In light of American Sniper’s nomination of 6 Academy Awards tonight, we thought we would offer a list of previous war classics to have earned the coveted Oscar. War movies have been honored by the Academy for more than 80 years, in fact, the very first Oscar for Best Picture was won in 1927 by the WWI silent film Wings. Explore our list of 12 Academy Award winners going back to the very first, and let us know what your favorites are in the comments!
The Hurt Locker (2009)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing
Based on the wartime experiences of journalist Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker follows an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team around Baghdad as it goes about its job of defusing IEDs. Star Jeremy Renner gives a memorable performance as the EOD Team’s leader. Despite many criticisms for inaccuracies, the film gives a down and dirt look at what it’s like to be in the middle of the conflict.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Awards: Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing
Saving Private Ryan is a true American military classic, and stands as one of the most poplar films of all time. Set during World War II, the film stars Tom Hanks as a well-seasoned Army Captain that leads a squad of Rangers from the beaches of Normandy deep ebhind enemy lines to rescue the last remaining brother (Matt Damon), among 5, that were killed previously in action. The opening 20 minutes, which chronicles the Omaha Beach landings during D-Day, cost more than $12 million alone to film, and still ranks as one of the most realistic combat scenes in movie history.
Director: Oliver Stone
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing
Platoon was the first film to realistically depict the chaos and intensity that American Soldiers experienced during the Vietnam War. Director Oliver Stone drew on his own experiences as a grunt during the war to tell a story of how a young recruit (Charlie Sheen) loses his innocence in the face of a brutal conflict.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Awards: Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography
Apocalypse Now opened to mixed reviews as a modern retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The film is less a realistic story about Vietnam conflict than a nightmarish journey into the dark corners of the human soul as it follows a Special Operations Officer (Martin Sheen) on a mission to kill a renegade and presumed insane Special Forces Colonel (Marlon Brando). Today Apocalypse Now is seen as one of the most immersive war movies ever filmed, and of course, features one of the most memorable combat scenes involving a helicopter attack on a Vietnam village scored to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Director: Michael Cimino
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound
The Deer Hunter, haunting drama about working-class buddies who are emotionally and physically scarred by Vietnam, boasts a stellar cast that includes Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. The film depicts the emotional and psychological damage that the Vietnam War inflicts on the characters, including the most infamous scene portraying a deadly game of Russian roulette the Vietcong force the American POWs to play.
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction and Best Sound
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Director: David Lean
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction and Best Sound
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Director: David Lean
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Music, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Writing
From Here to Eternity (1953)
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay
The Best Years of Our Lives (1947)
Director: William Wyler
Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Music
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Director: Lewis Milestone
Awards: Best Director, Outstanding Production
Director: William A. Wellman
Awards: Best Picture, Best Engineering Effect
Set during World War I, Wings carries the distinction of being the very first film to win the Academy Award for best picture, and the only silent film to ever win it.