Survival

The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories  

Ranker Film
1.4k votes 298 voters 20.2k views 22 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

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

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The Great Alaskan Race is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo:  P12 Films

The Great Alaskan Race is a 2019 American action-adventure film directed by Brian Presley. Set during the 1925 great race of mercy, a group of mushers travels 700 miles to save the children of Nome, Alaska from a deadly epidemic. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Brian Presley, Treat Williams, Brad Leland

Released: 2019

Directed by: Brian Presley

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Jungle is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: Jungle/Umbrella Entertainment
3

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

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12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Survival Movies Based on True Stories
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is taken and sold into the trade. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, + more

Released: 2013

Directed by: Steve McQueen

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