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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.
(Reuters) - In the summer of 2004, U.S. soldier Greg Walker drove to a checkpoint just outside of Baghdad's Green Zone with his Kurdish bodyguard, Azaz. When he stepped out of his SUV, three Iraqi guards turned him around at gunpoint.
As he walked back to the vehicle, he heard an AK-47 being racked and a hail of cursing in Arabic and Kurdish. He turned to see Azaz facing off with the Iraqis.
"Let us through or I'll kill you all," Walker recalled his Kurdish bodyguard telling the Iraqi soldiers, who he described as "terrified."
He thought to himself: "This is the kind of ally and friend I want."
The US military quietly pulled 2,000 troops out of Afghanistan over the past year without a peace deal
The U.S. military has pulled about 2,000 troops from Afghanistan over the past year, the top U.S. and coalition military commander said Monday.
"As we work in Afghanistan with our partners, we're always looking to optimize the force," Army Gen. Austin Miller said at a news conference in Kabul. "Unbeknownst to the public, as part of our optimization … we reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here."
"I'm confident that we have the right capabilities to: 1. Reach our objectives as well as continue train, advise, and assist throughout the country," Miller continued.
The New York Times was first to report that the U.S. military had reduced its troop strength in Afghanistan even though peace talks with the Taliban are on hiatus. The number of troops in the country has gone from about 15,000 to 13,000, a U.S. official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.
Separately, the U.S. military is considering drawing down further to 8,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of a broader political agreement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Oct. 19.
"We've always said, that it'll be conditions based, but we're confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counterterrorism] operations, if you will," Esper said while enroute to Afghanistan.
So far, no order has been given to draw down to 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. official said.
After President Donald Trump cancelled peace talks with the Taliban, which had been expected to take place at Camp David around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. military has increased both air and ground attacks.
In September, U.S. military aircraft dropped more ordnance in Afghanistan than they have since October 2010, according to Air Force statistics.
However, the president has also repeatedly vowed to bring U.S. troops home from the post 9/11 wars. Most recently, he approved withdrawing most U.S. troops from Syria.
On Monday, Esper said the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are very different, so the Afghans and other U.S. allies "should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria."
DOHUK, Iraq/KABUL (Reuters) - The Pentagon is considering keeping some U.S. troops near oilfields in northeastern Syria alongside Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to help deny oil to Islamic State militants, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday.
U.S. troops are crossing into Iraq as part of a broader withdrawal from Syria ordered by President Donald Trump, a decision that allowed Turkey to launch an offensive against the SDF which for years was a U.S. ally battling Islamic State.