Memorial Day is the time of celebrating fallen heroes who have given their lives fighting for the country. The holiday is centered around men and women who sacrificed even in the face of death.
More often than not, the coming of Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season. Of course, it would be a great time to head to the beach and swim with friends and loved ones.
But here’s the deal. Why not add something memorable and meaningful to your destination? You can watch one or two Memorial Fay films where you get to remember the lives of heroes.
In this film write-up, we’ve pulled some strings to get you the 15 Best Memorial Day Movies. Cheers to a worthwhile summer!
Lone Survivor (2013)
A story of patriotism, comradeship, and commitment, Lone Survivor follows the journey of Marine Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg).
This heroic film sets the tone when Luttrell and his elite team (Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, & Ben Foster) were sent on an Afghanistan mission. The team was tasked to kill Ahmad Shah, a Taliban leader.
Things began to turn dark as the team was left with no way out. Ultimately, Luttrell and the team fight to save their lives. But bad luck knocks. Defective intel leaves them weak, vulnerable, and outnumbered.
This memorial movie, released in 2013, was highly acclaimed for its accurate narrative of actual events and phenomenal acting. Produced by Peter Berg, Lone Survivor highlights one’s commitment to doing the right thing even if it means sacrificing its life.
Are you in the mood to watch memorial day films to commemorate the holiday? Start by adding Lone Survivor to your movie streaming list.
1. American Sniper (2014)
English 2h 13m IMDb
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner
Recognized as the deadliest sniper in American military history, American Snipper documents the story of a U.S. Navy Seal, Chris Kyle.
Starring Bradley Cooper, this memorial day film is a tribute to the deceased veteran. He was brutally killed two years before the movie’s release in 2014.
Purposeful and compelling, American Sniper Chris Kyle saves and fights on countless battlefields. Through his precise shooting, he cherishes his brothers to heart and protects his fellow American soldiers in Iraq.
In this film, Bradley Cooper perfectly captures a man torn between his family and brothers in the war. He was selected for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. In 2015, this memorial day movie won an Oscar Award for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.
2. We Were Soldiers (2002)
English 2h 18m IMDb
Director: Randall Wallace
Stars: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear
Mel Gibson steps into the shoes of Lieutenant Colonel Moore, a battalion commander in charge of preparing for the Vietnam War.
Exploring action, war, drama, and history, We Were Soldiers is a 2002 American film showing viewers the brutality behind wars.
A tale based on a true story in 1965, this memorial day film centers around the 1st Calvary battle against overwhelming odds in Vietnam. Lieutenant Moore has to find a way of winning against 40,000 soldiers with 400 men in his team.
We Were Soldiers gained the approval of its viewers because of its compelling narrative that shows the true story of the war between the American and the Vietnamese.
Directed by Randall Wallace, We Were Soldiers is an excellent and intense war film. If you’re looking for a movie for the long weekend, here’s the perfect one.
3. Pearl Harbor (2001)
English 3h 3m IMDb
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett
Indeed, this one is not open for debate. Pearl Harbor would make it to the best memorial day movies list. Pearl Harbor would never let you blink twice with its iconic scenes, a mix of war, drama, and history with a dashing touch of romance.
This film, directed by Michael Bay, uses a romantic triangle powerfully to set the stage for the renowned Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
It tells the story of two childhood friends (Josh Harnett & Ben Affleck) who are pilots during World War II. Eventually, these two found themselves in love with the same woman.
While this memorial day movie was highly criticized, Pearl Harbor won an Oscar Award for Best Sound Editing. Also, the film was nominated for several Academy Wards.
Released in 2oo1 in the United States, Pearl Harbor has a run time of 3h and 3m, with a striking IMDB score of 6.2/10.
4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
English 2h 49m IMDb
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
One of the most outstanding war movies, Saving Private Ryan, received various criticisms and acclaim from its viewers. The movie garnered praise for its realistic battle and fighting scenes, excellent script, and cinematography.
Saving Private Ryan showcase the story of U.S. Army Rangers Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) and the team’s search for Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). Surviving a ferocious attack, he’s the only paratrooper that remains alive.
Because of the actors’ stellar performances in the film, Saving Private Ryan seems natural. However, all the characters in this memorial day movie are fictitious.
On a note, prepare to cry your heart out loud while watching this film. Watching the gruesome battles in World War II would break your heart and soul. Overall, Saving Private Ryan is a touching movie with its emotion-packed and sad scenes
5. Megan Leavey (2017)
English 1h 56m IMDb
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Stars: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez, Tom Felton
You can relate when I say that not only humans can become heroes. This movie is another excellent memorial day film on our list. The story revolves around a young marine corporal (starring Kate Mara) who saved countless lives together with her combat dog, Rex.
It all starts when Megan wants to escape her troubled life and ends up in the K-9 unit. Then, she met an aggressive dog who needed training.
Later, Megan and the military working dog, Rex, completed missions until an explosive device threatened their fate, putting their life on the line.
Well, you can probably realize that Megan Leavey is both a memorial day and a sad dog film simultaneously. Megan Leavy is a 2017 real-life story film based on actual events highlighting that dogs can be heroes too.
And just some piece of advice. You need to save a handkerchief as you will surely burst into tears while watching this film.
6. Born on the 4th of July (1989)
English 2h 25m IMDb
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Tom Cruise, Bryan Larkin, Raymond J. Barry
Born on the Fourth of July is about a patriotic New York teenager Ron Kovic (played by Tom Cruise). Ready to jump in the fight, Ron signs up for the Marines.
However, during his second time in Vietnam, he kills a fellow soldier and eventually becomes paralyzed in the battle.
But going home with an uncaring and apathetic Veterans bureaucracy, Kovic becomes a critic and anti-war activist. Carrying the feelings of betrayal by the country he swore to protect, Kovic later champions the veterans’ rights.
This memorial day film, directed by Oliver Stone, gave him the Oscar Award for Best Director. The movie set was mainly shot in Las Colinas Movie Studios and Dallas, Texas, USA. Join as Ron learns the importance of peace and navigates true feelings of patriotism.
7. The Longest Day (1962)
English 2h 58m IMDb
Director: Ken Annakin(British exterior episodes), Andrew Marton(American exterior episodes), Gerd Oswald(scenes deleted)
Stars: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton
With its outstanding cinematography, excellent artwork, and background effects, The Longest Day is considered one of the best war films.
When you watch this classic film, you will file the vibe as if you were there when the Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy.
You will undoubtedly hold your breath while this memorial day film centers on General Eisenhower, who has to decide on whether the invasion will go on or not. While there are critics, it is no lie that The Longest Day makes it one of the most excellent films of 1962.
Directed by Ken Annakin, The Longest Day takes home two Oscar Awards for Best Effects and Cinematography. Tackling strategy, heroism, and the priceless loss of human life.
This film takes you into the D-Day landings at Normandy, Germany, during the Second World War.
8. 13 Hours (2016)
English 2h 24m IMDb
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale
Here’s another Michael Bay war-themed memorial day movie that you can add to your watch list: 13 Hours (The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi).
This action movie exhibits the real story behind the terrorist attack on a U.S. compound unit in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.
When the attack unfolds, six soldiers of the Annex Security Team defend the unit and save lives amid the ongoing chaos. The movie turns out well because of the powerful acting performances.
Riveting and intense, this movie is not for the faint-hearted because of its graphic showcase of war brutalities and injuries.
Produced by Paramount Pictures and Bay Films, the movie was released on January 15, 2016, with a 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3/10 IMDB rating.
Also, the film gained Oscar Nomination for Best Sound Mixing during the 89th Academy Awards.
9. Lincoln (2012)
English 2h 30m IMDb
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
And now, on our top ten best memorial day movies are an award-winning film exploring drama, war, and history: Lincoln. Memorial Day was celebrated because of Civil War. This historic event in the United States occurred during Lincoln’s presidency.
This memorial day movie film starred Daniel Day-Lewis, portraying one of the most powerful and well-known presidents in the United States history, Abraham Lincoln.
Daniel-Day Lewis lives up to satisfy the curiosity of the viewers. For this movie, he won Oscars for the Best Performance by Actor for a Leading Role.
This political thriller is genuinely a blockbuster from the directors to the cast. This movie will exceed your expectations if you’re hype about historical documentaries and films.
10. Darkest Hour (2017)
English 2h 5m IMDb
Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas
Gary Oldman shows a powerful performance as a legendary British Parliament leader, Winston Churchill. The actor captures the brave heart of Churchill as Hitler’s forces get into European borders, threatening the life of his beloved citizens.
This memorial day movie is a rousing success because of its well-made production, historical intelligence, and dramatic sharpness. Darkest Hour shows Churchill’s impressive courage that changed the course of world history.
It is no wonder that Darkest Hour inspires and entertains viewers with boldness. It gave viewers access to what was running in the mind of a powerful man during the troubled times in the history of Europe.
Released on December 22, 2017, you can watch this movie on Netflix and HBO Max.
11. Memorial Day (2012)
English 1h 44m IMDb
Director: Samuel Fischer
Stars: Jonathan Bennett, James Cromwell, John Cromwell
One day, a thirteen-year-old boy Kyle (played by Jonathan Bennett), discovers the footlocker of his grandfather Bud (played by James Crowell).
It was nothing but a footlocker containing memories during World War II. Bud vows that he will never talk about what happened in the war.
But as the movie unfolds, Bud later has a deal with his grandson. Kyle can choose any souvenirs, and he will tell the story behind each one. Memorial Day takes us into Bud’s complicated wartime story.
A tale of wars, Memorial Day depicts the love of country, sacrifice, bravery, and love. You’ll be amazed by listening to the stories of combat experiences. A story that we should never forget.
Released in the United States, this 2012 American film was produced by Perspective Films and directed by Samuel Fischer.
12. Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
English 2h 15m IMDb
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Barry Pepper, Joseph Cross
One of the most sincere and intelligent movies celebrating victory and courageousness is Flags of Our Fathers. It follows the story of U.S. troops fighting one of the costliest battles on the island, Iwo Jima.
A touching picture of U.S. service members was captured. He was raising and lifting the flag on Mount Suribachi. The banner becomes the symbol and inspiration of victory for the weary and wounded nation. The film shows greatness.
It proclaims the message that soldiers go into wars to fight for their nation. But somehow, these men fight to save their lives and comrades on the battlefield.
13. Glory (1989)
English 2h 2m IMDb
Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes
This 1989 American film highlights the lives of three Black Soldiers who fought during the Civil War. Glory shows the faces of racism, from unequal pay to slavery of black soldiers in the Union Army.
Not only because of its excellent casts, but Glory also garnered praise for producing a historically accurate scene. This film was believed to be the first to show Black Soldiers’ significant role in the Civil War.
And this film only shows that the contributions of African Americans should never be buried. Overall, it has an impressive 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, 78% on Metacritic, and a 7.8/10 IMDB score.
14. Black Hawk Down (2001)
English 2h 24m IMDb
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore
Released in 2001, Black Hawk Down brings to light the long-forgotten mission in Somalia. It follows the journey of U.S. forces as they attempt to kidnap two lieutenants working for a warlord in Somalia.
This memorial day film won Oscar awards for being Best Film Editing and Best Sound. It received a nod as the movie was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Director.
Touching. Hard-Hitting. Excellent Film. Based on the actual events known as the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, this chronicle relives the 18-hour battle with Somalis, leading to 18 American soldiers’ casualties.
The Moment of Truth
From these real-life inspired films, we’ve got to see strength, brotherhood, love, and bravery. It’s a great time to remember the fallen heroes while watching these war movies. We know you would genuinely enjoy these 15 Best Memorial Day Movies.
Do you know any Memorial Day Movies? What do you like about it? Please let us know through the comment section.