Saving Private Ryan is the best Second World War movie ever made.
The good. Almost everything could be listed here as exceptional, but I'll just mention what really makes this a master piece. First and foremost, the fighting and how it's depicted. You feel the same stress, terror, and confusion as the soldiers. There are some heroics, but it's normal man heroics. Men die by the score, there's no favorites. It's dirty, it's loud, it's dangerous, it's inhumane. Beyond that, you've got an incredibly compelling story, amazing photography, a rich scenario, very attaching and real characters, as well as interesting thoughtful dialogs.
The actors. There are so many excellent ones, and a number that were on the cusp of their stardom. Tom Hanks is of course in one of his best incarnation ever. Tom Sizemore is the perfect solid loyal sergent. Paul Giamatti has a small role, but without contest one of his best by playing his normal edgy style in a war context with a thin veneer of authority and calm. Edward Burns is just right as the loud mouth New Yorker. And you cheer Barry Pepper as the God blessed sniper. Now for a few surprises. Giovanni Ribisi, playing a bit far from his usual role, is excellent as the overwhelmed caring medic. Dennis Farina, which I normally do not like, is a stoic senior officer with an calm aura. You can also see a young Nathan Fillion in a quick cameo. Here, one might argue wether Matt Damon was given a large role or not, but he did carry it out well, if a bit subpar for him. However, the truly big surprise is the appearance of Vin Diesel playing something completely out of his usual affectations with credible results.
The bad. It's a near perfect film, but there's one thing that irked me. The family of the veteran was either badly chosen of badly directed. When he starts to cry they all act as if it was a big surprise. Really? What did you think he was going to do?
The ugly. Nothing.
The result. Be ready for some tough bloody scenes, and you'll love this realistic representation of war.