20 Best Survival Movies Of All Time

Space, deserts, jungles, big rocks, wolves and war - survival is never easy.

Cast Away Tom Hanks
DreamWorks

Cinema has a lot to offer when it comes to the theme of survival. There are space epics, the classic tales of stranded travellers, claustrophobia and war. The best survival flicks are the ones which focus on character - the way people react when thrown, often head first and with little warning, into a situation brimming with threat and uncertainty.

Some work better on a larger scale, sure, be them films set in war, away from the battlefield, or pictures about the devastation of real life natural disasters.

Whatever you prefer, the following list has you covered. Everything from space horror to killer wolves is taken into consideration here. All the films are thick with tension, oozing dread and dripping with fearful anticipation, but many also contain elements of hope and perseverance; the idea that no matter what, they will continue to fight to reach safety.

The most recurring theme on this list, beside the horror and fear of the unknown, is the acting involved. Each film is great as a piece of storytelling, but all are propelled to new heights by some of Hollywood's most explosive, sensitive and daring performances, all of which deserve a sea of praise for finding a way to elevate the tension of their film even further.

So get comfortable and make sure you're emotionally prepared, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

Spoilers throughout.

20. Apollo 13

Cast Away Tom Hanks
Universal

To watch Apollo 13 is to love Apollo 13. Released in 1995 and directed by Ron Howard, this space epic remains one of cinema's most loved and imitated motion pictures. It's one of the most intense and claustrophobic space dramas, lacking monsters and aliens, focusing instead on the true story of astronauts attempting to make it home after their ship is damaged.

Ron Howard's direction is seamless and the plot is well-crafted and respectful to the historic source material. It also boasts some career best performances from Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris and the late, great Bill Paxton.

As soon as the ship is damaged and the stakes are heightened with a reveal that the oxygen supply has been harmed, the film goes from a fun, tense space adventure to a gruelling exploration into how the men - both in the ship and on the ground - dealt with the severity of the situation. It's thrilling, well-paced, and a stunning look at the community-like spirit of the men and women involved.

Plus, who could ever forget Hanks' delivery: "Houston, we have a problem." Iconic doesn't quick cut it.

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WhatCulture contributor and lover of all things Star Wars, Buffy, zombie, TV and movie. Usually found rambling about how Jack Nicholson is the greatest actor of all time and watching the same six shows on repeat.