10 Best Survival Movies Of All Time

Wednesday, January 26 by Tom Gordon

The ten best survival movies of all time have heroes on islands, mountains, the frontier, the city, foreign war zones and even outer space. Some of the most talented directors in recent years are also represented in these survival movies. Some of the titles listed among the ten best survival movies of all time are just popcorn movies, while others are truly inspiring films.

  1. "Cast Away." Robert Zemeckis directed Tom Hanks in this story of a FedEx executive who lives by the clock and winds up spending years alone on a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean. It's funny, tense, heartbreaking and a great example of superior storytelling on film.
  2. "Road Warrior." Mel Gibson reprises his role in this sequel to "Mad Max," as the lone former cop tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, where gasoline is worth killing and dying over. There was a time when Gibson was one of the coolest movie stars out there and this is one of the reasons why.
  3. "Apollo 13." Hanks again takes us on a journey of survival, this time orbiting the moon in the true story of an ill-fated lunar mission that required the bravery and ingenuity of astronauts and engineers to bring the crew of the mission home safely when their ship experiences a problem.
  4. "Dances with Wolves." Kevin Costner directed this Oscar-winning movie about a Civil War soldier who takes a post on the frontier, where he struggles against loneliness, the Sioux who first see him as an enemy, and later the U.S. army soldiers who have come to make the land safe for settlers. It's a beautiful movie and one of the best about the changing west in the 19th century.
  5. "Black Hawk Down." Ridley Scott directed an unflinching account of a real-life U.S. Army helicopter mission that turned into a disaster and a fight for survival in war-torn Somalia.
  6. "Cliffhanger." It's a goofy story about a mountain guide (Sylvester Stallone) who winds up battling thieves on a snowy mountainside. But the action is great and it won't tax your brain or pull at your heartstrings like some movies on this list.
  7. "Deliverance." It's too bad the "squeal like a pig" scene is all most people know about this movie (that and the "Dueling Banjos" scene), because it really is a tense and gripping movie about survival. Burt Reynolds, who seemed to become sort of a caricature of himself later in the 1970s and 80s, was great in this movie, and so was Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox.
  8. "Jeremiah Johnson." Robert Redford stepped out of his usual leading man guise to play a former soldier who wishes only to live the simple life of a mountain man in the old west. He becomes the target of a vendetta in this underrated western directed by Sydney Pollack.
  9. "Warriors." A cheesy, George Roy Hill-directed gang movie from the Seventies follows the efforts of the Warriors to get back to Staten Island by daybreak, despite spending the night trying survive attack after attack of other rival gangs. It's a guilty pleasure.
  10. "The African Queen." Directed by John Huston, this is one of the great movies of the first half of the 20th century. The story features Humphrey Bogart and Kate Hepburn as a riverboat captain and a missionary who take a dangerous journey down the river in a rickety boat toward a showdown with a gunship in World War I Africa.