The 15 Best Movies To Watch if You Like Nolan's Dunkirk, Ranked
If you're like me and were floored by Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, you might be looking for some similar cinematic treats.
Whether you're into old-school classics or newer blockbusters, here are some of the movies with that unforgettable Dunkirk vibe.
15. Jarhead (2005)
Jarhead follows a young Marine, Anthony Swofford, during the Gulf War. He's hyped to see some action but ends up frustrated because the war's mostly waiting around and oil fires. The whole film is like a journey through his mind: the more he waits, the tenser he gets. Don't expect Rambo; this one's more about the anxiety of warfare.
14. Fury (2014)
In Fury, we follow a U.S. tank crew in World War II led by Sgt. Don "Wardaddy" Collier. The film's basically one grueling battle after another, forcing the crew to face not just Nazis but also their own morals. New guy Norman goes from being a timid clerk to a seasoned gunner, proving how war can change a man in no time flat. This flick raked in over $211 million at the box office, and you can easily see why.
13. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Switching perspectives, which is a rare treat in and of itself, this Clint Eastwood classic shows the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese side. General Kuribayashi tries to organize a resistance against overwhelming U.S. forces, and it's gritty stuff. Soldiers dig trenches, ration their food, and basically wait for the inevitable. Watching this is tough, but important.
12. Paths of Glory (1957)
In Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory, French soldiers refuse to continue a suicidal attack, and their generals decide to make an example of them. Colonel Dax, a righteous man, defends them at the court-martial. It's not just a battle with guns but a battle against the bureaucracy and flawed chain of command. Ever seen a court drama set in the trenches? Well, now's your chance.
11. Platoon (1986)
Diving into the Vietnam War, Platoon follows a young recruit, Chris Taylor, who volunteers for combat and finds himself in a unit filled with seasoned fighters. He's the new guy, a classic fish out of water. Taylor is caught between two sergeants: the kind-hearted Elias and the ruthless Barnes.
10. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Black Hawk Down plunges you into the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, where U.S. soldiers are tasked with capturing a Somali warlord. The mission goes sideways when two Black Hawk helicopters are shot down. It becomes a desperate fight for survival as soldiers like SFC Jeff Sanderson and SSG Matt Eversmann defend the crash sites awaiting extraction. With gun battles on the streets and snipers everywhere, it's a relentless, bloody ordeal.
9. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Terrence Malick takes us to Guadalcanal in WWII, focusing on Charlie Company as they try to capture a critical hilltop. The tension escalates when Lt. Colonel Tall orders an uphill attack against entrenched Japanese soldiers, leading to catastrophic casualties.
8. Come and See (1985)
This Soviet masterpiece shows WWII through the eyes of a young boy, Flyora, who joins the Belarusian partisans. Eager and naive, he's not prepared for the horrors he's about to witness (and fair warning: so aren't you). He comes back to his village to find it razed, and his family killed. Flyora witnesses massacres and endures psychological torment, making it one of the most disturbing war films ever made.
7. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Chronicling the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, this film revolves around Maya, a CIA analyst. She starts by witnessing torture interrogations and then pieces together clues across several years. The big break comes when they find the courier who leads them to the compound. In the edge-of-your-seat climax, Navy SEAL Team 6 raids the place.
6. 1917 (2019)
The film's a real-time adventure, following two British soldiers, Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake, in WWI. They're given the impossible task of delivering a message across No Man's Land to stop an attack that's walking into a trap. It's a one-way ticket through trenches, barbed wire, and collapsed bridges. Schofield is injured, and Blake is killed trying to save a downed pilot.
5. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Captain Willard is given a top-secret mission to find and "terminate" Colonel Kurtz, an American officer gone rogue. Willard joins a patrol boat crew who navigate upriver, facing everything from enemy ambushes to tiger attacks. As they get closer to Kurtz, the atmosphere becomes more surreal and terrifying.
4. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Quentin Tarantino's twist on WWII. We follow two parallel stories: Shosanna, a Jewish woman running a cinema in occupied France, and Aldo Raine, leading a group of Jewish-American soldiers dubbed the Inglourious Basterds. They're all out to get the Nazis, especially Hans Landa, aka the "Jew Hunter". Raine's team scalps Nazis and creates chaos, while Shosanna plans to burn down her cinema during a propaganda film premiere.
3. Schindler's List (1993)
Oskar Schindler starts as a German businessman exploiting cheap Jewish labor during WWII, but he has a change of heart. He witnesses the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto and the sheer brutality of SS officer Amon Goeth. Motivated by his newfound conscience, Schindler starts saving his Jewish workers by bribing officials and keeping them off "the list" of deportees to concentration camps.
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Opening with the haunting D-Day landings, the story follows Captain John Miller and his squad as they're ordered to find Private James Francis Ryan. He's the last surviving brother of four, and the military wants to send him home. The squad debates the mission's worth as they lose men along the way. They find Ryan in a French village, defending a crucial bridge against German forces.
1. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Stanley Kubrick delivers again, dissecting the Vietnam War in two acts. First, we see the dehumanizing boot camp under the harsh Sergeant Hartman. Private Pyle can't cope and eventually snaps, killing Hartman and himself. Then we switch to Vietnam, following Joker, a military journalist.