20 Disaster Movies You Must See Before You Die

Cinematic carnage at its absolute best.

The Impossible Naomi Watts
Warner Bros.

Who among us doesn't love a good disaster movie? The genre has proven enormously popular for over five decades for damn good reason, because the thrill of seeing an ensemble cast desperately trying to escape a large-scale calamity - whether natural or man-made - speaks for itself.

We've seen dozens and dozens of them over the years, and though many end up falling by the wayside, there are also those sure to stick with us forever.

And with Roland Emmerich's new disaster movie Moonfall out now in cinemas around the world, what better time to pore over the genre's finest efforts to date?

Whether due to their incredibly realised set-pieces, genuinely affecting human drama, or sheer unrelenting absurdity, these disaster films represent the very best ever made.

We've all got our favourites, whether guilty pleasures or certified cinema classics in their own right, and though mileage may vary, these 20 are well worth checking out if any have passed you by.

From mega-budget tentpoles to more niche, low-budget offerings you may not know about, these are the 20 greatest disaster movies of all time...

20. 2012

The Impossible Naomi Watts
Columbia Pictures

While hardly one of the more sophisticated entries into the genre, Roland Emmerich's 2012 thrives on the strength of its absolute, absurd maximalism.

Centered around the prophesised belief that a cataclysmic chain of events were set to occur in 2012, Emmerich's film - oddly released in 2009 - is a 158-minute collage of mayhem that fitfully fleets between characters and set-pieces.

Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, megatsunamis, and global flooding are the order of the day in a film that's excessive and wildly overlong without question, but benefits from its sheer, unbridled commitment to the bit, aided by entertaining performances from the likes of John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Everyone knew what they were getting into with Emmerich by this point, and he absolutely delivered on chaotic expectations.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.