Top 10 World War II Films

The end of World War II occurred with the unofficial surrender of Japan 75 years ago on August 14, 1945.  To celebrate this anniversary we are listing the best movies set during World War II.  More than any other conflict in history, this war inspired the creation of countless films, many based on books we listed in our previous Top 10 lists.  The overwhelming numbers made it very difficult to narrow down our list, which could have easily included 30+ entries (including Academy Award-winning Life Is Beautiful-1997, The English Patient-1996, and Schindler’s List-1993.  These choices are simply our preferences and we would be interested to read your comments on your favorite films.

10. Red Tails (2012)

This was not the best written script, but it does show great dogfights and honors the Tuskegee Airmen.

9. Dunkirk (2017)

Three storylines of different duration are blended in this visually stunning tale of the evacuation of British soldiers from France in 1940.

8. The Imitation Game (2014)

The secret work of Alan Turing in decoding German messages was essential to the outcome of the war.

7. Pearl Harbor (2001)

This very long movie was uneven, but had impressive visuals of the December 7, 1941 surprise attack and subsequent Doolittle Raid.

6. Flags of Our Fathers ()

This gripping story of the attack on Iwo Jima was directed by Clint Eastwood in conjunction with Letters from Iwo Jima.

5. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

This film is worth including simply for its excellent depiction of the D-Day landings.

4. Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Set during the Siege of Stalingrad, it tells the story of an interesting cat and mouse game between opposing snipers.

3. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

A long, slow, and brilliant film about POWs constructing a bridge for their Japanese captors.

2. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Not all heroes carried guns, as this real-life medic on Okinawa proved.

1. Unbroken (2014)

This biopic recounts the unbelievable struggles of Olympian and soldier Louie Zamperini.

Honorable Mentions

Band of Brothers (2001)

This HBO mini-series was based on the true stories of the men of Easy Company, 101st Airborne.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Entirely fictional and extremely entertaining, this is a modern reimagining of a 1940s comic book hero.

Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

The internment of Japanese-Americans was a dark spot in American history (and is remembered at two National Park Service sites).

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