Mandatory Staff Picks: Best WWII Movies (Including Tom Hanks’ ‘Greyhound’)
Hollywood is obsessed with WWII – and for good reason. As the most recent world war to date, it fascinates audiences. The bravery, brutality, and breadth of stories to come out of this war are unparalleled, providing endless, thought-provoking material for filmmakers. We’ve hand-selected the best films that capture the human experience during that historic time between 1939 and 1945, whether that means dropping viewers into the middle of battle, focusing on the effects of war on the home front, or exploring how wartime impacts relationships. Justify your WWII movie binge by saying that unless we learn about history, we are doomed to repeat it.
Cover Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment
10. 'The Monuments Men'
Lives weren't the only thing people saved during WWII. One group of men directed their efforts toward art and fought to salvage many masterpieces stolen (and slated for destruction) by the Nazis. This dramedy from writer, director, and actor George Clooney tells that story.
9. 'A Hidden Life'
This quiet, contemplative, but powerful film from director Terrence Malick focuses on Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), a real-life conscientious objector, husband, and father who paid the ultimate price for his refusal to participate in WWII.
8. 'Jojo Rabbit'
A comedy about Hitler sounds near impossible to pull off, but Taika Waititi did it with this narrative about a young German boy whose nationalism -- and imaginary friendship with Adolf -- is challenged when he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic.
Tom Hanks wrote and starred in this nautical WWII drama that centers on Commander Ernest Krause, who was crucial in the historic Battle of the Atlantic. Coming in at a taut 80 minutes, this action flick makes the most of its high-octane screentime.
6. 'The Imitation Game'
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was a British code-cracker who designed a machine to help decipher the Germans' Enigma messages, saving as many as two million lives. This biopic honors his genius while also shedding a light on the horrific societal homophobia that cut his life short.
Directed by Angelina Jolie, this biopic tells the harrowing tale of Louis "Louie" Zamperini, an Olympic-level runner who enlisted in the military during WWII. After his plane crashed into the Pacific, he was stranded in a raft for 47 days before being taken prisoner by the Japanese. The torture he endured at a POW camp would have broken most people. He not only survived, but was able to forgive his captors and live a long and happy life.
4. 'The English Patient'
Not every great WWII focuses on fighting. This one, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje, features two WWII-era timelines. The sexier one involves map maker Laszlo de Almasy (Ralph Fiennes) and his steamy affair with a married woman named Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Make love, not war, and when you do, make it as hot as these two do.
3. 'Schindler's List'
This black-and-white epic from Steven Spielberg swept the 1994 Academy Awards, and with good reason. It tells the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a businessman who used his factory to save Jewish men, women, and children from Nazi slaughter. It's heartbreaking, but essential, viewing.
2. 'The Thin Red Line'
Based on the James Jones novel of the same name, this Terrence Malick film focuses on Private Witt (Jim Caviezel), a U.S. Army absconder who is forced back into duty by Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn) for the Battle of Guadalcanal.
1. 'Saving Private Ryan'
In yet another Academy Award-winning film from Steven Spielberg, Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) embarks on a mission behind enemy lines with his soldiers to rescue Private James Ryan and bring him home to his mother, who has already lost three sons in combat.
Mandatory Top 10 of the 2010s: The Most Underrated Indie Films of the Decade
Visit the Mandatory Shop for great deals on your very own Mandatory merch.