The Anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor always brings to mind the many countless World War II movies that have graced our screens over the past 70+ years. Filmmakers and historians have been fascinated by this period in history since before the conflict was even officially over, and the impact of that fascination is still evident today.
Here are some of our favorite WWII films that you can stream this week.
On a mission to find one soldier, Captain John Miller braves dangerous territory with his men in order to find Private James Ryan. This near-masterpiece by director Stephen Spielberg brought with it a sense of realism that changed the way modern war movies were made.
Another look at WWII through the eyes of Stephen Spielberg, Schindler’s List is told from a different perspective. The true story of Oskar Schindler was unknown to many before the film’s release, and his heroism was brought to light in one of the most heart wrenching and necessary pieces of cinema to ever be produced.
While it may mostly be known for the hilarious meme that it inspired, Downfall is actually an astounding work of German cinema. In another daring move, filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegel chose to tell the story of the loss of power of one of history’s greatest villains, Adolf Hitler, from within the Nazi regime.
Type: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 2009
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz
Rating: 88% RT, 8.3/10 IMDb
While there will be no fairy godmothers or pumpkin chariots to be found, Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 Inglourious Basterds is for all intents and purposes a (completely fictional) fairytale set in the backdrop of WWII. Assassin soldiers and revenge plots carried out in the most dramatic and satisfying way possible make this worthy of our list.
A bit of a departure from the rest of this war-torn list, Casablanca is the story of a man who protects an ex-girlfriend and her current husband from Nazis in 1941-era Morocco.
The Dirty Dozen is a movie that never gets old. Here, Lee Marvin portrays Major Reisman, a troubled soldier who finds one last chance at redemption by training a group of convicts to raid a conclave of Nazi officers.
One of Clint Eastwood’s best pictures, Letters from Iwo Jima tells the story of the battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese. This unusual reversal makes this film one of the more unique, and results in positively stunning filmmaking.
There is something both lyrical and unsettling about all of Terrence Malick’s work, and that is no different here in 1998’s The Thin Red Line. This film is a surprisingly philosophical look at what it means to live, die, and kill as a soldier in WWII during the battle of Guadalcanal.
The true story of a pacifist medic during World War II was bound to be brought to the big screen eventually. With stunning battle sequences and touching and raw performance by Andrew Garfield as the film’s protagonist, Hacksaw Ridge was one of my favorite films of 2016.
This has always been one of my baby-boomer father’s favorite war movies, and the film still stands the test of time today. The story of English prisoners of war who are tasked with building a bridge to help the Japanese who imprison them is undoubtedly compelling, and really tells the story of a different kind of war.