10. Flags of Our Fathers: One of two war films shot by Clint Eastwood in 2006 focusing on World War II. Starring Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford, the film depicts the acts of the six men who raised the American flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima. “Flags of Our Fathers” is the companion film to “Letters From Iwo Jima,” which shows the Japanese side of the battle.
9. Act of Valor: Typical action movie that follows a Navy SEAL team as it goes on a covert mission to find a kidnapped CIA agent. The only difference is that the movie’s directors used actually Navy SEALs to play the main characters, not wanting to sacrifice any realism. The SEALs were not credited upon the film’s release for anonymity purposes.
8. Inglorious Basterds: Historically, about as inaccurate as could be, the film follows a group of Jewish American soldiers (led by Brad Pitt) who are trying to kill as many Nazis as possible in France during World War II. Despite its historical inaccuracies (done purposely by the director), the seventh film from director Quentin Tarantino was a big-time nominee during Oscar season. Of eight nominations, Christoph Waltz collected the only Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as Col. Hans Landa of the SS.
7. American Sniper: Clint Eastwood is at it again in the 2014 film loosely based on the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s best-selling book. The film follows Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history, as he plays his role in the Iraq War. The film saw six Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor nod for Cooper and one for Best Motion Picture of the Year. The only win came for Best Sound Editing.
6. Fury: Director David Ayer is big on military and police movies. Ayer nailed it with this 2014 film that revolves around a U.S. M4 Sherman tank crew during the final days of World War II in the heart of Nazi Germany. Starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf (who reportedly did not shower during filming), the movie focuses on the art of tank warfare. Perhaps the film’s shining moment is an epic tank battle showing four smaller tanks going up against a German Tiger I.
5. Lone Survivor: Based on the book by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the 2013 film tells the tale of Luttrell and his four-man team as they attempt to kill Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Starring Mark Wahlberg as Luttrell, the film’s intense 45-minute firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan puts this movie in a league of its own. The other members of Luttrell’s team were Lieutenant Michael P. “Murph” Murphy (played by Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (played by Emile Hirsch) and Matthew “Axe” Axelson (played by Ben Foster).
4. Letters From Iwo Jima: The companion film to 2006’s “Flags of Our Fathers,” Clint Eastwood sets this film, once again, during World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima. However, this film is told from the the Japanese point of view with Ken Watanabe playing the lead of General Kuribayashi. The film saw four Oscar nominations, including one for Motion Picture of the Year, while winning for Best Sound Editing.
3. Zero Dark Thirty: The 2012 film directed by Kathryn Bigelow focused on the decade-long manhunt for al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. Much of the film focuses on the tactics used to find the terrorist leader’s location, but the 30-minute long raid on bin Laden’s compound brings the film to an incredible close. Jessica Chastain leads the way in the film, which saw a total five Oscar nominations, including one win for sound editing. Chastain received a nomination for Best Actress and the film was nominated for Best Picture.
2. Jarhead: Jake Gyllenhaal played the lead in this 2005 adaptation of former U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford’s 2003 memoir. The story follows Swofford, a sniper, and his spotter (played by Peter Sarsgaard) from their pre-Desert Storm training to their experiences in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the war. Jarhead didn’t get any attention from the Academy, but it did have some great military banter and a memorable performance from Jamie Foxx as Staff Sgt. Sykes.
1. The Hurt Locker: Before she got her hands on Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow had The Hurt Locker, which catapulted her career forward. The film follows a maverick, bomb-defusing sergeant (Jeremy Renner) during the Iraq War. The directing causes the tension to build upon itself throughout while the writing brings viewers into about as realistic a war zone as possible. Bigelow’s movie saw a total of nine Oscar nominations and six wins, including one for Best Director and another for Best Motion Picture of the Year.
Military movies have come a long way over the years.
Writers and directors look to bring the audience right into the action with the most realistic, emotional experience possible. And most have succeeded.
- RELATED STORY: The Top 20 American War Movies of All Time
We’ve put together a list of the best military movies of the last decade.
How did we rank these movies? There were a lot of factors including battlefield realism, historical accuracy and, most importantly, the quality of the movie.
- RELATED STORY: The Best Wartime Firearms That Appeared in Movies
Scroll through the photo gallery above and check out our list of the top 10 military movies of the last decade. Disagree with some of our choices? Did we miss anything? Let us know how you would have ranked them!
The Sig Sauer 716 DMR brings power and speed for today’s designated marksmen!
by Dave Bahde / Jan 4, 2016