When it comes to depicting the terrors of war on screen, No war has been more represented on film than World War II.. Even today, movies are still being made about this hellish global conflict to eradicate fascism and genocide, with stories covering many different aspects of the war. There are love stories against the backdrop of espionage and resistance, tales of brutal riddled battlefields, and gritty dramas that highlight the atrocities committed, which we must never forget.
We have compiled, from the last eight decades, ten of the best WWII movies of all time, from acclaimed directors such as Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and David Lean, among others. These are stories of horror, anguish, heroism and humility that sometimes offer a different vision of this era of absolutely incomparable destruction.
10. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Where to see: Prime Video, Movistar+
Quentin Tarantino’s violent and clever story Inglourious Basterds features a Nazi assassination squad, a Jewish movie theater owner, a ruthless SS officer and a German movie star turned spy, when they all converge on the Paris busy for a movie premiere that turns out to be quite crucial to the Allied war effort. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Mélanie Laurent and Christoph Waltz (who won an Oscar for his role) star in this tense and quirky revenge saga set amidst the horrors of war.
9. The Submarine (Das Boot) (1981)
Where to see: Movistar+
Written and directed by German filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen (who would go on to direct Air Force One and Troy), The Submarine was hailed as one of the greatest war movies ever made. This tense, exciting and clever naval epic adventure follows the crew of a German U-boat as they set out to patrol the waters during the Battle of the Atlantic. It’s poignant, exciting, and claustrophobic, depicting both the anxiety and the banality of combat.
8. Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Where to see: Disney+
The most recent film on this list, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, is a comedy-drama about a ten-year-old member of the Hitler Youth who discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in her attic. Waititi, winner of the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, presented an unusually whimsical and disarming look at Nazism, bordering on satire at times, as the boy, “Jojo” Betzler, had an imaginary friend in the form of Adolf Hitler (himself Waititi on paper). The end result is a purposely insensitive anti-hate fable that is ultimately about empathy and inclusion.
7. Casablanca (1942)
Where to see: HBO Max, Movistar+
Casablanca, winner of the Oscar for best picture, is a jewel of the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. Humphrey Bogart, in one of his most famous roles, plays a cunning expatriate who must choose between the love of a woman (Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa) and helping her husband, a resistance leader, escape from the city occupied by the fascists. Paul Henreid, Claude Rains and Peter Lorre also star in this influential and timeless masterpiece of intrigue and romance.
6. Dunkirk (2017)
Where to see: HBO Max, Prime Video
Christopher Nolan’s complex and time-consuming war film, depicting the Dunkirk evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied soldiers in northern France, is a deeply moving spectacle filled with stunning imagery and an impressive sense of grandeur. Fionn Whitehead, Harry Styles, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy are some of the names that appear in this film, in which three stories unfold, through overlapping timelines, that describe the efforts by land, sea and air to organize a massive rescue mission. It is one of the best Christopher Nolan movies that everyone should see.
5. Massacre. Come and See (1985)
Where to see: of the movie
War movies can shine a light on heroism and triumph or delve into the darkest corners of battle and reveal the true evils committed against humanity. The 1980s Soviet film, Massacre. Come and See, directed by Elem Klimov, broke through almost a decade of state censorship to be made, and presented the shocking and sobering story of the atrocities witnessed by a teenager during Nazi-occupied Belarus. It is a graphic and harrowing presentation, using both realism and surrealism, challenging its audience to confront the diabolical and evil nature of war.
4. Schindler’s List (1993)
Where to see: of the movie
Director Steven Spielberg was already known before the premiere of Schindler’s List, which won the Oscar for best picture. He had even directed dramas before, most notably The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun (set in World War II). But nothing prepared audiences for the abject horror of the Holocaust presented in Schindler’s List, starring Liam Neeson as German industrialist Oskar Schindler, whose growing awareness helped him save more than a thousand Jewish refugees by employing them in his factories. Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall and Embeth Davidtz co-starred in what would instantly become one of the most culturally and socially significant films of all time.
3. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Where to see: Disney+
Centered on the Pacific Theater of World War II (particularly the Battle of Mount Austen on Guadalcanal) The Thin Red Line is an elevated and philosophical war poem directed by Terrence Malick, who was making his first film in 20 years. Stars flocked to this huge ensemble (many of whom found themselves completely cut from the film by the end), as Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Adrien Brody, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto , John C. Reilly and many more joined the cause (helping make the first run of the film five hours long). The Thin Red Line is a beautiful and haunting look at the ravages of war on both humans and nature.
2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Where to see: Renter buys it (Apple, Rakuten, Amazon…)
The Bridge on the River Kwai by David Lean, based on the 1952 novel by Pierre Boulle, stars William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins and Sessue Hayakawa in a clever, complex and psychologically tense story about the construction of the railway. from Burma. With expert performances, seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture) to its credit and the highest grossing of 1957, this landmark film is hailed as a cinematic achievement of the highest order with career-defining work from all entrants.
1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Where to see: Prime Video
Featuring bravery as well as mayhem, heroism and heinous violence, Saving Private Ryan is a magnificent swirl of all the touchstones of war film, beginning with a chilling, spine-chilling look at the D-Day landings on the omaha beach. Director Steven Spielberg fuses warmth and evil in this look at soldiers traversing war-torn France in search of a paratrooper, Private First Class James Ryan. Tom Hanks leads a cast that also includes Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi, Barry Pepper and Vin Diesel. It’s an incisive look at the war that moved the entire genre forward.
Looking for more genre-defining movies? Check out our guide to the best thrillers of all time, as well as the best horror movies.