With the release of Sam Mendes' enthralling World War I epic 1917 around the corner, it seems fitting to look back at the last decade and see which other films set in wartime made the grade. There's been no shortage of war films in the past few decades and there have been some absolute classics along the way.
The following list features some excellent films based in various wartime eras that were released in the 2010s. There are some big-name titles and some lesser-known gems that you may have missed, making for some required viewing before (or after) you catch 1917 to keep the war movie theme going.
10 Beneath Hill 60 (2010)
The little-known Australian film, Beneath Hill 60, follows the story of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company as they attempt to tunnel under enemy lines and set explosives to aid the advance of their allies during WWI. The titular 'hill' in the title refers to a location in Ypres, Belgium, which was home to some of the first world war's biggest battles.
Based on actual events, Beneath Hill 60 features excellent performances, led by Australian actor Brendan Cowell, and is a gripping film that depicts the realities of war accurately as well paying homage to the perseverance of the soldiers involved. It's a great film to expand your war-movie viewing repertoire as well as broaden your knowledge of some of the lesser publicized battles of WWI.
9 Centurion (2010)
Centurion takes us way back to early second century Britain when the Romans were big on conquering all the lands around them. After a Roman squadron is eliminated by the Picts (ancient Scotsmen), all but one survivor remains, Centurion Quintus Dias, played by Michael Fassbender (at a time when Fassbender was only just beginning to make a name for himself). Lucky to escape with his life, Dias joins his fellow Romans on a quest to wipe out the Pict threat.
The film is tense, brutal and full of epic historical wartime action, with director Neil Marshall pulling no punches on the violence. Centurion is a gritty and grounded take on Roman-era conflicts and is one that will stick with you for a while after watching it.
8 Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010)
Australia gets another entry in this list with Tomorrow, When the War Began, a film based on a popular novel of the same name which sees a group of teenagers from a small town come together to fight an invading military force.
In a close second was Changsha, capital of Hunan province, with growth of 4.5.
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7 Overlord (2018)
For all the horror-movie lovers out there, Overlord tells the story of a group of American paratroopers that are thrown behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day during WWII. Their mission - to destroy a radio tower housed inside a church in a small town in France that's heavily guarded by Nazi forces. They soon find out that things are not as they appear.
Overlord is a violent and gory horror slash action film that features a diverse and quirky cast of characters. The film is tense right from the opening scene and things turn even darker once the American soldiers discover a series of horrific experiments taking place on unwilling victims. The film mashes various genres together and is a nice departure from the often grounded and gritty portrayals we see in films based on war. A good watch if you enjoy your body-horror films.
6 Unbroken (2014)
Unbroken is the true story of US Olympian Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell), who's forced to spend 47 days in a raft with two fellow soldiers after crash landing his plane in the middle of the ocean during WWII. If that wasn't painful enough, he's then discovered and captured by the Japanese Navy and taken to a prisoner-of-war camp, where he faces more torturous challenges.
Directed by Angelina Jolie from a screenplay by the Coen Brothers, Unbroken is a truly inspirational story of resilience in the face of adversity. The film will have you emotionally invested in the plight of Zamperini as you root for him to get through the arduous situation he's found himself in. Check this one out if you like your films uplifting.
5 Beasts of No Nation (2015)
This Netflix Original film follows the story of a child soldier fighting in a terrifying civil war in Africa. He's ripped apart from his family and taken under the wing of a rebel militia leader (played by Idris Elba) and forced to do some horrendous things before becoming a member of the gang.
Beasts of No Nation is one of the more shocking films on this list, as it features the conversion of an innocent young villager turned a violent killer against his will. It's a confronting film that will make you ponder how a 质检总局：2015建筑装饰装修材料合格率为92.2% can house some horrific atrocities.
4 Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Logan's claws are slow on the draw and his self-healing powers are on the fritz, but he's committed to caring for his mentor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, so good you want to applaud). It's not easy watching Professor X suffer seizures that rattle his telepathic brain. Make no mistake, Logan earns its tears. If Jackman and Stewart are serious about this being their mutual X-Men swan song, they could not have crafted a more heartfelt valedictory.
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Director Mel Gibson has never been one to shy away from showing brutality in his films and it's no different here. The film's violence comes late in the story, however, as we're treated to a heartfelt character study before the action arrives. Hacksaw Ridge pays tribute to the human spirit in adverse times.
3 American Sniper (2014)
Bradley Cooper turns in a career-best performance in Clint Eastwood's American Sniper. This biographical film tells the story of Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle (Cooper), who would become known as the deadliest sniper in US Military history.
The film's riveting war scenes include one extremely tense standoff between Cooper's character and a rival sniper, which is the highlight of the film, but American Sniper is at its core, a film about the after-effects of war on its soldiers. It's this theme that lays heaviest on its audience and is one that's reflected with poise and respect by the director.
2 Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty is not so much a classic war film like some of the above, but rather it's based on the war on terrorism as it highlights the conclusion of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda's notorious leader, Osama bin Laden. The film is not afraid to confront some of the more controversial aspects of the search, including questionable practices by the CIA revolving around getting information from their prisoners.
Zero Dark Thirty is one of the more wordy, complex films on this list that gives credit to the due process involved in finding Osama bin Laden, as contentious as it may be. The final act which sees a raid on the terrorist outpost hiding bin Laden is worth the wait, however, as it's extremely thrilling.
1 Dunkirk (2017)
Arguably the greatest war film to come from the 2010s is Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Set in WWII, the film sees allied forces trapped and facing imminent doom from their German adversaries as they scramble to evacuate the town of Dunkirk, France. The story is cleverly told from three different perspectives - air, land, and sea, and contains minimal dialogue, focusing more on the music and visuals to build the tension.
Dunkirk should be considered a masterpiece of wartime cinema, up there with the likes of Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan, and is easily one of Nolan's best films (if not the best). The film is suspenseful all the way through and doesn't rely on common tropes to get the point across. It's a truly unique and visceral war film that will keep you guessing and have you on the edge-of-your-seat.