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ucme's avatar

War movies: Which are the stand-out performances/characters for you?

Asked by ucme (39372 points ) January 23rd, 2013

Could be the main players or maybe a brief cameo role, either as a member of the armed forces or just a civilian.
Any film from whichever definition of war you wish to define.

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28 Answers

serenityNOW's avatar

The horse in “War Horse”.

bhec10's avatar

Christian Bale in The Fighter and Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight come to my mind.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I actually love war movies, like Platoon, Pearl Harbor, Inglorious Bastards (BRAD WAS GREAT!!), and of course Full Metal Jacket, maybe that’s more military, but I loved it. I also loved the Tom Cruise movie A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson, excellent.

One of the best I’ve ever seen was about a submarine and they ended up sinking and everyone died, it was so sad, but I can never remember the name. I just got a book for my birthday about the Korean War this weekend, I’m hyped!

So what about you ucme?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but… I really liked Matthew McConaughey in U-571.

ucme's avatar

@KNOWITALL Well I was going to wait a while, but little miss bossy boots wants to know now ;-}
The sarge in Full Metal Jacket has me in stitches every single time, more later.

Pachy's avatar

The three leads in “Best Years of Our Lives,”—Fredric March, Dana Andrews and Harold Russell. This isn’t about combat—it’s about soldiers adjusting to post-combat life. And it’s one of the finest films ever made.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ucme That creepy smile. “This is my gun, this is my weapon”

Don’t mess with me ucme, I’ll stick a bar of soap in a sock and show you a thing or two mister!! Bossy indeed! :)

bhec10's avatar

I may have misread the title. Didn’t really focus on war movies, but they kinda have a few fights in them :)

ucme's avatar

@KNOWITALL Ooh, kinky :-)

ucme's avatar

@bhec10 Not to worry, everyone gets a GA from me on my questions & I did say to define war however you wish, The Dark Knight has elements of a street war in there i’d say.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Saving Private Ryan – hands down, one of the best war films ever made. Tom Hanks performance was excellent.

Seek's avatar

I love the smell of napalm in the morning!

And I don’t know why I love the bastard so much, but most of my favourite war movies have Mel Gibson at the forefront: Braveheart, Gallipoli, in a way, even Mad Max. Half the characters in Braveheart I just love. It’s MY Island!”

Love that Ben Yahzee in Windtalkers.

zenvelo's avatar

In Patton, I though the acting by the whole troupe was great, the men in the ditches, the ones who got caught in the Battle of the Bulge, the Chaplain ordered to write a prayer for weather.

Von Ryan’s Express with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard.was great! And Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn in Guns of Navaronne!

rojo's avatar

“Das Boot” in the original German (with subtitles). The fears and actions of the crew have always stood out to me as being authentic.

ucme's avatar

Here are some of my fave films & the actors who stole the show…

The Dirty Dozen-Lee Marvin
Inglorious Basterds-Christoph Waltz
The Deerhunter-Christopher Walken
Bridge on the River Kwai-Alec Guiness
Saving Private Ryan-Tom Hanks
Zulu-Michael Caine
Schindler’s List-Ben Kingsley

lookingglassx3's avatar

Josh Hartnett is so moving in Pearl Harbor – he’s a lover and a fighter and he’s just such a sweet character, as well as a war hero through and through!

But for me the absolute stand-out performance would have to be Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (Downfall). He is absolutely perfect as Hitler – he can be suave and charming when he wants to be, but he can then turn into a nasty piece of work just one scene later. He really brings out the human side of Hitler and that’s what makes him such a brilliant actor – he shows Hitler’s personality, relationship and flaws and you STILL hate him because his selfishness just shines through.

mazingerz88's avatar

Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington in Glory
Aragorn in Two Towers and Return of the King
Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heoes

Earthgirl's avatar

The entire cast of Paths of Glory. The most impressive, powerful war movie I have ever seen. I don’t like war movies as a rule so surprisingly I came up with quite a few but this one is tops for me. I cannot single out one actor. It is a masterpiece of cinema.

Christopher Walken in Deer Hunter
Christopher Waltz in Inglorious Bastards
Adrian Brody in The Pianist
Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn in African Queen
Cary Grant in Father Goose
Omar Sharif in Dr Zhivago
Denzel Washington in Glory
Gary Cooper in Sergeant York
Alec Guness in The Bridge on the River Kwai
Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia
Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient
Cary Grant in Father Goose
Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer in The Man Who Would be King
Michael Caine in Zulu
Richard Gere and Jodie Foster in Sommersby
Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind

SuperMouse's avatar

I agree with Christopher Walken, his performance in The Deer Hunter won him an Academy Award; he beat Bruce Dern who was nominated for another phenomenal war film, Coming Home. Jon Voight was amazing in Coming Home as was Robert Carradine. Walken was also fabulous playing a mercenary in Dogs of War

Tom Cruise was great in Born on the Fourth of July, his portrayal of Ron Kovic’s transformation from a gung ho recruit to peace activist is nothing short of amazing. Say what you will about his choice of religious affiliations – the man can act.

In Apocalypse Now Dennis Hopper, Martin Sheen, and Marlon Brando were all great.

As of late Nicholas Cage has become more of a parody of himself than actual performer, but back in the day he gave a stunning performance in a war movie called Birdy. Not a very popular movie, but completely worth finding and watching. It also stars Matthew Modine in a performance that makes one think he actually has talent (which for my money he does not).

Another little known war movie with a great performance is When Trumpets Fade starring Ron Eldard. Eldard plays a private who is promoted to officer in a matter of days because he is perceived as a hero when all he is really out to do is save his own ass.

I haven’t seen it, but I am surprised no one has mentioned Black Hawk Down.

Wow I have seen a lot of somewhat obscure war movies, I wonder if it is time to admit I am a fan.

Earthgirl's avatar

I forgot a few. please don’t put my double answer down to being a lurve whore
Roberto Begnini in Life is Beautiful
Kenneth Branagh in Henry V
Audrey Tatou in A Very Long Engagement
Isabel Adjani in Queen Margot
Diane Kruger as the Queen, and Léa Seydoux in Farewell, My Queen

Linda_Owl's avatar

Kevin Kline in both “K-PAX” & “PAY IT FORWARD”.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am really into ‘war’ films. These are some I like. Some are very Australian but great films. I don’t want to single out actors because in many of these, while there may be someone who stands out, the films are better than one actor.

I love Gallipoli although it makes me cry. I wouldn’t like to pick one actor.

Glory is another fabulous ‘war’ film.

Kokoda covers a largely forgotten but imperative war front for Australia.

Breaker Morant

Beneath Hill 60.

The Lighthorsemen.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Linda_Owl, Kevin Kline isn’t in either of those movies and neither is a war movie. Did you mean Kevin Spacey perhaps?

Adagio's avatar

@rojo Das Boot is a fabulous film, highly recommended, German but optional English subtitles available

Adagio's avatar

@ucme if you enjoyed Alec Guinness in Bridge Over the River Kwai have you seen him in The Ladykillers ? A totally different kettle of fish but hugely enjoyable

ucme's avatar

@Earthgirl Lurve whore or not, those are some fine films, quite a few of my own faves in there too.
@Adagio Of course, it’s one of my fave ealing comedies along with The Lavender Hill Mob, those old comedies are true classics.

SABOTEUR's avatar

The sergeant and the guy that played Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.

The entire bootcamp segment was rivetting.

Earthgirl's avatar

@ucme Yes, we do seem to have the same taste in movies. I’ve noticed it before. 5 out of 7 of the films you listed are on my list too.

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