There’s just something about World War II movies. The best ones showcase feats of daring heroism and intense human drama. They (usually) exhibit the triumph of good over evil. These films tell stories about complicated people doing their best to be brave in the face of adversity.
There have been hundreds of WW2 movies made, but not all of them are created equal. Movies about World War II are among the most revered movies ever made. And there’s no better place to watch many of them than DIRECTV.
What Are the Best WW2 Movies?
The best WWII movies marry thrilling action and incredible performances. They highlight the human cost of war while also showing the danger. The list below is not comprehensive but includes some of the most critically acclaimed war movies released in the past 80 years.
Looking for more war movies? Watch WWI movies here.
‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ (1957)
Starring Alec Guinness as a British colonel, The Bridge on the River Kwai is based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. It follows a group of soldiers whom Japanese captors task to build a bridge in a remote region of Thailand. William Holden and Jack Hawkins star as two prisoners of war who concoct a plan to blow up the titular bridge. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a cinematic classic that critics view as one of the most iconic war films ever.
‘The Longest Day’ (1962)
The Longest Day is another epic war film that depicts the events of D-Day, June 6, 1944. With a cast of screen legends that includes John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Sean Connery and Richard Burton, The Longest Day consistently makes the list of top WWII films.
‘The Great Escape’ (1963)
The Great Escape is one of the greatest action films of all time. This World War II epic stars Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough and Charles Bronson as prisoners of war who hatch an intricate plan to escape from Stalag Luft III, a high-security German prison camp. This 1963 film features thrilling stunts and complex fight scenes and is a staple of any World War II movie fan’s collection.
‘The Dirty Dozen’ (1967)
As a precursor to the modern heist film and an influence on movies like Rogue One, The Dirty Dozen follows a ragtag group of convicts and misfits as they undertake a daring mission behind enemy lines. The all-star cast includes Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas.
George C. Scott stars in Patton, a biographical war film about United States General George S. Patton. This film, set during WWII, follows the timeline of the general’s campaigns through North Africa, Sicily, France and Germany. As an intimate look at one of America’s most decorated military leaders, Patton is an unforgettable tribute to a great American hero.
Looking for war movies made in the 1980s? Watch Vietnam War movies here.
‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)
Renowned for its visceral, gripping portrayal of the Normandy invasion, Saving Private Ryan follows United States Army Rangers Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and a squad of seven men as they search for paratrooper P.F.C. James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon). Its ensemble cast includes a pre-Fast & the Furious Vin Diesel, Jeremy Davies, Tom Sizemore and Adam Goldberg.
The German-Austrian war drama Downfall differs from other WWII films on this list because it doesn’t spend much time looking at battle scenes. Instead, this film from Oliver Hirschbiegel focuses on the timeline of Adolf Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker during the Battle of Berlin near the war’s end. Starring Bruno Ganz as Hitler, Downfall offers powerful insight into one of history’s darkest moments and provides a gripping look at the final days of the infamous leader.
‘Inglorious Basterds’ (2009)
Equal parts black comedy, thrilling war action film and intriguing alternate history exercise, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds follows the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers (the “Basterds”) on a mission to assassinate Nazi officers during World War II. This unconventional film stars Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender.
Fury, directed by David Ayer, focuses on the final days of World War II and stars Brad Pitt as an American tank commander. He leads his five-person crew on a dangerous mission across Germany. The crew must struggle with moral dilemmas as they battle enemy territory. With its powerful performances and gripping action sequences, Fury is a movie about World War II that sticks with you.
‘Hacksaw Ridge’ (2016)
Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of real-life World War II hero Desmond Doss. The film tells the remarkable story of how Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector and medic, saved 75 men without ever carrying a weapon during the Battle of Okinawa. It details Doss as he faces persecution for his beliefs. The film also stars Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving and Vince Vaughn.
Dunkirk is director Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk during the Second World War. Over 400,000 British and French troops were evacuated in an extraordinary rescue operation. This recent entry in the WW2 film canon stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles.
How Can I Watch Movies About WW2?
You shouldn’t have to wait when you’re in the mood to watch one of the thrilling action or dramas listed above. DIRECTV offers an unparalleled selection of your favorite World War II movies.
Whether you’re a history buff or want to see award-winning films, our lineup of on-demand and linear channel programming gives you the flexibility and selection you want.
Pick the best package and start watching action-packed WW2 movies with DIRECTV.
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