Survival The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories  

Ranker Film
1.3k votes 221 voters 12.4k views 21 items

List Rules No straight horror movies.

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
1 105 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

Released: 2018

Directed by: James Marsh

Also Ranked

#1 on The Greatest Lost at Sea Movies Ever Made

99 6
Is this the best true tale of survival?
see more on The Mercy
Jungle is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: via Tumblr
2 63 VOTES

Jungle is a 2017 Australian biographical survival drama film directed by Greg McLean. An adventurer (Daniel Radcliffe) joins a group during an expedition into the Bolivian jungle, only to find themselves in a dangerous situation. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Daniel Radcliffe, Alex Russell, Thomas Kretschmann, Yasmin Kassim, Joel Jackson, + more

Released: 2017

Directed by: Greg McLean

Also Ranked

#6 on The Best Mystery Thriller Movies on Amazon Prime

#25 on The Best Adventure Movies That Take Place in the Jungle

12 51
Is this the best true tale of survival?
see more on Jungle
127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: Metaweb (FB)
3 127 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

Released: 2010

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Also Ranked

#61 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

#38 on The Most Nausea-Inducing Great Films

#17 on The Most Stressful Movies to Watch

#6 on The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival

26 101
Is this the best true tale of survival?
see more on 127 Hours
Apollo 13 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo:  Universal Pictures
4 112 VOTES

Apollo 13 is a 1995 American historical docudrama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, Jr. and Al Reinert, that dramatizes the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, is an adaptation of the book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. The film depicts astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America's third Moon landing mission. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, + more

Released: 1995

Directed by: Ron Howard

Also Ranked

#87 on The Best Movies of All Time

#14 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#2 on The Best Movies Based on True Stories

#50 on The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time

20 92
Is this the best true tale of survival?
see more on Apollo 13