Your Coronavirus Quarantine Guide to Military Movies and Shows on Netflix

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Netflix Quarantine 1500
Netflix Quarantine 1500

You're stuck in your house or apartment because the movie theaters are closed, the bars and restaurants are shutting down, and you've been assigned to work from home.

How do you fill your days without bugging out? We're here to help.

It's a good time to have a Netflix subscription. It's almost like they knew this day was coming because the service is currently loaded with movies that feature James Bond, Dirty Harry, Indiana Jones, Austin Powers and Batman.

We've got a military viewing guide that includes only five-star choices. These are things that you need to see or can't see too many times. As we're facing uncertain times, watching something familiar can help ease some of the tension.

1. The Dirty Dozen (1967)

The classic World War II action picture is actually a heist movie instead of a straight war film. Instead of stealing jewels or cash, a band of misfit troops comes together to train before heading off to kill Nazi officers at a remote German lair.

It's a suicide mission, but the men were facing death sentences for real or alleged military crimes, so this will be their chance at redemption or at least avoiding the gallows.

The cast includes classic movie tough guys Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Robert Ryan, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes and George Kennedy. It's the perfect blend of classic Hollywood epic movie making and the coming cynicism of the New Hollywood '70s.

2. Red Dawn (1984)

Wolverines! Actual American teenagers fight the Soviet invasion of the USA in a small Colorado town. The adults are complacent and cower against the Red Menace, but a group of kids makes for the ultimate crew of guerilla fighters.

Co-written and directed by the great John Milius (writer of "Magnum Force," "Apocalypse Now" and "Clear and Present Danger"), "Red Dawn" is one of the greatest films of the '80s and puts the lie to complaints about "liberal Hollywood." It's the perfect Reagan-era movie, a flag-waving case for sacrifice and love of country.

WARNING: The 2012 remake is also on Netflix. It replaces the Soviet invasion with a North Korean one, and you're wise to avoid it.

3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

At a time when reality is so bleak, why not spend some time with an alternate version of World War II history? Quentin Tarantino's sixth film is both a dark comedy and relentless action picture. Brad Pitt leads a band of Jewish soldiers whose mission is to kill "Natzees."

The movie offers its own alternate ending to World War II, and Hitler suffers a more decisive and emotionally satisfying fate than what happened in real life.

4. The Vietnam War (2017)

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's epic 17¼ hour documentary is spread over 10 episodes that manage to illuminate the broad historical forces that led to the war and its fallout, but the film's true revelation is the personal testimony from the young men who experienced the war on the ground.

Profoundly moving at its best, the series digs into the controversies surrounding the conflict and goes a long way toward explaining the beginnings of the disagreements that still divide the country today.

5. Medal of Honor (2018)

When Netflix launched this series two years ago, we looked forward to a couple of decades of shows that dug deep into the stories of the men who've received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The service hasn't yet announced a follow-up to the first season, but it hasn't announced a cancellation either, so we're in limbo waiting to hear about more episodes.

The good news is that we have eight episodes that profile Army Sgt. Sylvester Antolak, Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha, Army Pvt. Edward Carter, Army Cpl. Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura, Army Pfc. Vito Bertoldo, Marine Cpl. Joseph Vittori, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger and Army Specialist Ty Carter.

6. Hamburger Hill (1987)

Generally overlooked upon its release, "Hamburger Hill" is the rare Vietnam War movie from the 1980s that focused on the reality experienced by men on the ground. Focusing on a platoon of the Army's 3-187 101st Airborne, it chronicles the 1969 assault on Hill 937, one of the war's most notorious missions.

"Hamburger Hill" was written and co-produced by John Carabatsos, who served in Vietnam with the Army's 1st Air Cavalry Division in 1968-69 and interviewed his fellow veterans before writing the film. His co-producer Marcia Nasatir had a son who served in the conflict, and the movie was directed by John Irvin, who had filmed documentary footage for the BBC during the war.

Don Cheadle, Dylan McDermott, Courtney B. Vance and Steven Weber all made their movie debuts in "Hamburger Hill."

7. Five Came Back (2017)

Based on the outstanding 2014 book by movie historian Mark Harris, "Five Came Back" examines the World War II service by five of Hollywood's most legendary directors: John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra.

The military enlisted these men to chronicle the war, and the films they produced made an incalculable contribution to the war effort, educating the American public about the conflict and recording the bravery of the men who fought.

Over three parts and three hours, the series gives the background behind the films they made during the war and offers a basic education for anyone who's not already familiar with their more well-known Hollywood work.

8. Sand Castle (2017)

Written by Army veteran Chris Roessner, "Sand Castle" follows a platoon sent to repair a hostile village's water system. It's loaded with young stars, including Henry Cavill, Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green, Glen Powell, Neil Brown Jr. and Beau Knapp.

"Sand Castle" captures that mix of tedium and sudden danger familiar to those who served in Iraq. Brazilian Fernando Coimbra, best known for his work on the Netflix series "Narcos," directed the film.

It's the tedium part that makes the movie work, but it's also what scared off some reviewers. Don't let the scores on IMDB fool you. This is a real military movie that's worth your time.

9. War Horse (2011)

Almost a decade before "1917" got Americans to pay attention to the Great War, director Steven Spielberg made his own World War I epic. Based on a 1982 novel by Michael Mopurgo and its stunning 2007 play adaptation by Nick Stafford, the movie follows young Albert Narracott as he enlists in the British Army after his favorite horse Joey is requisitioned by the military.

The film follows both Albert and Joey through their service. It's a Spielberg movie, so it's not really a spoiler to reveal that they're reunited in battle and return home together.

10. War Machine (2017)

Very loosely based on Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings' book "The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan," director David Michôd's Afghanistan war satire "War Machine" takes the story of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's downfall and amps up the ridiculousness.

Brad Pitt throws himself into the role of General Glen McMahon, the leader whose career will be ended by a Rolling Stone article. The movie has a lot more admiration and empathy for the military men and women than Hastings did, so Michôd manages to satire the war while maintaining respect for those tasked with fighting it.

Those with more delicate sensibilities should be warned: "War Machine" makes fun of dumb stuff about the military, and it does so with glee and without hesitation. Stay far away if you think joking about command is disrespectful.

This list just scratches the surface on Netflix.

You can watch several of the World War II documentaries made by the directors profiled in "Five Came Back": "The Battle of Midway," "The Memphis Belle," "Prelude to War," "WWII: Report From the Aleutians," "Why We Fight: The Battle of Russia," "San Pietro," "Nazi Concentration Camps," "Know Your Enemy: Japan," "Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines," "Let There Be Light," "The Negro Soldier," "Thunderbolt" and "Tunisian Victory."

The 1977 West German documentary "Hitler: A Career" represents the country's efforts to process its past just 32 years after the war ended. It's a must-see for World War II buffs.

Anyone who's worried that the next century will belong to China should check out "Operation Red Sea," a 2018 film based on a real 2015 rescue mission by Chinese special forces in Yemen. The film feels like a Chuck Norris movie from the '80s and delivers the kind of meat-and-potatoes action that American filmmakers think they're too sophisticated to make anymore.

Vietnam vetaran and legendary Native American actor Wes Studi gives one of his greatest performances in the 2019 western "Hostiles." A meditation on enemy reconciliation after the war is over, Christian Bale plays a U.S. Army officer required to escort a Cheyenne chief to his homeland in 1892.

Espionage movie fans should check out movies based on novels by three of our greatest spy novelists: Vince Flynn's "American Assassin," Tom Clancy's "Patriot Games" and John LeCarre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."

That list should keep everyone busy for a while. Check out our other Self-Quarantine entertainment guides in the coming days and weeks.

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