There's nothing that can quite match the action and the drama of a war film, and these are the best ones on Netflix right now.
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The Civil War (1990), The War (2007), Vietnam (2017)
The three most iconic wars since the Constitution was signed, as interpreted by America’s foremost documentarian.
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The Dirty Dozen (1967)
All the excitement you could want from a war movie, plus it’s a good, old-fashioned morality play: If very bad people do a very good thing, is the slate clean?
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Apocalypse Now (1979)
“I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile: a pile of little arms. And I remember I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized, like I was shot—like I was shot with a diamond, a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God, the genius of that. The genius! The will to do that: perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand it. These were not monsters. These were men, trained cadres—these men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who have children, who are filled with love—but they had the strength—the strength!—to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgement. Without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us.”
Maybe the finest of all American war films.
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Maybe the finest of all American film .
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Schindler's List (1993)
With its documentary approach to the most horrifying episode of the 20th century, Schindler’s List can be nearly impossible to watch. But it’s the right approach. Because this particular story of the Holocaust is so improbable, so shocking in the unpredictability of its humanity, that a Hollywood version of this Unbelievable True Story would completely miss the point.
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Black Hawk Down (2001)
A British director tackles a low point for the American military to great effect, perfectly summed up by the film’s epigraph: “Only the dead have seen the end of war,”
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The Pianist (2002)
Near the end of the film, when Adrien Brody’s Jewish pianist is almost shot, having already survived cruelty heaped upon cruelty, because he is wearing a German soldier’s coat that was given him in a moment of unexpected kindness—that is the moment this movie breaks you.
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Cold Mountain (2003)
All the war stuff aside, this movie gave us Jack White + Renee Zellweger. Excellent.
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The Hurt Locker (2008)
This best picture winner was one of the first great movies about the Global War on Terror.
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Yes, the Civil War only backgrounds the story of Lincoln’s efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment in this film. But it appears in two of the most important scenes: when Lincoln takes his son Robert, who wants to fight, to see wounded soldiers; and in the remarkable opening, when two black union soldiers recite—to Lincoln—the Gettysburg Address.
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Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Only if you can mentally prepare yourself for child soldiers.
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First They Killed My Father (2017)
A sobering film about the Vietnam War from a perspective that isn’t American.
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War Machine (2017)
Where Brad Pitt does an interpretive dance about American ineptitude in Afghanistan.
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Triple Frontier (2019)
A movie about special forces soldiers who want to make the amount of money their skills and missions might be worth on the free market. Which is to say: Much more than they’re paid by Uncle Sam