Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
A definitive ranking of the best war movie beards
The only thing Hollywood might love more than a good-looking man named Chris — heavy emphasis on might — is a war film. And in recent years, a primary constant in contemporary war films has been facial hair.
The appearance of facial hair in war movies has shifted with the standards; when beards were allowed in the military, they were shown in movies portraying the time, which explains why you don't see a whole lot more than stubble in WWII movies.
Now, facial hair is mostly banned throughout much of the armed services (though some service members have received religious exemptions). But in the post-9/11 era, movies highlighting special operators have become the norm, hence making operator beards the norm. Special operators have had more relaxed standards as they deploy to areas of the world where a man's facial hair can hold a different kind of significance.
The good, the bad, and the ugly have all made an appearance on the silver screen. To help you keep it all straight, here is a definitive, completely unscientific yet totally correct ranking of the best war movie beards.
Any complaints will be forwarded straight to the trash. This ranking is definitive, as the title suggests.
8. Taylor Kitsch — Lone Survivor
Taylor Kitsch as TK, Lone Survivor (2013).
If I saw this beard on the street, I'd think "eh."
This beard is acceptable. I'm not mad at it — it gets the job done — but compared to its competitors it's not show-stopping. I won't pretend to be unbiased here as I will always see Kitsch as Friday Night Lights' lovable, well-meaning screw-up Tim Riggins, so take that as you will. But this beard is worth a quick highlight.
7. Chris Pratt — Zero Dark Thirty
Chris Pratt as TK, Zero Dark Thirty (2012).
Hollywood Nirvana — a war film and a Chris.
Pratt's beard ain't pretty, but then again it's not meant to be. It works with the rest of his aesthetic seamlessly, and for that reason it ranks in at #7.
6. Joel Edgerton — Zero Dark Thirty
Joel Edgerton as Patrick, Zero Dark Thirty (2012).
Like John Krasinski a couple spots down, Edgerton's beard just physically looks great. It's that simple. This is the Kraft mac & cheese of operator beards — a classic.
5. Bradley Cooper — American Sniper
Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, in American Sniper (2014).
What I like about Cooper's beard is its haphazardness. It's not quite as full as Krasinski's and Edgerton's, but it very effectively says "Do not, under any circumstances, fuck with me." He doesn't have time to groom — he's busy, get off his back.
4. John Krasinski — 13 Hours
John Krasinski as Jack Silva, in 13 Hours (2016).
It pained me not to rank my man John Krasinski as number one, as I believe he is the best we as a country have to offer. That aside, this is a solid, full beard — not King Leonidas-status, but more than respectable.
John, if you're reading this, forgive me.
3. Donald Sutherland — Kelly's Heroes
Donald Sutherland as Sgt. Oddball in Kelly's Heroes (1970).
Look at this guy. That beard is coming in at #3 and I won't hear a word about it.
2. Gerard Butler — 300
Gerard Butler in 300 (2006).
Were it not for the aforementioned lads, Gerard Butler as King Leonidas would have taken the cake.
Leonidas and this beard are one — try for a moment to imagine the iconic "this is Sparta" scene without that beard. Exactly, you can't, because kicking a Persian messenger who has really pissed you the fuck off down a well can't be done with some half-assed attempt at facial hair.
1. Martin Sheen, Patrick Gorman, Tom Berenger — Gettysburg
Martin Sheen as Gen. Robert E. Lee (top left), Patrick Gorman as Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood (bottom left), Tom Berenger as Lt. Gen. James Longstreet (right); Gettysburg (1993).
Kneel, mere mortals, before the ultimate war-film beards.
Others may try to compete, but they will fail miserably when confronted by Martin Sheen (top left), Tom Berenger (right), and Patrick Gorman (bottom left). I could have ranked them all individually, but it seemed more than appropriate to tie them all for first place.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Daniels — Gettysburg
Jeff Daniels as Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Gettysburg (1993).
I mean, give me a break. There's no way this unbelievable mustache wasn't getting mentioned.
Honorable Mention: Tom Skerritt — Top Gun
Tom Skerritt as Viper, Top Gun (1986).
By popular demand, Viper is also receiving an honorable mention, because what an icon.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
A U.S. Air Force combat controller will receive the nation's third highest award for valor this week for playing an essential role in two intense firefight missions against the Taliban in Afghanistan last year.
Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith, an airman with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing at Air Force Special Operations Command, will receive the Silver Star at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico on Nov. 22, the service announced Monday.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane intercepted a suspected semi-submersible smuggling vessel in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean and seized approximately 5,000 pounds of cocaine October 23.
SARASOTA, Fla. — With data continuing to roll in that underscores the health benefits of cannabis, two Florida legislators aren't waiting for clarity in the national policy debates and are sponsoring bills designed to give medical marijuana cards to military veterans free of charge.