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All World War I Movies Ranked By Tomatometer

The 2020 Golden Globes pick for Best Motion Picture – Drama: 1917, a dramatic thriller presented as a single continuous shot, and a tale of valor and sacrifice during World War I. The Sam Mendes film arrives in a moment of peak WWI interest, seen from 15-million seller video game Battlefield 1 and Peter Jackson’s incomparably vivid They Shall Not Grow Old documentary. With that, we’ve collected and ranked every World War I movie by Tomatometer.

Not only did the First World War plunge our planet in death, plague, and turmoil, it would become a sort of stress test for filmmaking, which was still in its early years. World War 1 (1914-1918) was humanity’s first shared cataclysm that the movies had been around for. There would be books and there would be songs written about the War – now it was time to see what movies were capable of expressing. This new medium, with its filmmakers just beginning to create feature-length stories, found its power in resurrecting recent history on-screen to transportive life. Movies became how we process trauma, looking back on the things we have experienced with honor, anger, regret, and romance.

So how fitting that at the first Academy Awards ever, World War I epic Wings (1927) would win Best Picture, partially on the strength of its inventive camerawork that swept audiences into the love triangle and aerial dogfights. WWI movies became prestige events, featuring big-budget casts and production values, seen in enduring classics like A Farewell to Arms, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Grand Illusion. But the regular production of WWI movies dried up in the 1940s. Hmmm, wonder what happened!

After World War II, audiences got a major WWI movie once a decade. Paths of Glory came out in 1957. Lawrence of Arabia was in the ’60s. Johnny Got His Gun for the cynical ’70s. It was Gallipoli in the ’80s. Then in the ’90s, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and Medal of Honor made WWII the guerre du jour for a long time. All three projects were shepherded by Steven Spielberg, so naturally he would be the one to give World War I its biggest spectacle movie in decades: the 2011 Certified Fresh War Horse.

A quick note on our selection criteria: We picked only movies that were set squarely in the War, instead of just using the War as a backdrop, like Hitchcock’s Secret Agent, The African Queen, or The White Ribbon. And only movies whose subject is the War. Multi-decade stories that happened to include WWI were not considered, leaving off movies like The Great Dictator, Legends of the Fall, and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

Revisit a turning point in human history with our guide to every World War I movie ranked by Tomatometer!

#34

In Love and War (1996)
11%

#34
Adjusted Score: 11355%
Critics Consensus: Formulaic and trite, In Love and War unconvincingly recreates Ernest Hemingway's early life with all the stuffy tropes that the author would have excised in a second draft.
Synopsis: In 1918, 18-year-old Ernest Hemingway (Chris O'Donnell) signs up for service in World War I. After a bomb goes off... [More]
Directed By: Richard Attenborough

#33

The Red Baron (2008)
17%

#33
Adjusted Score: 16078%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't lack ambition, and it boasts undeniably thrilling source material, but The Red Baron is brought down by its overly sentimental script and a number of historical inaccuracies.
Synopsis: Though a national hero to the Germans for his efforts in World War I, Baron Manfred von Richthofen (Matthias Schweighöfer)... [More]
Directed By: Nikolai Müllerschön

#32

Flyboys (2006)
33%

#32
Adjusted Score: 37304%
Critics Consensus: A poorly scripted history-rewriting exercise with mediocre acting and unconvincing CGI battle scenes.
Synopsis: Before the United States enters World War I, some American youths volunteer for the French military. Subsequently, they become the... [More]
Directed By: Tony Bill

#31

Darling Lili (1970)
40%

#31
Adjusted Score: 23044%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In World War I London, half-British, half-German Lili Smith (Julie Andrews) lets her German "uncle" -- a foreign agent and... [More]
Directed By: Blake Edwards

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 18838%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: American ex-military man Col. Flynn O'Flynn (Lee Marvin) and wealthy Sebastian Oldsmith (Roger Moore) are unlikely partners in the East... [More]
Directed By: Peter R. Hunt

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 22818%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Longtime rivals in the Marines, Capt. Flagg (James Cagney) and Sgt. Quirt (Dan Dailey) are stationed together in France during... [More]
Directed By: John Ford

#28

Mata Hari (1931)
67%

#28
Adjusted Score: 28654%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Paris during World War II, Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari (Greta Garbo) secretly moonlights as a German spy. Using... [More]
Directed By: George Fitzmaurice

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 19893%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Baron von Richthoven (John Phillip Law), better known as the Red Baron, is a highly skilled German fighter pilot and... [More]
Directed By: Roger Corman

#26

Private Peaceful (2012)
63%

#26
Adjusted Score: 62237%
Critics Consensus: Private Peaceful's deliberate pace will test the patience of many viewers, but its lush visuals and moving screenplay may offer sufficient compensation.
Synopsis: During World War I two brothers fall in love with the same woman as they contend with the pressures of... [More]
Directed By: Pat O'Connor

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 65828%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: War has plunged Army soldier Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms) into an unending nightmare. Hit by an artillery shell in World... [More]
Directed By: Dalton Trumbo

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 43959%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: World War I Australian cavalrymen (Jon Blake, Peter Phelps) fight the Germans and the Turks, ending in a charge at... [More]
Directed By: Simon Wincer

#23

Merry Christmas (2005)
74%

#23
Adjusted Score: 78474%
Critics Consensus: The poignant humanity on display in Joyeux Noel makes its sentimentality forgivable.
Synopsis: With the advent of World War I, Europe is thrown into a brutal and vicious chaos as men are forced... [More]
Directed By: Christian Carion

#22

War Horse (2011)
75%

#22
Adjusted Score: 83922%
Critics Consensus: Technically superb, proudly sentimental, and unabashedly old-fashioned, War Horse is an emotional drama that tugs the heartstrings with Spielberg's customary flair.
Synopsis: Albert (Jeremy Irvine) and his beloved horse, Joey, live on a farm in the British countryside. At the outbreak of... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#21

Hell's Angels (1930)
76%

#21
Adjusted Score: 77886%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: As World War I breaks out in Europe, Roy (James Hall) and Monte (Ben Lyon), two brothers studying at Oxford... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hughes

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 83809%
Critics Consensus: A well-crafted and visually arresting drama with a touch of whimsy.
Synopsis: Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) is told that her fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) has been killed in World War I. She refuses to... [More]
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

#19

Waterloo Bridge (1940)
80%

#19
Adjusted Score: 50700%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: At the onset of World War I, British officer Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor) and ballerina Myra (Vivien Leigh) meet and... [More]
Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 88909%
Critics Consensus: Testament of Youth is well-acted and beautifully filmed, adding up to an enriching if not adventurous experience for fans of British period dramas.
Synopsis: During World War I, Oxford University student Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) postpones her studies to serve as a nurse while... [More]
Directed By: James Kent

#17

Beneath Hill 60 (2010)
86%

#17
Adjusted Score: 54141%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During World War I a mining engineer (Brendan Cowell) and his team dig a network of tunnels beneath German lines... [More]
Directed By: Jeremy Sims

#16

Sergeant York (1941)
88%

#16
Adjusted Score: 89468%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Prize-winning Tennessee marksman Alvin York (Gary Cooper), a recent convert to Christianity, finds himself torn between his non-violent beliefs and... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hawks

#15

King and Country (1964)
86%

#15
Adjusted Score: 25520%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this World War I drama, English army private Arthur Hamp (Tom Courtenay) is accused of deserting his company while... [More]
Directed By: Joseph Losey

#14

1917 (2019)
88%

#14
Adjusted Score: 117765%
Critics Consensus: Hard-hitting, immersive, and an impressive technical achievement, 1917 captures the trench warfare of World War I with raw, startling immediacy.
Synopsis: During World War I, two British soldiers -- Lance Cpl. Schofield and Lance Cpl. Blake -- receive seemingly impossible orders.... [More]
Directed By: Sam Mendes

#13

Gallipoli (1981)
91%

#13
Adjusted Score: 94125%
Critics Consensus: Peter Weir's devastating anti-war film features a low-key but emotionally wrenching performance from Mel Gibson as a young soldier fighting in one of World War I's most deadly and horrifying battles.
Synopsis: Archy (Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson) are two young Australian sprinters who want to join the army to fulfill... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 94847%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper), an American driving ambulances for the Italian Army during World War I, falls for British Red... [More]
Directed By: Frank Borzage

#11

Journey's End (2017)
91%

#11
Adjusted Score: 96629%
Critics Consensus: Journey's End brings R.C. Sherriff's 90-year-old play to the screen with thrilling power, thanks to director Saul Dibb's hard-hitting urgency and brilliant work from a talented cast.
Synopsis: Led by an officer whose mental health is rapidly disintegrating, a group of British soldiers await their fate in an... [More]
Directed By: Saul Dibb

#10

Wings (1927)
93%

#10
Adjusted Score: 98444%
Critics Consensus: Subsequent war epics may have borrowed heavily from the original Best Picture winner, but they've all lacked Clara Bow's luminous screen presence and William Wellman's deft direction.
Synopsis: With World War I afoot, David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) and Jack Powell (Charles "Buddy" Rogers) join the military with an... [More]
Directed By: William A. Wellman

#9

See You up There (2017)
94%

#9
Adjusted Score: 94125%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1918, just days before the Armistice, a tragic act of war intrinsically links two soldiers.... [More]
Directed By: Albert Dupontel

#8

Paths of Glory (1957)
96%

#8
Adjusted Score: 103433%
Critics Consensus: Paths of Glory is a transcendentally humane war movie from Stanley Kubrick, with impressive, protracted battle sequences and a knock-out ending.
Synopsis: During World War I, commanding officer General Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) orders his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready), to attack a... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

#7

Grand Illusion (1937)
97%

#7
Adjusted Score: 112362%
Critics Consensus: Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion is a masterful anti-war statement, bringing humane insight and an undercurrent of ironic humor to an unusual relationship between captor and captive.
Synopsis: A group of French soldiers, including the patrician Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay) and the working-class Lieutenant Maréchal (Jean Gabin),... [More]
Directed By: Jean Renoir

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 105556%
Critics Consensus: The epic of all epics, Lawrence of Arabia cements director David Lean's status in the filmmaking pantheon with nearly four hours of grand scope, brilliant performances, and beautiful cinematography.
Synopsis: Due to his knowledge of the native Bedouin tribes, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) is sent to Arabia to... [More]
Directed By: David Lean

#5

Dishonored (1931)
90%

#5
Adjusted Score: 44017%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A streetwalker (Marlene Dietrich) in World War I Vienna becomes spy X-27, opposite Russian spy H-14 (Victor McLaglen).... [More]
Directed By: Josef von Sternberg

#4

The Big Parade (1925)
100%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101460%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Wealthy young idler Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) enlists during the early days of World War I, to the worry of... [More]
Directed By: King Vidor

#3

The Lost Patrol (1934)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100173%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A British patrol is crossing the deserts of Mesopotamia during World War I when the commanding officer is suddenly struck... [More]
Directed By: John Ford

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 108139%
Critics Consensus: An impressive technical achievement with a walloping emotional impact, They Shall Not Grow Old pays brilliant cinematic tribute to the sacrifice of a generation.
Synopsis: Using state-of-the-art technology and materials from the BBC and Imperial War Museum, filmmaker Peter Jackson allows the story of World... [More]
Starring: Peter Jackson
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#1
Adjusted Score: 109919%
Critics Consensus: Director Lewis Milestone's brilliant anti-war polemic, headlined by an unforgettable performance from Lew Ayres, lays bare the tragic foolishness at the heart of war.
Synopsis: The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War I by their... [More]
Directed By: Lewis Milestone


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