From the beaches of Normandy to the tunnels of Iwo Jima, there is no shortage of World War II movies. It's one of the best-recorded conflicts in human history. As such, the corresponding theatrical commemorations are among the pinnacle of cinema. Of course, there wouldn't be good films without bad films, and it just so happens that World War II is not exempted from poor theatrical handling.
There also exists a roster of some dismal World War II movies that you ought to avoid like the plague... or maybe watch so you can appreciate the good ones. We've used Rotten Tomatoes' critic review aggregation system to determine which are the best and the worst World War II movies for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure). Do note that for the best films, we've referred to Rotten Tomatoes' Adjusted Score as it takes into account the number of reviews; consequently, the worst films aren't popular enough to warrant the use of Adjusted Score.
10 (BEST) STALAG 17 - ADJUSTED TOMATOMETER: 101.65%
You just can't beat the classics when it comes to old war movies. Stalag 17 contains no actual World War II battles as it mostly takes place in a German prisoner-of-war POW camp involving mostly American prisoners who try to make their stay in the German camp more entertaining by parodying Hitler among many other activities.
The movie is mainly about the exploits of Sgt. Sefton among the prisoners who grew suspicious that he was a German spy after two escaping inmates were shot dead. Now, he must find the actual spy before everyone turns against him. It's a masterful combination of action and adventure, drama, and comedy set in World War II. As you can expect, it's a solid Oscar winner of a film.
9 (WORST) PEARL HARBOR - TOMATOMETER: 24%
The audience sort of loves this film (because Ben Affleck, maybe?) but the critics hate this romantic caricature of the Pearl Harbor attack. It's about two pilots who were also childhood friends that managed to get themselves into a love triangle after Ben Affleck's character was presumed dead.
Oh, also Pearl Harbor also serves as the backdrop of that shoehorned threesome. The nerve, right? Making an actual historical event nothing but a colorful background for a Ben Affleck romance film is the closest thing to historical blasphemy you can do. To be fair, it's a Michael Bay movie so that was expected.
8 (BEST) DAS BOOT - ADJUSTED TOMATOMETER: 101.685%
What we have here is one of the few World War II films which explored the wartime drama from the German perspective. Das Boot is a submarine film that follows a U-boat crew and their predicament on the Atlantic Ocean as they deal with tense naval battles and the long stretches of boredom that precede them.
While they wage war against Allied ships, they also wage war amongst themselves and contend with decreasing morale, dwindling supplies, and fierce storms. Not many war films manage to make you feel like part of the crew or the squad, that's why Das Boot is a special experience for anyone.
7 (WORST) LITTLE BOY - TOMATOMETER: 23%
One would think that no bad World War II movie would ever be released this decade, but Little Boy managed to disappoint despite having a strong premise. Well, at least it was a disappointment for the critics, the laymen loved it, though.
It's a tropey and sometimes cheesy story between a boy and his dad who got drafted to fight in the Pacific Front of World War II. The boy, who was nicknamed "Little Boy" by his bullies wanted to bring back his dad from the war alive by all costs. It's up to you whether it's worth watching or not as critical taste can sometimes be misleading.
6 (BEST) SCHINDLER'S LIST - ADJUSTED TOMATOMETER: 104.819%
When one often talks about World War II, the first thing that usually comes to mind is not the victims or casualties but rather, the battles. That's why anti-war movies set out to change people's perspectives about war, among the best of them is Schindler's List. It's a historically inspired retelling of how Oskar Schindler managed to save more than a thousand Jews from a cruel fate.
In that regard, Schindler's List mostly focuses on the atrocities committed by the villains of World War II and their unfounded hate for the Jews. It's by far the most dramatic and heartbreaking World War II story which made its way into cinemas.
5 (WORST) MY WAY - TOMATOMETER 21%
Several minutes into watching My Way you'll most likely be awed at the production value of this South Korean film. It's another historically-inspired World War II epic that pits Korean and Japanese best friends against the Soviet Army during World War II.
The two embark on an amazing journey of survival which spanned several continents up to the point where both of them somehow made it into Normandy, France, basically half-a-world away. While the critics didn't much like My Way for its excessive use of CGI and "forced emotional punch," the Audience Score showed a different and favorable reception. Again, up to you if it's good or not.
4 (BEST) ARMY OF SHADOWS - ADJUSTED TOMATOMETER: 106.44%
Army of Shadows' premise is quite simple: a French Resistance member gets sent to a German torture camp and he must escape to find out who betrayed him in his now-occupied country. It's the film's execution that manages to reel you in and never let you go as you grip the edge of your seat in the tension.
Army of Shadows does sound more like a World War II spy thriller than a World War II drama but that doesn't diminish its repute one bit. It's a foreign language French film but it will resonate with you nonetheless. Many consider Army of Shadows as the best World War II French Resistance film ever made.
3 (WORST) THE ARYAN COUPLE - TOMATOMETER: 12%
Most critics believe that World War II Holocaust films are difficult to get right. Schindler's List and The Pianist were among the few that tried and managed to execute the delicate subject matter expertly. Meanwhile, The Aryan Couple also tried and ended being called the worst Holocaust movie ever.
It's about the story of a married German couple who worked for a rich and powerful Jew back in a time where all the Jews were being purged. Both the audience and the critics' consensus on this one is that it's a poorly executed film, one that exploited the Holocaust for some cheap thrills, apparently.
2 (BEST) DUNKIRK - ADJUSTED TOMATOMETER: 112.157%
Now, before you start a riot on this one, do note again that it was Rotten Tomatoes that formulated such a ranking. They did make their own official Best War Movies ranking and Dunkirk seemingly came out on top among all the World War II films based on the Adjusted Score. With that out of the way, Dunkirk is definitely a masterpiece worthy of being on this list.
It's a unique and non-linear take on World War II that chronicles that struggle of British soldiers on the shores of Dunkirk at the infancy of World War II when Germany was still invading France. As both a cinematic treat and a war film, Dunkirk stands out in the annals of war movie history.
1 (WORST) ALL THE QUEEN'S MEN - TOMATOMETER: 7%
All the Queen's Men stands as the worst of the worst when it comes to World War II films, based on Rotten Tomatoes. It's actually made to be a comedy film where American (Matt LeBlanc) and British spies cross-dress as female factory workers in order to infiltrate Berlin and steal a German Enigma machine for the war.
It's basically a sitcom idea or sketch stretched to be a movie. All the Queen's Men was so bad, that it only made $23,662 in the box office despite having a $15 million budget, probably burying Matt LeBlanc's movie career below sea level. You'll need to watch all the best movies on this list after seeing All the Queen's Men's trailer just to wash off the bad taste.