Yahoo! Users’ Top-Rated War Movies

It’s really hot today and to cheer myself up I thought of something rather less serious for a change. If you are like me you like to read lists. The Yahoo! User’s Favourite Top-Rated War Movies is a list I’ve seen before but forgot about it. The complete list consists of a total of 31 movies as you can see here.

It contains 31 war movies from all sub-genres. I agree with quite a few of their choices from 31 – 11, some of those movies are outstanding, but when we look at the top 1o, apart from a few exceptions, I find the choices highly questionable. Especially position 3 – 1. The fact that it contains only American movies is dubious too.

Let’s’ look at the list.

No. 10 – Glory (1989) I can agree with this choice, It’s a very good movie and although I liked it far less the second time I watched it, I don’t mind that it’s among the top 10 but would personally not include it anymore.

No.   9 – Patton (1970) This is a truly excellent biopic but considering how many movies have been left out, I don’t think it should be among the top 10.

No.  8 – Full Metal Jacket (1987) I have two Vietnam war movies in my personal top ten but Full Metal Jacket is not among them. Maybe it’s superior from a purely cinematographic point of view but apart from that I think Hamburger Hill is much better.

No. 7 – Hotel Rwanda (2004) This looks like some sort of “political correctness choice”. It’s not a bad movie but certainly not top ten material and not even as good as Shooting Dogs, another movie on the genocide in Rwanda,

No. 6 – The Pianist (2002) Very good but not top ten material.

No. 5 – Platoon (1986) Yes, that’s definitely among my top ten for many reasons.

No. 4 – Black Hawk Down (2001) This one too.

No.  3 – Schindler’s List (1993) If you like to be emotionally manipulated and go for tacky story telling, this is a good movie. In my book this is one of the highly overrated blockbusters. I really like the score though. It has a funereal appeal.

No.  2 – Braveheart (1995) Position no 2? For a movie that made me laugh from the beginning to end because Mel Gibson looks just too silly in it? No way. Not even top 100!

No. 1 – Saving Private Ryan (1998) I know this is a personal favourite of many but I’m not to keen on it. It has way too many corny elements and I’m not a Tom Hanks fan. Maybe in a top 50 because of its impact but certainly not among the top ten and even less as number 1.

I have moaned that this list is so heavy on US productions but even if we chose to make a top 10 US war movies list, I’m sure we could do better than this.

What do you think? Is it a good list? Which movies shouldn’t be on this list at all? Which would need to be included.

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23 thoughts on “Yahoo! Users’ Top-Rated War Movies

  1. Guy Savage says:

    I agree. Heavily slanted to American. The rest of the world must not have voted.

  2. the war movie buff says:

    Weird list. I would have assumed it would have been a popularity contest, but some of the movies are not big hits (Hotel Rwanda, The Pianist). If you throw those two out the list makes a lot more sense. As far as which belong, you can make a case for all the others except Braveheart (which belongs in the Bottom 10). I am not as harsh as you. I could see 5 making it onto my 10 Best list. As to the lack of foreign films, I assume most of the voters are Americans and also all the best movies are American.

    Here’s an only foreign list from Heckler Spray:
    1.Zulu
    2.Come and See
    3.Life is Beautiful
    4.Downfall
    5.Stalingrad
    6.Lawrence of Arabia
    7.El Cid
    8.Das Boot
    9.Dr. Zhivago
    10.The Dambusters

    Here’s a better list (from Askmen.com):
    1.Black Hawk Down
    2.Saving Private Ryan
    3.Platoon
    4.The Bridge on the River Kwai
    5.Apocalypse Now
    6.Three Kings
    7.Das Boot
    8.Full Metal Jacket
    9.Tora! Tora! Tora!
    10.Enemy at the Gates

    Try this for more: http://www.onlygoodmovies.com/good/movies/war/

    • Those lists are just never perfect. I find there should only be list per countries and subgenres. That Heckler list isn’t too bad but then you find such a cry fest like Life is beautiful on it…
      Askmen isn’t a bad list but too American.
      And no they do not make the better movies, they just focus on story telling while in Europe cinematography was – once at leat – very important. There are US exceptions like Three Kings. It’s quite perfect.

      • Novroz says:

        Lists are never perfect Caroline…it always depends on people’s preference.

        But I really can’t agree with Movie war Buff for saying: all the best movies are American << I find more and more Eropean movies are better than American.

      • I’m not sure he was serious although… it could be. I certainly don’t agree.

  3. Casey says:

    I rarely pay attention to lists like these.They usually just annoy me. Instead I come to this website.

    A huge portion of the people on Yahoo are going to be American and rarely do Foreign films make it to the US. The last one I can recall that was successful was Pan’s Pan’s Labyrinth. I would guess 99.9% of American simply don’t care about movies outside of Hollywood.

    Living in the USI feel like I have to hunt down movies down from other parts of the world. I have spent hours trying to track down shows from her home for my Swedish wife.

    Another problem is that what makes a war movie great to a fan of war movie probable will be different for the casual viewer.

    Nontheless it is sad to not see wonderful and by far not unknown standards like Die Brücke , Cross of Iron or Soldier of Orange much less newer movies that Americans would like such as Brest Fortress and Tali-Ihantala 1944

    And yes while I love the amount of detail and realism in Private Ryan it really does turn into a stupid movie near the end.

    • That’s nice of you to say. 🙂
      I do have the feeling as well that most American viewers are not interested in movie from outside of the US and not only because reading subtitles may be a n issue.
      I wasn’t aware that Pan’s labyrnth was a success in the US. I wonder why. I think it’s an amazing movie but wouldn’t have expected to be liked in non-European countries.
      I’m gald that we can find almost anything in Europe, be it Swedish or anything else.
      I totalla agree about Savin Prvate Ryan. The beginning is so stunning but that end was so corny, spoilt the whole film.

  4. nem baj says:

    I’m not sure that ‘war movies’ alone is such a good theme anyway for a list based on group ratings. The scope seems too wide to me.

    Multiple lists such as ‘combat/ops movie’, ‘war epic’, ‘civilians and war’, ‘war romance’, ‘meditation on war’, ‘war comedy’ etc. would make more sense, and probably bring up terrific yet less publicized films, foreign or domestic.

    • My point exactly and similar to what Casey wrote. Logically when the general viewer votes he is rather for Schindler’s list than for a too combat intense movie.
      When I satrted this blog any movie which wasn’t a combat movie wasn’t even a war movie in my book. Meanwhile I chngaed the subtitle to my blog to “war movies and war time movies” to be able to expand a bit. Still I think it’s hard to compare sub-genres and it would be much more interesting to make sub-genre lists and maybe, as you said, one could discover something.
      The hope to discover something, against my better judgement, makes me return to lists anyway.

      • nem baj says:

        Even filmmakers who have actually been at war do not always make movies centered on combat or with heavy combat scenes, for instance Kobayashi’s The Human Condition or Wellmann’s The Story of G.I. Joe. It would be hard to challenge their director’s intentions nor first-hand knowledge of the subject…

        On the other hand, in my view Saving Private Ryan isn’t a very good film, yet I can’t ignore the virtuosity of the Omaha Beach sequence and its influence on other directors (even though it sometimes turns into a gimmick, such as in City of Life and Death or Flowers of War).

        Anyway a blog has a huge advantage over lists: you can depict, debate, and make connections beetween works. And even, of course, use lists when you feel like it!

      • No I suppose they don’t all make combat intense movies.
        I wrote a post last year about how influential Saving Private Ryan is versus how good. The two other movies which came out the same year, The Thin Red Line and When Trumpets Fade are both superior in my opinion. That reminds me that I never wrote part 5 of my Thin Red Line series. The Thin Red Line versus Saving Private Ryan part, I really should.
        I haven’t seen City of Death yet.
        I’m always worried when I post lists like this as some people get really annoyed and aggressive when others don’t approve of their favourite movies but luckily this blog doesn’t often attract that type of reader.
        Even a list can generate discussions.

  5. Novroz says:

    As you know I really like Saving Private Ryan…but also don’t think it should be in number one and the lacks of foreign movies just not right!
    I think Grave of Fireflies should be in the list too as it shows that war didn’t only affect the countries being attacked but also the aggressor. But it’s good to see Downfall there.

    Braveheart at number 2 is really wrong.

  6. nem baj says:

    Obviously, not only most voters have a very limited knowledge of both « old » and « foreign » (non-Hollywood) films, but moreover they are heavily influenced by mainstream media recent exposure – mostly TV I guess. This is why 9 out of the 10 best are from the last three decades, and why people, when thinking about pre-modern war epics, mention Braveheart and omit Ran. It’s actually a miracle that Battle of Algiers made it, considering.

    By the way, The Pianist is actually an European production, whereas El Cid (in Heckler spray’s list) is definitely Hollywood. The latter isn’t so bad if you’re an Anthony Mann fan like me, yet in the war film department Men in War is much better.

    • I knew I overlooked a European production… It felt American.
      While I like German movies I must admit the are the closest to US productions than any other European productions (one of my pet theories is that Germans are closer to Americans than Brits despite the same accents … but that’s somewhat very off topic).
      Battle of Algiers is used my the US military as educational material, that may explain it. I started watching it and will again, this week maybe. I hope I’m up to it this time.
      I’m not sure it’s the influence of TV, I’ve read recently that especially US TV shows (The Wire etc) are much better than most of the movies.
      I’m sure the subtitles have a lot to do with the fact that older French and Italian movies for example are not much liked. Most of the time 50% of the subtitles are missing -Roma, Città Aperta and La grande illusion are two examples.

      • nem baj says:

        When I mentioned media exposure on TV, I meant television re-screenings, advertising and shows dealing with cinema. I should have added the Web, since this is a list compiled by a web portal – oddly compiled I should say, as several war movies which do not appear in the list have better ratings on Yahoo! (and probably had already at the time the list was made) than many who actually do.

        The two David Lean movies, although produced by Sam Spiegel, were British productions, so I guess this makes the UK even with Germany here. Yet I find it unforgivable that not a single Russian nor Japanese film made the top 30.

        Even the choice of Hollywood films is peculiar. No David W. Griffith, John Ford, William Wellman, Samuel Fuller, Sam Peckinpah? This list isn’t about voters being proud of American films, it’s about voters with a very limited knowledge of cinema, and a media whose business is by nature news and blockbuster-oriented… 🙂

      • That’s what I said somewhere too. Even if we chose to compile a Top 20 US movies we could do better than this.
        There really are a lot of outstanding US movies, at least in my opinion and they are not on the list.
        It’s a very mainstream list.

  7. nem baj says:

    BFI/Sight & Sound greatest films ten-year poll is due these days. No war movie in the critic’s top ten, but five make the top 50 :

    11. Battleship Potemkin
    14. Apocalypse Now
    29. Shoah
    34. The General
    48. The Battle of Algiers

    http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time

    Shoah, a 1985 documentary, is actually the youngest picture in the top 50. The top 100 won’t be available until mid-August, however beyond a few items that were already in the 2002’s top 60 (Grand Illusion, Lawrence of Arabia,…), it seems that Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (1999) has been included.

    The directors’ rankings have not been published yet, but Apocalypse Now seems to make the top 10 there.

    • I shared another list a while back and it looked very similar. It was a compilation of many lists and Apocalyspe Now and Battleship Potemkin were on it. I would never inlcude a documentary, I don’t think it can be compared.

  8. beaun says:

    Thanks for putting it. I’m certainly going to search for a copy.

  9. john dunbar says:

    Just to update these posting we need to add what are probably the best war films ever made for TV. `Band of Brothers’ and `Pacific’ are energetic serials made by the best in the business. They are as historically accurate as anything could be, they are flawlessly scripted, acted and the production values are beyond improvement. What else would you expect from a genius like Spielberg.

    • I couldn’t agree more. They are excellent but for some reason people always only include cinema films. It’s too bad as there ares so excellent made for TV movies and mini-series, Band of Brothers and The Pacific being at the very top, yes.

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