Five Favorite Films

Jason Hall's Five Favorite Military Films

by | October 29, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Steve Granitz/Getty Images)

There’s a well-known, somewhat tongue-in-cheek Hollywood maxim that says all actors ultimately want to direct, but few actually get the chance, and fewer still find success when given the opportunity. Not so for Jason Hall, who appeared in a handful of films and TV series — including a brief recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — and penned a couple of big screenplays before helming his feature directorial debut, Thank You for Your Service.

The film, which stars Miles Teller and Haley Bennett, centers on a group of Iraq veterans dealing with PTSD, a subject Hall previously explored in his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. Critics have called the film a powerfully acted portrayal of the emotional impact of war, and to mark its release in theaters on Friday, Hall offered up his Five Favorite Military Films. Read on for the full list.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 96%

William Wyler directed an American social realism masterpiece after his return from WWII. The camera breathes with these characters, and, through the filmmaker’s patience, we come to know these veterans’ alienation as our own.

Restrepo (2010) 97%

After its simplistic approach, you are caught off guard by the violent sacrifice these young men make. Hetherington and Junger paint a portrait of brotherhood and loss unmatched by any narrative feature.

The Deer Hunter (1978) 94%

It buries you in the aesthetic of the blue collar steel-town life.  Cimino took a script about Russian roulette in Las Vegas and relocated it to Vietnam, and, though historically inaccurate, he created an allegory that perfectly explained the nature of war.

Come and See (Idi i smotri) (1985) 95%

Klimov’s film is an unflinching examination of evil and embraces the surreal in places, while serving up dirty doses of realism in others. The barn burning sequence is the most haunting scene I’ve seen on film.

The Battle of Algiers (La Battaglia di Algeri) (1967) 99%

This film dramatizes insurgency with choreographed chaos that feels like newsreel footage, though opening credits remind you it’s not. This film comments on the power of a righteous belief and speaks to the complexity of our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite having been made in 1966.

Thank You for Your Service is in theaters now. Read reviews for it here.

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