Memorial Day honors those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country's security and freedom.
Some of Hollywood's greatest films tell the stories of our nation's bravest men and women — those who serve in the military.
Over the long holiday weekend, if you're looking for some of the best military movies, then consider these 10 films that rank as some of the best in military storytelling.
“Saving Private Ryan” (1998). This five-time Oscar winning film centers around a group of United States soldiers on a rescue mission to save a paratrooper behind enemy lines following the Normandy landing. “Saving Private Ryan” stars Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Paul Giamatti and Vin Diesel.
“Glory” (1989). Starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman, “Glory” is a classic film set during the American Civil War. The movie tells the story of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army. “Glory” won three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Washington.
“Born on the Fourth of July” (1989). Directed by Oliver Stone, “Born on the Fourth of July” is based on the autobiography written by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Tom Cruise stars as Kovic, who eagerly signed up to serve in the war, only to come home in a wheelchair and descend into a life of alcoholism, post traumatic stress disorder and, ultimately speaking out against the government and its war in Vietnam. “Born on the Fourth of July” was nominated for eight Oscars and won two.
“Platoon” (1986). Another Oliver Stone-directed film, “Platoon” won the Best Picture Academy Award, along with three other Oscars. The plot focuses on Chris Taylor (played by Charlie Sheen) an “idealistic university student” who enlists for the Vietnam War in 1967. The hard realities of war cause tension within Taylor’s unit. “Platoon” also stars Tom Berenger and Willem Defoe.
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987). This movie looks at a U.S. Marine platoon from training through their experiences during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. The central character, James Davis (played by Matthew Modine) starts his military career as a journalist with little combat experience, but eventually embeds with a squad to cover the war. This gives him a new perspective on the conflict, as he watches friends die, locals suffer and fellow Marines bear the brunt of the battlefront. “Full Metal Jacket” also features Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, and Adam Baldwin.
“Good Morning Vietnam” (1987). While not a traditional military movie, “Good Morning Vietnam” offers an emotional depiction of military and civilian life in Vietnam loosely based on the experiences of disc jockey Adrian Cronauer. The late Robin Williams plays Cronauer, an airman who works as a disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio Service. His brand of comedy and commentary upset some of his superiors, but the show is highly popular with the troops in the field. “Good Morning Vietnam” blends comedy and drama for an entertaining, yet emotional depiction of military life in a warzone.
“Apocalypse Now” (1979). One of the all-time classic military movies, “Apocalypse Now” stars Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando. Sheen’s character, Captain Benjamin Willard, is given a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (played by Brando) who has gone rogue. Francis Ford Coppola directed the movie, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
“M*A*S*H” (1970). This satirical movie set during the Korean War became the inspiration for one of the most popular television series of all time. The movie was darker than its television offspring in its portrayal of a mobile medical unit, the 4077th, although comedy adds some relief throughout the film. Donald Sutherland played Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Elliot Gould played “Trapper John” McIntyre, Sally Kellerman played Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan and Robert Duvall played Major Frank Burns. Gary Burghoff, who played Corporal “Radar” O’Reiley was the only film character to transfer to the television series.
“Black Hawk Down” (2001). Adapted from the book by Mark Bowden, “Black Hawk Down” tells the story of the 1993 raid of Mogadishu, Somalia by the United States and the resulting gun battle. Two Black Hawk helicopters are shot down in a city erupting in violence due to a civil war. The surviving soldiers must fight to keep their mission intact and to survive. The movie won two Academy Awards and stars Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore and Sam Shepard.
“Zero Dark Thirty” (2012). The story of Osama Bin Laden’s death on May 2, 2011 is told in this five-time Academy Award nominated movie. The movie caused some controversy because of its depiction of torture as “enhanced interrogation”; however, the film’s storytelling of the Navy SEALs raid in Pakistan that ended a decade-long manhunt for the believed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks earned critical acclaim and popular support.