Hollywood has done a good job of immortalizing some of the amazing acts of bravery our veterans have displayed. A great way to remember and honor their valor this Memorial Day is to binge on these top movies that salute the men and women who are America's finest.
Here are our top five picks of patriotic flicks to watch this Memorial Day.
The Best Years Of Our Lives
This classic film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1946. It has stood the test of time and remains one of the best films about veterans adjusting back into civilian life after combat in World War II. Among the cast of well-known actors of the era, the movie also featured an amateur actor and real life war vet, Harold Russell.
Russell lost both of his hands during the war and won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his work in the movie, as well as an Honorary Oscar for “bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.”
Saving Private Ryan
Loosely based on a real family that lost all their sons during World War II, Steven Spielberg's wartime rescue film featured an ensemble cast lead by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon as Private Ryan. The film showed the camaraderie and brotherhood formed by those who served in combat together, as well as the life-long emotions carried by those who lived to come home after the fighting was over.
This thriller is about a Gulf War marine sniper who must do his duty during desert storm but also wrestle with possibility that his girlfriend may be cheating on him back in the U.S. According to ex-Army Ranger Michael Baumgarten, the film shows the hardships of being deployed, not only because of combat, but also because soldiers know that, back home, life goes on without them.
“I think it helps people understand what it is like to have everything at home progressing as if you had never existed at all. It shows how you are in this liminal space between worlds,” he said.
Based on the biography of Navy S.E.A.L. sniper, Chris Kyle, the award-winning American Sniper veers safely away from the politics behind the war in Iraq and delivers a story about a vet struggling to rebuild a life back home with his wife and kids after four tours of duty.
Both lead actors of this 1978 movie won Academy Awards for their performances. Jon Voight played a paraplegic Vietnam War vet and Jane Fonda was the nurse who cared for him, and also has an affair with him, before her husband also returns home with his own traumas from combat.
Fonda, who was vocal at the time with her anti-war sentiments, commissioned the screenplay for Coming Home and reportedly shocked everyone with a film that was touchingly pro-veteran.
Photo: JD Hancock | Flickr