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The Very Best Survival Movies 

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Updated May 18, 2020 21.5k votes 3k voters 297.1k views 167 items

List Rules Movies must feature the struggle to survive in some way.

A list of the best survival movies. All of the best survival films have been included, but if you feel we somehow missed one, feel free to add it to the list yourself. Survival films, above all else, are about one thing: staying alive.

What are the top survival movies? Whether it be monsters, an apocalypse, or the Earth itself, survival films are all about trying to outlast whatever it is that's trying to kill you. Perseverance is key, so as one can guess, many of these films could even be described as "inspirational" (some in their own perverse way). Enjoy!
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1
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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

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#118 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #18 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #390 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

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looksharp added Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for ...more

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#1 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #182 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ed Harris

Released: 1995

Directed by: Ron Howard

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, ...more

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#133 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #95 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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

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#269 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #25 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #49 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

5
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Randolph Strauss added 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

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The True Story Of '127 Hours' Where A Man Cut Off His Own Arm To Survive #19 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #392 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

6
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Charley Feldman added 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

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Alec Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins, Elle Macpherson

Released: 1997

Directed by: Lee Tamahori

The Edge is a 1997 American survival drama film directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Bart the Bear, a trained Kodiak Bear known for appearances in several ...more

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#266 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #100 of 212 The Best Adventure Movies #11 of 13 13 Movies That Remind You The Outside Sucks Anyway

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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

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#250 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #113 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #368 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

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wiabux added 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

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Everything That Had To Go Wrong For Chris McCandless To Meet His Fate #277 of 347 Movies with the Best Soundtracks #23 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

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Pallknowing1 added 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

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#1,515 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #349 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #31 of 135 The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Made

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looksharp added 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

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#158 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #261 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #72 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

12
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looksharp added Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

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The Best 'Aliens' Quotes #20 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Charley Feldman added George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

Released: 2000

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

The Perfect Storm is a 2000 American biographical disaster drama film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It is an adaptation of the 1997 non-fiction book of the same title by Sebastian Junger, which ...more

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Tragic Facts About The Perfect Storm, The Shipwreck Story No One Lived To Tell #100 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #12 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time

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Ferry73 added Emmy Rossum, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid

Released: 2004

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American climate fiction-disaster film co-written, directed, and produced by Roland Emmerich and starring Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, ...more

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#222 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #1 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #200 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

15
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Randolph Strauss added 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

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#92 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #1,164 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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Pallknowing1 added Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso

Released: 1982

Directed by: Ted Kotcheff

First Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted Kotcheff, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran. ...more

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#138 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #40 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #215 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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looksharp added 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

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The Making Of 'Deliverance' Was Even More Horrifying Than The Film's Backwoods Locals #95 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #197 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime

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Brettski added Mila Kunis, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman

Released: 2010

Directed by: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes

The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic neo-Western and action film directed by the Hughes brothers, written by Gary Whitta, and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, ...more

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#94 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #57 of 163 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies #478 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

19
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PeteBoyle added 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

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#300 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #120 of 135 The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Made #387 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

20
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looksharp added Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Vic Tayback

Released: 1973

Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner

Papillon is a 1973 prison film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the best-selling autobiography by the French convict Henri Charrière. The film stars Steve McQueen as Henri ...more

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#1,078 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #118 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #216 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

21
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fa_indrianto added 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

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#110 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #1,379 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #100 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

22
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Lswood added Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris

Released: 2010

Directed by: P. Weir

The Way Back is a 2010 epic drama film directed by Peter Weir, from a screenplay by Weir and Keith Clarke. The film is inspired by The Long Walk, the memoir by former Polish POW Sławomir Rawicz, ...more

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#406 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #100 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #147 of 212 The Best Adventure Movies

23
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Bootsdad added Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells

Released: 1981

Directed by: George Miller

Mad Max 2 is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The film is the second installment in the Mad Max film series, with Mel Gibson starring as Max Rockatansky. ...more

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#80 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #51 of 163 The Best Science Fiction Action Movies #350 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

24
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realsurvival1970 added Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulte

Released: 2015

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

In the 19th century, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a fur trapper, is mauled by a bear while hunting. His companions (Hardy, Poulter, and Gleeson) rob him and leave him to die, but he survives and sets out to get revenge on the men who betrayed him. (Wikipedia)

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#35 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #21 of 243 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

25
Children of Men is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Very Best Survival Movies
Brettski added Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Michael Caine

Released: 2006

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction thriller film directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón. The screenplay, based on P. D. James's 1992 novel of the same name, was credited to five ...more

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#133 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #873 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #118 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time