16 Best Movies on World War 2 You Must Watch If You Love War Films

If you ask a movie buff especially someone who enjoys both Hollywood flicks as well as Bollywood masala, he/she will tell you that both the industries are incomparable and both of them offer different kind of entertainment to the mass.

Those, who compare Bollywood with Hollywood or vice versa, can’t be defined as true movie fans because they never understand this art of cinema which offers a platform to everyone to tell a story with their own imagination whether a movie on the same is already made or not.

If Bollywood is all about entertaining the mass, Hollywood is a cluster of creativity that takes the standard of filming to a new level year after year.

Hence, we see a huge list of movies being produced in Hollywood based on historical events, natural disasters, zombies, gang war, War, Sci-fi and lately the Superheroes. One such historical event is World War II that became one of the popular events and a pillar stone for the United States of America to establish itself as the superpower it is today!

Being a World War and being one of the biggest battles ever, there are definitely hundreds of different stories covered within different media. These are the stories that give inspiration to creative talents in Hollywood who use these stories and convert them into movies. Many movies become the disaster at Box Office while some become epic.

Best World War II Movies by Hollywood Movies and other Industries.

Here’s a list of some of the top movies on World War 2 produced till date:

All-Time Best Movies on World War 2

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Enemy at the gates Movies on world war 2

Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film starring Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Ed Harris in lead roles.

The title of the movie is inspired by a William Craig’s non-fiction novel Enemy at the Gates: The Battle of Stalingrad which explores the events surrounding the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942/43.

However, Enemy at the Gates, the movie, is a fiction loosely based on the stories told by Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving private ryan best world war 2 films

A Steven Spielberg film, Saving Private Ryan is a Hollywood World War Drama Film about a squad led by Tom Hanks playing US Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller which is set to search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan portrayed by Matt Damon.

The movie is based on the events of the Invasion of Normandy in World War 2 and is highly popular among the fans for its portrayal of intense war scenes with the realistic approach and the magic of Spielberg.

Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler’s List movie on world war

Another Classic Spielberg Film, Schindler’s List is an American biopic based on the life of Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German businessman who saved thousands of Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by giving them jobs at his factories.

Schindler’s List is a movie adaptation of the novel “Schindler’s Ark” by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist and stars Liam Neeson as Schindler with Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley in other pivotal roles.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious basterds Best film on world war 2

Inglourious Basterds is a war film directed by the great director Quentin Tarantino as a co-production of the United States and Germany.

The movie stars Brad Pitt, Christopher Waltz, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender and Eli Roth in pivotal roles and is set during the Events of World War 2. The film talks about 2 different plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership.

One of the plots is designed by a team of Jewish-American soldiers led by First Lieutenant Aldo Raine played by Brad Pitt while another plot is planned by a young French Jewish cinema proprietor. The title of the movie comes from the 1978 Italian war film, The Inglorious Bastards directed by Enzo G. Castellari.

Fury (2014)

Fury movie on 2nd world war

Starring Brad Pitt in the lead role, Fury is an American-British war drama set in the final days of World War 2.

The movie is directed by David Ayer who was highly influenced by the service of veterans in the family and reading books on World War 2 such as Death Traps written by Belton Y. Cooper.

Hence, one can see the realism in the movie to create the real-life action set during World War 2. The movie talks about the life of US tank crews in Nazi Germany during the war. It also stars Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal in pivotal roles.

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red line movie poster film on world war 2

Boasting about an ensemble cast, The Thin Red Line is a 1998 war epic directed by Terrence Malick who returned to filmmaking after 20 year-long breaks.

The movie is based on the novel with the same title written by James Jones and talks about the fictionalized version of the Battle of Mount Austen during World War II.

The movie stars an ensemble cast of the long list of actors such as Sean Penn, George Clooney, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, John Travolta, Woody Harrelson, Adrien Brody, and many others.

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima movie on world war 2

Being a companion film to another Clint Eastwood movie, Letters from Iwo Jima is a Japanese-American war Epic that portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of Japanese soldiers in contradiction with its companion movie, Flags of Our Fathers, again directed by Clint Eastwood which revolves around the same battle but talks from an American perspective. The movie stars Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya in the lead roles.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

bridge on river kwai best world war 2 movie

Based on the novel with the same title, The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 war epic directed by David Lean starring William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa in pivotal roles.

The movie flows around as a fictionalized version of the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942-43 as its base for the historical setting. The movie was highly appraised and went on to grab 7 Academy Awards that year.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

Pearl Harbor war film on world war 2

Pearl Harbor is a 2001 Hollywood War film including both romance and action sequences as well.

Directed by Michael Bay, the movie is set on the events of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 1941 which opened the gates for U.S. Army to enter World War 2. With an ensemble cast of Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale in pivotal roles, Pearl Harbor is a treat to watch for anyone who loves action, drama, and romance.

The film also received four nominations at the Oscars and won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing that year.

Das Boot (1981)

Das Boot movie on world war 2

Das Boot is a German World War film directed by Wolfgang Petersen based on the novel with the same title authored by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim. The film is a fictional story that revolves around U-96 German submarine and its crew during the events of World War 2.

Das Boot has Jurgen Prochnow, Herbert Gronemeyer and Klaus Wennemann in the lead roles and is among one of those movies that are exhibited both as a theatrical release and as a TV miniseries.

It is also released in several home video versions as well because of its popularity and is one of the expensive movies in the history of German cinema.

To End All Wars (2001)

To End All Wars film on world war 2

To End All Wars is a biopic based on the autobiography of Ernest Gordon titled “Through The Valley of the Kwai” which was changed to “To End All Wars” to go with the film’s title.

Directed by David Cunningham and starring Robert Carlyle, Kiefer Sutherland, and Sakae Kimura in the lead roles, To End All Wars is an American War film set in the last three and half years of World War 2 where the story focuses on the Japanese prisoner of war labor camp at the project of building Burma Railway.

The Pianist (2002)

The Pianist best films on world war 2

The Pianist is a historical drama film based on the autobiography of a Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman as World War 2 memoir. Co-produced by 4 different countries including France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland.

The Pianist was critically acclaimed and eventually won four Academy Awards that year including Best Director and Best Actor awards. Directed by Roman Polanski, the film had Adrien Brody in the lead role as The Pianist.

Stalingrad (1993)

Stalingrad 1993 movie with subtitles best movies on war

Directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, Stalingrad is a 1993 war film starring Thomas Kretschmann, Dominique Horwitz, Dana Vavrova, Martin Benrath and Sylvester Groth in important roles.

The film is set on the events at the Battle of Stalingrad revolving around the platoon of World War 2 German Army soldiers being transferred to Russia for the battle.

The Longest Day (1962)

The Longest Day 1962 war film

Yet another movie adaptation of a popular book, The Longest Day is a 1962 war film directed by three different directors namely Ken Annakin (British and French exteriors), Andrew Marton (American exteriors) and Bernhard Wicki (German scenes).

It is based on the Cornelius Ryan’s book “The Longest Day” highlighting the events of D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944, during World War 2. The movie also stars an ensemble cast of actors like John Wayne, Sean Connery, Kenneth More, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, and many others.

Downfall (2004)

downfall movie on war best films on world war 2

Downfall is a German war film that highlights the last 10 days of Hitler’s reign over Nazi Germany in 1945 set during World War 2.

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the film is based on several books on Hitler and memoirs of the people around him from that era.

Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkrik best world war 2 movies of all the time

Dunkirk is the latest addition to the list of best World war 2 films. Dunkirk is directed by the legendary filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, starring Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy.

It is based on the evacuation of the Dunkirk town during the world war 2. Dunkirk has gained a cult following like all other Nolan’s film, people love the cinematography and critics praised the film for the top-notch work in the technical department.

Your Turn! 

These are Best Movies made on 2nd World War, Now you can share your favorite Films based on World War 2.

Rajeesh Nair is a true Gizmofreak and an addictive movie buff. He blogs at LifeBlender.com – a lifestyle Blogzine which focuses on general life related topics of the 21st Century.


  1. Mark

    The list is almost perfect but Pearl Harbor does not belong on this list. Though there are good parts, most of it is romantic BS. Other movies that should be on this list are ” A Bridge Too Far”, both Midway movies, Battle of Britain, Sink the Bismarck, In Harm’s Way, The Great Escape and Run Silent, Run Deep. In place of Pearl Harbot should be Tora, Tora, Tora!

  2. Michael poyer

    The sands of Iwo Jima, the Great escape, the great raid, thirty seconds over Tokyo, the Purple Heart, the best years of our lives, Patton, they were expendable, Bataan, the wings of eagles. A walk in the sun, go to for broke. Must I go on?

  3. David Gould

    The great Russian film “Come and see” should be included, though not for the faint hearted. “Band of Brothers” and “Paisa” also wonderful.

  4. Frank Jeffords

    Cross of Iron, Band of Brothers, The boy in the Striped Pajamas. Just a few to consider.