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15 Best Memorial Day Movies To Watch This Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is usually seen as a gateway to summer, and while there are many movies to watch at your local complex, some may be looking for a movie to go along with the holiday itself. Stories that honor our fallen soldiers. Maybe it’s a war epic, or something that brings out courage in the face of danger.

From the Civil War to Vietnam and the war in Afghanistan, the films on this list are perfect to watch on any memorial day, as we remember the brave men and women who gave their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. War epics have been a part of cinema since its invention, and still to this day are a great way to truly tell human life and death stories. Award-winning directors such as Steven Spielberg, Katherine Bigelow, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, Clint Eastwood and more have tried their hand at these epics, as well as icons such as Stanley Kubrick, Edward Zwick, Terrence Malik and Peter Weir.

Here are some great flicks to consider if you’re trying to craft and create a Memorial Day party that, from all the different eras of American (and world) history, tells tales of an extraordinary act in the midst of utter hell.

15 Best Movies to Watch on Memorial Day

Note: Where to view information is based on data available at the time of publication.

black hawk fell

Where to watch: HBO Max, HBO Go, Max Go, Hoopla

Black Hawk Down, from Ridley Scott, won praise and two Academy Awards (for Best Film Editing and Best Sound) and continues to be a powerful, engaging look for soldiers caught up in a seemingly impossible situation. Detailing the 1993 US Army raid in Mogadishu, which transformed from what was supposed to be a quick mission to an overnight standoff and rescue operation, Black Hawk Down features a large group, including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, and William. Fichtner, Sam Shepard, Jeremy Piven and Tom Hardy in his first movie role.

paying off IGN Review for Black Hawk Dawn.


Where to watch: Fubo, and rentable on other platforms

Edward Zwick’s historical civil war drama, Glory, stars Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick in the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment—one of the first African American regiments in the Union Army. Nominated for five Academy Awards, and winning three (including one for Denzel), Glory is a touching and powerful movie that will amaze you.

Check out IGN’s review of Glory.

bravery under fire

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, and rentable on other platforms

Denzel Washington reunites with Glory director Edward Zwick on a completely different war and an entirely different story of bravery with Courage Under Fire. Using a Rashomon-style format, the film follows the presenter (Washington), who returns home from the Gulf War after a friendly fire incident, tasked with determining whether Captain Karen Emma Walden (Meg Ryan) should be the first woman to receive the medal. Honor posthumously in combat. The separate stories about Walden’s crew are filled with contradictions…so where’s the truth? Courage Under Fire – starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Matt Damon, and Seth Gilliam – is a compelling, ghostly watch.

Saving Private Ryan

Where to watch: Fubo, and rentable on other platforms

A few years after Spielberg changed course with Jurassic Park, he left his indelible mark on the world of war drama with the classic Saving Private Ryan. A movie that shows horrific and brutal battle scenes that were unlike anything the audience had seen before in a World War II movie. From the opening of D-Day to its brutal climax, Saving Private Ryan and his cast of stars rarely let you breathe. Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davis star in this journey to track down a paratrooper in northern France that has been nominated for a huge Oscar.

Check out IGN’s review of Saving Private Ryan.

The thin red line

Where to watch: Rentable on multiple platforms

That same year, Saving Private Ryan released another entirely different World War II movie, The Thin Red Line, which was director Terrence Malick’s first film in 20 years. Focusing on a different arena of war, the Pacific Theater, and working in the style of a true Malik, like a deep war poem, The Thin Red Line was also a contender at the Academy Awards, finding itself a nominee in seven categories. Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Kotias and Ben Chaplin star in this charming meditation on life and death (plus other famous faces—John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, John C. Reilly and John Travolta—— in smaller roles).

Check out IGN’s review of The thin red line.

paths of glory

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, and rentable on other platforms

Kirk Douglas plays a World War I commanding officer who attempts to defend his soldiers after they refuse to embark on a suicide mission in this early gem from Stanley Kubrick. Inspired by the novel by Humphrey Cobb, Paths of Glory is a thought-provoking tale about the horrors of war and the discrete brutality that can be shown from officials. It’s beautifully photographed and expertly represented.

Pain locker

Where to watch: Fubo, and rentable on other platforms

Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director after directing this intense film revealing the Iraq War bomb disposal squads and their psychological reactions to the stress of combat. Future MCU players Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie star in this Best Picture award winner that will leave you euphoric and exhausted.

paying off IGN review for Pain locker.


Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, and rentable on other platforms

If you’re looking for another war movie that cleaned up at the Oscars, look no further than Oliver Stone’s Platoon, which received Best Picture, Director, Sound, and Editing. Charlie Sheen plays a US Army soldier serving in Vietnam as his platoon’s sergeant (Tom Berenger) and his squad leader (Willem Dafoe) clash over platoon morals and war itself. As the first Hollywood movie written and directed by a Vietnam War veteran, Platoon is a harrowing look at wartime violence and how men can become monsters in the midst of chaos.

Check out IGN’s review of detachment.

Where to watch: Rentable on multiple platforms

Clint Eastwood directs Bradley Cooper in this vivid and sad account of the deadliest shooter in US military history, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and the terrible toll this feat has taken on his personal and family life. Based on Kyle’s own memoir, American Sniper boasts an amazing, beautiful performance from Cooper, along with a strong supporting cast that includes Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Jake McDorman and Kyle Gallner.

paying off IGN review for American sniper.

big red

Where to watch: Rentable on multiple platforms

One of the lesser-known films on this list, The Big Red One is independently produced and shot abroad very little, written and directed by Tinseltown vet (and World War II vet) Samuel Fuller. The Big Red One stars action legend Lee Marvin as a hardened sergeant and World War I veteran, leading members of his infantry unit from battle to battle across Europe, trying to survive in World War II. Mark Hamill takes part in post-Star Wars alongside pre-Nerds revenge shooter Robert Carradine.


Where to watch: Netflix and rentable on other platforms

The Outpost, directed by Rod Lowery (The Last Castle, Straw Dogs), is an exceptional blend of writing, acting and artistic filmmaking. Based on journalist Jake Tapper’s non-fiction book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, the film depicts the months leading up to the Battle of Kamdish in Afghanistan, in which more than 50 soldiers find themselves surrounded on all sides by hundreds of Taliban. the rebels. Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, Orlando Bloom, Jack Casey and Cory Harderdict star.

paying off IGN review for outpost.

the only survivor

Where to watch: Rentable on multiple platforms

Actor/director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Rundown) kicks off his five-film collaboration with Mark Wahlberg with 2013’s Lone Survivor, a dramatic portrayal of the US Navy’s failed counterinsurgency mission, Operation Red Wings. A survival story in the truest sense of the term, Lone Survivor is a gritty and violent depiction of courage, focus and fortitude. Co-stars are Taylor Kitsch, Emil Hirsch, Ben Foster, and Eric Bana.

paying off IGN review for the only survivor.


Where to watch: Starz app, Amazon with Starz added, Rentable on multiple platforms

This thrilling tale of Australian soldiers sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula in World War I is quintessential Australian cinema – as well as one of the best war films ever. Peter Weir (The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) proves himself to be a very patient and talented filmmaker with this haunting look at innocence lost on the unforgiving battlefield. Yes, it is the only movie on this list that does not focus on American fighters but Gallipoli’s evergreen and enduring themes.

Flags of Our Fathers / Letters from Iwo Jima

Where to watch: Rentable on multiple platforms

Two movies sneak up on here at the end, both by Clint Eastwood and both depicting the battle of Iwo Jima. Flags from Our Fathers stars Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, and Adam Beach in a heartfelt homage to the American side of the conflict while Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya and Tsuyoshi Ihara star in the almost entirely Japanese (and most powerful) film Letters from Iwo Jima depicting the story of Japanese soldiers.

paying off IGN ratings for Flags of our fathers And the Messages from Iwo Jima.

Do you have a favorite war movie that is not on the list? Let us know in the comments below…

Also check file Best Memorial Day Deals If you are looking for some savings while on vacation.