»

Top 50 Best Survival Movies Of All Time

Bijesh NageshBijesh-Posted July 16, 2021


survival movies

 

The fifty titles that we are going to detail below can be said to have ‘survived’ the grueling selection process that had this writer swimming through hundreds of names under the popular survival-movie genre.

 

One can also say that this writer barely survived the research phase, but thoroughly enjoyed writing this article [nervous chuckling].

 

Let’s get right down to it. Here are ENTOIN’s top 50 best survival genre movies of all time.

 

Numbering is random, meaning each of the 50 movies below are not listed based on importance or ‘better than’.

 

English and foreign language films are also included in this article, so if you find an unfamiliar alternative name for any of these titles, you now know why.

 

 

50. North Face

 

North Face

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Philipp Stölzl  
Written by Chris Martin Silber, Philipp Stölzl, Rupert Henning, Johannes Naber & Benedikt Roeskau  
Music by Christian Kolonovits   
Costume Design by Birgit Hutter
Cinematography by Kolja Brandt
Year 2008
Runtime 2h 6min
Starring Benno Fürmann, Johanna Wokalek, Florian Lukas
IMDB Rating 7.4 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 82% 
Global Box Office $6,815,056

 

This German movie is based on a true story featuring a competition to traverse the most perilous rock face in The Alps.

 

The film is set in the year 1936 and Nazi propaganda is high. The country’s mountain climbers are urged to make history for the Aryan race by conquering the Swiss massif Eiger, specifically its north face.

 

The ascent is carried on the backs of two German climbers, Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser (played by Benno Fürmann and Florian Lukas, respectively) who are as tentative as they are talented when it comes to this task.

 

Amateur journalist Luise Fellner (played by Johanna Wokalek) works at a Berlin newspaper at the time.

 

She goes about chronicling the men’s efforts to make history. They’re also her friends, so she feels personally invested in the endeavor, and wishes to see them succeed and survive.

 

 

49. Rescue Dawn

 

Rescue Dawn

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Werner Herzog 
Written by Werner Herzog 
Music by Klaus Badelt 
Costume Design by Annie Dunn
Cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger
Year 2006
Runtime 2h 
Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies
IMDB Rating 7.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 75% 
Global Box Office $7,177,143

 

A classified mission set in the year 1965 entails bombing the city of Laos. German-American US Navy pilot Dieter Dengler (played by Christian Bale) is flying a propeller vessel when he crash-lands in the jungle.

 

The locals arrest him and hand him over to the Vietcong, under suspicions that Dieter might be a foreign spy.

 

He is then sent to a prison camp where he encounters five other prisoners, who are mentally challenged, and a plethora of guards.

 

As Dieter bonds with Duane (played by Steve Zahn), they start hatching an escape plan.

 

Gene (played by Jeremy Davies), known for being rather unstable, throws a wrench in the idea.

 

Constant American bombings result in a laxity of food, prompting the prison guards to kill their wards so they can abandon the jail.

 

Dieter has no choice but to kickstart his plan, only for him to meet with an unforeseen betrayal.

 

The friends are divided, leaving Duane and Dieter fighting for survival in a jungle that feels worse than the prison from which they made a swift getaway.

 

 

48. The Chessplayer

 

The Chessplayer

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Luis Oliveros  
Written by Julio Castedo (screenplay) & Stefan Zweig (original novel)
Music by Alejandro Vivas 
Costume Design by János Breckl
Cinematography by Juan Carlos Gómez
Year 2017
Runtime 1h 38min 
Starring Marc Clotet, Melina Matthews, Stefan Weinert
IMDB Rating 6.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score N/A 
Global Box Office $244,806

 

This Spanish film, originally titled ‘El jugador de ajedrez’, is set in the year 1934.

 

Diego Padilla (played by Marc Clotet) is victorious at the Spanish Chess Championship. There he meets French journalist Marianne Latour (played by Melina Matthews), and a budding romance starts to bloom between them.

 

The Civil War is dwindling to an end and Marianne expresses the heartfelt desire to have Diego move to France so they can stay together with their daughter.

 

A little while after he arrives, Diego is accused of being a Nazi spy and he’s incarcerated soon after.

 

The hostilities of jail-life take Diego by surprise, pitting him in a fight to survive the guards and their atrocities.

 

His biggest trump card is relying on Colonel Maier’s (played by Stefan Weinert) passion for the game of Chess, a game in which Diego has proven to excel.

 

 

47. A Hijacking

 

A Hijacking

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Tobias Lindholm 
Written by Tobias Lindholm 
Music by Hildur Guðnadóttir 
Costume Design by Louise Hauberg
Cinematography by Magnus Nordenhof Jønck
Year 2012
Runtime 1h 43min 
Starring Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling, Dar Salim, Roland Møller
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 96% 
Global Box Office $2,688,444

 

Somali pirates take control of a Danish cargo ship, MV Rozen, as it makes its way through the Indian Ocean.

 

The criminals then initiate ransom negotiations with the Copenhagen government. The talks escalate, and aggression posturing takes front and center.

 

Seamen like Mikkel Hartmann (played by Pilou Asbæk) who’s the ship’s cook, and Jan Sørensen (played by Roland Møller) who’s its engineer fulfill key roles in this survival plot.

 

A cynical game unfolds, and it soon starts to look like life or death. Millions of dollars are being demanded as ransom from the shipping company’s CEO, adding to the psychological drama elements that pervade this thrilling film.

 

 

46. Room

 

Room

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson 
Written by Emma Donoghue (screenplay & original novel)
Music by Stephen Rennicks 
Costume Design by Derek J. Baskerville, Lea Carlson & Eilidh McAllister
Cinematography by Danny Cohen
Year 2015
Runtime 1h 58min 
Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
IMDB Rating 8.1 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 93% 
Global Box Office $35,401,758

 

Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay) is a 15-year-old boy cared for by his devoted mother Ma (played by Brie Larson).

 

She goes the distance to keep Jack safe and loved, providing him with nurturing warmth like any good mother would.

 

She tells him stories and plays games with him, adding to the beautiful bonding between mother and son.

 

But their life is not an ordinary one. In fact, both Jack and Ma are confined within a 10x10 foot space.

 

Ma euphemistically labels this compact area ‘Room’. Having created an entire life, nay a universe, for Jack inside this tiny space, Ma does just about anything to ensure that her young son finds happiness and fulfillment in this unconventional setting that would drive most people insane.

 

But Jack is growing, and growing ever-curious. Ma’s resilience can take only so much before her son’s questions rip apart the charade she has so carefully concocted to ensure his survival.

 

Eventually, the two of them plan a daring escape. But the real world could prove far scarier than living in a tiny space for the rest of their lives.

 

 

45. War Horse

 

War Horse

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Steven Spielberg  
Written by Lee Hall (screenplay), Richard Curtis (screenplay), Michael Morpurgo (original novel) & Nick Stafford (stage play)  
Music by John Williams  
Costume Design by Joanna Johnston
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Year 2011
Runtime 2h 26min 
Starring Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 74% 
Global Box Office $177,584,879

 

Former Second Boer War veteran turned farmer Ted Narracott (played by Peter Mullan) now lives out the rest of his days in Devon, England.

 

He’s down to his last penny, which he spends at auction to win a thoroughbred colt, beating his own cruel landlord, Mr. Lyons (played by David Thewlis), to the punch.

 

Ted’s son Albert (played by Jeremy Irvine) forges a strong bond with the colt named Joey.

 

As the months and years go by, Joey grows into a powerful and beautiful horse.

 

By this time, World War I has broken out, and circumstances lead to Joey changing hands.

 

Albert is not happy, in fact he believes Joey belongs only with him. Risking perilous battle-scarred landscapes and harsh mountain terrain, he embarks on a self-appointed quest to reclaim his beloved horse.

 

Northern France is not a safe place at this time, but Albert does what it takes to survive and hopes that his Joey is safe wherever he is.

 

He aims to be reunited with Joey, who has been conscripted as a warhorse, and is making quite the name for himself on the field of battle.

 

 

44. The Motorcycle Diaries

 

The Motorcycle Diaries

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Walter Salles 
Written by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (book), Alberto Granado (book) & Jose Rivera (screenplay) 
Music by Gustavo Santaolalla  
Costume Design by Beatriz Di Benedetto & Marisa Urruti
Cinematography by Eric Gautier
Year 2004
Runtime 2h 6min 
Starring Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mía Maestro
IMDB Rating 7.8 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 83% 
Global Box Office $57,663,711

 

The year is 1952 and 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara de la Serna (played by Gael García Bernal) is a medical student who is one semester away from graduating.

 

He makes up his mind to postpone his final semester so he can accompany his friend, 29-year-old Alberto Granado (played by Rodrigo De la Serna).

 

Alberto is a biochemist intent on taking a 4-month motorcycle trip that spans 8,000 km and covers a major portion of South America starting from Buenos Aires, his hometown.

 

Together, the two buddies are determined to see all the things they only ever read about in books.

 

They plan their adventure in such a way that it would conclude on Alberto’s thirtieth birthday at which point they’ll be in the Guajira Peninsula, Venezuela, on the other side of the continent.

 

Plenty of obstacles and hurdles get in their way – from their motorcycle breaking down to a serious lack of funds.

 

The boys are often left telling lies to gain the favor of random strangers who inadvertently end up funding their trip for a few extra kilometers.

 

Between just the two of them, Ernesto and Alberto often find themselves quarreling. When it comes to winning the attention of the ladies, the boys are just as determined to outdo themselves.

 

Then there’s Ernesto’s chronic asthma to deal with. Their bond grows stronger as the weeks go by.

 

Their experiences in the Perúvian Amazon Basin, especially the San Pablo Leper Colony there, further strengthen the friendship between the boys.

 

Encountering Communists in the Chilean desert add to their life-lessons. Near the tail end of the trip, the boys do not fully realize that it was a small miracle that they even survived the journey.

 

They also learn several valuable things about the world they live in and about each other.

 

Finally, the two of them end up discovering their life’s real calling.

 

 

43. The Pianist

 

The Pianist

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Roman Polanski  
Written by Ronald Harwood (screenplay) & Wladyslaw Szpilman (original book) 
Music by Wojciech Kilar 
Costume Design by Anna B. Sheppard
Cinematography by Pawel Edelman
Year 2002
Runtime 2h 30min 
Starring Adrien Brody, Emilia Fox, Frank Finlay, Thomas Kretschmann
IMDB Rating 8.5 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 96% 
Global Box Office $120,072,577

 

Based on a true story, this brilliant film is an adaptation of Szpilman’s autobiography “The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945”.

 

Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by Adrien Brody) is the lead character in the movie. A Polish-Jewish radio station pianist, he witnesses Warsaw gradually changing after World War II begins.

 

The man is captured and forced to live in a Warsaw Ghetto. ‘Operation Reinhard’ ensures Wladyslaw’s separation from his family.

 

Hiding in different ruined locations in his country, Wladyslaw strives to survive, at least long enough until the concentration camp releases its prisoners upon confirmation that the war has well and truly ended.

 

 

42. The Beach

 

The Beach

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Danny Boyle 
Written by John Hodge (screenplay) & Alex Garland (original novel) 
Music by Angelo Badalamenti 
Costume Design by Rachael Fleming
Cinematography by Darius Khondji
Year 2000
Runtime 1h 59min 
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel York, Patcharawan Patarakijjanon
IMDB Rating 6.7 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 57% 
Global Box Office $144,056,873

 

Richard (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is vacationing in Thailand when he decides to visit a rumored island that is considered to be some sort of beach paradise beyond people’s wildest dreams.

 

A nicotine addict, pop-culture buff, and lover of Vietnam War movies and sundry video games, Richard is everyone’s typical ‘young guy’.

 

His sojourn in a Bangkok hotel soon exposes him to the possible existence of the beach in question.

 

Richard’s spirit of adventure drives him to find this place. As fate would have it, his neighbor leaves behind a strange map to the mythical beach before committing suicide.

 

Other wayward souls are also being drawn to the legendary island paradise. Richard’s survival will soon depend on his ability to know the difference between reality and fantasy.

 

 

41. Get Out

 

Get Out

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Jordan Peele
Written by Jordan Peele 
Music by Michael Abels 
Costume Design by Nadine Haders
Cinematography by Toby Oliver
Year 2017
Runtime 1h 44min  
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
IMDB Rating 7.7 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 86% 
Global Box Office $255,589,157

 

Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) is a young and talented African-American photographer who is getting ready to meet his white-Caucasian girlfriend Rose Armitage’s (played by Allison Williams) parents.

 

He’s off to spend a weekend at their place, situated in Lake Pontaco. Not only is the relationship between Chris and Rose merely five months young, the girl’s parents have no clue that the boy is black.

 

Racial tensions reach an all-time high, but subtly so, building up to a grand finale under Peele’s ingenious direction.

 

Rose’s mom happens to be a psychiatrist whose skill with Hypnosis is exemplary. Her dad is a neurosurgeon.

 

Both parents are quietly miffed with their daughter’s choice. Chris, meanwhile, notices that black servants are present on the wealthy family’s property, which stands isolated in the woods.

 

Whatever polite ambiance prevailed gradually frays into scenes of horror and survival. Chris discovers a dark Armitage secret involving the power of Hypnosis.

 

It all starts to go downhill when he comes upon a locked room that leads to a basement containing all the secrets Chris would’ve sworn he was better off not knowing.

 

 

40. Hacksaw Ridge

 

Hacksaw Ridge

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Mel Gibson  
Written by Robert Schenkkan (screenplay) & Andrew Knight (screenplay) 
Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams   
Costume Design by Lizzy Gardiner
Cinematography by Simon Duggan
Year 2016
Runtime 2h 19min 
Starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey
IMDB Rating 8.1 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 84% 
Global Box Office $180,563,636

 

World War I was a dark time, especially for the soldiers who fought it. An American Army veteran raises two sons, actively teaching them to shun weapons.

 

One of his sons is Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who gets into a serious fight one day and, feeling exceptionally guilty for failing to obey his father’s words, delves into the Bible to seek forgiveness.

 

He vows at that moment never to harm another person for as long as he lives.

 

When he later saves a worker’s life, Desmond appreciates the elation that the act brings.

 

He later finds himself in a hospital where he gradually falls in love with a nurse, who returns his affections.

 

The U. S. A. enters World War II, and both Desmond and his brother enlist – the decision sits at odds with their anti-war father.

 

The training regimens are grueling. When it comes to firearms training, things get truly interesting.

 

Desmond holds fast to his personal vow and refuses to lift a weapon. Plenty of confusion and aggression unfold, and Desmond narrowly avoids being court-martialled.

 

He is given Medic duties in the Army instead, and is posted in Hacksaw Ridge, Okinawa.

 

The aim of the American forces is to win the battle there and bring Japan under the banner of the Allied Forces.

 

Desmond’s true survival journey unravels here, and it eventually becomes one of the most inspiring ones ever recorded in history.

 

This movie is based on a true story, and a very real Desmond Doss.

 

 

39. Ao, The Last Neanderthal

 

Ao, The Last Neanderthal

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Jacques Malaterre 
Written by Michel Fessler (scenario & adaptation), Philippe Isard (scenario & adaptation) & Marc Klapczynski (book “Ao, l’homme ancient”) 
Music by Armand Amar 
Costume Design by Jean-Daniel Vuillermoz
Cinematography by Sabine Lancelin
Year 2010
Runtime 1h 24min 
Starring Agie, Helmi Dridi, Ilian Ivanov, Simon Paul Sutton, Aruna Shields
IMDB Rating 6.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score N/A 
Global Box Office $1,669,603

 

Originally titled ‘Ao, le dernier Néandertal’, this French movie focuses on the Neanderthal Ao (played by Simon Paul Sutton) whose clan is massacred.

 

The loved ones he lost include his wife and little daughter Néa. Desperate and angry, Ao departs the North country and heads for the South, the land of his birth.

 

He hopes to reunite with his twin brother there. The two of them were separated when they were around nine years old.

 

His adventure joins paths with Aki (played by Aruna Shields), a Human (i.e., Homo sapiens) woman.

 

His trip is fraught with danger and peril, and survival is not as easy as it sounds.

 

 

38. Captain Phillips

 

Captain Phillips

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Paul Greengrass  
Written by Billy Ray (screenplay) & co-authors Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty (original book “A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea”) 
Music by Henry Jackman 
Costume Design by Mark Bridges
Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd
Year 2013
Runtime 2h 14min  
Starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman 
IMDB Rating 7.8 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 89% 
Global Box Office $218,791,811

 

This film is based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking involving the American container ship ‘Maersk Alabama’.

 

Captain Phillips (played by Tom Hanks), the ship’s commanding officer, is beset by Somali pirates in a harrowing high-seas experience that also exposes the underlying perils and losses surrounding Globalization.

 

The pirate Muse (played by Barkhad Abdi) does an excellent job of keeping tensions high.

 

The man takes the unarmed ship hostage a mere 145 miles off the coast of Somalia and demands a hefty ransom.

 

A standoff ensues, and the safety of the ship’s crew grows increasingly doubtful. It soon becomes a dire survival situation in which both Phillips and Muse are not the real parties in control.

 

 

37. Big Miracle

 

Big Miracle

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Ken Kwapis 
Written by Jack Amiel (screenplay), Michael Begler (screenplay) & Tom Rose (original book “Freeing the Whales”) 
Music by Cliff Eidelman  
Costume Design by Shay Cunliffe
Cinematography by John Bailey
Year 2012
Runtime 1h 47min  
Starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, John Pingayak
IMDB Rating 6.5 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 64% 
Global Box Office $24,740,061

 

Survival stories are not just about people, but also the animals with whom we share this planet.

 

The year is 1988 and Adam Carlson (played by John Krasinski) is on an important job.

 

He works for the local Anchorage TV station. He is currently covering a random story out at sea when he spots three California Grey Whales (a family unit) trapped by unseasonal ice.

 

The whales need a surface hole to breathe but the winter ice-onset seems to have come early.

 

The whales only have a few days to survive before they can no longer break the surface to breathe.

 

They are too far from the ocean and other geo-features also stand in their way to freedom.

 

Adam covers the story in detail, eventually attracting national attention. Different parties and groups, like Greenpeace, rally to save the whales before it’s too late.

 

Adam’s ex-girlfriend Rachel Kramer (played by Drew Barrymore) comes on the scene. She’s just as determined to do good by the whales, but her history with Adam serves as a hurdle.

 

A hover-barge becomes one of the most crucial vessels that can help free the whales, but the most accessible one is owned by J.W. McGraw (played by Ted Danson), i.e., the enemy. McGraw works at Alaskan Northern Oil, not exactly the posterchild for whale rescue.

 

In fact, McGraw’s company has been pushing for oil drilling rights in the area for a while now.

 

The White House eventually comes into the picture, as well as the Inupiat people. The local indigenous group is intent on salvaging what seems like certain death for the whales.

 

In keeping with their hunting/fishing lifestyle, they wish to cull and harvest the whales before they drown.

 

 

36. Dunkirk

 

Dunkirk

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Christopher Nolan 
Written by Christopher Nolan 
Music by Hans Zimmer 
Costume Design by Jeffrey Kurland
Cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema  
Year 2017
Runtime 1h 46min 
Starring Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance
IMDB Rating 7.8 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 81% 
Global Box Office $527,016,307

 

In late May of 1940, civilization is already eight months into World War II. Countering Hitler’s forces is a formidable challenge, especially around the time when the Third Reich is invading Belgium, with France to come soon after.

 

The Allied Forces are outnumbered and gradually start to collapse. Around 400,000 Allied troops are sent to the French coastal town of Dunkirk to fight.

 

The North Sea is at their back and Hitler’s forces are ahead. The German Luftwaffe goes all out to make the lives of the thousands of soldiers on the beachfront a living hell.

 

Some of these soldiers include Tommy (played by Fionn Whitehead), a French soldier (played by Damien Bonnard), Gibson (played by Aneurin Barnard), a grenadier (played by Lee Armstrong), and a rather irate soldier (played by James Bloor).

 

Between England and continental Europe is a mere 33 kilometers, particularly the Strait of Dover.

 

On this stretch of sea-and-land, ‘Operation Dynamo’ commences. It is an unprecedented large-scale evacuation protocol to save the Allied Forces who are practically stranded on the beach at Dunkirk.

 

Civilian and naval vessels alike answer the call. Only three Royal Air Force Spitfires are keeping the Germans at bay from the air while the evacuation progresses on land, and not too well at that.

 

Civilian captain Mr Dawson (played by Mark Rylance) works along with his son Peter (played by Tom Glynn-Carney) and friend George (played by Barry Keoghan) to do his part in getting to Dunkirk as soon as possible.

 

They need to save as many soldiers as they can in what is fast becoming one of the war effort’s most pivotal moments.

 

This movie is a dramatic re-telling of a very real historical event.

 

 

35. Lion

 

Lion

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Garth Davis
Written by Saroo Brierley (original book “A Long Way Home”) & Luke Davies (screenplay) 
Music by Volker Bertelmann & Dustin O'Halloran   
Costume Design by Cappi Ireland
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Year 2016
Runtime 1h 58min  
Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar
IMDB Rating 8.0 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 91% 
Global Box Office $140,853,810

 

The year is 1986 and five-year-old Saroo (younger version played by Sunny Pawar) goes about his life in an impoverished village in India.

 

A trip with his brother soon sees Saroo lost a thousand miles away from home in the city of Calcutta.

 

He was trapped inside a moving decommissioned passenger train only to end up in a terrible, and rather real, street life.

 

Being too small to share anything of value to the authorities about his parents and where he came from, Saroo suffers and survives in a dark and depraved urban setting before being sent to an orphanage.

 

After a while, the Brierley family from Tasmania adopt him, and Saroo (grown up version played by Dev Patel) is raised in a loving and opportunity-filled environment.

 

But memories of the real family he’d inadvertently lost continue to bother him. He eventually feels such guilt and yearning for them that he plans to travel back to India to find them.

 

Saroo’s mother Sue Brierley (played by Nicole Kidman) and his girlfriend Lucy (played by Rooney Mara) have mixed feelings about his new goal.

 

Eventually, Saroo starts to realize that the love he deserves is with the ones who chose to love and care for him as opposed to strangers whom he accidentally lost in his early years.

 

 

34. Sully

 

Sully

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Clint Eastwood  
Written by Todd Komarnicki, Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow (original book “Highest Duty”) 
Music by -
Costume Design by -
Cinematography by -
Year 2016
Runtime 1h 36min  
Starring Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
IMDB Rating 7.4 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 84% 
Global Box Office $240,797,623

 

This movie is based on a true story involving flight 1549 that left New York City on January 15, 2009, and met with engine failure while in the air.

 

The crew initiate SOS protocols and are asked to return to the airport from which they took off only a while ago.

 

Experienced pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger begs to differ. He believes they will not find sufficient time to turn around and perform a safe airstrip landing.

 

He spots the Hudson River and decides to use the water as a makeshift landing pad.

 

Though none of the passengers were harmed, and the landing was successfully performed, Sully finds himself under the National Transportation Safety Board’s (N.T. S. B.) scope.

 

Their own investigation reveals that the flight was capable of making it back to the airport (citing one of its engines being very much functional), casting suspicion and doubt on Sully’s ambitions and professional choices.

 

Sully agrees to disagree with their assessment and says that both engines were compromised in such a way that a technical turnaround and landing would have been impossible.

 

This harrowing movie highlights what it means to survive, for real as well as in the dark realm of industry politics.

 

 

33. The Shallows

 

The Shallows

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra 
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Music by Marco Beltrami 
Costume Design by Kym Barrett
Cinematography by Flavio Martínez Labiano
Year 2016
Runtime 1h 26min  
Starring Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo
IMDB Rating 6.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 59% 
Global Box Office $119,100,758

 

Medical student Nancy (played by Blake Lively) quits school in Galveston and heads for Mexico.

 

She has lost her mother, and feels the trip will help settle her mind and heart.

 

Her destination was dear to her mother when she was young. A surfboard and backpack are all she needs.

 

A while after arriving, she encounters two surfers who advise her about keeping the tide (high and low) schedule in mind.

 

The three of them enjoy the water and decide to head back, but Nancy chooses to linger for a bit.

 

She soon discovers a dead whale afloat on the water and hand-paddles on her surfboard to go investigate.

 

A Great White Shark spots her coming, and bites her – a technique sharks often use to investigate something new.

 

Using her medical know-how, Nancy manages to patch herself up but finds herself stranded due to high tide on a rock.

 

The shark is ever-circling, eager to bite more out of Nancy now that it’s got a taste of her blood.

 

Will she survive this ordeal, or become so much fish food?

 

 

32. Apocalypto

 

Apocalypto

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Mel Gibson
Written by Mel Gibson & Farhad Safinia 
Music by James Horner 
Costume Design by Mayes C. Rubeo
Cinematography by Dean Semler
Year 2006
Runtime 2h 19min 
Starring Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Max Trujillo, Dalia Hernández
IMDB Rating 7.8 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 79% 
Global Box Office $120,673,227

 

Blunted (played by Jonathan Brewer) lives in a harmonious Mayan village. Many of them give him a hard time for being unable to sire a child.

 

The villagers soon encounter a group of terrified refugees. They later learn the source of their fear: pillagers have invaded their community, and enslaved their people.

 

Jaguar Paw (played by Rudy Youngblood), proud son of the village chief, later finds himself battling the invaders.

 

He attempts to hide his pregnant wife and infant son, but to little avail. The people causing all this terror are members of another Mayan tribe, one intent on stealing other Mayans and using them in ritual sacrifices to the gods.

 

They call the capital of the kingdom their home. The fact that this place is struck by pestilence further adds to the ruthless rulers’ need to perform sacrifices if it means appeasing the gods and incurring their healing grace.

 

A solar eclipse is set to occur, and it is considered an ‘auspicious’ one. The raiders capture several Mayans from Jaguar Paw’s village, including him.

 

But he somehow manages to escape after killing the captain’s son. Will Jaguar Paw survive his tryst with fate and fulfill an apocalyptic prophecy?

 

Or will he perish under the ritualist’s blade and fail to save his family?

 

 

31. The Book of Eli

 

The Book of Eli

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes  
Written by Gary Whitta 
Music by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross & Claudia Sarne 
Costume Design by Sharen Davis
Cinematography by Don Burgess
Year 2010
Runtime 1h 58min 
Starring Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson
IMDB Rating 6.9 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 64% 
Global Box Office $157,107,755

 

The post-apocalyptic society featured in this film is a harsh and cruel one. Eli (played by Denzel Washington) is a drifter who wanders west across North America.

 

He’s been drifting like this for well-nigh 30 years. In his possession is a unique book, one that he carries on him at all times and guards with a vengeance.

 

He often turns to this book for solace. Hunting small animals and foraging for abandoned goods in broken-down houses is how he keeps himself going.

 

Eli uses what he finds, as well as any viable vehicles he comes across, to trade for supplies and water in small village communities.

 

Power-hungry mobster Carnegie (played by Gary Oldman) runs one such village. Witnessing Eli’s amazing fighting skills, he offers him a spot in his gang.

 

He wants Eli so badly that he forces his blind lover Claudia (played by Jennifer Beals) to send her own daughter Solara (played by Mila Kunis) to go sleep with Eli and make him stay in the village for at least another night, long enough to let Carnegie find a stronger pitch to convince Eli to join his gang.

 

Eli gently dissuades Solara’s advances, but before she heads back the girl lays eyes on the book he carries.

 

She tries to keep it secret from Carnegie, but when the mobster beats her mother Solara can’t help but reveal what she saw.

 

Carnegie promptly dispatches his goons to the wasteland to take on Eli, who has by this time left the village.

 

Eli, however, proves more than a match for the thugs. But his survival comes into question the longer he tries to fight his way out of this strange new conundrum courtesy of Carnegie.

 

 

30. The Mountain Between Us

 

The Mountain Between Us

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Written by Chris Weitz (screenplay), J. Mills Goodloe (screenplay) & Charles Martin( original book) 
Music by Ramin Djawadi  
Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus 
Cinematography by Mandy Walker
Year 2017
Runtime 1h 52min  
Starring Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges
IMDB Rating 6.4 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 47% 
Global Box Office $62,832,209

 

A blizzard arrives, shutting down all travel in and out of Salt Lake City International Airport.

 

Photojournalist Alex Martin (played by Kate Winslet) and brain surgeon Dr. Ben Bass (played by Idris Elba) charter a private plane to get them to Denver.

 

Around the High Uintas Wilderness region, their plane crashes, unable to counter the blizzard. Only they and the pilot’s Golden Retriever dog survive the landing.

 

Alex and Ben are now stranded, injured, and slowly freezing in this harsh and unforgiving landscape.

 

Completely unprepared for the elements, they apply what wit they can to help them survive until someone comes looking for them.

 

Having just met, and being practically strangers, the two of them need to learn to trust each other and work together if they are to see any future at all.

 

But trust seems colder than the freezing winds on this mountain.

 

 

29. All Is Lost

 

All Is Lost

 

Entity Detail
Directed by J.C. Chandor 
Written by J.C. Chandor 
Music by Alex Ebert
Costume Design by Van Broughton Ramsey
Cinematography by Frank G. DeMarco & Peter Zuccarini
Year 2013
Runtime 1h 46min 
Starring Robert Redford & Dyapa Gnaneshwar Reddy (uncredited)
IMDB Rating 6.9 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 63% 
Global Box Office $13,627,519

 

An unnamed sailor (played by Robert Redford) takes his 39-foot yacht out into the Indian Ocean.

 

He goes alone, confident in the weather and calm seas. Until his vessel hits an abandoned shipping container floating on the surface.

 

His yacht takes on water. Before long, the sailor’s radio and navigation equipment are rendered non-functional.

 

He unwittingly sails into a violent storm, further reducing his chances of survival in the high seas.

 

By this time, Redford’s character has managed to patch the breached hull on his yacht.

 

Years of experience as a mariner has made him tough and ready to face the tempest.

 

Relying on nautical miles, a sextant, and the ocean currents, he attempts to sail into a shipping lane where there is every chance he might come across another vessel that can help get him back to shore.

 

His supplies are dwindling, the sun is not kind, and the sharks even less so.

 

It gets to a point when Redford’s character faces his own death despite his resourceful nature.

 

 

28. In The Heart Of The Sea

 

In The Heart Of The Sea

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Ron Howard 
Written by Charles Leavitt (screenplay), Rick Jaffa (story) & Amanda Silver (story) 
Music by Roque Baños 
Costume Design by Julian Day
Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle
Year 2015
Runtime 2h 2min  
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Michelle Fairley, Tom Holland
IMDB Rating 6.9 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 53% 
Global Box Office $93,920,758

 

The year is 1820, and it is wintertime. A giant whale has rammed into the New England whaling ship ‘Essex’.

 

The creature seems to possess an almost preternatural sense of vengeance. This maritime shock-story would later go on to inspire Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” (in the movie).

 

This story of survival focuses on the harrowing aftermath of the whale’s attack. As seen through the eyes of its crew, who experience terrors and make tough calls, the movie unravels along with thrilling and action-packed plot-lines.

 

Despair, panic, starvation, and storms abound in this tale rife with belief-questioning scenarios. The ship’s captain – and his desire to get his crew home safely – is ever at odds with his first mate – who is intent on killing the whale.

 

 

27. Gravity

 

Gravity

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón 
Written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón 
Music by Steven Price 
Costume Design by Jany Temime
Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki
Year 2013
Runtime 1h 31min  
Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris (voice)
IMDB Rating 7.7 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 80% 
Global Box Office $723,192,705

 

Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (played by George Clooney) heads the Shuttle Explorer STS-157 mission. He is tasked with repairing the Hubble Telescope.

 

Accompanying him is rookie specialist Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock). Houston Mission Control decides to call a halt to the mission when they receive intelligence concerning a Russian missile that hit another satellite.

 

The result has jettisoned space debris, which STS-157 is certain to encounter. Communications are soon lost between the shuttle and Houston, leaving Ryan and Matt to rely on their training and skill to survive their space ordeal.

 

It doesn’t help matters that the shuttle is badly damaged by the space debris. Ryan experiences dangerous life-threatening scenarios.

 

The shuttle can no longer ferry the crew back to Earth, so Ryan and Matt make plans to access a nearby space station.

 

But all is not well, because they are running seriously low on oxygen, fuel, hope, and time.

 

 

26. Tracks

 

Tracks

 

Entity Detail
Directed by John Curran 
Written by Marion Nelson (screenplay) & Robyn Davidson (original book) 
Music by Garth Stevenson  
Costume Design by Mariot Kerr
Cinematography by Mandy Walker
Year 2013
Runtime 1h 52min  
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Lily Pearl
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 82% 
Global Box Office $5,853,509

 

This survival story revolves around a young Australian woman in 1977. Robyn Davidson (played by Mia Wasikowska) embarks on a bold trek that takes her across Western Australia’s treacherous desert terrain.

 

Accompanied only by four camels and her loyal dog, Robyn makes progress on an ambitious journey that took her from Alice Springs and pitted her against 2,700 kilometers of ruthless desert, all the way to the ocean.

 

The trek becomes one of self-discovery and survival like nothing Robyn has ever experienced before.

 

 

25. The 33

 

The 33

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Patricia Riggen 
Written by Mikko Alanne (screenplay), Craig Borten (screenplay) & Michael Thomas (screenplay)  
Music by James Horner  
Costume Design by Paco Delgado
Cinematography by Checco Varese
Year 2015
Runtime 2h 7min 
Starring Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche
IMDB Rating 6.9 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 59% 
Global Box Office $27,972,023

 

This gut-wrenching film is based on actual events that unraveled in the San José gold and copper mine in Copiapó, Chile. 33 miners were trapped under the ground for around 69 days, and the film attempts to dramatize their harrowing experiences based on what the survivors stated for the record after their rescue.

 

In the movie, the mine-owner refuses to accept the presence of instabilities within the mine.

 

When the place collapses and the only exit is sealed off, the mining company does nothing of value to help get all thirty-three of its miners out.

 

The miners, on the other hand, have lost radio communication with the surface. Aside from that, there are no adequate ladders in the ventilation shaft, and their medical and food supplies are running low.

 

Mario Sepúlveda (played by Antonio Banderas) takes on the leadership role, helping keep his men alive however he can.

 

The miners’ relatives gather in protest at the site, demanding all the right things only to have their pleas fall on all the wrong ears.

 

 

24. 12 Years A Slave

 

12 Years A Slave

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by John Ridley (screenplay) & Solomon Northup (original book “Twelve Years a Slave”)
Music by Hans Zimmer  
Costume Design by Patricia Norris 
Cinematography by Sean Bobbitt
Year 2013
Runtime 2h 14min 
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt
IMDB Rating 8.1 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 90% 
Global Box Office $187,733,202

 

The year is 1841 and African-Americans are actively enslaved in the United States. Afro-American violinist Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is one of the few free Black men in this era.

 

He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and kids. Two theatre men hire his entertainment services for a tour that will require his presence for two weeks in Washington.

 

Before long, Solomon is kidnapped and sold into slavery in New Orleans. He’s given a new name, ‘Platt’, and made to work on plantations for well-nigh twelve years.

 

His masters are certainly not the kind sort. Solomon finds a ray of hope in Canadian abolitionist Bass (played by Brad Pitt) who promises to send a letter written by him to his family.

 

This movie is rife with cruelty, desperation, dignity, and the Human will to survive against all odds.

 

 

23. The Road

 

The Road

 

Entity Detail
Directed by John Hillcoat 
Written by Joe Penhall (screenplay) & Cormac McCarthy (original book) 
Music by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis 
Costume Design by Margot Wilson
Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe
Year 2009
Runtime 1h 51min 
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score N/A 
Global Box Office $27,639,579

 

Earthquakes have become incredibly commonplace in this post-apocalyptic film where a major cataclysmic event changes everything.

 

Various living things gradually die off and the world keeps turning grey. A man (played by Viggo Mortensen) roves this desolate environment with his pre-teen son (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee).

 

The boy was born after the apocalypse, and his future is terribly uncertain. Together, father and son walk toward the coast after which they plan to head south.

 

The man believes hope can be found there. He has always taught his son that they are ‘good people’, meaning they will not resort to cannibalism to survive.

 

In the man’s possession is a pistol containing two bullets, which he plans to use on them both as a last resort.

 

Fuel and food are top on everyone’s lists in this dire new world. The boy, being innocent in several regards, adheres to his father’s lessons about suspecting anything and anyone – many have been tricked into a state of trust, only to be cannibalized soon after.

 

The young boy knows only this life, the one with his dad in a dying world.

 

But he’s growing fast and feels ready to make his own decisions. The man, however, is plagued by fond memories of his wife, the mother whom his son never saw.

 

He recalls dark days when he and his wife were not on the best of terms.

 

The man is also tormented by the reasons why she is no longer with them.

 

 

22. Buried

 

Buried

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Rodrigo Cortés 
Written by Chris Sparling 
Music by Víctor Reyes 
Costume Design by N/A
Cinematography by Eduard Grau
Year 2010
Runtime 1h 35min 
Starring Ryan Reynolds, José Luis García Pérez (voice), Robert Paterson (voice)
IMDB Rating 7.0 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 65% 
Global Box Office $19,439,764

 

Paul Conroy (played by Ryan Reynolds) wakes up in darkness. The year is 2006 and Paul is working in Iraq as a truck driver.

 

He suddenly finds himself inside a wooden coffin, and to all intents and purposes buried alive.

 

He fishes out his cigarette lighter to study his situation, and confirms as much. Paul realizes that after a while he won’t have enough air to breathe.

 

Obviously, he panics. That’s when he discovers a cellphone buried with him. He attempts to contact the outside, but not knowing where he is makes it impossible for Paul to convince anyone to come to his rescue.

 

He has no choice but to rely on himself to find a way out of this frightening situation before he suffocates.

 

 

21. 127 Hours

 

127 Hours

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Danny Boyle 
Written by Danny Boyle (screenplay), Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) & Aron Ralston (original book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”) 
Music by A.R. Rahman 
Costume Design by Suttirat Anne Larlarb 
Cinematography by Enrique Chediak & Anthony Dod Mantle
Year 2010
Runtime 1h 34min 
Starring James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
IMDB Rating 7.5 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 85% 
Global Box Office $60,738,797

 

Based on a true story, the movie highlights the stressful and shocking experiences of mountain climber Aron Ralston (played by James Franco).

 

Aron is off on a solo adventure in an isolated canyon. Utah is known for its perilous terrain, but Aron is confident that his outdoor skills will see him through.

 

Until a boulder comes loose and crashes down on him, veritably pinning his arm and trapping him.

 

Over five days, Aron undergoes panic, moments of resourcefulness, soul-searching, and survival. He tries to free himself any way he can, even if it entails cutting off the trapped arm.

 

He would still have to scale a wall that’s sixty-five feet high and then hike across eight or so miles to civilization.

 

Aron gradually loses hope, his whole life literally coming and going in his mind – memories of family, friends, and lovers.

 

He also recalls meeting two hikers before his accident and wonders if they will become the last two people he would ever meet in this life.

 

 

20. The Grey

 

The Grey

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Joe Carnahan 
Written by Joe Carnahan (screenplay) & Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (screenplay) 
Music by Marc Streitenfeld  
Costume Design by Courtney Daniel
Cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi
Year 2011
Runtime 1h 57min  
Starring Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
IMDB Rating 6.8 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 61% 
Global Box Office $79,781,695

 

A rigorous project in Alaska sees a group of oil workers coming together, and then catching a flight back home.

 

At this time, turbulence takes a turn for the worse, causing their plane to crash.

 

Among the handful of survivors is John Ottway (played by Liam Neeson). What remains of the group are in a harsh and freezing land where they need to survive long enough for rescuers to get to them.

 

However, when a Timber Wolf pack starts hunting them, their chances of survival are drastically reduced.

 

The group has a decision to make. Stay at the crash site where the debris might offer some measure of shielding, if at all, from the wolves… Or head for tree cover in the distance, where they can climb and ensure their safety… They choose the latter option and hasten toward the woods.

 

The wolves, though, are not dumb sheep. They slowly start picking the men off one by one.

 

Then the freezing cold to take into consideration.

 

 

19. Unbroken

 

Unbroken

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Angelina Jolie 
Written by Joel Coen (screenplay), Ethan Coen (screenplay) & Richard LaGravenese (screenplay) 
Music by Alexandre Desplat  
Costume Design by Louise Frogley
Cinematography by Roger Deakins
Year 2014
Runtime 2h 17min 
Starring Jack O’Connell, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson 
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 70% 
Global Box Office $161,459,297

 

This story focuses on Olympic track star Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O’Connell) whose childhood used to be a mess, rife with delinquency, until his brother inspired and trained him to become a track star.

 

He went on to represent America at the Summer Olympics in 1936, held in Berlin.

 

His overcoming several adversities to reach his sporting goals becomes a life-lesson Louis won’t soon forget.

 

World War II comes around and one thing leads to another for Louis. He’s in the air when his plane crashes during one of many bombing raids.

 

He’s left to fight for his life in the wide open sea where he and a few other men are stranded – they try to survive for over a month in this desolate place.

 

Things get worse for him when he ends up being captured by the Japanese and made a prisoner of war.

 

Louis experiences heart-breaking abuse and sadism at the prison camp where he’s taken. One of the guards there, Mutsuhiro Watanabe (played by Miyavi), does not go easy on him.

 

Mutsuhiro makes it his personal mission to break Louis’s spirit, which he has observed to be rather stubborn, almost indomitable.

 

 

18. Lone Survivor

 

Lone Survivor

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Peter Berg 
Written by Peter Berg, Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson (original book) 
Music by Explosions in the Sky & Steve Jablonsky 
Costume Design by Amy Stofsky
Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler
Year 2013
Runtime 2h 1min 
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
IMDB Rating 7.5 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 87% 
Global Box Office $154,802,912

 

Set in Afghanistan in 2005, this story centers on the experiences of Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (played by Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (played by Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (played by Emile Hirsch), and Matthew “Axe” Axelson (played by Ben Foster).

 

The squad is deployed on a surveillance mission designed to gather enough intel to end the life of Taliban chief Ahmad Shah.

 

Goatherds give away their location, however, which soon attracts the attention of Taliban fighters. A harrowing battle situation unfolds in which the SEALs are not only outgunned but also outnumbered.

 

 

17. The Way Back

 

The Way Back

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Peter Weir 
Written by Slavomir Rawicz (novel “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom”), Peter Weir (screenplay) & Keith R. Clarke (screenplay)
Music by Burkhard von Dallwitz  
Costume Design by Wendy Stites
Cinematography by Russell Boyd  
Year 2010
Runtime 2h 13min  
Starring Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell
IMDB Rating 7.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 72% 
Global Box Office $24,172,201

 

The year is 1941 and three men are making a bold bolt out of communist Russia.

 

They’re attempting to escape a gulag in Siberia after which the team inadvertently gathers more people who also wish to flee the country.

 

One of the runners includes a teenage girl named Irena Zielinska (played by Saoirse Ronan).

 

Leading the group is Janusz Weiszczek (played by Jim Sturgess) who is an outdoors-experienced Pole accused of several crimes the intel for which was gained from torturing his wife.

 

A snowstorm provides all the cover the group needs to aid in their escape. Also part of the group are… Mr. Smith (played by Ed Harris) who’s quite the cynical American, Valka (played by Colin Farrell) who’s a Russian thug, Zoran (played by Dragos Bucur) who’s a rather funny accountant, Tomasz Horodinsky (played by Alexandru Potocean) who’s a pastry chef and artist, Andrejs Voss (played by Gustav Skarsgård) who’s a priest, and finally Kazik the Pole (played by Sebastian Urzendowsky) whose night-blindness condition has not been easy to live with.

 

Not only does the group have to contend with mosquitoes, dwindling food and water supplies, and freezing nights, they also have to traverse a vast desert and then confront the Himalayas.

 

Several ethical/moral dilemmas play out in this outstanding survival movie where freedom comes at a great cost.

 

 

16. Everest

 

Everest

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur 
Written by William Nicholson (screenplay), Simon Beaufoy (screenplay) 
Music by Dario Marianelli  
Costume Design by Guy Speranza
Cinematography by Salvatore Totino 
Year 2015
Runtime 2h 1min  
Starring Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright, Jake Gyllenhaal
IMDB Rating 7.1 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 68% 
Global Box Office $203,427,584

 

Brave and accomplished mountaineer from New Zealand Robert “Rob” Edwin Hall (played by Jason Clarke) has been guiding rookie climbers up Mt. Everest since 1992.

 

His company ‘Adventure Consultants’ is doing alright. It counts nineteen successfully-led expeditions, and no fatalities.

 

His Everest expeditions in 1996 comprised three guides and eight clients, proving the growing demand for people to want to climb the great mountain.

 

In May that same year, Rob’s company finds itself teaming up on a joint summit attempt with ‘Mountain Madness’, which is Scott Fischer’s (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) company.

 

The real power and strength of Nature are seen during this expedition when a raging and unpredictable blizzard compels the climbers to court disaster.

 

 

15. Eight Below

 

Eight Below

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Frank Marshall 
Written by David DiGilio (screenplay) & Toshirô Ishidô and Koreyoshi Kurahara (based on their 1983 film “Nankyoku Monogatari”)
Music by Mark Isham 
Costume Design by Jori Woodman
Cinematography by Don Burgess
Year 2006
Runtime 2h 
Starring Paul Walker, Jason Biggs, Bruce Greenwood
IMDB Rating 7.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 72% 
Global Box Office $120,455,994 

 

Following an Antarctic expedition with Dr. Davis McClaren (played by Bruce Greenwood), sled-dog trainer Jerry Shepherd (played by Paul Walker) receives dire news of a stormfront heading their way.

 

They have little choice but to leave the polar base and head for safer terrain.

 

The Huskies who were part of the sled team are more than capable of weathering such storms.

 

This is why Jerry decides to leave them behind for a few hours until the storm passes.

 

But the storm takes a dangerous turn, throwing doubt on whether the canines will survive at all.

 

All of Jerry’s attempts to launch a rescue mission to go save his dogs falls on deaf ears.

 

Will he take it upon himself to go back for his loyal team before they starve to death, or worse?

 

 

14. Bird Box

 

Bird Box

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Susanne Bier 
Written by Eric Heisserer (screenplay) & Josh Malerman (original novel)  
Music by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross 
Costume Design by Signe Sejlund
Cinematography by Salvatore Totino
Year 2018
Runtime 2h 4min 
Starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
IMDB Rating 6.6 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 57% 
Global Box Office N/A

 

The fictional reality contained in this movie is the stuff of nightmares. Near-invisible creatures threaten the future of Humanity all over the world – the beasts appear blurry.

 

They have disrupted normal life to the extent that survivors are few and far between.

 

Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock) is a single mother who, along with her two kids (played by Vivien Lyra Blair and Julian Edwards), attempts to survive in this newly broken world.

 

Merely opening one’s eyes increases the chance of spotting these creatures, and consequently inviting death.

 

Malorie devises a simple blindfold routine to keep her kids and herself safe and alive.

 

One last protected haven remains, according to radio-based rumors that Malorie picks up in her woodland hideout.

 

Before long, she has no choice but to risk the open outdoors if it means getting her children to a more permanent state of safety.

 

Blindfolded throughout, she and her kids make the incredibly harrowing journey to this ‘safehouse destination’ that is said to be down-river.

 

Where their eyesight can kill them, darkness becomes their best bet at staying alive during this one-way trip.

 

 

13. Rabbit-Proof Fence

 

Rabbit-Proof Fence

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Phillip Noyce 
Written by Doris Pilkington (original book “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence”) & Christine Olsen (screenplay)
Music by Peter Gabriel 
Costume Design by Roger Ford
Cinematography by Christopher Doyle
Year 2002
Runtime 1h 34min 
Starring Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Kenneth Branagh
IMDB Rating 7.4 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 86% 
Global Box Office $16,217,411

 

The year is 1931 and Western Australia is busy forcefully taking half-Aboriginal half-white children from their mothers and sending them hundreds of miles away into indentured servitude.

 

They claim to do this to “save them from themselves”. Two sisters, Molly and Daisy Craig (played by Everlyn Sampi and Tianna Sansbury, respectively), along with their cousin Gracie Fields (played by Laura Monaghan), arrive at one such gulag.

 

Before long, the three of them successfully execute an escape under Molly’s leadership. The girls follow a rabbit-proof fence north for several days, all the while evading Constable Riggs (played by Jason Clarke) and a native tracker who are in pursuit.

 

The government’s so-called ‘Chief Protector of Aborigines’, A. O. Neville (played by Kenneth Branagh), wants the girls found before they end up setting a dangerous precedent for other enslaved children.

 

Neville’s twisted sense of conventional wisdom, a bizarre evolutionary perspective, and strange Anglo-Christian certainty make him a frightfully difficult opponent who is too blinded by his beliefs to understand that the children he has helped enslave are only trying to survive, as any human being would in their position.

 

 

12. The Ritual

 

The Ritual

 

Entity Detail
Directed by David Bruckner
Written by Joe Barton & Adam Nevill (original novel) 
Music by Ben Lovett 
Costume Design by Ana Ioneci
Cinematography by Andrew Shulkind
Year 2017
Runtime 1h 34min 
Starring Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier
IMDB Rating 6.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 60% 
Global Box Office $1,785,977

 

After what feels likes too long a time, a group of friends gathers to go on vacation together.

 

They decide to go on a hiking trip in Eastern Europe, specifically Sweden. When one of them gets seriously injured in the outdoors, the trip is all but cut short.

 

The rest of the buddies must now brave the wilderness to get to their vacation lodge a few hours sooner than they had planned.

 

A heavy rainstorm befalls the group, and they are forced to spend the night inside a random homestead that they find in the forest.

 

This abandoned edifice feels bizarrely creepy, almost spooky. What was supposed to be a bonding trip ends up becoming a supernatural survival game set in the middle of nowhere, far from help.

 

 

11. Kon-Tiki

 

Kon-Tiki

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg 
Written by Petter Skavlan
Music by Johan Söderqvist 
Costume Design by Stine Gudmundsen-Holmgreen & Louize Nissen
Cinematography by Geir Hartly Andreassen
Year 2012
Runtime 1h 58min 
Starring Pål Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Gustaf Skarsgård
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 77% 
Global Box Office $22,842,887

 

Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl (played by Pål Sverre Hagen), along with five men, succeeded in crossing the Pacific Ocean in the year 1947, and they did it using a balsa wood raft called ‘Kon-Tiki’.

 

The experiment was designed to prove that during pre-Columbian times South Americans did indeed traverse the high seas and settle on different Polynesian islands – an idea that stands at odds with what some Anthropology academic factions believe.

 

Relying on loans and donations to help finance their trip, the men embark on a 101-day journey that will span 8,000 kilometers (4,300 miles).

 

The world sits by, awaiting news of their success; or failure. The movie captures all the nuances and details needed to sell this idea, and convincingly so.

 

The film’s title was taken from the name of the Incan Sun God Viracocha – one of his more ancient names is ‘Kon-Tiki’.

 

The movie is based on a real-life documentary that captured one such expedition. It was filmed by Heyerdahl, and went on to earn an Academy Award in 1951.

 

The book he wrote chronicling his journey sold in excess of 50 million copies worldwide and was translated into more than 70 languages.

 

He didn’t quite prove his critics wrong, though. Heyerdahl and crew ended up crashing on deadly reefs outside Raroia (on August 7, 1947), located in the Tuamotu Islands.

 

Everyone survived the incident and were ferried back to Norway. The raft holds great significance to the date, and is featured prominently in the Kon-Tiki Museum, situated on the Bygdøy Peninsula in Oslo (Norway).

 

 

10. Adrift

 

Adrift

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Baltasar Kormákur 
Written by Aaron Kandell (screenplay), Jordan Kandell (screenplay) & David Branson Smith (screenplay) 
Music by Volker Bertelmann  
Costume Design by Amanda Neale
Cinematography by Robert Richardson
Year 2018
Runtime 1h 36min 
Starring Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Thomas
IMDB Rating 6.6 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 66% 
Global Box Office $59,945,012

 

Based on a rather inspiring true story, this film features a free-spirited man and woman who meet by sheer chance, gradually fall in love with one another, and then embark on quite the adventure together.

 

Tami Oldham (played by Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (played by Sam Claflin) are both avid sailors.

 

They dream up an idea to traverse the ocean together on a sea-worthy vessel. They end up sailing into a hurricane – and a historically catastrophic one at that.

 

Their boat is now in shambles, Richard is seriously injured, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope of rescue.

 

Tami finds herself suffering to save the one man she ever truly loved. She has to keep them both alive until help arrives (if at all) – a task easier said than done.

 

 

9. Swiss Army Man

 

Swiss Army Man

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert  
Written by Daniel Scheinert & Dan Kwan 
Music by Andy Hull & Robert McDowell 
Costume Design by Stephani Lewis
Cinematography by Larkin Seiple
Year 2016
Runtime 1h 37min 
Starring Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
IMDB Rating 7.0 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 72% 
Global Box Office $4,935,501

 

Desperate, starving, and forgotten, Hank (played by Paul Dano) is stranded in a place where he has but one option: survive.

 

Finding himself hard-pressed to do so, he attempts to end his misery. When he ties a noose around his neck and is about to commit the deed, a dead castaway washes up on shore.

 

Hank goes to investigate the decomposing body of what was once a businessman named Manny.

 

This dark-comedy film picks up in earnest when Manny (played by Daniel Radcliffe) turns into a rather talkative dead guy and serves as Hank’s multi-purpose ‘human toolset gadget’.

 

Incredible, implausible, and funny, this film provides a fresh (or rather rotten) twist on what it means to survive.

 

 

8. Defiance

 

Defiance

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Edward Zwick 
Written by Clayton Frohman (screenplay), Edward Zwick (screenplay) & Nechama Tec (original book “Defiance: the Bielski Partisans”) 
Music by James Newton Howard 
Costume Design by Jenny Beavan
Cinematography by Eduardo Serra
Year 2008
Runtime 2h 17min 
Starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, George MacKay
IMDB Rating 7.2 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 72% 
Global Box Office $51,262,751

 

Four Jewish brothers – Tuvia, Zus, Asael, and Aron Bielski (played by Daniel Craig, Live Schreiber, Jamie Bell, and George MacKay, respectively) – are on the run and attempting to stay hidden in German-occupied Poland and Belorussia forests during World War II.

 

They forage for not just food but also weapons to stay alive. They are constantly anxious about being discovered.

 

In addition to the Nazis, they also have to contend with Soviet partisans any one of whom might betray them.

 

As if this wasn’t enough, the Bielskis serve as guardians for a sizeable number of Polish Jews who have fled Germany and the Third Reich.

 

Hidden inside makeshift homes deep in the woods are elders, children, and men and women of all ages.

 

German-occupied Eastern Europe was a powder-keg of distrust and power-politics, and the Bielskis attempt to do whatever it takes to survive this genocidal storm.

 

 

7. The Platform

 

The Platform

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia 
Written by David Desola (screenplay) & Pedro Rivero (screenplay) 
Music by Aránzazu Calleja 
Costume Design by Azegiñe Urigoitia
Cinematography by Jon D. Domínguez
Year 2019
Runtime 1h 34min 
Starring Ivan Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan
IMDB Rating 7.0 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 72% 
Global Box Office $1,090,116

 

A dystopian movie, in more ways than one, this film highlights the concept of food crises in a horrific prison-themed setting.

 

Resources are scarce in this particular future. The story unfolds in ‘The Hole’, a vertical underground jail where the ‘criminals’ voluntarily go if only to get a chance at grabbing their next meal.

 

Once they have passed the interview stage, these people are sent into the frightfully discomfiting Hole where they strive to gain social status, which in turn means more food on the table.

 

And a literal table topped with food, at that, which is lowered from the topmost level (the surface, where the restaurant is busy cooking up meals) down through the Hole’s many levels.

 

The people at the top (level 0) will have relatively more food to eat, food that dwindles the lower the floating platform goes.

 

The platform will remain at each level for all of two minutes before it starts to descend to the next.

 

This story is seen through the eyes of Goreng (played by Ivan Massagué), who awakens in level-48 in a 6-meter-high cell with a gaping rectangular hole smack in the middle of the room.

 

Only two prisoners are permitted per cell. Sharing space with Goreng is veteran Hole-member Trimagasi (played by Zorion Eguileor).

 

Deadly temperature-enforced penalties and severe rules are in effect concerning prisoner behaviour and what they are allowed to do regarding the food that comes their way.

 

Based on select statistics, prisoners are gassed into sleep after which some of them are re-distributed to different levels – and the savagery continues.

 

Existential and moral dilemmas unfold in this disturbingly realistic film where survival is a decision that depends on more than just one person.

 

Goreng finds himself battling to stay alive and later discovering a curious mystery in the Hole that changes everything for him.

 

 

6. Life of Pi

 

Life of Pi

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Ang Lee  
Written by Yann Martel (original novel) & David Magee (screenplay) 
Music by Mychael Danna 
Costume Design by Arjun Bhasin
Cinematography by Claudio Miranda 
Year 2012
Runtime 2h 7min 
Starring Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan, Adil Hussain
IMDB Rating 7.9 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 84% 
Global Box Office $609,016,565

 

A Canadian writer pays a visit to Indian storyteller Pi Patel (played by Irfan Khan) who has a life-story to tell.

 

This tale takes him down memory-lane, to his childhood in Pondicherry (in Tamil Nadu, South India).

 

His father informs him about the local municipality taking back their support of the regional zoo, and that he plans to ferry the animals to Canada on a Japanese cargo ship.

 

After he lands, Pi’s father wishes to safely sell the animals to Canadian zoos where they will find a long-lasting home.

 

A storm drags his dreams to a halt. The ship is wrecked, leaving only one human survivor, namely Pi.

 

The animals who still draw breath are a hyena, an orang-utan, a zebra, and a male Bengal Tiger.

 

The tiger’s nickname is ‘Richard Parker’. Adrift and far from aid, and two predators growing ever-hungry, Pi finds himself in a true existential crisis.

 

 

5. The Revenant

 

The Revenant

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu 
Written by Mark L. Smith, Alejandro G. Iñárritu  & Michael Punke 
Music by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto   
Costume Design by Jacqueline West
Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki
Year 2015
Runtime 2h 36min 
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter
IMDB Rating 8.0 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 84% 
Global Box Office $532,950,503

 

Missouri can be a harsh and unforgiving place in winter, as tracker Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his adopted son Hawk (played by Forrest Goodluck) have always known it to be.

 

The film is set in 19-century North America. Hugh and Hawk are leading a hunting-trapping expedition.

 

Being in the uncharted territory has innumerable perils, especially considering the aggressive Arikara Native-American tribe calls this region home.

 

When the trapper-party strives to navigate a safe path to Fort Kiowa, a deadly Grizzly Bear attack shatters their compact group.

 

When Hugh wakes up, gravely injured and on death’s door, he learns that his team has abandoned him.

 

The man’s sheer will to survive is all that stands between him and death. The freezing cold is one of his most ardent opponents in the fight to stay alive long enough to get back to Kiowa and exact retribution from the men who left him for dead.

 

 

4. The Impossible

 

The Impossible

 

Entity Detail
Directed by J.A. Bayona  
Written by Sergio G. Sánchez & María Belón
Music by Fernando Velázquez   
Costume Design by Anna Bingemann, Sparka Lee Hall & Maria Reyes
Cinematography by Oscar Faura
Year 2012
Runtime 1h 54min 
Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
IMDB Rating 7.6 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 84% 
Global Box Office $198,087,212

 

The year is 2004, and it is Christmas Eve in Thailand where a family of Brits is on vacation.

 

Husband Henry (played by Ewan McGregor), wife Maria (Naomi Watts), and their three sons Simon (played by Oaklee Pendergast), Thomas (played by Samuel Joslin), and Lucas (played by Tom Holland) are enjoying their stay at the Orchid Beach Resort in Khao Lak.

 

They are at the pool when a humongous tsunami hits. Sheer destruction and carnage is left in its wake, as well as an English family suffering to survive the aftermath.

 

Separated from each other, and seriously injured, they try to find one another in all the confusion and uncertainty.

 

They are genuinely concerned if another tsunami wave might be on the way.

 

 

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Entity Detail
Directed by George Miller 
Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris 
Music by Junkie XL 
Costume Design by Jenny Beavan
Cinematography by John Seale 
Year 2015
Runtime 2h 
Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
IMDB Rating 8.1 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 86% 
Global Box Office $375,658,750

 

The film is set in a dystopian future where Earth has become a desert landscape, and where water is the true currency of the land.

 

Into this post-apocalyptic setting comes a survivor, Max Rockatansky (played by Tom Hardy), who has to stay one step ahead of his pursuers, namely the dreaded over-lord Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his marauders, aka ‘The Wild Boys’.

 

One of Immortan’s elite lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron), is silently planning a treacherous getaway from ‘The Citadel’, from where Immortan Joe rules.

 

Commandeering a heavily armored ‘War Rig’ truck, she makes good her escape but not before taking all of Immortan Joe’s five subjugated wives with her.

 

With a small army of deluded zealots on her trail, and with the terrible Immortan Joe himself leading the charge, survival seems unlikely for Furiosa and a hapless Max who has joined her cause.

 

 

2. Snowden

 

Snowden

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Oliver Stone 
Written by Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone  & Luke Harding 
Music by Craig Armstrong 
Costume Design by Bina Daigeler
Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle
Year 2016
Runtime 2h 14min 
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto
IMDB Rating 7.3 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 70% 
Global Box Office $37,357,216

 

This revealing movie is based on the very real travails faced by a man named Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film).

 

In the year 2013, Snowden arranges and goes to attend a significant secret meeting held in Hong Kong.

 

Attendees include Laura Poitras (played by Melissa Leo) and journalist Glenn Greenwald (played by Zachary Quinto).

 

Poitras is based on real-life American documentary film director and producer among whose works is ‘Citizenfour’, a powerful portrayal of the injustices committed against Edward Snowden, a whistle-blower who dared to share dangerous Truths with the world.

 

This movie particularly focuses on Snowden’s possession of classified evidence concerning the National Security Agency’s (NSA; United States) illegal mass surveillance program.

 

Snowden’s life and times during basic training after his enlistment in the U. S. Army are ideally covered in the movie.

 

His ambitions to work hard and earn a good ranking position in the Special Forces are also well-portrayed.

 

When a tibia fracture impairs his ability to pursue a career in the Army, Snowden adapts and receives his administrative discharge with dignity.

 

But the man soon comes to learn of mass surveillance of the American people, and his conscience hurts him more than his career-loss ever will.

 

This is a genuine story of survival in the real world of politics, espionage, state secrets, and dangerous classified programs that are taking place in the U. S. A. against the knowledge and acceptance of the general public.

 

 

1. Cast Away

 

Cast Away

 

Entity Detail
Directed by Robert Zemeckis 
Written by William Broyles Jr. 
Music by Alan Silvestri 
Costume Design by Joanna Johnston
Cinematography by Don Burgess
Year 2000
Runtime 2h 23min 
Starring Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Paul Sanchez
IMDB Rating 7.8 / 10 
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score 84% 
Global Box Office $429,632,142

 

Punctuality-obsessed and overworked Federal Express executive Chuck Noland (played by Tom Hanks) always seems to have a lot on his plate – from arranging package transfer protocols to troubleshooting sundry issues at the workplace.

 

The year is 1995, which is about to transition to a New Year. An unforeseen work issue forces Chuck to postpone meeting his girlfriend Kelly Frears (played by Helen Hunt) who is as patient as she is understanding.

 

Chuck is on a plane headed to Malaysia when circumstances take a turn for the worse.

 

His flight crashes, and he washes up on an unknown island, practically marooned somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

 

He is left having so much time on his hands and so few chances for survival that Chuck can’t help but make the most of his hours – what remains of it – to adapt to island life and learn to forage and hunt to keep himself alive.

 

His interactions with a volleyball whom he affectionately calls ‘Wilson’ add a crucial psychological layer to this brilliant film that captures the essence of what it truly means to be alive.