Today we honor our veterans who have served this great country. Their incredible valor and service has been portrayed in SO many movies over the years, you may not even know where to begin! I scoured the internet to find the best of the best. Grab your servicemember, a fellow military spouse, or just cozy up on your own tonight to watch one (or 2 or 3!) of these epic military movies.
These are in no particular order of awesomeness, but I have rated them on a scale of 1 to 10 on the Tissue Scale (how many tissues you’ll need: from dry eyes to completely bawling.)
Plus, my favorite quote from every movie. (This part was the hardest for me…there are TOO many amazing quotes…)
1. Hacksaw Ridge
This one is still in theaters! So you’ll have to get a babysitter, but it is well worth it. Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of Desmond T. Doss, an American Army Medic in WWII. He is a man who lives and dies by his convictions – he refuses to kill, yet fights with his brothers on the front lines.
Tissue Scale: 9
“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”
2. Saving Private Ryan
So, yes, Saving Private Ryan has probably been on every list of military movies since it came out in 1998. But rightly so. This film follows a group of US Soldiers after the Normandy Landings who are on a rescue mission to find a paratrooper behind enemy lines. It’s a story of brotherhood on enemy lines and a mother’s love from the homefront.
Tissue Scale: 8
“You can tell her that when you found me, I was with the only brothers I had left. And that there was no way I was deserting them. I think she’d understand that.”
3. Black Hawk Down
SO good. Definitely a “guy” movie…this movie is actually based on a great book, which details a mission that took soldiers into Somalia to capture two lieutenants. The movie continues the story around the downed US Black Hawk helicopters. You see the horrors of war and the bravery of our great military. Warning: violent, violent, violent.
Tissue Scale: 4
“Nice man, very smooth.” “Single shot through the engine block.” “Shit, that’s a shame. That was a nice jeep.”
4. Dear John
This might be the one you watch if you’re on your own tonight…. Definitely a chick-flick. (I mean, we are talking Nicholas Sparks…) It pulls at those heart strings. Dear John portrays those moments we are all too familiar with. Distance, missing home, love letters, waiting, waiting, waiting, and loving so passionately every time they come home to us.
Tissue scale: 9
“I finally understood what true love meant…love meant that you care for another person’s happiness more than your own, no matter how painful the choices you face might be.”
Not all the best military movies are from the last 20 years! This great film comes to us from 1970. We follow along during WWII and see the life of George S. Patton. Controversy and intrigue, this may be a new one to you, and well worth your time. Warning: It is very long…you may want to break this up over a few nights.
Tissue Scale: 2
“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
6. Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino at his finest…that is “violence for violence sake.” But it’s brilliantly done and such a unique film. You’ll be crying, laughing, and cringing all the way through. Another film set in WWII, only this time in Nazi-occupied France. The Jewish-American guerrillas, or “Basterds,” execute a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders. Plus, Brad Pitt. And so much more…
Tissue scale: 1
“I’ve done my share of bootlegging. Up ‘ere, if you engage in what the federal government calls ‘illegal activity,’ but what we call ‘just a man tryin’ to make a livin’ for his family sellin’ moonshine liquor,’ it behooves oneself to keep his wits. Long story short, we hear a story too good to be true…it ain’t.”
7. American Sniper
Oh my goodness, talk about heart-wrenching. This is based on the real life story of patriot Chris Kyle, Navy SEAL sniper. It parallels his incredible efficiency in war with his struggling family at home. His wife and kids are fighting for him, but he just can’t shake what he has experienced. So many of us can understand that feeling, making this movie so relatable to our military lives. I know I left the theatre unable to speak for a good hour, just letting this incredible story sink in.
Tissue scale: 10
“I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill…our soldiers and I… I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took…The thing that…haunts me are all the guys that I couldn’t save.”
8. Top Gun
The music. The jokes. Tom Cruise. Oh, what a classic. We all know Top Gun. What better day to watch it again than Veterans Day! Follow these daring pilots on an adventure of a lifetime. Oh, Maverick… <3
Tissue scale: 2
“Maverick, you just did an incredibly brave thing. (Pause) What you should have done was land your plane! You don’t own that plane! The taxpayers do! Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!”
9. A Few Good Men
Tom Cruise, again?! What can we say. The ’80s and ’90s were so good to him. This movie is a little bit different; the action takes place in the courtroom rather than on the battlefield. Marines against the world. Drama, intrigue, thrill. This is such a good one…
Tissue scale: 1
“I strenuously object?” Is that how it works? Hm? “Objection.” “Overruled.” “Oh, no, no, no. No, I STRENUOUSLY object.” “Oh. Well, if you strenuously object then I should take some time to reconsider.”
10. An Officer and a Gentleman
Young love. Oh, we’ve all been there. Zach signs up for the Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School, but he has to decide what he really wants out of life. With the help of his new love Paula. This movie is *not* for kids. But it’s definitely an epic military tale of genuine love and patriotism.
Tissue scale: 5
“Oklahoma? Only TWO THINGS come outta Oklahoma, steers and queers. Which one are you boy? I don’t see any horns!”
This is an incredible true story directed by Angelina Jolie. It’s a story of courage. One young man, Louis Zamperini, learns he has strength within him that is rare among men. After becoming an Olympic champion, he serves his country and nearly dies in a plane crash. Through his trials in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, we see his strength beaten, bruised, and burned, but never broken.
Tissue scale: 9
“You hit this one, drinks are on me.” “I ain’t going to a bar with you, handsome. You confuse all the broads.”
I could only pick 11, but there are SO many more. What military movie means the most to you? Share in the comments!