Top 10 War Movies

America has been involved in numerous wars throughout the years from the American Revolution to the War in Afghanistan. Every year new movies come out about these wars. Following are 10 excellent war movies based on events from America's past. Their subject matters range from the American Revolution to the action in Somalia. While many of these picks take some dramatic license in the telling of their stories, all of them are fascinating pieces of cinematic escape. 

A very accurate portrayal of the rigors of war. An instant classic that most people would argue is the most accurate war movie ever created. The film chronicles the mission of Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men to find Private Ryan (Matt Damon) during the World War II invasion of Normandy. The movie is loosely based on the Niland Brothers. When it was thought that three of the four brothers were killed during World War II, the fourth, Frederick Niland was sent home to his mother as the sole survivor. 

The classic Civil War movie detailing arguably the most important battle of American History. This fantastic movie is based on the even better novel, "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara. Jeff Daniels is amazing as Joshua Chamberlain. While the movie is quite long at over four hours, it is quite historically accurate. It also does a good job of giving a balanced view of both the Union and Confederate sides of the battle. 


See also the Top 6 Civil War Movies

The classic portrayal of George S. Patton by George C. Scott. He was one of the most interesting figures of the World War II era and was instrumental in the US victory in Europe. As the movie shows, he was tough but well-loved by his men. However, the slapping incident portrayed in the movie did happen as he found the idea of cowardice disgusting. In the end, Patton was portrayed accurately as a complex character. 

04
of 10

Sands of Iwo Jima

American landing craft and armoured vehicles on a beach during the Battle of Iwo Jima, February 1945.
American landing craft and armoured vehicles on a beach during the Battle of Iwo Jima, February 1945. FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A John Wayne classic in which he was Oscar nominated for his portrayal of Sgt. Stryker. The movie shows the marines at their finest, island hopping through the Pacific to assault Iwo Jima during World War II. One of my favorite John Wayne quotes from the movie: "Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid."

The Civil War movie that chronicles the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts. This African American unit fought bravely in an effort to win freedom for themselves and all slaves. The final battle is heroic and poignant. However, there are some historical inaccuracies. For example, the regiment was freedmen. 

A true story of the 101st Airborne's fight to gain a hill in Vietnam. This movie is considered to be one of the best movies about the war in Vietnam.

07
of 10

Tora! Tora! Tora!

USS Missouri - Site of the Japanese Surrender Ending World War II
The Japanese surrender ceremony that officially ended World War II occurred on the deck of the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

A classic World War II movie focusing on the war in the Pacific. It is unique in that it shows both perspectives (Japanese and American) of the war.

A true story of the Army Rangers in action in Somalia. This movie highlights the courage of the US forces and the complexities of modern warfare.
09
of 10

We Were Soldiers

The second wave of combat helicopters of the 1st Air Cavalry Division fly over an RTO and his commander on an isolated landing zone during Operation Pershing during the Vietnam War. This war was the subject of We Were Soldiers.
The second wave of combat helicopters of the 1st Air Cavalry Division fly over an RTO and his commander on an isolated landing zone during Operation Pershing during the Vietnam War. This war was the subject of We Were Soldiers. Patrick Christain/Getty Images

An inspiring depiction of one of the earliest pitched battles in Vietnam. Mel Gibson does an excellent job portraying the courageous commander involved in a no-win situation. His inspired leadership saves the majority of his troops.

A compilation of true historical figures formed the basis for Mel Gibson's character in this film set during the American Revolution. It shows that not all colonists were committed to the war on ideological grounds.