On Nov. 22, Darkest Hour, one of the year’s biggest Oscar contenders will be released in theaters stateside. Judging by the trailer, the film looks to be a compelling examination of Winston Churchill at his finest. Played by a nearly unrecognizable Gary Oldman, Churchill accepts the unenviable task of leading Great Britain into World War II. Oldman’s performance is already generating awards buzz, which makes Darkest Hour a must-see for movie enthusiasts.
Before you head out to your local theater to appreciate Oldman’s performance this holiday weekend, you should take the time to watch some of the most interesting WWII films currently streaming. WWII has inspired some amazing films from a variety of perspectives. From the home front to the front lines, these films all capture a different part of the era. Some of these films are undeniable classics, while others landed on the list for showing a different side of the wartime experience — one thing is certain, each one of them is entertaining in their own right.
Saving Private Ryan — Amazon/Google Play/Vudu (Rent $2.99)
The rest of the films on this list will be available to stream without paying an additional fee, but leaving Saving Private Ryan off of a list of WWII movies is unthinkable. The Tom Hanks-led film is a masterpiece of the genre that takes viewers inside the unrelenting battles and the camaraderie that exists between soldiers.
Hacksaw Ridge — HBO
Does a Conscientious Objector have a role to play in the war? Absolutely, as the heartbreaking story of Desmond T. Doss illustrates.
Casablanca — TCM
As a movie released in the early days of WWII, Casablanca is a fascinating look at how Hollywood dealt with the oncoming storm. It’s also one of the greatest films of all time, so there are plenty of reasons to watch Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s masterpiece.
Schindler’s List — Netflix
Schindler’s List is not an easy film to watch, but the story of a businessman who saved thousands of lives should be seen by everyone at least once.
Sands of Iwo Jima — Starz/Epix
John Wayne leads a group of men into battle in one of the earliest films made about WWII. Remember, when this movie was released the memories of the front were still fresh in many soldiers’ minds.
The Bridge on the River Kwai — Tribeca Short List
British POWs find themselves in a position to be big damn heroes in this epic.
The Dresser — Starz/Tribeca Short List
Not all WWII films are dark. The Dresser takes a look at the ways in which people got on with their lives as a performance of King Lear goes forward even as an air raid is happening.
Atonement — Netflix
Darkest Hour isn’t director Joe Wright’s first film about the war. In 2007, he helmed Atonement, a decadent love story set against the backdrop of WWII.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas — Netflix
Two little boys on opposite sides of the war form a bond that will leave you sobbing.
Life Is Beautiful — Amazon Video
A father tries to shield his son from the horrors of war in this Italian film that people either seem to love or hate.
Inglourious Basterds — Netflix
Quentin Tarantino’s bloody, ostentatious propaganda film is one of the director’s absolute best.
Darkest Hour is on track to joining the pantheon of great WWII films, but that’s no reason not to catch up on these wartime tales that are all must-see movies.