I've been working on my top war movies. The hardest part isn't ranking them, it's determining what's a war movie. Is Schindler's List a war movie? How about The Pianist? Das Boot? Braveheart? I decided Schindler's List, The Pianist, and Life is Beautiful were holocaust movies, as was Hotel Rwanda. Braveheart isn't centered around a war I'm familiar with, and it's more of a William Wallace biopic, much like Lawrence of Arabia is a biopic. Casablanca happens to take place during a war more than it is a war movie. Without a further ado, here are my top 10 war movies:
1. Saving Private Ryan (1988). Spielberg's masterpiece got jobbed out of Best Picture by a legendary Weinstein campaign for Shakespeare in Love, but this WW2 epic had it all. Comedy, action, drama, the three hours fly by.
2. Apocalypse Now (1979). It can be chaotic, and in my opinion the Redux version is too meandering, but this sets the standard for "War is Hell" movies.
3. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Alec Guiness gives one of the finest performances of all time in this classic that won seven Oscars.
4. Black Hawk Down (2001). Some would consider this way too high for Ridley Scott's follow up to Gladiator, but any movie that has a 90 minute shootout is OK in my book.
5. Dr. Strangelove (1964). Now I realize this is a black comedy, but it's a brilliant satire on the war machine. The way I see it, all the other movies are war dramas, and this is a war comedy.
6. Platoon (1986). A Vietnam vet directs a Vietnam movie, 1986 Best Picture winner.
7. Das Boot (1981). This almost doesn't qualify as a war movie since it's more of a submarine movie, but since it's about the psyche of those on the sub I'll count it.
8. Paths of Glory (1957). One of Kubrick's first movies, this WW1 courtroom drama features Kirk Douglas in an Atticus Finch type role.
9. The Deer Hunter (1978). It's been said that this is the most realistic depiction of war put to film.
10. Full Metal Jacket (1987). FMJ is really two movies: training and deployment. Every minute of it is unbelievably intense. Kubrick's third movie on my list.
Coming later this week: my top 10 Westerns.