A solo movie. Defined as a movie where one person, the protagonist, the lead actor takes centre stage for the entire film, or most part of the film and finds a way to conquer, defeat, fail or succeed in whatever challenge is laid in front of him/her. We’ve had plenty of these type of movies, and as I’m typing a few already spring to mind.
We compiled a list of our top 10 Solo Survival Movies:
1. Into The Wild (2007)
Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical drama survival film written and directed by Sean Penn. Based on the travels of Christopher McCandless across North America and his life spent in the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. The film stars Emile Hirsch as McCandless with Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt as his parents and also features Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, and Hal Holbrook.
It was also nominated for two Academy Awards including Holbrook for Best Supporting Actor.
It is an awesome movie of breaking free from the world, running free and taking a fresh and deep look at terms such as happiness and freedom.
2. Evil Dead (Franchise)
Not counting the latest 2013 evil dead movie, the Evil Dead franchise is technically not “solo” movies although this is definitely about survival. But, Evil Dead 1, 2 and 3 does contain a solo Ash played by Bruce Campbell that has to survive for the largest part of the movie. Hence we will include these classic horror films on our list.
3. All is Lost (2013)
Robert Redford had long been the Hollywood leading man who defined himself by the way his character held himself in regards to others, whether as a romantic lead or a dramatic presence. In J.C. Chandor’s new film, All is Lost, the 77-year-old actor has only the confines of a sinking boat and the vast solitude of the ocean to contend with. The nameless, besieged sailor silently reveals himself through his industrious actions, but the longer this nautical thriller continues the more profound his existential battle becomes, until a simple shave is rendered as the final defiant act of a long life.
4. I Am Legend (2007)
Will Smith takes centre stage in this post-apocalyptic survival movie.
Opening in 2012, a series of flashbacks and recorded news programs reveal that in 2009 a genetically re-engineered measles virus mutated into a lethal strain which rapidly infected humans and some species of animals. By the end of the year, over 90% of the planet’s human population died. These survivors degenerated into a primal state of aggression. Less than 1% remained completely immune to the virus, but were hunted and killed by the infected or committed suicide due to their isolation until, three years after the outbreak, US Army virologist Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville (Will Smith) is left in New York City as what he believes to be the last healthy human in the world.
5. Life of PI (2012)
Life of Pi is a 2012 American 3D adventure drama film based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name. Directed by Ang Lee, the film’s adapted screenplay was written by David Magee, and it stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu, Tabu, and Adil Hussain.
The storyline revolves around an Indian man named Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, living in Canada and telling a novelist about his life story and how at 16 he survives a shipwreck in which his family dies, and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
The film had its worldwide premiere as the opening film of the 50th New York Film Festival at both the Walter Reade Theater and Alice Tully Hall in New York City on September 28, 2012.
6. 127 Hours (2010)
The ultimate survival story, that just happens to be 100% true. 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 became trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Blue John Canyon, southeastern Utah, in April 2003.
It is one of the most intense and gruesome movies of a man’s will to survive you will ever watch.
7. Gravity (2013)
We’ve all seen Gravity, as this was one of the hits of 2013. It was directed, co-written, co-produced and co-edited by Alfonso Cuarón, and stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts. The film depicts the mid-orbit destruction of their space shuttle and their subsequent attempt to return to Earth.
Gravity is set during a space shuttle mission where Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer aboard the Explorer for her first space shuttle mission. Veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is commanding his final expedition. During a spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope, Mission Control in Houston warns the team about a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite, which has caused a chain reaction forming a cloud of debris in space.
Mission Control orders that the mission be aborted and the shuttle begin re-entry immediately. Communication with Mission Control is lost shortly after.
8. Buried (2010)
This claustrophobic thriller from Spanish director Rodrigo Cortes stars the Ryan “Van Wilder” Reynolds as an American contractor in Iraq who awakens in a buried coffin with a lighter, a mobile phone and a limited amount of oxygen to his name. Barely able to move, let alone respond to others, Reynolds’ Paul Conroy is tormented by his captors and strung along by his country, all the while growing more desperate as the fractured box steadily starts to fill with sand. Reynolds captures the pungent, primal urge to live, even as it fades away.
9. Cast Away (2000)
This had to be on the list right? Opening and closing sequences aside, the emotional strength of Robert Zemeckis’ drama resides in the performance of Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, a systems analyst forced to rebuild his world when a plane crash leaves him washed up along on a deserted tropical island in the Pacific Ocean. The film takes Hank’s affable ability to relate and turns it upside down – Chuck’s loneliness is Hanks’ desperation at the lack of interaction, with nothing but a bloodied volleyball named Wilson for company. There is Hollywood ingenuity and the requisite weight loss to mark the four years marooned, but there’s despair impinging on everything Hanks does.
10. Moon (2009)
One of our all-time favourite sci-fi movies. Sam Rockwell was simply amazing in this film. Given half a chance, Sam Rockwell will overwhelm his co-stars. He’s a shifty, fluid actor who makes deception, or the suggestion of it, a small part of every performance he gives. In Duncan Jones’ sombre, self-enclosed science-fiction tale, the isolation of a mining base on the moon is the perfect location for Rockwell’s Sam Bell to question everything about his orderly life. Supported by the worryingly neutral tones of a computer system voiced by Kevin Spacey, the lunar engineer is forced to query his very identity, brilliantly playing a man literally compelled to confront another side of himself.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.