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The Best War Movies of the 2010s

Updated on July 25, 2017

War Never Ends

The rich history of world conflict has inspired some of the most memorable tales of bravery and heroism in cinema. There is no shortage of these, for each year, there are a number of war movies that’s definitely worth seeing. In this decade alone, saw a barrage of high quality features that even went on to win awards. Just imagine all the other yet untold stories to come.

From the American Civil War to World War II to the War on Terrorism, we gear you up with the best war movies of the decade.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

A 100% he’s there….okay, fine, 95% ‘cause I know certainty freaks you guys out, but it’s a 100%.

— Maya

CONFLICT: Post-911, Hunt for al-Qaeda, 2001-2011

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

After the 911 terrorist attacks, an international manhunt for Osama bin Laden immediately followed. Maya (Jessica Chastain), a CIA analyst has spent years on the trail of bin Laden. Working with fellow CIA officer Dan (Jason Clarke) in interrogating a terrorist in Pakistan produces a faint lead which she works on for five years and results in pinpointing the location of bin Laden. Fans of political thrillers will be entertained and action aficionados will not be disappointed. Jessica Chastain heads a dream cast that also includes Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini, Jennifer Ehle, Edgar Ramirez, Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt. The real hero, however is director Kathryn Bigelow, who has crafted a masterpiece, a thoroughly engaging war thriller, all two and a half hours of it. This is the best of the decade.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

What would they say about me? "He died in a place he didn't need to be, in a battle over something he doesn't understand, in a country that meant nothing to him.

— Jack Silva (Krasinksi)

CONFLICT: Libyan Civil War Aftermath, 2012

Directed by Michael Bay

The true story of the siege in Benghazi. On the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, local militants storm a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Six brave soldiers from a nearby CIA-operated outpost come to their rescue and hold off the fort against insurmountable odds. Even from the first 10 minutes, the movie has got you by the throat, and doesn’t release it way until the end credits start rolling. This is one of the most thrilling, unnerving Alamo-type, 2-hour action movie you’ll ever see. Love or hate him, Michael Bay kicks ass. With John Krasinksi, James Badge Dale, Max Martin and Dominic Fumusa.

Fury (2014)

I won't ask you to do anything I haven't done myself.

— Wardaddy

CONFLICT: WWII, Allied Invasion of Germany, 1945

Directed by David Ayer

Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) and his veteran M4 Sherman crew of the 2nd armored division lead a tank platoon across Nazi Germany. When one of his crew is KIA, his replacement, a young, novice private named Ellison (Logan Lerman) looks too queasy to handle the job and gets tested when they come face to face with the enemy. We’ve got movie tank battles before, but nothing like this. Fury lets you sit on the driver’s seat in absolutely, the most realistic tank to tank combat in movies. It breathes authenticity, grit and grime, the smell of blood, metal and dirt permeate in the air. Story may seem flat during the middle parts, but it is an action movie first and foremost, and at that, it's a war freak's dream movie come true.

Dunkirk (2017)

Men my age made this war. Why should we send in our children to fight it?

— Dawson

CONFLICT: WWII, Operation Dynamo, 1940

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Three separate stories converge: a young English soldier (Fionn Whitehead) try to survive the evacuation from the beach; In England, Dawson, an old boatman (Mark Rylance) and companions sail towards Dunkrik to help in the rescue; and three Spitfire pilots provide air cover against German Luftwaffe planes. The much anticipated Dunkirk is well-worth the wait. Finally, a warmovie with less dialogue and leaves the action to speak for themselves. Nolan’s fast-paced war epic is immaculately shot, composed and realized, it could be the new starting point at how large-scale war movies are made. The cast also includes Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Harry Styles and Cillian Murphy.

American Sniper (2014)

All these guys, they know your name. They feel invincible with you up there.

— Marc Lee (Grimes)

CONFLICT: Iraq War, 2003-2009

Directed by Clint Eastwood

The biopic of one of America’s deadliest snipers, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) who served four tours in the Iraq War and has over 160 confirmed kills. The movie follows his life as a boy in Texas as his father teaches him to hunt, then turns to rodeo as an adult with his brother, joins the U.S. Navy SEALs and gets deployed in Iraq where his accomplishments earn him the nickname of the “Legend.” There’s something in sniper movies, of being behind the telescope that enthralls, and this movie depends on it to heighten the drama. From there, the story shifts to a backstory that helps in knowing what kind of a man is holding the rifle. A very intimate portrait of a bigger-than-life hero who makes hard decisions and sacrifices, this is a real American story. Also starring Sienna Miller and Luke Grimes.

Eye in the Sky (2015)

Don't ever tell a soldier that he doesn't know the cost of war.

— Lt. Gen. Frank Benson (Rickman)

CONFLICT: Kenya, British Clandestine Drone Operations

Directed by Gavin Hood

British Army Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) heads a joint operation of USAF drone surveillance team and Kenyan operatives to capture a group of Al-Shabaab terrorists hiding in Nairobi. But, things get complicated when surveillance shows the terrorists appear to be planning a suicide bomb attack. Mission changes from “capture” to “kill”, with possible civilian casualties. And time is running out. A war fought in command rooms through surveillance cameras, video monitors, and radios—and its as nerve-wracking as being in the middle of a hail of bullets. The ethical complications, dependent on time by the minute, provide an unbearable, mentally-fatiguing sense of suspense. With Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Sun, why are you shining at this world? I am wanting to catch you in my hands, to squeeze you until you can not shine no more. That way, everything is always dark and nobody's ever having to see all the terrible things that are happening here.

— Agu

CONFLICT: West African Civil War

Directed by Cary Fukunaga

During a civil war in West Africa, a boy named Agu (Abraham Attah) gets separated from his family and hides in the jungle. There, he is recruited and trained by the NDF, a rebel militia whose charismatic leader known as the “Commandant” (Idris Elba) takes him under his wing. Agu experiences the horrible faces of war and it doesn’t take long before he becomes entrenched in it. Displaced children, orphans of war, child soldiers, Beasts of No Nation opens our eyes to realities we already know but try to look away from—now comes a movie that doesn’t wish to be ignored. Powered by incredible performances from Elba and the child actors, this is a sad, coming-of-age story blanketed by senseless violence.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Help me get one more.

— Desmond Doss

CONFLICT: WWII, Battle of Okinawa, 1945

Directed by Mel Gibson

The first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, Private Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) saved the lives of 75 soldiers without firing a single shot in WWII. The story opens with the Battle of Okinawa and goes to flashbacks of Doss’ Christian upbringing, meeting his future wife, going to training before being deployed to the war in the Pacific, where he performs the impossible. The movie provides us with a very tight origin story that pays off well in the end, preparing us for the battle scenes—a furious, flurry of death and destruction masterfully orchestrated by Mel Gibson. Unlikely hero or divine providence, this is an inspiring true story of heroism.

Kilo Two Bravo (2014)

I didn't see a flash or feel a blast or heat, it was as if I'd stood on a banana skin.

— Stu

CONFLICT: Afghanistan, 2006

Directed by Paul Katis

Based on the true story of a group of British soldiers stationed in the mountain regions of Kajaki, Afghanistan. A 3-man patrol detonates a land mine and when rescue arrives, they too set off another mine, until everyone find themselves trapped in a situation where one wrong step would mean death. Kill Two Bravo plays like a horror movie in that the soldiers become unwilling targets of a hidden killer. It is also a dark, funny movie because these “real” soldiers crack jokes, sing songs and find humor in the seriousness of the jam they are in. Most of all, it’s a story of unparalleled courage and true brotherhood. You know an instant classic war movie when you see one.

Free State of Jones (2016)

It ain't my fight, you know? Don't own no slaves. Ain't gonna die so they can get rich selling cotton.

— Newton Knight

CONFLICT: American Civil War, Jones County Revolt, 1864

Directed by Gary Ross

Upon learning of the Twenty Negro Law, wherein any man who owns twenty negro slaves can be exempt from service, plus the death of his young nephew, Newton Knight, a Confederate soldier, becomes disillusioned with the war and deserts. In Jones County, Mississippi, he forms a free state with negroes and other deserters and make a stand against the Confederacy. Heroic stands, especially one that deals with injustice and oppression and with an almost mythical central character, is just too big and irresistible not to watch. And this one is based on true events that history books try to bury but couldn’t. Free State of Jones is a powerful story with a searing performance by Matthew McConaughey.

Lone Survivor (2013)

We wanted that fight at the highest volume. A loud fight. The loudest, coldest, darkest, most unpleasant of the unpleasant fights.

— Marcus

CONFLICT: Afghanistan, Operation Red Wings, 2005

Directed by Peter Berg

A four-man Navy SEAL operation gone bad. Based on the true story of Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), who, along with Navy SEALs Lt. Michael P. Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matthew Axelson (Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster, respectively), are deployed in Afghanistan to capture a high-ranking Taliban leader but are discovered and get surrounded by hundreds of Taliban soldiers. The title is a dead giveaway. But, that doesn’t stop this for being a pulse-pounding action thriller, with bone-cracking grit, relentless violence, and no time to wax poetic. As far as combat engagements go, this looks to be as real as it gets.

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