Perhaps one day humans will end the need for war, but until then they’re a part of our reality, and they continue to be one of the best breeding grounds for storytelling. Sure, great war movies are full of intense battle action, explosions, and military might, but some of the best war movies go much deeper, delivering the love stories, philosophical studies, political drama, and gripping horror behind the battles. If you’re a Hulu subscriber, then you have an impressive library of war movies to choose from. We’ve looked through them all to choose the absolute best war movies so you don’t have to.

Not finding what you’re looking for on Hulu? Try our picks for the best war movies on Netflix.

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Moffie (2021)

It’s 1981, Apartheid is still very much alive in South Africa, and — like all white men and boys over the age of 16 in the country at the time — Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer) is conscripted into the South African Defense Force for his two years of compulsory service. While the country fights a border war with nearby Angola, Nicholas undergoes brutal training and desperately tries to hide his homosexuality and his growing attraction to another gay soldier, Dylan (Ryan de Villers). Moffie is a powerful, moving film and an unflinching study of hypermasculinity.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan De Villiers, Matthew Vey
Director: Oliver Hermanus
Rated: R
Runtime: 104 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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Crimson Tide (1995)

In a way, Crimson Tide is less of a war film than a thriller threatening to become not only a war film, but a movie about the very last war. After the ballistic missile submarine U.S.S. Alabama is dispatched in response to military upheaval in Chechnya, it receives orders to launch missiles at a Russian base. Captain Ramsey (Gene Hackman) orders the attack but his second-in-command, Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington), believes the orders may have been retracted before the sub’s radio was damaged. A gripping contest of wills unfolds between Ramsey and Hunter as the rest of the sub’s officers are forced to choose sides. The best reason to watch Crimson Tide is the talent involved. The explosive face-offs between Hackman and Washington are mesmerizing, and the film includes wonderful early appearances by Viggo Mortensen and the late James Gandolfini.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Stars: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Viggo Mortensen, James Gandolfini
Director: Tony Scott
Rated: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

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Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

When she boards the B-17 Bomber The Fool’s Errand, Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz) already has plenty to deal with, including a strange past and the fact most of the otherwise all-male crew would rather she be preparing meals in a kitchen somewhere. But in the midst of intermittent attacks from Japanese fighters, Maude and the crew have to deal with something unexpected — a monstrous gremlin. With war drama fusing with supernatural horror, Shadow in the Cloud is a fun ride.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale
Director: Roseanne Liang
Rated: R
Runtime: 83 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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The Thin Red Line (1998)

The cast list of The Thin Red Line alone should make anyone immediately want to hit play. Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Nick Nolte, John Cusack, George Clooney, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, John C. Reilly, John Travolta, and more star in this visually stunning and too-often overlooked Vietnam War epic. At nearly three hours long, it’s a bit of a commitment though, and don’t expect popcorn fare. The Thin Red Line is a deeply philosophical film that wants you to look at war differently by the end.

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Stars: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel
Director: Terrence Malick
Rated: R
Runtime: 170 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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The Messenger (2009)

After returning home from Iraq, Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) is tasked with one of the unhappiest jobs in the U.S. Army — under the command of Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), it’s Will’s job to notify families that they’re loved ones have been killed or seriously injured while serving their country. Already struggling with how to cope with his own trauma while performing such a grim duty, things get even more complicated for Will when he gets involved with one of the widows he delivers the bad news to. With superb acting and direction, The Messenger is a poignant war drama about a difficult subject.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Stars: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton
Director: Oren Moverman
Rated: R
Runtime: 113 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020)

In a harrowing situation, former schoolteacher Aida (Jasna Djuricic) is luckier than most. Right before the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre of the Bosnian War, Aida works as a UN translator and so, unlike most of the inhabitants of the besieged town, has access to the safety of the UN camp. But the rest of her family is still barred from entry. Through Aida’s eyes, we watch as horrors of war unfold in this unforgettable, Oscar-nominated drama.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Jasna Djuricic, Izudin Bajrovic, Boris Ler
Director: Jasmila Zbanic
Rated: TVMA
Runtime: 101 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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The 12th Man (2017)

Thankfully, World War II had no shortage of heroes, and the acclaimed Norwegian historical drama The 12th Man tells the stories of one of those heroes, those who hunted him, and those who saved him. Thomas Gullestad plays Jan Baalsrud, a Norwegian resistance fighter and the only survivor of a doomed sabotage mission. Forced to travel in subzero temperatures and hounded by the forces of German officer Kurt Sage (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Baalsrud has no one to help him but the locals desperate to get rid of the Nazis as much as he is, and they answer the call. The 12th Man is a harrowing, gripping tale of survival and resistance.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Stars: Thomas Gullestad, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Marie Blokhus
Director: Harold Zwart
Rated: NR
Runtime: 135 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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’71 (2014)

While it may not be set during a “traditional” war, ’71 is nevertheless as much of a war movie as any movie could be. Unfolding in Belfast during the Troubles, ’71 follows fresh recruit Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) after his unit unintentionally abandons him. Alone and on the run, Hook does everything he can to survive long enough to learn who will find him first — the British army or the IRA.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Stars: Jack O’Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris
Director: Yann Demange
Rated: R
Runtime: 99 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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Legion of Brothers (2017)

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the United States used special forces units extensively to take down the Taliban. The powerful documentary Legion of Brothers follows the soldiers who were sent overseas both during their tours of duty and after they come home. There’s no political agenda here. In Legion of Brothers, we hear from soldiers glad they had the opportunity to fight in Afghanistan and those who wish they had never been involved. The only agenda is to tell their stories and, above all, to highlight the brotherhood their experiences have forged.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Stars: Jason Amerine, George W. Bush, Mark Nutsch
Director: Greg Barker
Rated: TV-14
Runtime: 79 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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Eye in the Sky (2015)

In this nail-biting and thoughtful thriller, a more modern and different kind of warfare takes center stage. During what is initially meant to be a mission to capture a terrorist in Kenya, things get more heated when a disguised surveillance drone sends back video footage confirming that terrorists are planning a suicide bombing. The “capture” order is quickly changed to a “kill” order, but the presence of a child in the target area complicates the decision-making. Driven by a stellar cast including Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and the final live-action film performance of the late Alan Rickman, Eye in the Sky creates a suspenseful and entertaining story while at the same time dealing with the complicated moral questions revolving around drone warfare.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Stars: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman
Director: Gavin Hood
Rated: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

Watch on Hulu

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