War is a vast genre in movies that covers a wide variety of sub-genres, including romance, spy, action, and thriller. However, what makes war movies so appealing is the backdrop of a war that shows humanity at its worst while the plot addresses the good that still exists. Amidst all the tragedy that we are subjected to, there lingers hope, and that is what we cling to with all our might. And the more tightly we cling to it, the more effective the movie is. We can say that war movies are like life itself; we search for the positive among the negative. Hulu has a compelling collection of war movies that will change your perspective on life.
12. Hell Hath No Fury (2021)
The thing about war movies is the smallest detail to which they can go while making sure to remind us that we are watching something of global proportions. In this Thomas J. Wright directorial set during World War II, we see the experiences of one woman named Marie, who is a French operative. After being disowned by her countrymen as a traitor, she has to help the American soldiers/rescuers find the gold that lies hidden in her lover, German officer Von Bruckner’s secret grave. But she also has to assist them in keeping the Nazi forces at bay as they search for the treasure. Whether she is able to get her hands on the gold is what the movie chronicles. The cast includes Nina Bergman, Daniel Bernhardt, Timothy V. Murphy, Sean Murray, Louis Mandylor, Dominique Vandenberg, and TJ Rotolo. You can watch the movie here.
11. Benediction (2021)
If you are looking for a war movie that offers more than just experiences of war, ‘Benediction’ is an apt choice. Based on the life of Siegfried Sassoon, a British soldier/war poet who served in World War I, the movie is directed by Terence Davies. It explores the different phases of Sassoon’s life, from his time in the war to his criticism of it to his homosexuality to his search for inner peace and salvation by getting married. By expressing his feelings in the form of poems, Sassoon transcends war and puts into words the experiences of a troubled man who is searching frantically for a way out without knowing how. The cast includes Jack Lowden as young Sassoon, Peter Capaldi as aged Sassoon, Tom Blyth, Kate Phillips, Calam Lynch, Ben Daniels, and Geraldine James. You may watch the film here.
10. Moffie (2020)
Set in the South African Border War that occurred from 1966 to 1990 in Namibia, Zambia, and Angola, the movie shows a white South African teenager named Nicholas van der Swart who has to sign up for the pro-apartheid South African Defense Force (SADF) for two years as a part of compulsory service and go up against the forces of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). The brutal physical and emotional experiences of Swart during the two years is what the movie showcases, with a special focus on his relationships and the secret of his homosexuality in a surrounding that smells of toxic masculinity. Directed by Oliver Hermanus and based on André Carl van der Merwe’s autobiographical novel of the same name, the cast of ‘Moffie’ includes Kai Luke Brümmer as Nicholas van der Swart, Ludwig Baxter, Ryan de Villiers, Hilton Pelser, Christiaan Schoombie, Martin Munro and Stefan Vermaak. Feel free to check out the movie here.
9. Tropic Thunder (2008)
After so many war movies, one does deserve a break, and ‘Tropic Thunder’ serves as the perfect war-movie break. Directed by Ben Stiller, the movie is a satirical war movie with a stellar cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, and Nick Nolte. The movie revolves around a group of 5 actors who are dropped in the middle of a Southeast Asian jungle after the director, who was making a war film, is threatened by the studio executive of shutting down production for being behind schedule. To pick up the pace and make the film realistic, the director takes this decision, but what he doesn’t know, and neither do the actors, is that the region of the jungle serves as a drug production center for the Flaming Dragon cartel. So the reel becomes real as the actors, who are playing soldiers, come face to a with a dangerous enemy. You can stream the movie here.
8. The East (2021)
‘The East’ is a Dutch movie directed by Jim Taihuttu that is set against the backdrop of the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949) and deals with the immortal dilemma that has been addressed by many other movies i.e. the conflict between duty and conscience. 20-year-old Dutch soldier Johan de Vries arrives with his squad to Indonesia, where they have to suppress a rebellion. But when they become a target, de Vries faces a moral dilemma that is overwhelming, to say the least. The cast of the movie includes Martijn Lakemeier as soldier Johan de Vries, Marwan Kenzari, Pras Teguh, Jim Deddes, Denise Aznam, Joenoes Polnaija, and Jonas Smulders. You can check out the film here.
7. Medieval (2022)
Turning the wheel of time backward even further, we arrive in the 14th century and meet Jan Zizka, a Bohemian military commander who existed for real. Directed by Petr Jákl, it shows how Zizka became the commander that he is today known as and what he had to go through to achieve this feat. This includes getting involved in dangerous politics, facing conflict, and showing courage in the face of fear. The cast of the movie includes Ben Foster as Jan Zizka, Michael Caine, Matthew Goode, Sophie Lowe, Til Schweiger, William Moseley, and Roland Møller. You can watch ‘Medieval’ here.
6. The Last Full Measure (2020)
‘The Last Full Measure’ is directed by Todd Robinson and is based on true events, showcasing the controversy behind the downgrading of martyred airman William H Pitsenbarger’s gallantry award from the Medal of Honor to the Air Force Cross. Pitsenbarger died in 1966, but not before saving more than 60 men during the Vietnam War. For decades, his loved ones have been vouching for him to be given the Medal of Honor, an award he should have gotten right in 1966, perhaps even before he died. Why he didn’t get the medal is what the movie answers. The cast of this movie includes Jeremy Irvine as William H Pitsenbarger, Sebastian Stan, Alison Sudol, Bradley Whitford, William Hurt, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ed Harris. You may watch the film here.
5. Shadow in the Cloud (2020)
After seven movies on this list, if you are wondering whether there’s more to war movies than guns, bullets, and explosions, this one will clear the air. Directed by Roseanne Liang, ‘Shadow in the Cloud’ is set in World War II and centers on Captain Maude Garrett, a pilot officer, who is onboard “The Fool’s Errand,” a bomber plane that is on its way to Samoa from New Zealand. Maude has one job, i.e., guarding a top-secret package that even she doesn’t know the contents of. While it is expected that the derisive all-male crew (except for Maude) will face enemy planes, things take a more sinister turn as a gremlin targets the bomber. Now, Maude has to do what’s necessary to save her crew, keep her cargo safe, and, in the process, make it clear that she is not one to be ridiculed or trifled with. The cast of the movie includes Chloë Grace Moretz as Maude Garrett, Taylor John Smith, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Callan Mulvey, Callan Mulvey and Ryan Cooper. You can stream it here.
4. Official Secrets (2019)
When a controversy based on true events surrounding a war needs to be depicted, the movie needs to be intense, including the performances. ‘Official Secrets’ hits the spot with Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, and Matt Smith in primary roles, all of them Academy-Award nominees. Directed by Gavin Hood, the movie tells the true story of Katharine Gun, a GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters, an intelligence gathering organization for the British Government) analyst who spilled the beans about the Iraq invasion of 2003 by exposing a US-UK joint illegal operation that spied on UN officials and blackmailed them into voting for the invasion and by extension war.
The risks, professional and personal, which she took while trying to prevent the war is what the movie chronicles. While she wasn’t successful and the invasion did occur, she managed to expose conspiracy at high levels of both the UK and US governments and proved how intelligence was manipulated to satisfy a personal motive. Alongside the ones mentioned above, the rest of the cast includes Katharine Gun, Matthew Goode, Adam Bakri, Rhys Ifans, John Heffernan, and Conleth Hill. You can stream ‘Official Secrets’ here.
3. 12 Strong (2018)
Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, ‘12 Strong’ is based on the non-fiction book ‘Horse Soldiers’ by Doug Stanton. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Peña, Michael Shannon, William Fichtner, Taylor Sheridan, Trevante Rhodes, and Elsa Pataky, the movie tells the story of the American Special Forces team that was sent to Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks that shook America and the entire world. The 12-man team arrives in Afghanistan and shakes hands with the Northern Alliance, led by Abdul Rashid Dostum, enemies of the Taliban (determined responsible for 9/11), and takes the fight to the Taliban. How the team faces overwhelming odds upfront and how many of them survive, if at all, is what we find out in the movie. You can stream it here.
2. Australia (2008)
This epic drama is directed by Baz Luhrmann (‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘Elvis’) and stars Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. The story is set in the titular place during World War II and shows how an English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman), joins forces with the stockman (Jackman) to save her ranch from the English barons eyeing her land. They do this by driving the cattle across hundreds of miles, only to be subjected to the bombing of Darwin. The bombing was carried out by more than 200 Japanese planes in what is considered the largest attack on Australia by a foreign power. In the midst of all this, romance brews between the aristocrat and the ranchman, reminding us that love persists even in the worst of times, thereby making the movie echo Charlie Chaplin’s words when he said that man’s humanity to man is greater than his inhumanity. You can watch the movie here.
1. The Book Thief (2013)
Based on Markus Zusak’s 2005 novel of the same name, ‘The Book Thief’ is set in Nazi Germany during World War II and tells the story of eleven-year-old Liesel Meminger, who is taken in by a married couple after she loses her brother and her mother leaves her to serve her own communist ideologies. Liesel’s new father teaches her how to read, giving birth to a fascination in her that makes her steal books in a war-torn environment. Meanwhile, there is also a Jewish man that her parents are hiding in their basement who she befriends. The movie makes clear the strength that words possess, something that the hated dictator is also known for. Directed by Brian Percival, ‘The Book Thief’ cast includes Sophie Nélisse as Liesel Meminger, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Roger Allam, and Julian Lehmann. You may watch the film here.
Read More: Greatest War Movies