These films were set against the backdrop of the Cold War. According to IMDb, the following are the best films set during the Cold War.
Many war movie directors overlook the Cold War because it was largely an ideological contest between capitalist and communist states that involved spreading propaganda and fabricating facts about their adversaries, as well as funding and waging small-scale conflicts that had no bearing on the outcome of the larger conflict.
A few select visionaries have allowed these incredible stories to be brought to life on the big screen, often in striking and beautiful ways; here are some of the best, as rated by IMDb users, that emerged from the battle that lasted from 1945 to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Kristy Ambrose made the following update on December 4th, 2020:
There is a growing chasm between the Cold War and the present, and as long as we keep creating movies about it, the decades will keep moving forward. Since this list was first compiled, additional media has been added to the IMDb database, which means more titles have been added and more ratings have been given. The cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States of America is a common theme in many of these stories, whether they are based on fact or pure fiction. Occasionally, the Cold War takes center stage in a film, but more often than not, it is merely a backdrop.
1. The Living Daylights (1987) – 6.7
Even though The Living Daylights transformed Bond movies forever, it is now being hailed as a unique take at the Cold War that was buried in the shuffle of late 1980s action pictures.
In addition to the central story point of smuggling people out of Russia, the third act of the film takes place in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, and the love interest has a distinct personality and motivations of her own.
2. The Death of Stalin (2017) – 7.2
This dark comedy explores the aftermath of the death of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1953 and the subsequent struggle for control among politicians, leaders, and apparatchiks.
Even though it was plagued by controversy about its historical accuracy and other content-related difficulties during its run, the picture garnered mostly excellent reviews from reviewers and audiences for its humor, acting, directing, and overall tone despite the allegations that it was anti-Soviet.
3. Spacewalk (2017) – 7.3
A lot of people don’t realize that both the United States and the Soviet Union competed for years to see who could do the first successful spacewalk. In the end, it was a Russian cosmonaut named Alexei Leonov who did it in 1965.
It was praised for its acting and special effects by critics and audiences alike (especially in Russia), and has been compared favorably to the 1995 docudrama Apollo 13. In 2017, a film about his mission, Spacewalk, was released, detailing the events leading up to his departure and the various difficulties he encountered once in space.
4. Thirteen Days (2000) – 7.3
As the man responsible for the Bay of Pigs assault, former US President John F. Kennedy played a key role in the Cold War. This led to a 13-day period of intense struggle and negotiation during which public dissatisfaction peaked owing to fears of an impending nuclear war, during which the Soviet Union had planted missiles in Cuba during his administration’s tenure.
It presents these events from inside the White House in Thirteen Days, which depicts how the United States avoided a much larger-scale disaster than what actually happened. Despite the fact that it had historical depictions that were either false or hypothetical, it earned favorable reviews from critics for its acting, characters, and aesthetic.
5. The Shape of Water – 7.3
Secret Cold War laboratories established by the United States and the Soviet Union have long been the subject of a slew of conspiracy theories. Throughout the show’s illustrious history, countless X-Files episodes have drawn inspiration from one of these characters.
One of those tales is The Shape of Water, which is a fascinating blend of science, history, and fantasy. For context, radio announcements concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis and John F. Kennedy addresses are intercut with scenes of romance between the main characters.
6. First Man (2018) – 7.3
There are many films about the people and circumstances that shaped history’s heroes, and 2018’s Neil Armstrong biopic First Man is one of them. It recounts Armstrong’s life from 1961 to 1969, when he made history by landing on the moon.
It was a critical and commercial success despite the fact that it was at the heart of a significant political controversy for its choice to omit a sequence representing the planting of the American flag on the moon, but it also appeared on many year-end top-10 lists for its characters, drama, and emotion.
7. The Silent Revolution (2018) – 7.4
Students in East Germany during the Cold War decide to call for two minutes of silence in honor of the Hungarian Uprising dead after learning the truth about their country’s bloody history.
Interestingly, it began as a student protest, but one that was publicly supported rather than one that was silent. Acclaimed by reviewers for its drama, emotion, characters and directing at a number of major international film festivals, the film has earned numerous accolades.
8. Miracle (2004) – 7.5
Miracle shows the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Squad’s creation, training, and preparation as they defeated the much stronger Soviet team during an era of intense Cold War tensions, despite the Soviets’ superiority. later referred to as “the game” “”Do you believe in miracles?” ABC’s Al Michaels said during the broadcast of “Miracle on Ice.” Definitely! “A statement that was utilized in its entirety throughout the film as the clock crept down to the end of the third quarter.
As one of the best sports dramas ever, Miraclea was nominated by the American Film Institute (AFI) for inclusion on their list of the Top 10 Sports Films of All Time.
9. Cold War (2018) – 7.6
It is a narrative about a young woman’s love for a man who wants her to leave Poland and start a new life in France, a country that is much less communist than her native Poland.
For the most part, the picture earned overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics who hailed its performance and direction by director David O. Russell as well as the film’s style, emotion, and photography (for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Director).
10. The Hunt for Red October (1990) – 7.6
Russian submarine skipper Marko Ramius plans to defect to the West. This signifies that a high-ranking officer in the Russian military intends to leave the country without the consent of his superiors. Even though this wasn’t a significant problem before, the escapee now has his own nuclear submarine for transportation. Is he a traitor or an assailant?
First of many Tom Clancy novels with the character of Jack Ryan to be adapted for the screen, but not all of them were concentrated on the Cold War era, as this film was.
11. Bridge of Spies (2015) – 7.6
As a lawyer/Navy officer, Donovan is assigned to negotiate the release of American pilot Francis Powers from Soviet custody in Bridge of Spies. Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy who was captured and imprisoned in the United States five years earlier, will be returned in exchange for Powers (with Donovan, the only lawyer who volunteered to defend him, saving him from a much harsher sentence).
The Cold War-era drama, helmed by Steven Spielberg, written by the Coen Brothers, and starring Tom Hanks, was considered by reviewers and spectators as full of brilliance.
12. The Tunnel (2001) – 7.7
After making plans to dig a tunnel beneath the Berlin Wall to bring his family out of the East, a professional swimmer in the German film The Tunnel (2001) finds that many people are on board with the concept and want their loved ones to leave the East as well. It’s decided that thirty people will be evacuated through a complex tunnel, even though the Stasi is watching every action.
Despite being one of the lesser-known films on this list, it got high appreciation for its characters, plot, and tone from critics and audiences alike, earning a spot on Time Magazine’s list of the top ten Berlin Wall films.
13. The Right Stuff (1983) – 7.8
1983’s The Right Stuff is the oldest film on our list and the only one that was made during the Cold War. Following six years of aeronautics innovation and the lives of seven pilots who opted to be part of the US’ first manned space journey in the middle of rising political drama, this film focused on the early developments rather than the later triumphs.
Despite a massive box office disaster, the picture was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture; it won four. Criticism praised the film’s characters, plot, emotion, and pacing, among other things.
14. A Beautiful Mind (2001) – 8.2
If you’re looking for a narrative that’s either true or false, this is it. John Nash’s involvement with the CIA in the early years of the Cold War is one of the movie’s most intriguing mysteries.
It is difficult to believe John Nash’s sense of reality because he suffered from schizophrenia. That doesn’t change the fact that the Cold War is omnipresent in this film, which is based on the life of a well-known American mathematician but is dramatized.
15. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) – 8.4
With both superpowers armed to the teeth, it wasn’t long before some brilliant parodies were added to the ranks of nuclear holocaust-themed movies.
Thanks to some wild performances by artists known for their solemnity rather than their comedy, Dr. Strangelove made it okay to laugh at the Cold War. The most notable of these was the legendary and notorious Peter Sellers. However, there are moments of bleak awareness and impending catastrophe in the plot, which makes it a contender for finest Cold War humor.