Anti-war movies are back in style, and that's a great thing. We all could use a little more peace in our lives, and we all could be reminded of the futility of war, right?
The thing about anti-war movies is that it's hard to actually find good ones. Bad anti-war films often backfire and end up glorifying war. Some might even be boring. The best anti-war movies, though, are always memorable and striking creations that end up becoming instant classics.
Not sure which movies to check out? These anti-war films are the ones that critics say are the best out there.
Full Metal Jacket
Stanley Kubrick always makes a great movie, doesn't he? Many people believe that Full Metal Jacket is his best work, and that alone is reason enough to include it on any list of the best anti-war films ever made.
This movie follows a young soldier as he goes through basic training, then as he heads to war. (Yes, it's a great military training movie, too.) What makes this such a great anti-war film is the fact that it emphasizes how dehumanizing war really is.
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb
Dr. Strangelove is considered to be Peter Sellers' best work—and it's easy to see why. He plays not one, but three, different lead characters in this classic early 60s hit.
This is one of the best anti-war movies for a variety of reasons. It doesn't rely on tearjerker moments or hard drama to get the point across. Rather, it uses wry humor to point out how little we should trust the people in charge of launching a war.
Epic quotes and hilarious mad scientist moments are what make this a great anti-war film for people who can't stand war films. Oh, and yes, it's also a Stanley Kubrick movie.
If you're looking for some of the best anti-war films that have a classic style to them, Platoon is right for you. This tells the story of a young soldier in the midst of the Vietnam War as he has to choose between his two teammates and confront his fears.
Not many films are so quick to show the ugliness of war like Platoon did. So, if you have a stomach for disturbing scenes and gut-wrenching emotional moments, this is one you'll probably enjoy.
Born on the Fourth of July
This two-time Academy Award-winning movie is one of the best anti-war films of all time. Why? Because it shows all the sacrifice soldiers have to endure to keep us safe—and displays all the betrayal many soldiers feel when they head home.
Born on the Fourth of July shows the transformation from a soldier to an outspoken anti-war activist during the Vietnam War. You'll be amazed, and you'll sympathize with his plight every step of the way.
Apocalypse Now shows the disturbing story of a man who has gone absolutely out of his mind because of the ravages of war. Unable to live with his guilt and the trauma of what he's seen, he basically melts down into a mess.
His character alone is what make Apocalypse Now one of the best anti-war films out there. No other film shows how bad PTSD can be in such a gripping way.
Paths of Glory
Not all of the best anti-war movies deal with Vietnam or nuclear war. Paths of Glory has long been known as one of the finest films to take place during World War I—and it's also one of the most poignant anti-war films you can ever see.
It's the catch-22 that makes this an impressive anti-war film. If the characters follow their orders, they'll be gunned down. If they don't, they will be killed and charged with treason. Stanley Kubrick did a great job with this.
(Yes, this is Kubrick Film #3 on here. Deal with it.)
All Quiet on the Western Front
All Quiet on the Western Front is a classic among both war movies and anti-war movies. It's a classic tale of an idealistic boy who is exposed to the horrors of war, eventually becoming jaded and traumatized by all the senseless death that he has seen.
This movie is gritty and painful to watch. Almost every veteran who's been in war has lived this movie, minus the end (spoiler alert) where the lead character dies—and it's that realism that makes this one of the best anti-war films ever made.
The Day After
The Day After is one of the most traumatizing movies to hit the scene in the 80s, right at the height of the Cold War. This bone-chilling movie shows how a nuclear holocaust would affect a small town in the middle of Kansas.
Families die. Society collapses. Nothing is safe nor sacred. It's a brutal anti-war film that will make you pray with everything you have that you'll never see a nuclear war happen.
The Day After had a significant effect on the movie industry and political climate as a whole. It's still regarded as one of the most profound movies out there today.
Anyone who's actually served can tell you that war never stays abroad. The memories stay with you no matter where you go. American Sniper is the story of a Navy SEAL who has saved countless lives using his marksmanship—but who comes home, only to realize that the war never left him.
It's considered to be one of the best anti-war films of recent years, and one of the most honest portrayals of PTSD. American Sniper is also based on a true story, which makes this even more impressive.
Gojira/Godzilla: King of the Monsters
No, this is not a mistake. Gojira is one of the best anti-war films of all time, and even spawned an entire genre of monster movies as a result. You see, most people know Godzilla to be a guy in a monster suit that ravages cardboard cutouts of Japan.
The entire premise of the original movie, Gojira, was a scathing critique on nuclear war. Godzilla was awakened by a nuclear bomb. The original movie also shows people screaming in pain of radiation burns. Starting to see where this is headed?
Godzilla himself is radioactive—and is thus a metaphor for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the devastating effects of war. Considering that WWII ended not even 10 years before, it's easy to see why this movie was a masterpiece.
Few anti-war films have had as much success as Gojira. That's why it's one of the best anti-war films of all time.