Five Movies to Watch on Veterans Day -- a Salute to Real Heroes

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We seem to be obsessed with superheroes these days -- but on Veterans Day, we recognize the true American heroes. Thanks to cinema, civilians have been able to get a closer look at what war is really like, with all the horrors and the heartbreaks. The best of these war movies have been recognized by the Academy and the American Film Institute as some of the top films of all time. So this week, take a break from re-watching The Avengers and pop in one of these five movies about real American heroes, who don't need fancy suits or super powers to save the world.

See also: The Top Five Election Movies -- Our Vote Is In

5) Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Full Metal Jacket

presents the Vietnam War through Stanley Kubrick's incomparable direction. The cinematography is absolutely stunning and shows the devastating effects of warfare. The movie is gut-wrenching and sometimes hard to watch as we see the conundrum some soldiers face, with one wearing a peace pin on his jacket but "Born to Kill" written on his helmet.

4) Private Benjamin (1980)

Women are rarely depicted in war movies, but they make up a significant portion of the military.

Private Benjamin

gives us a newly widowed Judy Benjamin, who winds up in the military as she searches for a new life purposes. While she starts the movie as a dainty flower, we see the character develop into a tough ,independent lady. The film is full of laughs and has Goldie Hawn at her best; it also dares to ask the question that everyone wonders about the uniforms: "Is green the only color these come in?"

Keep reading for three more of the best Veterans Day movies.

3) The Best years of Our Lives (1946) The Best Years of Our Lives

portrays the difficult and sometimes heartbreaking experience of coming home from war. Even though World War II was many decades ago, this film is still relevant for today's veterans. We see three United States servicemen of various ages and backgrounds all trying to navigate their new civilian lives of work, family and love -- and themen find that through mutual support, they can make it through.

2) The Hurt Locker (2008)The Hurt Locker

follows a bomb disposal team in the Iraq War. Before Jeremy Renner was using a bow and arrow to kill space aliens, he gave an amazing performance as Sergeant First Class William James. It's unnervingly suspenseful watching these men disarm explosives; doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, they literally hold their lives in their hands. Kathryn Bigelow's movie earned her an award for best director -- the first ever awarded to a female.

1) Saving Private Ryan (1998)

After three of the Ryan brothers are killed in WW II, the government assembles a task force to go in search of the last Ryan brother to send him home. Tom Hanks and Matt Damon give wonderful performances, and the film is on six of the AFI top 100 lists. You'll be reaching for the tissues when Hanks delivers his memorable quote, "Earn this."

Follow Amanda Moutinho on Twitter at @amandamoutinho.

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