I personally think that Saving Private Ryan is arguably the best or at least one of the best war movies ever made. It is a good story about soldiers risking their lives for one another and following orders. It develops the characters really well and shows the real cost of war. Plus It has tom hanks
Saving Private Ryan, I will admit, is a good movie. The first act is relentless and doesn't hold back in terms of violence and gore; I like that. This is not to say that war films only have to be violent and nothing else, but war is an ugly and relentless thing. The rest of the film is a bit more conventional, more about heroism and sacrifice. While it's really inspiring, it works better as a story than as a portrayal of war.
The best war movie ever made has to be Apocalypse Now. It's dark, almost surreal, and never holds back. Its characters are flawed but human; the main lead finds himself being overcome by the evil around him and slipping into insanity. To me, that's a lot more fascinating than brotherhood and valor, uplifting as they may be. Apocalypse Now has interesting characters, isn't afraid to provoke its audience, and is totally honest about what war is really about.
Awards and nominations cannot always correspond with a film's quality. Having Steven Spielberg's name attached to a film does a lot for its popularity. However, Apocalypse Now appears on many critical lists as one of the greatest films ever made. A lot of veterans cite it as one of the most realistic depictions of war ever on the big screen. However, Saving Private Ryan did make millions of dollars and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Industry along with Apocalypse Now, so they clearly both had an impact on culture. Though, in the end, this is the difference between a great film and a masterpiece. Private Ryan is more popular, but Apocalypse Now is more unique, more influential, and more lifelike.