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1917 – During World War I, two British soldiers — Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake — receive seemingly impossible orders. In a race against time, they must cross over into enemy territory to deliver a message that could potentially save 1,600 of their fellow comrades — including Blake’s own brother. 2019 British war film directed and produced by Sam Mendes, who co-wrote the film with Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Partially inspired by stories told to Mendes by his paternal grandfather Alfred about his service during World War I, the film takes place after the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line during Operation Alberich, and follows two British soldiers, Will Schofield (George MacKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), in their mission to deliver an important message to call off a doomed offensive attack. Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, and Benedict Cumberbatch also star in supporting roles.
AGE OF HEROES – During World War 2, Ian Fleming forms a special forces team, the 30 Assault Unit. The movie recounts their excursion behind enemy lines in Norway to steal German secrets change the outcome of the war. 2011 British war film directed by Adrian Vitoria. The film is based on the real-life events of the formation of Ian Fleming’s 30 Commando unit during World War II.
ALLIED – World War II operatives, Max and Marianne, fall in love and get married. However, he receives a call informing him that his wife is working for the enemy, making their marriage rocky. 2016 war thriller film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight. It stars Brad Pitt as a Canadian intelligence officer and Marion Cotillard as a French Resistance fighter who fall in love while posing as a married couple during a mission in Casablanca.
ALONE IN BERLIN is a 2016 war drama film which was directed by Vincent Pérez and written by Pérez and Achim von Borries. It is based on the 1947 fictionalised novel Every Man Dies Alone, by Hans Fallada. The novel’s characters Otto and Anna Quangel are based on Otto and Elise Hampel. When their son dies in France, the couple start writing postcards to urge people to protest against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. The film stars Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl, and Mikael Persbrandt.
ATONEMENT – This sweeping English drama, based on the book by Ian McEwan, follows the lives of young lovers Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy). When the couple are torn apart by a lie constructed by Cecilia’s jealous younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan), all three of them must deal with the consequences. Robbie is the hardest hit, since Briony’s deception results in his imprisonment, but hope for Cecilia and her beau increases when their paths cross during World War II. 2007 romantic war drama film directed by Joe Wright and starring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch and Vanessa Redgrave. It is based on Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel of the same name. The film chronicles a crime and its consequences over the course of six decades, beginning in the 1930s.
AUSTRALIA – With the globe on the brink of World War II, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) travels from Britain to Australia to inspect a cattle ranch she inherited. Reluctantly joining forces with a rugged local known as the Drover (Hugh Jackman), she sets out on a cattle drive across hundreds of miles of harsh terrain to save her ranch. But when they finally reach the town of Darwin, they must contend with the same Japanese bombers that just rained death upon Pearl Harbor. 2008 adventure drama directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. The screenplay was written by Luhrmann and screenwriter Stuart Beattie, with Ronald Harwood and Richard Flanagan. The film is a character story, set between 1939 and 1942 against a dramatised backdrop of events across northern Australia at the time, such as the bombing of Darwin during World War II.
BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK – Nineteen-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, what really happened to the squad is revealed, contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions. Based on the novel by Ben Fountain. 2016 war drama directed by Ang Lee and written by Jean-Christophe Castelli, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Ben Fountain.
BLACK HAWK DOWN – Captain Mike Steele leads a team of nearly 100 US Army Rangers who travel to the capital city of Mogadishu to catch the top two lieutenants of a Somali warlord. 2001 war film produced and directed by Ridley Scott, from a screenplay by Ken Nolan. It is based on the 1999 non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Mark Bowden, about the U.S. military’s 1993 raid in Mogadishu. The film features a large ensemble cast, including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard, and Tom Hardy in his first film role.
BROTHERS – Siblings Sam (Tobey Maguire) and Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal) are as far apart as brothers can be; while Sam serves his country as a Marine, Tommy is a drifter who just got out of prison. When Sam is shot down and presumed dead in Afghanistan, Tommy vows to take care of Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman), and his children. Tommy and Grace become close, and when Sam unexpectedly returns home, the consequences of their actions threaten the foundation of the entire family. 2009 American psychological drama war film directed by Jim Sheridan and written by David Benioff.
CENTURION – A Roman centurion and son of a legendary gladiator leads a group of soldiers on a raid of a Pict camp to rescue a captured general. 2010 French-British historical action-war film written and directed by Neil Marshall, loosely based on the disappearance of the Roman Empire’s Ninth Legion in Caledonia in the early second century CE. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, and Olga Kurylenko
CHURCHILL – A 2017 British historical war-drama directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, portrays Winston Churchill in June 1944 – especially in the hours leading up to D-Day. The film stars Brian Cox as the titular character with Miranda Richardson and John Slattery in supporting roles. Exhausted by years of war, Winston Churchill awaits the 1944 Normandy landings, which he believes will be a disaster.
CORIOLANUS – Caius Martius, aka Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes), is an arrogant and fearsome general who has built a career on protecting Rome from its enemies. Pushed by his ambitious mother (Vanessa Redgrave) to seek the position of consul, Coriolanus is at odds with the masses and unpopular with certain colleagues (James Nesbitt, Paul Jesson). When a riot results in his expulsion from Rome, Coriolanus seeks out his sworn enemy, Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler). Together, the pair vow to destroy the great city. 2011 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus, written by John Logan and directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes, who plays the titular character. This is Fiennes’ directorial debut. It also stars Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius, Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia, and Brian Cox as Menenius
DARKEST HOUR – A 2017 war drama directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten. Set in May 1940, it stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and is an account of his early days as prime minister during the Second World War and the May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis, while Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht swept across Western Europe and threatened to defeat the United Kingdom. The German advance leads to friction at the highest levels of government between those who would make a peace treaty with Adolf Hitler, and Churchill, who refused. The film also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Stephen Dillane, and Ronald Pickup.
THE DEER HUNTER – 1978 epic war drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of Russian-American steelworkers whose lives were changed forever after fighting in the Vietnam War. The three soldiers are played by Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage, with John Cazale (in his final role), Meryl Streep, and George Dzundza playing supporting roles. The story takes place in Clairton, Pennsylvania, a working-class town on the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh, and in Vietnam.
DUNKIRK – A 2017 war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II. Its ensemble cast includes Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. The film was distributed by Warner Bros. Dunkirk portrays the evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It has little dialogue, as Nolan sought instead to create suspense from cinematography and music. Filming began in May 2016 in Dunkirk and ended that September in Los Angeles, when post-production began. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large-format film stock.
THE EXCEPTION – A 2016 romantic war film directed by David Leveaux (in his directorial debut) and written by Simon Burke, based on Alan Judd’s 2003 novel The Kaiser’s Last Kiss. The film stars Jai Courtney, Lily James, Janet McTeer, and Christopher Plummer. The plot is a fictionalized account of the life of exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II (Plummer). When a Wehrmacht officer (Courtney) is ordered to determine whether or not a British spy has infiltrated the Kaiser’s residence with a view to assassinating the deposed monarch, he falls in love with one of the Kaiser’s maids (James) during his investigation. The film is set in Occupied Holland during World War II.
FULL METAL JACKET – 1987 war film directed, co-written, and produced by Stanley Kubrick and starring Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford’s 1979 novel The Short-Timers. The storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their boot camp training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, primarily focusing on two privates, Joker and Pyle, who struggle under their abusive drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and the experiences of two of the platoon’s Marines in Vietnamese cities of Da Nang and Huế during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. The film’s title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by military servicemen.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS – 2009 war film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger and Mélanie Laurent. The film tells an alternate history story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s leadership, one planned by Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent), a young French Jewish cinema proprietor, and the other by a team of Jewish American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Pitt). Christoph Waltz co-stars as Hans Landa, an SS colonel in charge of tracking down Raine’s group. The title was inspired by Italian director Enzo G. Castellari’s macaroni combat film The Inglorious Bastards (1978), though Tarantino’s film is not a remake of it.
JARHEAD – 2005 American biographical war drama film based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford’s 2003 memoir of the same name. The film was directed by Sam Mendes, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Swofford with Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black, and Chris Cooper. Jarhead chronicles Swofford’s life story and his military service in the Gulf War.
LONE SURVIVOR – 2013 American biographical military action film based on the eponymous 2007 non-fiction book by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. Set during the war in Afghanistan, it dramatizes the unsuccessful United States Navy SEALs counter-insurgent mission Operation Red Wings, during which a four-man SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team was given the task of tracking down the Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. The film was written and directed by Peter Berg, and stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, and Eric Bana.
LOVE IN A COLD CLIMATE – In 1930s Britain, three young aristocratic women find love as the world around them slowly descends into war. British serial drama miniseries adapted by Deborah Moggach from Nancy Mitford’s novels The Pursuit of Love (1945) and Love in a Cold Climate (1949), and was directed by Tom Hooper. It stars Rosamund Pike as Fanny, Elisabeth Dermot Walsh as Linda, Megan Dodds as Polly, Alan Bates as Uncle Matthew, and Celia Imrie as Aunt Sadie. The production staff researched the background to Mitford’s novels by interviewing her surviving sister Deborah.
THE MAN WITH THE IRON HEART – In 1942, the Czech resistance in London sends two young recruits to Prague to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the most ruthless Nazi leader who is the Reich-protector, head of the SS and the Gestapo, and the architect of the Final Solution. 2017 English-language French-Belgian biographical action-thriller directed by Cédric Jimenez and written by David Farr, Audrey Diwan, and Jimenez. It is based on French writer Laurent Binet’s 2010 novel HHhH, and focuses on Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during World War II. The film stars Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O’Connell, Jack Reynor, and Mia Wasikowska.
THE MESSENGER – After being injured in Iraq, soldier Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) returns home to finish the rest of his tour of duty in the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Teamed with veteran officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), Will tries to come to terms with his own pain while dealing with the cold realities of his new mission. Will finds himself in the grip of an ethical problem when he becomes involved with Olivia (Samantha Morton), the widow of a fallen soldier. 2009 war drama film that marks the directorial debut of Oren Moverman, who also wrote the screenplay with Alessandro Camon.
THE PIANIST – In this adaptation of the autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945,” Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw. 2002 biographical war drama produced and directed by Roman Polanski, with a script by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody It is based on the autobiographical book The Pianist (1946), a Holocaust memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, a Holocaust survivor. At the 75th Academy Awards, the film won for Best Director (Polanski), Best Adapted Screenplay (Harwood), and Best Actor (Brody)
THE RAILWAY MAN – Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a former British army officer and POW, discovers that the Japanese interpreter who tortured him is still alive. He and his new wife (Nicole Kidman) set out to confront the man who caused him so much pain. 2013 British–Australian war film directed by Jonathan Teplitzky. It is an adaptation of the 1995 autobiography of the same name by Eric Lomax
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN – 1998 epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is known for its graphic portrayal of war and for the intensity of its second scene of 24 minutes, a depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of a family of four, with his three other brothers having been killed in action. The film won five Oscars: Best Director (Spielberg’s second), Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing, and has been considered one of the greatest films of all time and has been lauded as influential on the war film genre
SCHINDLER’S LIST – 1993 American epic historical drama directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the 1982 non-fiction novel Schindler’s Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who together with his wife Emilie Schindler saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.
STOP LOSS – His tour of duty in Iraq finally over, Staff Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) returns home to Brazos, Texas, ready to re-enter civilian life. Unexpectedly, the Army invokes a clause in Brandon’s military contract, requiring him to return to active duty in Iraq. With the help of close friend Michele (Abbie Cornish), Brandon goes AWOL and struggles to find a way out of the dilemma. 2008 war drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as young soldiers whose experience in the Iraq War leaves them psychologically shattered.
THE STRANGER 1946 American film noir starring Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, and Orson Welles. Welles’s third completed feature film as director and his first film noir is about a war crimes investigator tracking a high-ranking Nazi fugitive to a Connecticut town. It is the first Hollywood film to present documentary footage of the Holocaust.
WAR HORSE – A 2011 war film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis, based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name and its 2007 stage adaptation. The film’s ensemble cast includes Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, and Jeremy Irvine in his feature film debut. Set before and during World War I, it tells of the journey of Joey, a bay Thoroughbred horse raised by British teenager Albert (Irvine), as he is bought by the British Army, leading him to encounter numerous individuals and owners throughout Europe, all the while experiencing the tragedies of the war happening around him. DreamWorks Pictures acquired the film rights to the novel in December 2009, with Spielberg announced to direct the film in May 2010. Having directed many films set during World War II, it was his first film to tackle the events of World War I.
WINTER IN WARTIME (Dutch: Oorlogswinter) At the end of World War II, 14-year-old Michiel becomes a member of the resistance after he helps a wounded British soldier. 2008 Dutch war film directed by Martin Koolhoven. The screenplay was written by Mieke de Jong, Paul Jan Nelissen, and Martin Koolhoven based on Jan Terlouw’s eponymous 1972 novel.