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The Most Underrated War Movies of the 2010s, Ranked


There is no better feeling than perusing IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd, or online film reviews looking for your latest watch, settling for a relatively low-rated film as you’re fed up with scrolling and have seen everything else, only to discover you’ve just picked out an underrated gem. Period war movies are made in abundance; there seems to be an unlimited pool of inspiration, and original new stories are released every year.


The 2010s were a decade of some sensational war movies, including Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Sam Mendes’ 1917, the Academy Award-winning Zero Dark Thirty, and Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. Yet, sitting in the shadow of the big-budget, all-action blockbusters were films that never received the same fanfare or clamor, nor were backed by the same colossal budgets, but were just as (if not more) evocative, absorbing, and expertly executed. The 2010s were not only a decade filled with star-studded military movies of Hollywood valiance but was also filled with underappreciated, lesser-known pictures that, if anything, are debatably more deserving of our praise. Here are some of the most underrated war flicks of the 2010s…

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5/5 Anthropoid

Anthropoid movie
Falcon

2016’s small-budget war film, Anthropoid, is a gritty, claustrophobic thriller that documents the true story of two Czech assassins deployed on a mission to kill high-ranking Nazi officials. Set in 1942, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan play Josef Gabcík and Jan Kubis respectively, as they go on the hunt for General Reinhard Heydrich, a key holocaust orchestrator.

4/5 Beasts of No Nation

A boy with a gun in his hand in Beasts Of No Nation
Netflix

Receiving its worldwide premiere at 2015’s Venice Film Festival, the Netflix original Beasts of No Nation, based on Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name, tackles the subject of child soldiers in Africa. The film chronicles a young boy, Agu, who is forced to join a group of West African militants during a civil war in an unspecified country.

Related: The Most Underrated War Movies of the 2000s, Ranked

A fearless child who is nonetheless scarred by the perils of war, Agu is intimidated by the first-in-command of the battalion, the evil Commandant (an amazing Idris Elba). Beasts of No Nation follows Agu’s life as a child member of the militia, his skirmishes with death, and his barbarous initiations. This is a film that spares us from neither the shock nor the horror of war, and the graphic detail in which director Cary Joji Fukunaga goes is especially traumatizing.

3/5 Fury

Brad Pitt in Fury.
Sony Pictures

Monumental set-pieces, cheesy platitudes, and emblematic demonstrations of patriotism while on the battlefield are all commonplace in fictional tales of war; it’s a Hollywood producer’s heavily dramatized view of what it means to fight for one’s country. For the most part, these films will cash in, usually off the back of a big name actor, but typically to the detriment of both credibility and critical success.

2014’s Furyis simultaneously fictional and a grandiose depiction of “Americanized” war, yet also a film that was underrated by critics and the public alike, featuring a revered ensemble cast of Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Bernthal, and Michael Peña. The film tells the story of a tank regiment during World War II who are led by “Wardaddy” (Brad Pitt) into an offensive against depleted Nazi resistance, yet they soon find themselves in all sorts of bother. This is a film that mixes the downright shocking reality of war with a patriotic brotherly bond that, although saddening, is so very feel-good.

2/5 A Hidden Life

Hidden Life
Fox Searchlight Pictures

In this slow-moving three-hour-long drama set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Europe, an Austrian farmer, Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), undertakes a period of forced army training before being discharged back to his family, with his wife and daughters responsible for the upkeep of their farm while he’s away. Upon return, Franz’s conscientious objections become increasingly ardent.

Related: Some of the Best World War Two Movies From a German and Axis Perspective

When he is again called upon to take up arms for Hitler’s army, Franz refuses and is subsequently chastised by his community, and reprimanded by the powers that be. A Hidden Lifeis a truly stirring tribute to the life of a real soldier, a man who stayed faithful to his moral principles and religious standpoint. Terrence Malick’s movie is soaringly spiritual, visually beautiful, and deeply meaningful.

1/5 Son of Saul

Son of Saul movie
Mozinet

While any critical acknowledgment at the Academy Awards or Cannes is surely indicative of a film’s status as being anything but underrated, 2015’s Academy Award-winning Best International Feature and Cannes Grand Prix Award winner Son of Saul has sailed mightily under the mainstream radar. The film, directed by Lászlo Nemes in his big-screen debut, concerns the tale of Saul, a Jewish Hungarian prisoner at Auschwitz, a victim of the Nazi’s “Final Solution.”

Son of Saul chronicles the harrowing perspective of a Jewish man suffering the most heinous cruelties imaginable. As Saul battles to stay alive and keep himself from perishing in one of the concentration camp’s gas chambers, he is forced to take on the macabre job of retaining valuables from the deceased recently exterminated in the chambers. This is a film that depicts the desperate inner strength, and resilience of those who were ruthlessly persecuted and treated in the most undignified way possible.



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