Entertainment Movies

After 'Dunkirk': The best war movies to stream from ‘Paths of Glory’ to ‘Lone Survivor’

By Steve Tilley, Special to Postmedia Network

From left to right: Kirk Douglas in "Paths of Glory," Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan," and Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker."

From left to right: Kirk Douglas in "Paths of Glory," Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan," and Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker."

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing, you say? Not entirely true. War has given us some great movies over the decades, a tradition that seems to be continuing with director Christopher Nolan’s just-released Dunkirk.

There’s something about a good war movie – and from the reviews, it appears Dunkirk is a very good war movie – that makes us want to dive back into some classic conflicts on film. Pretty much every major war has been represented on the big screen, and a ton of those movies are available on Netflix and other streaming services.

(Nolan himself is no Netflix fan, though. He recently took a few jabs at the streaming giant and its 100 million-strong subscriber base, calling their distribution strategy “mindless” and “pointless” and saying he’d never make a movie with Netflix. Them’s warrin’ words!)

Some of the most revered war movies – including the likes of Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Bridge on the River Kwai and Black Hawk Down – aren’t found on any of the streaming services. Look for them instead on iTunes, Google Play, the Microsoft Store and so on.

But if you’re hoping to stream instead of rent or buy, here are the best movies set in several of the world’s most cinematic conflicts.

Word War I

Paths of Glory (1957) – Does Wonder Woman count as a World War I movie? No? Fair enough. Paths of Glory is one of legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s somewhat lesser-known works, but it’s fantastically shot, has a great performance by Kirk Douglas and examines the horrors of the “war to end all wars.”

Find it on: TubiTV.com

World War II

Saving Private Ryan (1998) – Three dead brothers, one honourable captain and the most gut-wrenching depiction of the Normandy landings ever captured on film. Director Steven Spielberg definitely earned his best director Oscar on this one. Honourable mentions go to Hacksaw Ridge (2016) and Das Boot (1981), both of which are on Netflix. Maybe we’ll see Dunkirk there in due time? Or maybe not.

Find it on: Netflix

Korean War

The major streaming services don’t seem to care much for the Korean War, strangely. But you can find two great South Korean-made movies on iTunes, Google Play and the Microsoft Store – 2004’s Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War and 2011’s The Front Line. For something (slightly) lighter, Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H is there, too.

Vietnam War

Born on the Fourth of July (1989) – With Platoon being absent from Netflix and such (along with Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket), one of Oliver Stone’s other Vietnam War flicks handily takes this spot. Years before Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of real-life Vietnam War vet Ron Kovic.

Find it on: Netflix

Iraq War

The Hurt Locker (2008) – We like the way Jarhead (available on Amazon Video) shows the toll war can take on a soldier’s life back home, but director Kathryn Bigelow’s tale of an ordnance disposal expert (played by a then-relatively unknown Jeremy Renner) absolutely shines – not only as a war movie, but simply as a movie, full stop.

Find it on: Netflix

War in Afghanistan

Lone Survivor (2013) – The heavily hyped, Brad Pitt-starring Netflix film War Machine was a bit of a dud (that sound you hear is Christopher Nolan snickering), but director Peter Berg’s story of a combat operation gone horribly wrong is anything but. Don’t let the fact that Mark Wahlberg is in it dissuade you from watching.

Find it on: Netflix

World War III

The Day After (1983) – If you were alive in the ’80s, you probably remember this ABC TV movie about nuclear war breaking out between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. It’s a tad dated now, but it’s hard to describe just how much dread this flick instilled in many of the 100 million people who tuned in at the time – heck, ABC even had 1-800 numbers set up for people to talk to counsellors. The world has plenty of problems in 2017, but at least an imminent exchange of atomic missiles between superpowers is no longer high on the list.

Find it on: YouTube

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