Watchworthy

The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival 

Ranker Film
Updated May 18, 2020 1.9k votes 278 voters 10.6k views 46 items

Whether facing the apocalypse, zombies, or a vast open ocean, characters in the best survival drama movies all share an undying fight for life. The top survival films push lone characters to the limits as they face unimaginable threats. This is a list of great drama films about survival featuring everything from Life of Pi to The Road to Gladiator.

What films will you find on this list of the best survival dramas? Maybe you would vote the modern classic Life of Pi to the top. This Oscar-winning tale was as much a feast for the eyes as it was a thrilling story of survival. Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, is another good survival movie featuring one man, a lot of water, and an unlikely friend. Based on the real-life experiences of Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor is a gripping tale of war and the brotherhood of soldiers. Other exciting and sad films featured on this top survival movies list include 127 Hours, Gravity, and The Road.

Which survival movie do you think deserves the top spot on this list? Give your favorites a thumbs up and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Cast Away is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Chris Noth

Released: 2000

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Cast Away is a 2000 American adventure drama film directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks as a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane accident ...more

More Cast Away 

#45 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies #69 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #119 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

2
The Martian is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig

Released: 2015

Directed by: Ridley Scott

The Martian is a 2015 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, based on the novel by Andy Weir. An astronaut (Matt Damon) becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him gone, and must ...more

More The Martian 

#79 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #550 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #97 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time

3
Life of Pi is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Gérard Depardieu, Irrfan Khan, Tabu

Released: 2012

Directed by: Ang Lee

Life of Pi is a 2012 American historical drama film directed by Ang Lee, based on the novel of the same name by Yann Martel. Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma), a young man who is cast away after a ...more

More Life of Pi 

#388 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #300 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #35 of 168 Live Action Films with the Best CGI Effects

4
I Am Legend is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Will Smith, Emma Thompson, Salli Richardson

Released: 2007

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

I Am Legend is a 2007 American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith. It is the third feature film adaptation of Richard Matheson's ...more

More I Am Legend 

#84 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #78 of 728 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #160 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

5
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

More Gladiator 

Gladiator Might Be One of The Most Historically Inaccurate Movies Ever #17 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Alive is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
John Malkovich, Ethan Hawke, Josh Lucas

Released: 1993

Directed by: Frank Marshall

Alive is a 1993 American biographical survival drama film based upon Piers Paul Read's 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, which details the story of a Uruguayan rugby team. The ...more

More Alive 

#270 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #24 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #74 of 94 The Worst January Movie Releases

7
127 Hours is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
James Franco, Kate Mara, Lizzy Caplan

Released: 2010

Directed by: Danny Boyle

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 ...more

More 127 Hours 

The True Story Of '127 Hours' Where A Man Cut Off His Own Arm To Survive #392 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #11 of 14 The Most Horrifying Non-Horror Movies Ever Made

8
The Road is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Viggo Mortensen

Released: 2009

Directed by: John Hillcoat

The Road is a 2009 American post-apocalyptic drama film directed by John Hillcoat from a screenplay written by Joe Penhall, which is in return based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 novel of ...more

More The Road 

#250 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #115 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #36 of 161 The Best Dystopian And Near Future Movies

9
The Revenant is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

Released: 2015

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

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 ...more

More The Revenant 

#35 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #22 of 234 The Best Movies Based On True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
28 Days Later is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris

Released: 2002

Directed by: Danny Boyle

28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, ...more

More 28 Days Later 

The Best '28 Days Later' Quotes Will Bring You Out Of A Coma #67 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #29 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

11
Apocalypto is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Raoul Trujillo, Gerardo Taracena, Israel Contreras

Released: 2006

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Apocalypto is a 2006 American epic adventure film directed and produced by Mel Gibson. It was written by Gibson and Farhad Safinia. Set in pre-Columbian Petén, Guatemala, around the year ...more

More Apocalypto 

#110 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #1,393 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #69 of 137 The Goriest Movies Ever Made

12
Alien is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott. The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo encounter the eponymous Alien, a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial set ...more

More Alien 

50 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Alien #5 of 591 The Best '70s Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox

Released: 2002

Directed by: Roman Polanski

The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski, scripted by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody. It is based on the autobiographical book The ...more

More The Pianist 

#93 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #1,141 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
The Grey is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo

Released: 2011

Directed by: Joe Carnahan

The Grey is a 2011 American survival thriller co-written, produced and directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulroney. It is based on the short story ...more

More The Grey 

#349 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #1,526 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #88 of 94 The Worst January Movie Releases

15
Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Zach Galifianakis

Released: 2007

Directed by: Sean Penn

Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical drama survival film written and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer based on ...more

More Into the Wild 

Everything That Had To Go Wrong For Chris McCandless To Meet His Fate #410 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #252 of 321 Movies with the Best Soundtracks

16
A Quiet Place is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe

Released: 2018

Directed by: John Krasinski

A Quiet Place is a 2018 American supernatural horror film directed by John Krasinski. A family living on a farm hides from a supernatural evil attracted to sound by avoiding making sound and ...more

More A Quiet Place 

#554 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #224 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies #31 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

17
Gravity is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris

Released: 2013

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Gravity is a 2013 science fiction thriller film directed, co-written, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts, and sees them stranded in ...more

More Gravity 

#185 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time #77 of 164 The Best Science Fiction Action Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
Lone Survivor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Mark Wahlberg, Eric Bana, Taylor Kitsch

Released: 2013

Directed by: Peter Berg

Lone Survivor is a 2013 American film written and directed by Peter Berg, and starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana. The film is based on the 2007 ...more

More Lone Survivor 

#158 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #174 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #263 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

19
Open Water is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Saul Stein, Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis

Released: 2003

Directed by: Chris Kentis

Open Water is a 2003 drama psychological horror film loosely based on the true story of an American couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who in 1998 went out with a scuba diving group, Outer Edge ...more

More Open Water 

#310 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #164 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #48 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

20
Homeward Bound: The Incr... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Matt Barone added Sally Field, Michael J. Fox, Frank Welker

Released: 1993

Directed by: Duwayne Dunham

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a 1993 American remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey, which was based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Sheila Burnford. Directed ...more

More Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey 

#68 of 322 The Best Movies for Kids #200 of 493 The Funniest '90s Movies #44 of 143 The Best Disney Live-Action Movies

21
Zombieland is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Emma Stone, Amber Heard, Bill Murray

Released: 2009

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Zombieland is a 2009 American zombie comedy film directed by Ruben Fleischer from a screenplay written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma ...more

More Zombieland 

#97 of 1,025 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #71 of 850 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #79 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies

22
Everest is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes

Released: 2015

Directed by: Doug Liman

Everest is a 2015 biographical adventure film directed by Baltasar Kormákur, based on the memoir by Beck Weathers. The story of New Zealand's Robert "Rob" Edwin Hall (Jason ...more

More Everest 

#135 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #5 of 26 The Best Films About Climbing #123 of 168 The Best 3D Films

23
Blood and Money is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Tom Berenger, Kristen Hager, Paul Ben-Victor

Released: 2020

Directed by: John Barr

Blood and Money (a.k.a. Allagash) is a 2020 American thriller film directed by John Barr. While hunting in the wilderness of Northern Maine, a retired veteran (Tom Berenger) finds a deceased ...more

More Blood and Money 

#25 of 35 The Best Snowy Thriller Movies, Ranked #40 of 85 The Best New Thriller Movies of the Last Few Years #6 of 129 The Best Movies Of 2020

24
The Education of Little ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
MoonshadowRachel added James Cromwell, Graham Greene, Christopher Heyerdahl

Released: 1997

Directed by: Richard Friedenberg

The Education of Little Tree is a 1997 drama film directed by Richard Friedenberg.
25
Deliverance is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The 35+ Best Drama Movies About Survival
Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty

Released: 1972

Directed by: John Boorman

Deliverance is a 1972 American dramatic thriller film produced and directed by John Boorman, and starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, with the latter two making their ...more

More Deliverance 

The Making Of 'Deliverance' Was Even More Horrifying Than The Film's Backwoods Locals #196 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #95 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books