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53% Of Fans Agree That This Is The Best War Movie Of All Time

Sure, everybody loves a good rom-com, and these days superhero cinema is all the rage, but when it comes to time-honored genres of American cinema nothing quite compares to a good, ol'-fashioned war movie. 

So tried and true is the war genre in Hollywood, it's often served simultaneously as ground zero for both blockbuster box office returns and awards season prestige. Of course, even the best of the best in the genre tend to indulge in a little flag-waving here and there, but the truest of war movie classics look beyond blind patriotism to explore deeper themes like the depravity of war, the cost in human lives, and the damning physical and mental toll wars inflict on those who survive them.   

In an attempt to crown a true king of the war movie genre, Looper selected a handful of just such movies from legit cinematic masters — Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979), Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987), Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (1998), Mendes' 1917 (2017) — with a fifth selection to write in films not listed. Through a voluntary survey conducted on YouTube, which asked you the fans to choose the greatest of all time. 

With over 160,000 votes cast internationally, a champ has indeed been crowned. While some might disagree, 53% of voters selected none other than Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning World War II classic Saving Private Ryan the best war movie ever made. The final tally reflects that Saving Private Ryan actually won this battle handily, with none of the other films earning more than 13% of the final vote.

Saving Private Ryan is a war movie marvel

In reality, there were more votes cast for write-ins than the other featured flicks, with Christopher Nolan's masterful Dunkirk, Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge, and even Ben Stiller's war movie spoof Tropic Thunder scoring regular mentions.

As for the Saving Private Ryan detractors in the comments section, it seems that even they acknowledge the film's jaw-dropping opening scene is a masterwork in and of itself. Unfortunately, they also believe the film fails to deliver any drama on the same level for the remaining two-plus hours of its runtime. The truth is that it doesn't. That's hardly a knock against Saving Private Ryan's ensuing narrative though, because the fact remains no war film before or since has matched that opening scene in terms of shear visceral impact and raw human emotion.

So even if the rest of Saving Private Ryan doesn't match up, there's still much to marvel at after the fact, with an absurdly stacked cast (including the likes of Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, and Vin Diesel) fronting an emotionally wrenching, action-packed narrative that effectively tows the line between pro-war sentimentality and anti-war antipathy. Somewhere in between, Spielberg and company also find ample time to explore headier themes like the human cost of conflict and the absurdity of military politicking. They also serve up a handful of pulse-pounding, meticulously executed set pieces.

Does that mean Saving Private Ryan is better, or even more important than the likes of Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket? Well, that remains a matter for debate, and reasonable minds can always differ.