10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (2024)

war

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (1)

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (2)

By Charles Papadopoulos & Colin McCormick

Updated

Thread 1

Your changes have been saved

Email Is sent

Please verify your email address.

You’ve reached your account maximum for followed topics.

Manage Your List

Follow

Followed

Follow with Notifications

Follow

Unfollow

Link copied to clipboard

war

Related

All 5 Upcoming Guy Ritchie Movies Explained
3 Major Oscars 2024 Contenders All Share The Same Harsh Truth
Every War Movie Releasing In 2024
Sign in to your ScreenRant account
10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (6)

Summary

  • War movies in 2023 evolved with a more critical, realistic, and bloody approach, exploring humanity's darkest aspects.
  • Not every war film is about battles - "One Life" dives into a heroic humanitarian's story far from the battlefield.
  • "Oppenheimer" stands out as one of the best films of 2023, critically acclaimed for its exploration of war technology and impactful character study.

2023 was a fantastic year for movies, with several great war films of varying styles and periods released. War movies can offer some of the most thrilling, heart-wrenching narratives of any genre, as their violence often feels less contrived than that of a typical action movie. While not every one takes place on the battlefield, many of the best war movies do. They're a vital subgenre of historical fiction that explores humanity at both its bravest and its most vile.

War movies continue to evolve with changing times. Like with the Western, modern war movies tend to offer a more critical, revisionist approach that examines genre standards of the past. While there are still modern epics like 1917 and Dunkirk, these films tend to explore a darker and more realistic portrayal of war instead of the romanticized heroic adventure war films of the 20th century, which have lost their charm on younger viewers. Many of 2023's war movies are bloody, violent, or subversions of classics in the genre.

Related

Every 2023 Movie Getting A Sequel

Many of 2023's box office successes have prompted sequels. From John Wick to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, these franchises will return for more.

10 Blood & Gold

Directed by Peter Thorwarth

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (8)

R

Action

War

Drama

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Not available

Not available

Release Date
May 26, 2023

Director
Peter Thorwarth

Cast
Robert Maaser , Jordis Triebel , Alexander Scheer , Juri Senft

Runtime
100 Minutes

While there are a lot of war movies that go for realistic and gritty depictions of these real-life battles, sometimes it's refreshing to see a take on the genre that is not concerned with being overly serious. Released on Netflix, Blood & Gold is a German film set at the end of World War II, where a defecting German soldier and a young woman cross paths with an SS troop in search of hidden gold in a small village.

It's one of the year's more intense, chaotic war dramas, with comparisons made to Inglourious Basterds for its graphic violence and dark sense of humor. However, those parallels are also part of the movie's overall problem as it never feels original. While Quentin Tarantino movies can often use inspiration from other movies to elevate themselves, Blood & Gold seems content with just being a lesser copy of superior movies.

Gold & Blood is available to stream on Netflix.

9 Plane

Directed by Jean-François Richet

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (10)

R

Action

Thriller

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Release Date
January 13, 2023

Director
Jean-François Richet

Cast
Gerard Butler , Mike Colter , Yoson An , Tony Goldwyn , Daniella Pineda , Kelly Gale

Runtime
107 minutes

Plane isn't a traditional war film, though it takes place on an island in the Philippines with an active rebel war occurring. Gerard Butler stars as a pilot of a commercial passenger plane that makes an emergency landing on an isolated island. While waiting for rescue, the passengers are taken hostage by a gang of deadly rebels. Butler is then forced to team up with a convict (Mike Colter) who was on the plane to rescue the rebels.

It's primarily an action movie, and its popularity at the box office was enough to earn it a sequel. It's not the most complex or inventive movie of the year, but it's undoubtedly a lot of fun and a decent action movie. Once again, Butler proves to be a terrific actor for the genre. However, his role this time is less of the action hero and more of a noble everyman who feels an immense sense of responsibility to protect his passengers.

Plane is available to stream on Prime Video.

8 One Life

Directed by James Hawes

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (15)

PG

Release Date
March 15, 2024

Director
James Hawes

Cast
Anthony Hopkins , Helena Bonham Carter , Johnny Flynn , Lena Olin , Romola Garai , Alex Sharp , Jonathan Pryce

Runtime
110 Minutes

A war film that takes place far from the battlefield, One Life tells the story of Nicholas Winston, a British humanitarian whohelped Jewish children flee before the start of World War II. Told in two separate timelines, Johnny Flynn plays the younger Winston, who upon visiting Prague and seeing the staggering number of Jewish children fleeing the Nazis, sought to help as many as he could. Anthony Hopkins plays older Winston, who looks back on his life with regret and guilt about not having saved more.

One Life is inspired by a viral clip of Winston meeting some of the children he saved, which is incorporated into the movie itself.

The film premiered at TIFF in 2023 and was released in the United States in March 2024. Like Steven Spielberg's true war story Schindler's List, One Life is a reminder of the heroes of past wars who did not fight on the battlefields or pick up a weapon but saved lives while putting their own in danger. One Life is inspired by a viral clip of Winston meeting some of the children he saved, which is incorporated into the movie itself.

One Life is available to stream on Prime Video.

7 The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die

Directed by Edward Bazalgette

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (16)

Action

Drama

History

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Not available

Not available

Release Date
April 14, 2023

Director
Edward Bazalgette

Cast
Alexander Dreymon , Harry Gilby , Mark Rowley , Arnas Fedaravicius , Cavan Clerkin , James Northcote , Laurie Davidson , Elaine Cassidy

Runtime
111 minutes

Though The Last Kingdom ended its five-season run in 2022, fans of the show were delighted to see it continued in movie form the following year. 2023 didn't have any sword-wielding war films besides The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die, which largely relies on the viewer having seen the TV series, concluding its story. The movie is set in the aftermath of King Edward's death as Uhtred (Alexander Greymon) leads his comrades on a mission to unite England at last.

Much of the acclaimed Netflix show's cast returns for the film, and Seven Kings Must Die is loosely based on actual historical events. The sequel is packed with gritty, visceral action, making for one of the year's bloodiest and most gruesome war movies. While entertaining, Seven Kings Must Die doesn't do much for those who haven't already been invested in The Last Kingdom.

The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die is available to stream on Netflix.

6 The Covenant

Directed by Guy Ritchie

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (18)

R

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Release Date
April 21, 2023
Director
Guy Ritchie
Cast
Jake Gyllenhaal , Dar Salim , Antony Starr , Alexander Ludwig , Sean Sagar , Bobby Schofield , Emily Beecham , Jonny Lee Miller

Runtime
123 Minutes

The closest example to a traditional war film in 2023 is Guy Ritchie's The Covenant. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the movie is set during the war in Afghanistan, exploring the bond between a soldier and an interpreter. Gyllenhaal plays John, a soldier who is saved by an Afghani interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim) who was working alongside the military. When John is sent home, he learns that Ahmed and his family have been left to fend for themselves against the Taliban and sets out to rescue them.

The Covenant is a thrilling, dramatic war movie about camaraderie that's been lauded for its realism and performances. While it's not the most inventive war film of 2023, it's an effective return to form for Guy Ritchie. It is an unusual movie from the director known mostly for his British crime comedies and blockbusters, but this is one of Ritchie's best movies to date. At the heart of The Covenant is the compelling bond between these two men who do not necessarily like one another but feel as though they owe something to each other.

The Covenant is available to stream on Prime Video.

5 The Creator

Related

All 5 Upcoming Guy Ritchie Movies Explained

Guy Ritchie has at least 5 different upcoming feature films in various stages of production, in addition to two highly anticipated television series.

Directed by Gareth Edwards

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (25)

PG-13

Release Date
September 29, 2023

Director
Gareth Edwards
Cast
John David Washington , Gemma Chan , Ken Watanabe , Sturgill Simpson , Allison Janney , Madeleine Yuna Voyles

The Creator is different from most war films of the year in that it's entirely fictional and futuristic. Still, the movie explores themes of war and nuclear annihilation, set in a dystopian setting where America is actively engaged in a conflict to eliminate artificial intelligence from the planet. John David Washington plays Joshua, a soldier who is tasked with destroying a new AI weapon only to find himself conflicted when he realizes it is a young sentient child.

The movie clearly draws from parallels of real-life war with a lot of the imagery evoking the feeling of the Vietnam War. It's one of director Gareth Edwards' best films, but The Creator falls short of being anything spectacular. It's an entertaining sci-fi war movie, but it lacks the substance of many of the year's strongest films despite its bright, thought-provoking subject matter.

The Creator is available to stream on Disney+.

4 The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

Directed by William Friedkin

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (26)

Drama

War

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Release Date
October 6, 2023

Director
William Friedkin

Cast
Kiefer Sutherland , Jason Clarke , Jake Lacy , Monica Raymund , Lance Reddick

Runtime
108 Minutes

William Friedkin is a filmmaker responsible for a number of classic movies, including The French Connection, Sorcerer, and The Exorcist. While The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial sadly marks his final movie before his death in 2023, it was a strong work to end his amazing career on. With a fantastic cast including Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Clarke, and the late great Lance Reddick, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial makes for one of the best legal dramas of the year, centered around a Navy officer accused of mutiny.

It's a riveting, dialogue-driven film with stellar performances based on a classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. While not the grandest or most extravagant war movie of 2023, it's undoubtedly one of the most clever, letting the actors showcase their talents for nearly two hours. The sharp script is further elevated by Friedkin's masterful way of handling the single-setting story and making it interesting.

​​​​​​​The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial is available to stream on Paramount+.

3 Napoleon

Directed by Ridley Scott

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (32)

R

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Release Date
November 22, 2023
Director
Ridley Scott
Cast
Joaquin Phoenix , Vanessa Kirby , Ben Miles , Ludivine Sagnier

Runtime
158 Minutes

Ridley Scott has made some of the greatest war movies ever, from modern classics like Black Hawk Down to sword-and-sandal epics like Gladiator. He returns to the genre with Napoleon, a film about the life of the French general and emperor. As much as the movie has epic war sequences, Scott's biographical drama primarily focuses on the relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte and his first wife, Joséphine. Joaquin Phoenix portrays Napoleon as a weird and tragic man who, despite his great genius, success, and glory, can't command the respect of the person dearest to him.

With the post-Gladiator reunion of Scott and Phoenix to take on such an infamous historical figure as this, expectations for Napoleon were very high and there are many who felt it simply did not live up to them. However, there are some engrossing battle sequences and Phoenix turns in a performance that reminds the audience he is one of the most captivating actors of his generation. It is also rare to see a big historical epic in the hands of a filmmaker of this caliber in modern Hollywood.

Napoleon is available to stream on AppleTV.

Related

3 Major Oscars 2024 Contenders All Share The Same Harsh Truth

Three of the biggest contenders for the top prizes at the 2024 Oscars all share the same harsh truth that could affect their awards chances.

2 The Zone Of Interest

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (39)

PG-13

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Not available

Not available

Release Date
December 15, 2023

Director
Jonathan Glazer

Cast
Christian Friedel , Sandra Hüller , Ralph Herforth , Luis Noah Witte , Johann Karthaus

Runtime
105 Minutes

A24 has produced many of the year's best and most prestigious projects, and The Zone of Interest may be one of their most challenging films yet. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where it was met with great acclaim, telling the story of Rudolf Höss, a German SS officer who was the longest-serving commandant at Auschwitz. It focuses on him and his family living their everyday life in a house built next to the infamous concentration camp.

The Zone of Interest probes the life of one of World War II's most notorious war criminals, prompting the audience to examine the monotony of his evil. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and ended up winning Best International Feature. Despite the fact that there is no real violence depicted on screen, it is one of the most chilling and unsettling movies of the year that manages to examine the horrors of war in a new and thought-provoking way.

The Zone of Interest is available to stream on Prime Video.

1 Oppenheimer

Directed by Christopher Nolan

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (42)

R

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Release Date
July 21, 2023
Director
Christopher Nolan
Cast
Cillian Murphy , Emily Blunt , Matt Damon , Robert Downey Jr. , Rami Malek , Florence Pugh

Runtime
150 Minutes

Oppenheimer was not only 2023's best war movie but also one of the best films of the year, widely celebrated critically and commercially. Though not a traditional war film, given its exploration into the Manhattan Project and the race to build the first atomic bomb, it's hard not to classify Christopher Nolan's epic in the war genre. Cillian Murphy gave an Oscar-winning performance as J. Robert Oppenheimer who, in the aftermath of his scientific achievement, was persecuted by those in power and filled with guilt over what he had done.

World War II movies have seen characters on both sides of the battlefield and political landscape. However, Oppenheimer broke ground in its examination of war technology and the drastic effect having nuclear weapons has had on humanity. On top of all that, it's a terrific character study with a phenomenal lead performance. In addition to Murphy's win, the movie won several other Oscars, including the top prize of Best Picture with Christopher Nolan also winning his first Academy Award as a director.

o

​​​​​​​Oppenheimer is available to stream on Prime Video.

Related

Every War Movie Releasing In 2024

Plenty of exciting movies dealing with battles, conflict, and warfare are being released in 2024, including highly-anticipated sequels and prequels.

  • Movies
  • war

Your changes have been saved

Email Is sent

Please verify your email address.

You’ve reached your account maximum for followed topics.

Manage Your List

Follow

Followed

Follow with Notifications

Follow

Unfollow

10 Best War Movies Of 2023 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated:

Views: 5415

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.