberg and Kushner, Lincoln is landmark filmmaking, while Day-Lewis is so authentic he pulls off that stovepipe." — Empire

37. "The Great Escape" (1963)

Critic score: 87/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "With accurate casting, a swift screenplay, and authentic German settings, Producer-Director John Sturges has created classic cinema of action." — Time

36. "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara" (2003)

Critic score: 87/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: "Errol Morris may have been put on earth to make 'The Fog of War,' a stunning portrait of Robert S. McNamara that closes a year of outstanding nonfiction movies on a high note." — Entertainment Weekly

35. "Spartacus" (1960)

Critic score: 87/100

User score: 7.3/10

What critics said: "This may be the best-paced and most slyly entertaining of all the decadent-ancient-Rome spectacular films. It's a great big cartoon drama, directed by Stanley Kubrick, with Kirk Douglas at his most muscular." — The New Yorker

34. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957)

Critic score: 87/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: "This intelligent and exciting WWII tale, masterfully helmed by Lean (at the start of his 'epic' period), features a splendid performance from Guinness as Col. Nicholson, a British officer who has surrendered with his regiment to the Japanese in Burma in 1943." — TV Guide Magazine

33. "Level Five" (2014)

Critic score: 87/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "It humanely, intelligently questions the very nature of our desire to make sense of the past with the tools of the present, when the human mind remains the most aggressively obliterating battlefield of all." — Los Angeles Times

32. "Of Men and War" (2015)

Critic score: 87/100

User score: 8.3/10

What critics said: "A work of astounding sensitivity and precision, it argues for emotional honesty as a moral and psychic imperative." — Slant Magazine

31. "Overlord" (1975)

Critic score: 88/100

User score: 8.0/10

What critics said: "The scale and ambition of combat movies has usually been epic, but this one is disarmingly lyrical and subjective." — The New York Times

30. "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006)

Critic score: 89/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: "It's unprecedented, a sorrowful and savagely beautiful elegy that can stand in the company of the greatest antiwar movies." — Newsweek

29. "No End in Sight" (2007)

Critic score: 89/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: "The most remarkable aspect of Charles Ferguson's lacerating documentary about the U.S. invasion of Iraq is that the film contains virtually no new information, and yet its message is as compelling as if we were hearing it for the first time." — Miami Herald

28. "Son of Saul" (2015)

Critic score: 89/100

User score: 7.2/10

What critics said: "A lasting work of art — difficult to watch, impossible to forget." — Chicago Sun-Times

27. "Love and Death" (1975)

Critic score: 89/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "This magnificent, often anarchic pastiche of Russian literature’s portentous habits with a side order in Bergmanesque death wallowing actually finds Allen at his silliest." — Empire

26. "Persepolis" (2007)

Critic score: 90/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: "Satrapi’s parents ship her off to a French school in Vienna, but she’s rudderless, ungrounded. She’s drawn back to a devastated Tehran, where she can’t design a life, either. This great film, by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, is that life, designed. It freed her mind; it frees ours." — New York Magazine

25. "La Commune (Paris, 1871)" (2003)

Critic score: 90/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "Watkins restages history in its own ruins, uses the media as a frame, and even so, manages to imbue his narrative with amazing presence. No less than the event it chronicles, 'La Commune' is a triumph of spontaneous action." — Village Voice

24. "Saving Private Ryan" (1998)

Critic score: 90/100

User score: 8.9/10

What critics said: "A searingly visceral combat picture, Steven Spielberg’s third World War II drama is arguably second to none as a vivid, realistic and bloody portrait of armed conflict." — Variety

23. "Bloody Sunday" (2002)

Critic score: 90/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: "An astonishing re-creation of the Londonderry massacre of January 1972." — New York Post

22. "Ben-Hur" (1959)

Critic score: 90/100

User score: 9.4/10

What critics said: "Although it is a spectacle film, the story of how a man takes on the tyranny of the Romans, with all sorts of horrible consequences to himself and his family, is powerful and gripping." — The Telegraph

21. "Patton" (1970)

Critic score: 91/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: "Remains to this day one of Hollywood's most compelling biographical war pictures." — ReelViews

20. "Waltz with Bashir" (2008)

Critic score: 91/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: "'Waltz With Bashir' has transcended the definitions of 'cartoon' or 'war documentary' to be classified as its own brilliant invention." — Entertainment Weekly

19. "The African Queen" (1952)

Critic score: 91/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "Grand, propulsive." — The Telegraph

18. "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 9.0/10

What critics said: "After the war years of patriotism and heroism in the movies, this was a sobering look at the problems veterans faced when they returned home." — Chicago Sun-Times

17. "Threads" (1984)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: N/A

What critics said: "Clearly, Threads is not a balanced discussion about the pros and cons of nuclear armaments. It is a candidly biased warning. And it is, as calculated, unsettlingly powerful." The New York Times

16. "Apocalypse Now Redux" (2001)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 9.1/10

What critics said: "What was impressive 22 years ago seems even more so now; what was problematic seems less important. Changes in us as an audience, changes in filmmaking fashions, changes in the times we live in, they've all combined in making this 'Apocalypse' feel more impressive, more of a revelation than it did before." Los Angeles Times

15. "Platoon" (1987)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 8.1/10

What critics said: "If 'Apocalypse Now' and 'The Deer Hunter' are like slaps to the face, 'Platoon' is a punch to the gut." ReelViews

14. "Schindler's List" (1993)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: "Spielberg restages the Holocaust with an existential vividness unprecedented in any nondocumentary film: He makes us feel as if we're living right inside the 20th century's darkest-and most defining-episode." Entertainment Weekly

13. "Apocalypse Now" (1979)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: "'Apocalypse Now' was worth the wait. Alternately a brilliant and bizarre film, Francis Coppola’s four year 'work in progress' offers the definitive validation to the old saw, 'war is hell.'" Variety

12. "The Hurt Locker" (2009)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 7.3/10

What critics said: "Overwhelmingly tense, overflowing with crackling verisimilitude, it's both the film about the war in Iraq that we've been waiting for and the kind of unqualified triumph that's been long expected from director Kathryn Bigelow." Los Angeles Times

11. "Dunkirk" (2017)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: "This is a powerful, superbly crafted film with a story to tell, avoiding war porn in favour of something desolate and apocalyptic, a beachscape of shame, littered with soldiers zombified with defeat, a grimly male world with hardly any women on screen. It is Nolan’s best film so far." The Guardian

10. "The Battle of Algiers" (1966)

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 7.9/10

What critics said: "It's one of the best movies about revolutionary and anticolonial activism ever made, convincing, balanced, passionate, and compulsively watchable as storytelling." Chicago Reader

9. "Virunga" (2014)

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: "Showcasing the best and the worst in human nature, Orlando von Einsiedel’s devastating documentary 'Virunga' wrenches a startlingly lucid narrative from a sickening web of bribery, corruption and violence." The New York Times

8. "Ran" (1985)

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: "The drama itself packs a powerful — and timeless — gut punch." The Washington Post

7. "Gone with the Wind" (1939)

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.8/10

What critics said: "A towering landmark of film, quite simply because it tells a good story, and tells it wonderfully well." Chicago Sun-Times

6. "Le Petit Soldat" (1963)

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 6.4/10

What critics said: "Beyond the timelessness of the story itself, the film is beautifully shot and though early in Godard’s career already showcased his ability to capture emotional intensity in the very way he frames the shots." Los Angeles Times

5. "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006)

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: "Dark, twisted and beautiful, this entwines fairy-tale fantasy with war-movie horror to startling effect." Empire

4. "Army of Shadows" (1969)

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: "From the first sight of German soldiers goose-stepping past the Arc de Triomphe to a postscript that spells out the fate of characters whose moral confusion is all too real, 'Army of Shadows' is a movie of its time — and ours." Rolling Stone

3. "Casablanca" (1943)

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 9.2/10

What critics said: "Seventy years on, this great romantic noir is still grippingly powerful: a movie made at a time when it was far from clear the Nazis were going to lose." The Guardian

2. "The Leopard" (1963)

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 7.9/10

What critics said: "Watching this masterwork allows you to return to the filmmaking sensibility of the 1960s, when epics looked like epics." The Washington Post

1. "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 8.7/10

What critics said: "What a bold, mad act of genius it was, to make 'Lawrence of Arabia,' or even think that it could be made." Chicago Sun-Times

Source: Sponsored

Comments

comments

Tags:
admin

admin

My name is Jaramike Daniel a blogger with a vision, a programmer in the making, a web developer by hobby and a Nigerian by birth.. My dream is to inspire youths with passion in the tech aspect. I create and design websites for schools, Companies and Organisation... I can be reached through any of my social media listed below or whatsapp on +2348168210251

Leave a Comment

share on: