Best Netflix War Movies: Our List in 2021
Today we’re going to talk about the best war movies on Netflix. If you are a big fan of this genre, you’ve come to the right place! The streaming platform offers several award-winning works, with great actors and even some classics.
War films have been produced since the beginning of cinema. No wonder, the first Oscar winner for Best Picture of all time, “Wings”, is precisely a representative of the genre. Make your popcorn and prepare Netflix: We are going to present you some must-see works to watch on your computer, television or cell phone!
First, the most important
- There are award-winning war movies in the Netflix catalog that are recognized as some of the best in their genre.
- You can find great options both if you prefer films more focused on action and adventure, as if you like dialogues and character development more.
- Many established actors, like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, are in the war movies available on Netflix.
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The best war movies on Netflix: Our recommendations
Netflix’s catalog of war films is very full. We have prepared a list of recommendations able to please anyone who wants to know history, enjoy cinematic quality or just have fun with action and shootings!
Until the Last Man (2016)
Directed by Mel Gibson, of “Braveheart” and “The Passion of the Christ”, “Until the Last Man” found great success both with the public and with the critics: It managed to raise almost 200 million dollars at the world box office and won two Oscars (also nominated for four others).
Great for both those who like the visual aspect of a war film and those who prefer a better developed plot, the film tells the story of Desmond Doss, a pacifist doctor who even present in the battles of World War II refused to fire a single shot.
The pacifist message joins the cinematic quality to make this film a great choice.
Anonymous Soldier (2005)
In 2019, “1917” was a great success and was one of the most highly rated films for the Oscar for Best Picture. But this was not director Sam Mendes’ first foray into the war genre: In 2005, he released “Soldado Anonymous”.
Although not as famous as “1917”, “Soldier Anonymous” deserves to be seen: Set in the Gulf War, it features Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), displaced and lost in the army. The horrors of war take over this sad narrative.
“Soldado Anonymous” also stands out for its pacifist and anti-war message, which is so natural in the genre.
Iron Hearts (2014)
Want a less cerebral and more action-adventure movie? “Iron Hearts” is what Netflix has to offer! With Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf in the cast, it’s a World War II story filled with gunfire and bombings.
WardaddyBrad Pitt’s character in Iron Hearts
“Ideals are pacifists. The war is violent.”
Without much time for dialogue or plot development, the film directed by David Ayer puts us together with the American soldiers who directed the tanks in the final stages of the struggle in Europe.
The excellent cast and the quality of the action scenes helped “Iron Hearts” to earn more than 200 million at the worldwide box office.
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
“Beasts of No Nation” is the ideal choice for those who want to get away from the United States-centered narratives and explore the planet more. Original Netflix production, the film tells the story of a child soldier who is forced to participate in a civil war in Ghana.
Directed by Cory Joji Fukunaga, the film does an exceptional job in bringing the horrors of civil wars that plague so many African countries and even children are used as cannonballs.
The film was awarded at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and was also shown at the Toronto Film Festival.
Sand Castle (2017)
Do you want to be moved by a real story that is closer to our times? “Sandcastle” mixes war and drama to show the trajectory of an American soldier who is tasked with restoring a village’s water supply during the Iraq War.
Also Netflix’s original production, “Castelo de Areia” also brings an additional attraction: It is directed by Fernando Coimbra, who has already been successful in our cinema with the great “O Lobo Atrás da Porta”.
Born on the 4th of July (1989)
Do you prefer the classics? In 1989, the renowned director Oliver Stone made “Born on the 4th of July”, a pacifist landmark that even today deserves to be seen.
Starring Tom Cruise, the film tells the true story of a soldier who is wounded in the Vietnam War and becomes paraplegic. With the difficulties of a veteran’s life, he becomes a great leader of anti-war activism.
“Born on the 4th of July” was extremely awarded, taking home four Golden Globes (including Best Picture – Drama) and an Oscar (Best Editing).
Agony and Glory (1980)
Still in the ranks of the classics, Netflix offers “Agony and Glory”, from 1980. Part of Empire Magazine’s 2008 list of the best films in history, it was elected by Detroit Free Press as the best war movie of all time.
“Agony and Glory” is based on its director’s own experiences.
Director Sam Fuller based the film on his own experiences during World War II. With an epic format, the work pays more attention to action and combat, also leaving aside details of script or plot development.
It is an excellent option for those who want to have fun and enjoy a film of great technical quality.
Steel Rain (2017)
Asians know how to make action movies like no one else. In addition, the success of “Parasita” has meant that South Korean cinema has risen to the top of the world, gaining international recognition.
All of this is a reason for you to watch “Steel Rain”, a South Korean film of 2017 that brings in its plot an imaginary confrontation between the two Koreas. Director Yang Woo-Suk manages to build a world-class action environment with several spectacular scenes!
Three Kings (1999)
David O. Russell is now an established director with Oscar nominations on his resume. Still in the beginning of his career, in 1999, he brought together a cast of the highest quality (George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg) to make this work very entertaining and with a high quality script.
With the comedy tone that would mark Russell’s career, “Three Kings” talks about three American soldiers who are looking for millions in gold bars during the Gulf War.
It is the ideal choice for those who want a film more worked on the characters than in the action!
Choice criteria: How to decide which movie to watch
Still unsure about choosing a movie to watch? Then we also selected some criteria that can help you. With them, it will be possible to have a greater understanding of what you are looking for!
- Film focused on action or characters?
- Historical accuracy
Below, you will find more details about each of them:
Film focused on action or characters?
When you think about watching a war movie, do you prefer the most intense action scenes, focusing on the displacement of people, shootings and military strategies, or for an elaborate script, with the development of interesting characters and messages?
You can find war movies on Netflix for all tastes, and this is a genre that almost always comes with a lot of technical quality: Both visuals and sound need to be worked on, whether the focus is on the action or on the characters.
We have prepared a table comparing the two types and citing titles that Netflix offers for each:
For many people, meeting the director is a key factor in choosing a film. A well-known name gives a beautiful boost to a work’s reputation. And several filmmakers have unmistakable styles, almost always an attraction apart.
There are war films by excellent directors in the Netflix catalog.
Netflix wastes no time and offers war movies from well-known directors. Mel Gibson, Sam Mendes and Oliver Stone, from “Until the Last Man”, “Soldier Anonymous” and “Born on the 4th of July”, have already won the Oscar for Best Director, respectively, for “Braveheart”, “American Beauty” and “Platoon”.
So, if the direction is an interesting factor for you, you can be sure to find films that do not fall short in this regard.
Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ice Cube, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, Shia LaBeouf … There are many established actors who are in war movies available on Netflix. For anyone who cares about the quality of the performances and familiar faces, there is no chance of disappointment!
Unfortunately, war films do not usually have a strong focus on women, which prevents the presence of established actresses. But so many quality actors are already guaranteeing a very high level of interpretation. Tom Cruise, incidentally, won the Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for “Born on the 4th of July”.
There are many international awards in the world of cinema. Without a doubt, they give a special aura to every film that has the honor of winning them.
Among the war films on Netflix, the highlight goes to “Born on the 4th of July”, winner of 4 Golden Globes, “Beasts of No Nation”, which won the Marcello Mastroianni award at the Venice Film Festival, and to “Until the Last Man ”, winner of two Oscars.
Did you know that the only time a woman won an Oscar for Best Director was for a war movie? It happened to Kathryn Bigelow in 2009, for “War on Terror”.
Cinema often takes artistic liberties and escapes reality in its works. Eventually, war films can be totally fictional, as is the case with “Steel Rain” and “Three Kings”. But for those looking for historical accuracy when viewing a work of the genre, Netflix brings great options.
“Born on the 4th of July”, “Soldier Anonymous”, “Until the Last Man”, “Sand Castle” and “Agony and Glory” are all based on reports from people who participated in the war. For this reason, they report much more clearly what are the horrors of being in combat and of surviving it.