The top of the top – our No. 1 pick – is the ultimate statement on man’s inhumanity to man. Is it any surprise that it comes from Stanley Kubrick? So much of the director's filmography was devoted to depicting military folly (and believe us, we toyed with including Barry Lyndon, too). Elevating Paths of Glory above the fray – and above every other title – was not its brutal scenes of WWI trench warfare but its scalpel-scarp indictment of the pride that comes with battle. Kirk Douglas's lawyer-colonel is tasked with mounting a courtroom defense of three innocent soldiers who just happened to be part of a losing skirmish. Based on a real-life episode of French soldiers executed for ‘cowardice,’ Kubrick's movie so angered France's government that it couldn't be screened publicly there until 1975. The film's lesson is universal and timeless, though: If warfare turns us into monsters even off the battlefield, then we have no purpose waging it.
Drop and give us 20, because we’re about to give you 50 – of the best war movies of all time.
Many of these harrowing epics have taken home Academy Awards. Some have been named among the best films of all time. Regardless of their era depicted, all have something meaningful to say about human nature and the perennial question of why we fight. If you’ve served in the military, we salute you. And if you hope to better understand what that means, get on your war face and brace for incoming.
Written by David Fear, Keith Uhlich, Joshua Rothkopf, Andy Kryza & Phil de Semlyen