Memorial Day is that time you set aside each year to remember and honor the sacrifices of our fallen military veterans. But it’s also a day off from school, work, and for those who want to spend the day in front of their TV without feeling unpatriotic or ungrateful — relax, we’ve got you’ve covered.
Flags of Our Fathers
Adapted from the book of the same name by James Bradley and Ron Powers, this Clint Eastwood production recounts the events of 1945’s Battle of Iwo Jima, which was one of the most crucial and costly battles of World War II. If you like this one, be sure to also check out Eastwood’s companion film, Letters from Iwo Jima.
Black Hawk Down
Based on the book of the same name by Mark Bowden, Black Hawk Down follows the U.S. military’s 1993 raid in Mogadishu, when troops were sent into Somalia to destabilize the government and bring food and aid to those in need. The cast includes Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, and Eric Bana, among others, and it’s a thrilling ride from start to finish.
Kate Mara stars in this biographical drama as a U.S. Marine corporal named Megan Leavey, who served as a Military Police K9 handler. Together, she and her partner Rex served two deployments in Iraq, and their story is seriously inspiring.
Based on the book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor by Jake Tapper, this movie depicts events from the Battle of Kamdesh in 2009, during which a force of 300 Taliban attacked the remote American Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan. The flick stars Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, and Orlando Bloom, and it’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Historians proclaim the Battle of Midway as a turning point in World War II’s Pacific theater. This 2019 movie follows naval aviator Lieutenant Dick Best and Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton on the path to a decisive American victory.
Act of Valor
This action film tells the story of the Bandito Platoon, an elite Navy SEALs team who — after discovering a deadly plot against the U.S. — race to stop the terrorists behind it. Though Act of Valorisn’t based on a true story, it does feature real-life U.S. Navy SEALs, which is what makes this one so unique.
Zero Dark Thirty
One of the best films of 2012 (whether or not the Oscar-voters had the balls to recognize it), this rich contemporary war story tells it like it is, documenting the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden without flinching from the often questionable methods the U.S. and others used to get the job done. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal avoid moralizing and minimize lionizing, instead watching fairly objectively as one CIA agent (masterfully played by Jessica Chastain) goes through a decade of ups and downs before lucking into an administration (and a Navy SEAL team) that’ll follow through on her intel. The heroine changes a lot along the way. But didn’t we all?
“Jarhead,” directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, depicts a realistic look at the mix of drudgery and tension that exists for soldiers in a war zone.
The movie spans from the late 1980s through the US involvement in the Gulf War.
Featuring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman, “Glory” follows the US’s first all African American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his performance.
Good Morning Vietnam
Loosely based on a true story, “Good Morning Vietnam” is a comedy-drama starring Robin Williams as a radio DJ in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
Williams earned an Academy Award for best actor.