Back when American Sniper was released, much had been made about the contribution of Chris Kyle and what he was to America. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kyle is an American hero and that guys like Michael Moore and Seth Rogen are just giant pussies that never could have served for the military if they were given that as the lone option. But because I have a deep-rooted interest in the craziness that was World War II, I’ve instead decided to put together a list of the best 15 movies from the era (including movies and mini series from all angles that might not have been strictly combat-related). Listed at the bottom is a list of 5 terrible movies from the period.
Life is Beautiful. Life is a game and you’re a willing participant. Make this fun and you can be completely naive to the real world. At least it’s better than knowing the truth about the atrocities that are taking place right in front of you. If there was ever a way to make a concentration camp not completely sad, then this was the way. Damn you, Roberto Benigni!
The Sound of Music. Yes, it’s not exactly what you think of when “war movies” is uttered. But there are Nazis and there’s some political tie-in so you’re welcome.
Saving Private Ryan. Probably the most Hollywood of any movie that might be on this kind of list, but this was the point in time where Matt Damon was so famous it wouldn’t have mattered what the script was like. In this case, the search for James Ryan was symbolic enough to watch over and over.
Band of Brothers. The mini-series (not a movie, I know) from HBO is the best thing ever. I could watch this 6-part series over and over. Dramatic, funny, tense, informative, and gripping throughout; BOB is the series that has definitive characters (with real names and personalities) that are so unforgettable that I managed to read at least five or six separate autobiographies. Also: best instrumentals ever.
Schindler’s List. It’s much better when movies are based on actual happenings. Unfortunately, the Holocaust is one of those depressingly honest topics that you wish wasn’t the truth. Still, you can’t help but want to climb into the movie and hope everyone on that list makes it out.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. If you don’t like sad movies then don’t watch this one. If you are a trooper and can watch something even after you figure out what is about to happen, then you will love this movie. Commandant’s kid gives the middle finger to the Third Reich and befriends an inmate. Great story.
Bridge on the River Kwai. Lacking some of the typical Hollywood drama, this one is tactically engulfing and keeps you into it most because it’s one of those old films with the kind of reputation to do so.
The Pianist. My first real intro to Adrien Brody was an awkward one. The guy plays the hell out of this character. There are so many agonizing scenes that it’s tough to not get emotionally attached. But very few movies do much of a better job to show the hardships of internment camp/ghetto life for Jews during the Holocaust.
The Train. One of the great undercover/chase movies of any generation. This is one of the few movies in this genre that doesn’t suffer due to the low quality of production equipment at their disposal.
Das Boot. The basis for every trapped in a closet movie ever in the history of time. But this shit was real and really fucking good.
Defiance. It’s totally not the real story and wasn’t as serious as they try to make it seem, but who doesn’t find Daniel Craig in anything ever really badass?
Stalingrad. The bloodiest battle of the war was the basis for a movie that led to the undoing of the German empire and in the process killed a ridiculous number of Russian soldiers in the process.
Downfall. Nazi Germany is in ruins. What do you do? This movie tells you exactly what was done…..supposedly. My new favorite show Hunting Hitler might be disproving this.
Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart can do no wrong.
The Pacific. Once the long-awaited answer to Band of Brothers, Pacific didn’t have the same depth in characters and yet was so physically imposing of a film that it’s tough not to want to continue to watch.
Inglourious Basterds (the recent one). Dear Quentin Tarantino. You suck.
Monuments Men. What an interesting topic to do a movie on. I’ve face-planted a lot in my day whilst growing into my awkward big feet and never in my life have I fallen this flat on my face. What a shitty movie. Seriously.
Anything with Nazi Zombies/Nazis at the center of the Earth. There are like ten of them on Netflix. Hint: if it has Jake Busey in it, then it probably sucks.
Valkyrie. The story is interesting as hell. Just didn’t like that they were speaking in English with no attempt at a German accent at all.