2018 was a great year for military-themed media.
The Afghanistan War drama 12 Strong depicts a Spec Ops team’s dangerous mission following the September 11 attacks.
Indivisible features the true story of US Army chaplain Darren Turner, and the realities of war and post-deployment life with family.
Netflix also released their much-awaited docu-series Medal of Honor, which chronicles the lives and fight of eight recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While these are some of the big names from 2018, there were plenty of other shows and movies that flew under the radar. Here are the four that are nominated in tonight’s Golden Globe Awards:
A Private War
This is the only war-related movie that made the cut for the Globes.
Rosamund Pike, who plays the starring role in the film, is nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama. Annie Lennox is up for Best Original Song (“Requiem for A Private War”).
A Private War is actually based on a real story; about the work and sacrifices of war journalist Marie Colvin.
Director Matthew Heineman’s goal was to be truthful and authentic to Colvin’s experience. He was successful, as far as ratings and reviews go — the film scored an impressive 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is appraised as “powerful”, “sophisticated”… “a searing story with little emotional relief.”
The plot centers on Colvin’s struggle with the horrors of her job, from 2001 up until her death in Syria in 2012. It’s based on a Vanity Fair article from the same year by Marie Brenner, who paints a vivid picture of Colvin: a workaholic who paid a high price for her passion.
Rosamund Pike’s performance is lauded as the best of her career. With Colvin’s signature eye patch (after she was half-blinded by shrapnel in Sri Lanka), Pike perfectly captures the toll it takes to be on the frontlines of war.
“Simply: there’s no way to cover war properly without risk,” Colvin said.
“Covering a war means going into places torn by chaos, destruction, death and pain, and trying to bear witness to that. I care about the experience of those most directly affected by war, those asked to fight and those who are just trying to survive. Going to these places, finding out what is happening, is the only way to get at the truth.”
If you haven’t already, you can still watch A Private War in select theatres, or purchase on DVD and blu-ray. It’s also available On Demand.
Watching the advertisements for this psychological thriller doesn’t leave you with the idea that it focuses on the military.
It does, however, focus on a Homecoming Transitional Support Center, which helps soldiers transition to civilian life… or does it?
With nominations for Best Television Series — Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama (Julia Roberts), and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Drama (Stephan James), Homecoming is a real hit.
Sam Esmail, Director of USA Network’s Mr. Robot, takes the reins here. Esmail is adept at setting the tone for stories with lots of twists and turns, and Homecoming doesn’t disappoint.
Julia Roberts plays the main character, Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. It’s a privately run facility that “helps” combat veterans transitioning to civilian life.
Bergman works closely with Stephan James’ character, veteran Walter Cruz, who struggles with feelings of survivor’s guilt. As the story progresses, it is evident that Bergman’s superiors are more interested in serving their unknown agenda than actually helping people.
Season one plays out between Bergman’s time at Homecoming, and four years in the future, where she works as a waitress and apparently has no recollection of ever being a caseworker. When a DoD auditor launches an investigation, things quickly begin to unravel.
This suspenseful, visually-compelling show will keep you on the edge of your seat for all 10 episodes. It’s streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.
This political thriller is set in the UK, but features an Afghanistan war veteran who is working for London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
It has received two nominations for Best Television Series — Drama, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Drama (Richard Madden).
Bodyguard’s finale was the highest-rated in British television since Downton Abbey’s season 2 finale in 2011. Writer Jed Mercurio packs his story with back-to-back conspiracies, and is unafraid to kill off major characters.
Madden, who plays the war-vet-turned-cop David Budd, also acted as Robb Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Budd is a character with a complicated past; one that causes problems in both his work and his marriage.
The first season follows Budd on his latest mission, as he is promoted to head of security for the home secretary, Julia Montague. It is revealed that Montague heavily advocated for the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan — a conflict Budd knows very well. The plot thickens with each episode, and tensions rise as Budd is constantly thrown into the next dangerous scenario.
Along with the stress of questioning the police, the security service he works with, and even the government, Budd is also dealing with PTSD from his war service.
If you’re into mystery, Bodyguard hits the mark perfectly. It’s now available on Netflix.
Barry itself isn’t about military life or war, but features a cast of veteran characters.
It’s chock-full of dark comedy and thrilling action, with Bill Hader’s performance as Marine vet/hit man Barry Berkman taking the cake.
The HBO series received quite the nod from the Golden Globes, with three nominations. Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy (Bill Hader), and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Henry Winkler).
The premise is one we’ve seen before: a criminal going straight. When Berkman flies to LA for a routine hit job, he realizes that he’d rather be an actor than a contract killer.
Predictably, he’s pretty bad at acting.
It sounds outlandish — and it is — but that’s what makes Barry work so well. Hader both stars and directs (along with Alec Berg), and puts every bit of strange humor he can into it; mixed with violent mobsters, and even romance, Barry isn’t like anything you’ve seen before.
The characters themselves drive the show. Berkman’s acting teacher, played by Henry Winkler (“Fonz”), wears a silk robe and transports his leftovers inside foil swans.
Then there’s Berkman’s handler; he’s a self-proclaimed “POG” (person other than a grunt — it’s important to note that Berkman was a grunt in the Marines). He’s a family man, but somehow finds himself working with a contract killer, and reminiscing about his military days all the while.
You can watch Barry on HBO.