True Stories The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories  

Ranker Film
504 votes 85 voters 4.9k views 21 items

List Rules No straight horror movies.

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There are hundreds if not thousands of movies about survival, but only a choice few are based on true events. The survival movies based on true stories can offer harrowing examples of people performing extraordinary feats in the most desperate of circumstances, but those films are few and far between. Survival films often depict what really happened to people whose life is told in a story that could be inspirational or end in disaster.

You may think a survival movie like Tom Hanks' Castaway would wind up on a list like this one, but that film was based on multiple survival accounts of people who survived that sort of situation instead of a single, true event. The strict criteria for this list means you'll find the best survival movies - if and only if they are based on true events! Real stories about people surviving or struggling to overcome obstacles offer an interesting and sometimes difficult viewing of struggle, perseverance, and the will to overcome... but not everyone survives and often, these movies end in ways you may not desire...

The Mercy is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: BBC Films
1 33 VOTES

The Mercy is a 2017 British biographical drama film directed by James Marsh. Amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) attempts to circumnavigate the globe alone as his family awaits his return. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Ken Stott

Initial Release: 2018

Directed by: James Marsh

Also Ranked

#3 on The Greatest Lost at Sea Movies Ever Made

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The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo:  20th Century Fox
2 43 VOTES

The Revenant is a 2015 American semi-biographical epic western film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. A frontiersman (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left by members of his own hunting team. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Initial Release: 2015

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Also Ranked

#34 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

#48 on The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

#86 on The Best Native American Movies

#17 on The Biggest Oscar Bait Films of All Time

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127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: Metaweb (FB)
3 43 VOTES

127 Hours is a 2010 British-American biographical survival drama film directed, co-written and produced by Danny Boyle. The film stars James Franco as real-life canyoneer Aron Ralston, who became trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Blue John Canyon, southeastern Utah, in April 2003. The film was a co-production of the United Kingdom and the United States. The film, based on Ralston's memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place, was written by Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, produced by Christian Colson and John Smithson and the music was scored by A. R. Rahman. Beaufoy, Colson and Rahman had all previously worked with Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire. The film was well received by critics and ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan, Amber Tamblyn, Clémence Poésy, + more

Initial Release: 2010

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Also Ranked

#63 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

#38 on The Most Nausea-Inducing Great Films

#6 on The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival

#25 on The Most Stressful Movies to Watch

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Adrift is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: via Tumblr
4 32 VOTES

Adrift is a 2018 American romance drama film directed by Baltasar Kormákur, based on a true story. When Tami (Shailene Woodley) and Richard (Sam Claflin) are hit by a storm while sailing, she must find the strength to save herself and the only man she has ever loved. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin

Initial Release: 2018

Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur

Also Ranked

#7 on The Greatest Lost at Sea Movies Ever Made

8 24
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see more on Adrift