YMMV: Saving Private Ryan

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Upham. Gutless Dirty Coward, or sympathetic Everyman who does what many untrained, ordinary people would do in the heat of battle? Any online discussion of Mellish's death scene will inevitably devolve into this.
    • Mostly because it becomes an argument of "What would YOU do?" It's easy to say what you would do in that situation, and the internet (and real life, for that matter) are chock full of people who will disagree with you, whatever your claim may be.
  • Award Snub: One of the most famous in the history of the Academy. The film lost the Best Picture Academy Award to Shakespeare in Love due to the Weinsteins heavily lobbying their movie. Saving Private Ryan is the film people remember more these days.
  • Dawson Casting: Sort of. By the time of Normandy, most officers (in battle and combat) were in their late twenties to early thirties at most, with everyone under them being younger, even if only by a couple years. Tom Hanks was in his early 40s when this was filmed. All of the other actors were (for the most part) older than their characters, save Horvath (whose relative age is left untouched entirely). Furthermore, the stress of combat causes accelerated aging, which a lot of the soldiers on the battlefields of World War II would have faced.
  • Fanon: Many people who saw the film were confused as to whether the German soldier that kills Corporal Mellish is also "Steamboat Willie." They are in fact, different soldiers. The soldier that kills Mellish has Waffen SS lapel insignia, while "Steamboat Willie" has the lapel insignia of an enlisted soldier in the Wehrmacht Heer. It doesn't really matter what you yourself think - if they were the same person it adds a little interesting twist, and if you felt bad for "Steamboat Willie" you can feel he survived the war.
    • If you go along with the idea that they're the same guy, it adds a layer of harshness considering that it was Upham who defended him at the radar station. Then he returns and...
      • Except that we KNOW Steamboat Willie dies. He's right there among the PO Ws before Upham, and after a brief exchange in German, recognizes the one of two Americans who has shown him mercy. He gives a softened, defanged, and almost pitiful "Upham!", outright recognizing and in the same moment attempting to appeal to the one US soldier he ever connected with personally. And then Upham fires. Granted, the shot is done so that we don't actually SEE who he fires at, but instead of remaining ambiguous, the film shows the remaining Germans present...and there's Steamboat Willie. With his face in the dirt. And dead.
      • And if you feel sorry for him, just remember that it was Steamboat Willie that shot and mortally wounded Captain Miller.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The approaching German Tiger as the American soldiers were getting ready.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: At one point, a soldier calls for a 'Captain Hammer', literally two scenes before Nathan 'Captain Hammer' Fillion comes in as the wrong James Ryan.
  • Misaimed Fandom: As discussed on the main page, many ignore the message that War Is Hell and only like the carnage in the war scenes.
  • Retroactive Recognition: A lot of the younger actors, especially Matt Damon and Vin Diesel, were not yet megastars at the time this movie came out. Matt Damon had won an Oscar (albeit for Best Screenplay in Good Will Hunting), but it may yet have been a flash in the pan. Spielberg is rightfully credited as helping jump-starting Diesel's career, writing the role specifically for him after seeing Diesel in his acclaimed short film.
    • Jeremy Davies (Cpl. Upham) is Daniel Faraday in LOST.
    • Nathan Filion as Private James Frederick Ryan from Minnesota
    • Paul Giamatti and Bryan Cranston also have small roles and went on to become acclaimed actors.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Both on the giving (it's not the first movie to use a documentary-like depiction of war or realistic carnage, but the first popular one) and taking ends (the influence on war movies or battle scenes in general, complaints about the patriotic/emotional tone of the post-Omaha Beach part of the movie).
  • So Cool Its Awesome: Considered by many to be a cinematic masterpiece.
  • Tough Act to Follow: For many, the opening sequence is so intense and grand that the rest of the film, a plot revolving around finding one soldier in Occupied France doesn't really measure up well.