Thursday, January 16, 2014

BEST and WORST: 2013


                Another year has passed by and since I have no social life I managed to watch 95 war movies.  That means there were 95 times this past year that I sat and watched a movie without doing school work – pretty amazing.  It was a polarizing year in war movies because I am getting to the end of the Greatest 100 list which means that the movies have been better, with some notable exceptions (ex.  “Soldier of Orange”).  However, I also managed to watch some incredibly bad war movies.  So bad that I expanded my “worst” list to ten.  Keep in mind that I am referring to movies that I watched this year.  Most of the great ones, I had already seen, but not for this blog.


10.  Lawrence of Arabia -  an epic in every way, but especially in vistas and score  / great acting  /  fairly accurate portrayal of a fascinating personality

9.  300 -  it has its flaws, but it is so ballsy (the one part of the body we don’t see) and visceral that I love it /  plus it is actually more accurate than most war movies!

8.  Apocalypse Now-  a flawed masterpiece with a weak closing act, but when you factor in the back-story it is a fascinating work  /  the best take of the Vietnam War on drugs

7.  Full Metal Jacket -  see above  /  two movies for the price of one – part 1 is the best boot camp movie ever made and part 2 is a well-done (but not great) combat sequence

6.  Zero Dark Thirty-  similar to the above two in that it has two parts, except that in this cases it closes strongly;  a movie that has its haters, but they are wrong.  A movie was going to be made about the killing of Bin Laden and the fact is that the topic could not have been done better than this movie.

5.  When Trumpets Fade -  the only made for TV movie (HBO) on the list.  Features one of the great anti-heroes in war movie history and it is one of the most clearly anti-war movies I have seen

4.  The Longest Day -  the granddaddy of the all-star epic battle movies and still the best

3.  Black Hawk Down-  probably the movie with the most action I saw this year.  Admirably accurate retelling of a battle that would have unrecognized by most Americans if not for this movie.  A tour de force in movie making.

2.  Platoon -  it has its detractors, but it is the best Vietnam War movie and that is with strong competition.  A great study in unit dynamics and leadership so it goes beyond the usual war movie plotting.  Great ensemble acting.  People forget what a huge splash the movie made when it was released.

1.  Glory -  what’s not to like -  fantastic acting, an iconic score, two great combat scenes, amazing dialogue, etc.  Most importantly, it tells a story that needed to be told and it does it with admirable accuracy and its very entertaining


10.  Warbirds – a made for ScyFy creaturette which manages to integrate Japs, babes, dinosaurs, and the atomic bomb and yet still sucks!

9.  Attack on the Iron Coast -  a lame addition to the suicide mission subgenre with wooden acting, preposterous scenario, and plenty of clichés

8.  Shining Through -  Melanie Griffith as a spy in Nazi Germany – ‘nuff said!

7.  Battle of the Bulge -  the Ardennes without snow, now you’re just messing with us.  One of the most inaccurate battle movies ever.

6.  Anzio -  another epic-wannabe that gets it all wrong.  And I don’t mean just the history.  Plus, who wants to see a movie on this battle?  Are there that many Albert Kesselring fans?

5.  Hellcats of the Navy -  Ronald Reagan and the future Mrs. Reagan – their courtship would have been more entertaining.  Has every submarine cliché imaginable and all are poorly done.

4.  Welcome to Dongmakgol -  Korean War movie made by a Korean hippie.  Tarnishes the excellent reputation of Korean war movies.  The opposite of Tae Guk Gi.

3.  Darby’s Rangers -  a terrible disservice to the unit.  About ten minutes of unrealistic action.  More than one pitiful romantic sub-plot.

2.  Pathfinders:  In the Company of Strangers -  sometimes you can not overcome a low budget, unprofessional actors, a script typed by a monkey, lack of knowledge of warfare, etc.  However, there are some truly (unintentionally) hilarious moments in it

1.  The Black Brigade -  Before there was “The Miracle at St. Anna”, there was this abomination.  The worst of the “Dirty Dozen” rip-offs.  An offensive portrayal of African-Americans.  Painful to watch and not even campy.


  1. Pathfinders is awfull. I got attacked on my blog because I said so and someone took offense.
    Your Best of 2013 is almost identical with my all-time favourites. Of course you cheated - if you'd only inluded the movies you've seen for the first time in 2013 - I guess the list would be smaller.

    1. the war movie buffJanuary 21, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      I should have counted how many of the 95 movies I watched for the first time! I just did - 49. Of those 49, none were outstanding. Here is the new list:
      1. War and Peace (Russian version)
      2. Operation Burma
      3. Battle of Haditha
      4. Decision Before Dawn
      5. My Way

      Interestingly all but 5, 6, and 7 were first timers.

    2. the war movie buffJanuary 21, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      That last line was referring to the worst list.

  2. What a year! Your 'worst' collection looks impressive. :)

    I don't regret having seen none of it (or not remembering them at all, in the case of Anzio or The Bulge) except for Welcome to Dongmakol.

    I agree it's a bad one - though at least the beginning is funny, which isn't the case of Tae Guk Gi (unsurprisingly, also a bad mark in my own book).

    1. the war movie buffJanuary 21, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      The word funny has never been associated Tae Guk Gi. If the casts of those two movies were to wander into the same movie, that would be amazing! I'd pay to see that.


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