10 Best Survival Movies

Nothing makes you more thankful that you’re safe on your couch than a good survival movie. Let’s face it the world is a terrifying place. There are a lot of things out there that can make you dead, and other humans can seem like the least of your problems in the grand scheme of things. Of course, animals want a piece of you. The weather can be a dick. You need this stuff called food and water. Plus, don’t even get me started on the cold vastness of space (I’m not signing up to go to Mars anytime soon). Yeah, the universe is heartless to the point where it almost seems like it’s just passively trying to kill us all. Just in case you don’t believe me, here are The 10 Best Survival Movies to make you thankful for civilization once again. Pray to the gods of air conditioning that you’ll never have to face situations like this. Watching other people face them though is totally different though.

10. Alive

survival movies
It’s a beautiful morning and we have plenty of left overs from last night.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this on a list of survival movies. It’s a heartwarming tale of a soccer team coming together to survive a horrible situation, by eating each other. It’s easy to make jokes (and I’ve got one or two more) but this is based on the true story of a plane crash in the mountains, where people’s only hope of survival was to eat the dead. Luckily a few members were able to survive and make it back to civilization. Everyone knows there’s no “I” in team, but if you find yourself in this situation there could be a lot of “u” in it.

9. Swiss Army Man

survival movies
The beginning of a beautiful and kinda gross friendship.

I included this movie on this list because it’s probably one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen. It’s a buddy survival movie, except one of the buddies is a talking, farting corpse. Not interested? What if I told you that said farting corpse was played by none other than Daniel Radcliffe. That’s right, Harry Potter. More than anything it focuses on the psychological aspect of survival as Paul Dano uses the corpse to help him make it through the wilderness and help him stay sane. Well, sane is a nice way of putting it. Still, it’s one that really stands out among survival movies.

8. The Shallows

survival movies
Nothing like a little fun in the sun.

There’s no arguing that Jaws is the ultimate shark movie, but that doesn’t mean that The Shallows isn’t one of the better survival movies out there. Blake Lively seemed to take a cue from her husband’s movie Buried (which almost made this list), and stars in this solo film about a woman caught on a reef with a killer shark between her and the shore. It’s a pretty brutal situation to be in, considering there’s no cover, drinkable water, and you have more than the shark to worry about. Still, it’s got a lot of Blake Lively in it, and she does a damn good job surviving.

7. Backcountry

survival movies
What a beautiful sight. The only thing that could ruin it would be a grizzly bear.

There’s nothing like a romantic hike through the woods with your significant other to build a stronger connection. Unless you get lost… and a bear wants to eat you. Like most survival movies, Backcountry takes something that should be an exciting adventure and throws a wrench into the works. The film is about a couple that decides to go on a camping trip, but the dude pulls a typical guy move and doesn’t ask for directions… or bring a map. Things go from bad to worse when Winnie the Grizzly Bear mistakes them for pots of honey.

6. Cast Away

survival movies
I’m going to say it…

I’m just going to get this out of the way, “WILSON!” Alright, now we can move on. America’s sweetheart Tom Hanks stars as a man trapped on a deserted island with only a volleyball to keep him company, and sane for the most part. Hanks actually went all out for the role for the role and lost 50 pounds during the course of shooting. Which just goes to show that in the event of a survival situation the pudgy more likely to survive for longer and chicks totally dig survivalist guys, right? This is definitely one of the more well-known of the survival movies, but there’s a good reason for that.

5. Life of Pi

survival movies
It’s like the odd couple, but one of them’s a tiger.

Ang Lee has a habit of not only making visually striking films but also managing to win best director for them when they don’t. Life of Pi is the story of a shipwrecked boy set adrift in a small boat. Unlike the last movie on this list though, he doesn’t have a volleyball to keep him company. Instead, he’s got a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It’s a bit more fantastical than other survival movies, but it’s good to mix it up every once in awhile. Besides it’ got the second best cinematography on this list.

4. 127 Hours

Survival movies
I’m supposed to be at brunch in an hour!

Just like the movie that kicked off this list, 127 Hours is based on a true story. The title comes from how long he was trapped in the desert with his hand pinned by man’s only natural predator, a big rock. Now it might seem boring watching a guy pinned in a canyon for just over 5 days, but it’s a true tale of survival as he does everything he can to keep himself alive just one more second. Spoiler alert, the end is a brutal sequence where he cuts off his own arm with a pocket knife to keep himself from dying. As far as survival movies go, this one is really intense.

3. The Martian

survival movies
Just gotta stay positive in these situations.

Survival is going to look a little different in the future. The Martian isn’t one of your traditional survival movies, but I think it definitely belongs on this list. After all, the planet Mars can still be considered nature, and it is doing everything it can to kill the main character. In it, a man is accidentally left behind on the red planet and has to spend four years surviving until he’s rescued. The best part is that the movie is actually pretty scientifically accurate, from what I’ve heard. You’d have to ask NASA though to be certain (which is apparently free).

2. The Revenant

survival movies
Next time grandpa says people were tough in his day, show him this movie.

Of all the survival movies on this list, The Revenant is probably the most brutal. Things weren’t easy in the old days, and that includes surviving. It’s based on the true story of a man who just might be the toughest bastard that ever lived. During a fur trapping expedition, he’s mauled by a bear and left for dead by his team. He didn’t take too kindly to that and manages to drag himself back to civilization across a treacherous terrain during a bleak winter. It’s the movie that actually won Leonardo DiCaprio the Oscar kept from him for so many years. If that’s not a good reason to watch it, I don’t know what else to tell you.

1. Gravity

survival movies
Ah the beauty of space. Just think, things can drift forever out there with nothing to stop them.

The best way to describe Gravity as a beautiful panic attack. Most survival movies feature someone lost on an island or trying to get through the woods. Gravity though is essentially a sinking ship movie set in space. Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut aboard the International Space Station that is forced to escape after it’s destroyed by meteorites. It’s a visually outstanding film that highlights how dangerous the nothingness of space is, as she has to hurl herself into oblivion in the hopes of reaching another space station. It’s one of those outstanding films that you never want to sit through again.

There you have it, 10 of the best survival movies Hollywood can offer. Of course, there are a ton of them out there and much more coming down the pipeline. So, if you have one that you’d suggest for this list, be sure to let me know in the comments below.


  • Merril Goodell

    (October 4, 2017 - 4:52 pm)

    Excellent selection and pretty good prioritizing, but isn’t it significantly missing the Disney genre, something like Swiss Family Robinson?

  • Merle Goodell

    (October 5, 2017 - 3:01 am)

    I’m not seeing THE WAY BACK here. What’s up with that?

Comments are closed.