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The 15 best war movies on Netflix (September 2020)

Netflix war movies
Schindler’s List and Starship Troopers. Pic credit: Universal/Sony

Netflix is a perfect streaming service for movie fans, as there are great options for every genre of movies, and this is true for war movies as well.

Whether it is movies that take place during real-world wars, sci-fi movies with battles against aliens or robots, or films that take place with the war as a backdrop, there are a lot of great war movies on Netflix for fans to enjoy.

Whether it is a Netflix original or a movie licensed from another studio, there is something here for everyone.

As with all Netflix movies and TV shows, there are several that leave the streaming-service every month. The good news is that many films and TV shows are replacing them each month.

Make sure to bookmark this page as we will update it every month with the new releases, while also removing those movies that have left Netflix.

Updated on September 11: Every month, movies leave Netflix, and others show up to replace them. This means some of the best movies, ones we might list here as recommendations, are no longer available for viewing on the streaming giant.

The good news is that we will be coming back to this article every month and removing those movies no longer available, and replacing them with new options that are of equal, or in some cases, superior quality.

Glory (1989)

Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington in Glory. Pic credit: TriStar Pictures

Released in 1989, Glory tells the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first-ever African-American regiment for the Union in the American Civil War.

The film stars Matthew Broderick as the commanding officer and some major heavyweights as the soldiers, including Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman.

Based on the books telling the story via the personal letters of Broderick’s character (Col. Robert Gould Shaw), the film shows their formation and the heroic actions of the men at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner.

Glory picked up five Oscar nominations and won three of them, including one for Denzel Washington for Best Supporting Actor.

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Isiah Whitlock Jr.. as Melvin, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Delroy Lindo as Paul, Clarke Peters as Otis and Jonathan Majors as David in Da 5 Bloods
Isiah Whitlock Jr.. as Melvin, Norm Lewis as Eddie, Delroy Lindo as Paul, Clarke Peters as Otis and Jonathan Majors as David in Da 5 Bloods. Pic credit: Netflix

Spike Lee chose Netflix to create his latest movie, and Da 5 Bloods hit the streaming service in June 2020.

In his first movie since winning an Oscar for BlackKklansman, Lee tells the story of a group of Vietnam War veterans returning to Vietnam to find the remains of their fallen squad leader.

They also want to retrieve some treasure they buried there.

The cast is fantastic, with Delroy Lindo, the late Chadwick Boseman, and more. Critics praised the movie, with a 92-percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monsters & Critics John Dotson called it “magnificently tense as well as riveting.”

Starship Troopers (1997)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
The Paul Verhoeven movie Starship Troopers. Pic credit: Sony

In 1997, Paul Verhoeven turned the science fiction novel Starship Troopers into a film, and it is available to stream right now on Netflix.

The book was an extremist pro-military story that Verhoeven flipped on its head in his film. Rather than praising military and war, the film went over the top with the ideals of war, turning the story into an almost parody.

It is one of the craziest sci-fi action films on Netflix. Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey, and Michael Ironside starred in the ’90s cult classic.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

The best sad movies on Netflix (June 2020)
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Pic credit: Picturehouse

Guillermo Del Toro directed the fantasy movie Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006 – a fairy tale story about a young girl who discovers a fantastical undergrown world.

However, on top of the fantasy movie aspects, Pan’s Labyrinth is set with the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War haunting its every moment.

The film also takes the horrors of war and creates an almost alternate fantasy world that allows the little girl to escape the real horrors, only to find more horrific monsters at her final destination.

This is easily one of the best movies on Netflix and remains Del Toro’s masterpiece.

Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's List
Schindler’s List. Pic credit: Universal Pictures

In 1993, Steven Spielberg changed how blockbuster films were made when he created Jurassic Park, using CGI to its greatest effect at that time in history.

However, the same year, Spielberg also created an old-school movie with the black and white war movie Schindler’s List.

The movie tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a businessman in Nazi-controlled Poland who uses his factory to hide Jewish refugees. Through the years, he saved over a thousand Jews in World War II.

The movie picked up 12 Oscar nominations and won seven of them, including Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg, and more.

War Horse (2011)

War Horse
Jeremy Irvine in War Horse. Pic credit: Disney

A second Steven Spielberg movie about the war on this list, War Horse isn’t as critically acclaimed as Schindler’s List, but it is a great movie nonetheless.

This is a movie about a horse named Joey, who is lovingly raised by a young boy in Britain but then sold to the British Army to serve in World War I.

The film then shows the horrors of the war, though the journey of the horse as it lives through battles and goes from the British troops to Germany and back again.

At the end of the day, this a story about a boy and his horse, as the child becomes a man, enlists in the military, and is eventually reunited with his beloved companion.

Extraction (2020)

The best action movies on Netflix (July 2020)
Chris Hemsworth in Extraction. Pic credit: Netflix

Extraction is a Netflix original movie starring Chris Hemsworth, better known to Marvel movie fans as Thor.

This movie takes place in Bangladesh, a war-ravaged country, and Hemsworth is a black-market mercenary named Tyler Rake, who is sent in to save Ovi, the son of an incarcerated Indian drug lord.

This movie might be one of the most violent films on Netflix, with more kills than most war movies, and almost all of them at the hands of Tyler Rake himself.

The film, thanks to its insane action and the star-power of Hemsworth, was watched by approximately 90 million households its first month of release, one of the more successful Netflix releases in 2020.

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
The sci-fi alien war movie Battle: Los Angeles. Pic credit: Sony

Battle: Los Angeles was a 2011 sci-fi war movie where the U.S. Marines are called in to help protect Los Angeles from a global alien invasion.

The film stars Aaron Eckhart as a Marine Staff Sergeant while other big names in the cast include Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena, and Ne-Yo.

The movie starts with meteors hitting the oceans of the world, which turns out to be hostile aliens. It is up to the world’s military forces to protect its citizens, and this movie mostly focuses on the attack on Los Angeles.

The film was clearly trying to set up a franchise, but it all ended with this one release, which you can watch now on Netflix.

A Bridge Too Far (1977)

A Bridge Too Far
The cast of A Bridge Too Far. Pic credit: United Artists

In 1977, actor Richard Attenborough directed one of the best war movies of the ’70s with A Bridge Too Far.

Attenborough, who most people know as the financer John Hammond in the original Jurassic Park movie, had an all-star cast for this World War II movie.

James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, and Robert Redford were among the Oscar winners who starred in this movie.

The film tells the story of the failed Operation Market Garden in World War II. It picked up eight BAFTA nominations, winning for four of them.

Terminator: Salvation (2009)

Terminator: Salvation
Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation. Pic credit: Warner Bros

Fans of the first Terminator movies saw John Connor and Sarah Connor trying to stop the robot apocalypse that destroys civilization.

All through those movies, fans wanted to see the war after the apocalypse that was hinted at in the first three films and Terminator: Salvation tells that story.

Christian Bale takes on the role of John Connor in this movie, now grown and leading the rebellion against the Terminators from Skynet.

The main character is Marcus (Sam Worthington), a human-terminator hybrid, and Anton Yelchin shows up as Kyle Reese, the man sent back in time in the first movie.

Defiance (2008)

Daniel Craig and Jamie Bell in Defiance. Pic credit: Paramount Vantage

Defiance is a war film from 2008 directed by Edward Zwick (Glory) and it told a war story from World War II.

Based on the book by Nechama Tec, this is about the Bielski partisans, a group of Jewish partisans who rescued Jewish people from extermination while also fighting the Nazi occupiers.

The main characters are brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), Asael (Jamie Bell), and Aron (George MacKay), whose parents were killed by German occupiers and they set out to avenge their parent’s death.

These brothers started a unit that saved tens of thousands of people.

The Patriot (2000)

The Patriot
Mel Gibson in The Patriot. Pic credit: Sony

The Patriot goes back much further when it comes to war movies, as this film takes place during the American Revolution.

This is a Roland Emmerich movie, one of the few non-disaster movies that he has made. Much like many of Emmerich’s films, it is more of a fantastical look.

The story takes part in the Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War and Gibson stars as Colonel Benjamin Martin, a man who fears a war with Great Britain but watches in horror as his son Gabriel (Heath Ledger) joins the Continentals.

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation
The Netflix original Beasts of No Nation. Pic credit: Netflix

Beasts of No Nation was the first movie that Netflix ever picked up as an original and did so in 2015.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), this movie tells the story of a young boy who becomes a child soldier during a horrific war.

The film is based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, was part of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, and was then picked up by Netflix and given a limited release.

Idris Elba was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes while winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for the same honor. The film was not nominated for an Oscar due to its early prejudice against Netflix.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Pic credit: United Artists

One of the best spaghetti westerns in history is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef.

The movie itself is not a war movie upfront, but it is a movie that takes place with the American Civil War taking place all around the characters.

The three lead actors are in search of hidden Confederate gold during the New Mexico Campaign in 1862 in the American Civil War. This was the third and final installment of the Dollars Trilogy, which also includes A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

Act of Valor (2012)

Act of Valor
The war movie Act of Valor. Pic credit: Relativity Media

In 2012, Act of Valor hit theaters as a look at the SEALs and Special Boat Team members.

The film was developed after directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh shot a promotional video for the real-life U.S. Navy forces and wanted to bring their story to the big screen.

As a result, active-duty SEALs starred in the movie, and the Navy is using it to recruit people into service.

The movie started with a terrorist killing a U.S. ambassador and dozens of children in an elementary school with an IED disguised as an ice cream truck. The film then tracks the Navy special forces as they hunt down the terrorists.

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