War stories can make for great movies. Whether they’re fictional portrayals of the battlefield, documentaries, or stories about what it’s like for veterans after they come home, war movies have limitless potential to captivate and emotionally affect audiences. All the things that impact us as viewers — drama, action, suspense, horror, and even humor — are all a part of the reality of war. If you’re a Hulu subscriber, then you have an impressive library of war movies to choose from. We’ve looked through them all to choose the absolute best so you don’t have to.
Not finding what you’re looking for on Hulu? Try our picks for the best war movies on Netflix.
After returning home from Iraq, Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is tasked with one of the unhappiest jobs in the U.S. Army — under the command of Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), it’s Will’s job to notify family that they’re loved ones have been killed or seriously injured while serving their country. Already struggling with how to cope with his own trauma while performing such a grim duty, things get even more complicated for Will when he gets involved with one of the widows he delivers the bad news to. With superb acting and direction, The Messenger is a poignant war drama about a difficult subject.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton
Director: Oren Moverman
Runtime: 113 minutes
In a harrowing situation, former schoolteacher Aida (Jasna Djuricic) is luckier than most. Right before the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre of the Bosnian War, Aida works as a UN translator and so, unlike most of the inhabitants of the besieged town, has access to the safety of the UN camp. But the rest of her family is still barred from entry. Through Aida’s eyes, we watch as horrors of war unfold in this unforgettable, Oscar-nominated drama.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Jasna Djuricic, Izudin Bajrovic, Boris Ler
Director: Jasmila Zbanic
Runtime: 101 minutes
With Red Cliff, the double-fist shoot-em-up action master John Woo turns his attention to a war epic set in the 3rd century. The Chinese Chancellor Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang) leads a force of murderous soldiers into the south under the auspice of putting down what he calls a rebellion. Outnumbered but refusing to be undone, the rival lords think outside the box in order to counter Cao Cao’s armies. With incredible battle scenes that look as impressive as anything in The Lord of the Rings — minus the fantasy monsters, of course — Red Cliffs is mandatory for any fan of war films.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang
Director: John Woo
Runtime: 148 minutes
Thankfully, World War II had no shortage of heroes, and the acclaimed Norwegian historical drama The 12th Man tells the stories of one of those heroes, those who hunted him, and those who saved him. Thomas Gullestad plays Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian resistance fighter and the only survivor of a doomed sabotage mission. Forced to travel in subzero temperatures and hounded by the forces of German officer Kurt Sage (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Baalsrud has no one to help him but the locals desperate to get rid of the Nazis as much as he is, and they answer the call. The 12th Man is a harrowing, gripping tale of survival and resistance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Thomas Gullestad, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Marie Blokhus
Director: Harold Zwart
Runtime: 135 minutes
While it may not be set during a “traditional” war, ’71 is nevertheless as much of a war movie as any movie could be. Unfolding in Belfast during the Troubles, ’71 follows fresh recruit Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) after his unit unintentionally abandons him. Alone and on the run, Hook does everything he can to survive long enough to learn who will find him first — the British army or the IRA.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris
Director: Yann Demange
Runtime: 99 minutes
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the United States used special forces units extensively to take down the Taliban. The powerful documentary Legion of Brothers follows the soldiers who were sent overseas both during their tours of duty and after they come home. There’s no political agenda here. In Legion of Brothers, we hear from soldiers glad they had the opportunity to fight in Afghanistan and those who wish they had never been involved. The only agenda is to tell their stories and, above all, to highlight the brotherhood their experiences have forged.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Jason Amerine, George W. Bush, Mark Nutsch
Director: Greg Barker
Runtime: 79 minutes
In this nail-biting and thoughtful thriller, a more modern and different kind of warfare takes center stage. During what is initially meant to be a mission to capture a terrorist in Kenya, things get more heated when a disguised surveillance drone sends back video footage confirming that terrorists are planning a suicide bombing. The “capture” order is quickly changed to a “kill” order, but the presence of a child in the target area complicates the decision-making. Driven by a stellar cast including Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and the final live-action film performance of the late Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky creates a suspenseful and entertaining story while at the same time dealing with the complicated moral questions revolving around drone warfare.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman
Director: Gavin Hood
Runtime: 102 minutes
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