The Best Movies Set In The Ocean

The Best Movies Set In The Ocean
Highlighting The Best Ocean Movies Of All Time

When it comes to movies set in the ocean, there's something universally captivating about the blend of adventure, danger, and mystery the open sea provides. From thrilling rescues to legendary voyages, ocean-based films have a special place in the hearts of moviegoers. We recently added this list to our partners over at Revu-It, and here are our picks for some of the best ocean movies that have made waves on the big screen.

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Ranking The Best Ocean Movies
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Waterworld (1995)

Genre: Adventure
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Cast: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn

In a dystopian future where the polar ice caps have melted, turning Earth into a vast ocean, a mutant seafarer (Kevin Costner) becomes embroiled in a quest to find 'Dryland'—the last remaining piece of terra firma. Despite initial criticism, Waterworld has gained a cult following for its ambitious scope and imaginative setting.

Waterworld Poster
Waterworld Poster - Courtesy TMDB

I know! Hear me out ... Waterworld sparked fascination with its ambitious portrayal of a future submerged in water, capturing imaginations with its daring vision and Kevin Costner's iconic role as the enigmatic Mariner. Despite initial criticisms, it has gained a cult following for its imaginative world-building and thrilling action sequences, making it a testament to bold storytelling.

Flipper (1963)

Genre: Adventure
Director: James B. Clark
Cast: Chuck Connors, Luke Halpin, Connie Scott

A heartwarming tale about a young boy, Sandy, who rescues a dolphin named Flipper. When his father insists Flipper be released, the grateful dolphin returns to save Sandy from sharks. Flipper is a classic family film that sparked an enduring love for dolphins in popular culture.

Flipper Poster
Flipper Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Flipper remains a timeless family favorite, celebrated for its heartwarming tale of friendship between a boy and his dolphin. The film's endearing portrayal of human-animal bonds and thrilling marine adventures continues to captivate audiences, embodying the charm and innocence of classic family cinema.

In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy

Based on the true story that inspired Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, this film chronicles the harrowing journey of the whaling ship Essex after it is attacked by a giant whale. The crew's survival against the odds is both a thrilling and poignant tale.

In the Heart of the Sea Poster
In the Heart of the Sea Poster - Courtesy TMDB

In the Heart of the Sea delivers a gripping portrayal of the real-life maritime disaster that inspired Moby Dick, showcasing humanity's struggle against nature's relentless power. The film's breathtaking visuals and intense storytelling immerse viewers in the harrowing journey of survival at sea, leaving a profound impact with its depiction of courage and endurance.

Kon-Tiki (2012)

Genre: Adventure
Director: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg
Cast: Pål Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen

This film depicts the true story of Thor Heyerdahl's daring 1947 expedition across the Pacific on a balsa wood raft to prove that South Americans could have settled in Polynesia. Kon-Tiki is an inspiring and visually stunning adventure.

Kon-Tiki Poster
Kon-Tiki Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Watching Kon-Tiki was like embarking on an epic adventure from the comfort of my couch. This film brought Thor Heyerdahl’s daring 1947 expedition to life with such breathtaking visuals and palpable tension. It felt like I was right there on the raft, facing the vast, unpredictable Pacific Ocean with the crew. The historical significance and sheer human determination portrayed made it an unforgettable experience.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

Genre: Action
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane

Based on a true story, this film follows the crew of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing vessel caught in a massive storm in the North Atlantic. The Perfect Storm combines incredible special effects with gripping human drama.

The Perfect Storm Poster
The Perfect Storm Poster - Courtesy TMDB

The Perfect Storm hit me like a, well, perfect storm of emotions. The film's harrowing tale of the Andrea Gail crew battling nature's fury had me gripping the edge of my seat. The storm scenes were intense and realistic, making me appreciate the immense power of nature and the bravery of those who face it. George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg delivered powerful performances, and I could feel the desperation and camaraderie of the crew.

White Squall (1996)

Genre: Drama
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage

In 1960, a group of prep school students embarks on a sailing voyage to learn discipline and fortitude under the stern Captain Sheldon. When they encounter a deadly white squall, their survival is put to the ultimate test.

White Squall Poster
White Squall Poster - Courtesy TMDB

White Squall took me on a rollercoaster of emotions with its gripping coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of a sailing tragedy. Jeff Bridges as Captain Sheldon was inspiring, and the young cast brought their characters' growth and struggles to life. The storm sequences were harrowing, but it was the bond between the students and their journey to manhood that really stayed with me.

Wind (1992)

Genre: Action
Director: Carroll Ballard
Cast: Matthew Modine, Jennifer Grey, Cliff Robertson

Wind tells the story of a determined yachtsman who leads his crew in the America's Cup race. The film captures the spirit of competitive sailing and the personal stakes involved in pursuing victory.

Wind Poster
Wind Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Wind blew me away with its exhilarating depiction of competitive yacht racing. The film’s portrayal of the America’s Cup had my adrenaline pumping, and the sailing scenes were nothing short of spectacular. Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey brought a compelling dynamic to the story, and I found myself rooting for their underdog team against all odds. It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish.

The Finest Hours (2016)

Genre: Action
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster

Set in 1952, this true story follows the daring rescue attempt by the Coast Guard off the coast of Cape Cod after two oil tankers are destroyed in a blizzard. The Finest Hours showcases heroic bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Finest Hours Poster
The Finest Hours Poster - Courtesy TMDB

The Finest Hours had me on the edge of my seat with its incredible true story of bravery and survival. Chris Pine and Casey Affleck delivered stellar performances that brought the harrowing 1952 Coast Guard rescue mission to life. The stormy seas and perilous conditions were depicted with such intensity that I felt the cold, the fear, and the hope right along with the characters. It's a gripping tale of heroism against all odds.

Dead Calm (1989)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Phillip Noyce
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane

An Australian couple's peaceful sailing trip turns into a nightmare when they rescue a man from a sinking ship, only to discover he's a psychotic murderer. Dead Calm is a tense, suspenseful thriller set on the high seas.

Dead Calm Poster
Dead Calm Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Dead Calm pulled me into its chilling narrative from the get-go. The isolation of the open sea combined with the psychological tension between Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, and Billy Zane created an atmosphere that was both eerie and thrilling. The suspense was masterfully crafted, making me feel the claustrophobia and fear of being trapped with a dangerous stranger. It’s a taut, gripping thriller that’s hard to forget.

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)

Genre: Adventure
Director: Lewis Milestone
Cast: Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard, Richard Harris

This classic recounts the infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty, led by Fletcher Christian against the tyrannical Captain Bligh. The film is a gripping tale of rebellion and survival.

Mutiny on the Bounty Poster
Mutiny on the Bounty Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Mutiny on the Bounty is a classic that still resonates today. Watching it, I was drawn into the historical drama and the intense conflict between Marlon Brando's Fletcher Christian and Trevor Howard's Captain Bligh. The lush cinematography and the powerful storytelling made me feel the claustrophobia and tension of life on the high seas. It’s a timeless tale of rebellion and justice that left a lasting impression on me.

The Bounty (1984)

Genre: Action
Director: Roger Donaldson
Cast: Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis

Another take on the story of the HMS Bounty, this version delves deeper into the motivations of the mutineers and the subsequent journey of Captain Bligh to safety. The performances by Gibson and Hopkins are particularly notable.

The Bounty Poster
The Bounty Poster - Courtesy TMDB

The Bounty brought a fresh perspective to the well-known mutiny story, with Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh and Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian. The film's nuanced portrayal of their complex relationship and the lush, exotic settings kept me enthralled. The moral ambiguities and the intense drama at sea made it more than just a historical retelling; it was a deep dive into human nature and leadership under duress.

All Is Lost (2013)

Genre: Action
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford

A solo sailor faces his mortality after his boat is damaged in a collision with a shipping container, leaving him adrift in the Indian Ocean. All Is Lost is a minimalist, yet powerful, survival story featuring a remarkable performance by Robert Redford.

All Is Lost Poster
All is Lost Poster - Courtesy TMDB

All Is Lost was an intense, almost meditative experience. Robert Redford’s solo performance as a sailor struggling for survival after his yacht is damaged had me hooked from start to finish. The film's minimal dialogue and focus on the raw struggle against nature made every moment feel real and urgent. It’s a powerful, solitary battle that left me reflecting on resilience and the human spirit.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Genre: Adventure
Director: Ronald Neame
Cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons

When an ocean liner capsizes, a group of passengers must navigate their way to safety through the upside-down ship. The Poseidon Adventure is a classic disaster film that combines thrilling action with human drama.

The Poseidon Adventure Poster
The Poseidon Adventure Poster - Courtesy TMDB

The Poseidon Adventure is a disaster film classic that had me completely engrossed. The story of a capsized luxury liner and the desperate struggle for survival of its passengers was thrilling and emotional. Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters delivered memorable performances that added depth to the harrowing journey. The film’s suspenseful pacing and dramatic set pieces kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Genre: Adventure
Director: Ken Annakin
Cast: John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur

After being shipwrecked, the Robinson family adapts to life on a deserted island, creating an idyllic new home while facing threats from nature and pirates. Swiss Family Robinson is a beloved family adventure.

Swiss Family Robinson Poster
Swiss Family Robinson Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Swiss Family Robinson was a delightful adventure that brought out the kid in me. The tale of a shipwrecked family creating a new life on a deserted island was filled with ingenuity and charm. The stunning tropical scenery, inventive treehouse, and encounters with wildlife made it a fun, heartwarming experience. It’s a timeless family classic that always manages to put a smile on my face.

Titanic (1997)

Genre: Drama
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

James Cameron's epic romance and disaster film follows the ill-fated voyage of the RMS Titanic. The love story between Jack and Rose, set against the backdrop of one of the most infamous maritime disasters, captivated audiences worldwide.

Titanic Poster
Titanic Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Titanic is an epic romance and disaster film that never fails to move me. James Cameron's meticulous recreation of the ill-fated voyage, combined with the passionate love story between Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack and Kate Winslet's Rose, had me emotionally invested from the start. The grandeur of the ship, the heart-wrenching tragedy, and the unforgettable “I’m the king of the world!” moment make it a cinematic masterpiece that stands the test of time.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Genre: Adventure
Director: Peter Weir
Cast: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, this film follows Captain Jack Aubrey and his crew as they pursue a formidable French warship. Master and Commander is lauded for its historical accuracy and thrilling naval battles.

Master and Commander Poster
Master and Commander Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is an epic seafaring adventure that had me captivated from the start. Russell Crowe's portrayal of Captain Jack Aubrey is both commanding and deeply human, and the film's attention to historical detail and naval warfare is impressive. The camaraderie among the crew and the intense sea battles made it a thrilling and immersive experience that left me in awe of the age of sail.

Whale Rider (2003)

Genre: Drama
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene

In this heartwarming story, a young Maori girl fights to fulfil her destiny as the leader of her tribe, challenging the longstanding traditions of her community. Whale Rider is a moving tale of determination and cultural heritage.

Whale Rider Poster
Whale Rider Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Whale Rider is a touching and inspiring film that beautifully blends myth and reality. Keisha Castle-Hughes' portrayal of Pai, a young girl challenging traditional gender roles in her Maori community, is powerful and moving. The film’s stunning New Zealand landscapes and its exploration of cultural heritage and identity struck a deep chord with me. It’s a poignant story of courage, determination, and the bond between people and nature.

Captain Phillips (2013)

Genre: Thriller
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi

Based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama, this gripping film follows Captain Richard Phillips as he faces Somali pirates. Tom Hanks delivers a powerful performance in this intense, real-life drama.

Captain Phillips Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Captain Phillips was an intense, edge-of-your-seat thriller that had me riveted throughout. Tom Hanks' portrayal of the titular character, dealing with a harrowing hijacking by Somali pirates, was both gripping and emotionally powerful. The film’s realistic approach and the palpable tension between Phillips and the pirates made it a compelling watch. It's a testament to courage under extreme pressure and the complexities of piracy in modern times.

Cast Away (2000)

Genre: Drama
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt

After a plane crash, a FedEx employee is stranded on a deserted island, where he must survive physically and emotionally. Cast Away is a profound exploration of isolation and resilience, with a memorable performance by Tom Hanks.

Cast Away Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Cast Away is a profound and gripping survival story that left a lasting impact on me. Tom Hanks delivers an unforgettable performance as Chuck Noland, a man stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. His struggle for survival, the bond he forms with a volleyball named Wilson, and his journey of self-discovery and hope kept me glued to the screen. It's a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the will to survive against all odds.

Adrift (2018)

Genre: Adventure Thriller
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Cast: Shailene Woodley , Sam Claflin

Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp couldn't anticipate that they would be sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins. With no hope of rescue, Tami must now find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved.

Adrift Poster - Courtesy TMDB

Adrift is a harrowing true story of survival against all odds. Shailene Woodley’s performance as Tami Oldham, who is left adrift in the Pacific Ocean after a hurricane, was both heartbreaking and inspiring. The film’s beautiful yet treacherous seascapes and the raw depiction of Tami’s struggle to stay alive made it a gripping watch. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love and determination.

These ocean-set movies take audiences on thrilling adventures and emotional journeys, showcasing the beauty, danger, and mystery of life at sea. Whether through harrowing true stories or imaginative tales, they offer a glimpse into the vast and unpredictable world of the ocean.

Yes, I did not forget about Jaws or The Abyss... and if you think Aquaman should be on this list then you on the wrong site!