Trapped in your house and can’t get to the backcountry? Rather than watching Game of Thrones over again, here are some outdoor movies to binge on.
When you talk about outdoor movies it becomes a little confusing on which too include and exclude. Are you talking about hiking movies? What about climbing movies? Include anything set outdoors and the list grows greatly. I decided to divide and conquer. I’ve divided them into the following categories: Climbing, On the Trail, Nature as Best Supporting Actor, and Outdoor Survival. I’ve only included movies that I have a good idea what they are about, and I’ve only ranked ones that I’ve watched.
I’ve only ranked the seven that I’ve seen, and they are all very good to fantastic.
7) 180 Degrees South. 2010. Jeff Johnson
6) Touching the Void. 2003. Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron
5) Everest. 2015. Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin
4) Valley Uprising. 2014. Narrated by Peter Sarsgaard
3) The Dawn Wall. 2017. Tommy Caldwell
2) Meru. 2015. Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker
1) Free Solo. 2018. Alex Honnold
The Summit. 2012. Christine Barnes, Lochlainn O’Mearain.
Vertical Limit. 2000. Chris O’Donnell, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn
The Eiger Sanction. 1975. Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy
The Climbers. 2019. Wu Jing, Jackie Chan
Cliffhanger. 1993. Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow
On the Trail
These films are more about hiking. Again, I’ve only seen three of them so that’s all I ranked. Those three are worth a look but Wild is my favorite.
3) A Walk in the Woods. 2015. Robert Redford, Nick Nolte. Buddies on the Appalachian Trail.
2) The Way. 2010. Martin Sheen. Disillusioned man finds solace on the Camino de Santiago trail.
1) Wild. 2014. Reese Witherspoon. Disillusioned woman finds solace on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Tracks. 2014. Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver. Girl walks across Australian desert.
Southbounders. 2005. Documentary of the Appalachian Trail.
Mile… Mile and a Half. 2013. Documentary of the John Muir Trail.
Only the Essential. 2014. Documentary of the Pacific Crest Trail.
As It Happens. Documentary of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Tell It on the Mountain. 2013. Documentary of the John Muir Trail.
Appalachian Impressions. 2015. Documentary of the Appalachian Trail.
The Long Journey to the Start. 2015. Documentary of the Appalachian Trail.
Nature as Best Supporting Actor
The plot of these vary, but nature plays a big role in the films. Some really great movies here and I’ve watched them all. I realize now that I need to watch several of them again because it’s been a looonng time for many, so I won’t try to rank them. But then again, why not.
10) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. 2013. Ben Stiller. Disillusioned man finds solace in nature.
9) Jeremiah Johnson. 1972. Robert Redford. Disillusioned man finds solace in nature.
8) The River Wild. 1994. Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon. Bad guys no match for good rafting skills.
7) Legends of the Fall. 1990. Brad Pitt. Anthony Hopkins. Sibling rivalry in the mountains.
6) Grizzly Man. 2005. Documentary about Timothy Treadwell. Bear eats man.
5) Brokeback Mountain. 2005. Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal. Man eats man.
4) A River Runs Through It. 1990 Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer. Sibling rivalry in the mountains.
3) The Last of the Mohicans. 1992, Daniel Day Lewis. Colonists are bad for Native Americans.
2) True Grit. 2010. Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon. Bad guys no match for determined teenager and drunken lawman.
1) Dances with Wolves. 1990. Kevin Costner. Disillusioned man finds solace in nature.
The name of the game here is surviving mother nature and/or wild creatures.
Honorable Mention) The Edge. 1997. Flight of Phoenix. 2014. The Mountain Between Us. 2017.
10) The Grey. 2011. I’m not sure how realistic this one is, but some very large and extremely hungry wolves chase some oil refinery workers (Liam Neeson) through the Alaskan wilderness.
9) The Way Back. 2010. Set during WWII, prisoners (Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell) escape from a Russian gulag and must travel by foot from Siberia to India. Based on an incredible true story.
8) Backcountry. 2014. The story of a persistent bear in the Canadian woods and Missy Peregrym as a more persistent hiker. This one claims to be based on a real event and might keep you out of the backcountry for a while.
7) Arctic. 2018. This film starring Mads Mikkelsen is pretty bleak and not big on dialogue but makes you wonder how long you would survive.
6) Alive. 1993. Based on the true account of the Uruguayan rugby team’s plane crash in the Andes mountains. Ensemble cast led by Ethan Hawke.
5) Castaway. 2000. Okay, it’s not the backcountry, but island survival nonetheless. And it’s got pre-coronavirus Tom Hanks so you have to like it.
4) Deliverance. 1972. Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty. Pals go on a weekend canoe trip in the backcountry. It goes bad. Classic. I haven’t watched this one in a very long time, so I’m taking a chance at giving it the number 4 spot, but it obviously left a mark. And no one is going to read this anyway.
3) 127 Hours. 2010. James Franco. Great film that makes you wonder if you could do that same thing Aron Ralston did.
2) Into the Wild. 2007. The now well-known story of Chris McCandless. It stars Emile Hirsch, is directed by Sean Penn, has music by Eddie Vedder, and is based on the fantastic book by John Krakauer. What’s not to like?
1) The Revenant. 2015. Leo and Tom Hardy. Awesome cinematography. I think that means filming stuff, right? The fight scene with the Indians and the bear attack are so realistic. At least I think they are. Thankfully, I’ve never been involved in either. Tom Hardy gets my Oscar nod.
This are my top ten lists. Post a comment or send an email and let me know what made your list that wasn’t on mine.