Films Set At Sea: Top 5

Films set in the oceanSaturday 8th June 2019 is World Oceans Day. On World Oceans Day, people around our blue planet celebrate and honour our fabulous oceans, which connect us all. This special celebration is about getting together with your family, friends, community, and the planet to start creating a better future for us and future generations.

To celebrate, we’re looking at the top five films to be set at sea or to feature water as a prominent feature throughout the movie’s running time. Whether it’s horror, sci-fi, historical drama or bombastic disaster movie, there’s no genre we haven’t scoured to bring you these fabulous films. Shall we begin?

#5 Titanic (1997)

Titanic was an absolute breakthrough for director James Cameron, swooping 11 Oscars at the 1998 awards. To this day, it remains the third highest grossing film of all time, recently pushed down from second by Avengers: Endgame. Starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, a lot has been said about the film’s over reliance on the central love triangle.

Watching it again over 20 years later still showcases Titanic’s incredible special effects, emotional plot and stunning cinematography and sound design. This disaster film is the biggest of all time and it’s easy to see why, despite the, at times, flabby story.

#4 The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron makes his second appearance on this list with 1989’s The Abyss. This terrifying film that gave countless children nightmares for months follows a civilian diving team as they are enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine. Unbeknownst to them, danger lurks in the deep when they encounter an alien aquatic species.

The special effects may look dated by today’s standards, but The Abyss is over 25 years old and still looks pretty darn good, even in 2019 when CGI has come on so far. Ed Harris puts in a fantastic performance and the eerie depths of the ocean are only matched by the blankness of space in modern-day sci-fi movies. Truly horrifying.

#3 Finding Nemo (2003)

One of Pixar’s best films, Finding Nemo features exquisite animation and beautiful vocal performances wrapped in a rich and emotionally engaging storyline. From vibrant coral reef to polluted city harbour, the use of different areas really helps the film come alive and also showcases just what humans are doing to our beautiful planet.

Followed up by a rather disappointing sequel, Finding Dory, in 2015, Nemo proves even more so today that less really is more. If you haven’t managed to catch this future classic yet, then do so as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.

#2 Life of Pi (2012)

One of the most visually arresting films ever made, Life of Pi is a truly astounding feat of cinematic engineering. Beautifully directed by Ang Lee and based on the novel of the same name by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a film brimming with detail.

The special effects are extraordinary and the beautiful sunsets and neon lights set alongside picturesque ocean vistas as well as terrifying rogue waves is some of the best you’ll ever see on the big screen. If you didn’t catch it in cinemas that’s a real shame, as it needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible to fully appreciate the sheer amount of work that went into creating it.

#1 Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg’s first true blockbuster is one that has been copied but where those films tried and failed to replicate this formula, Jaws remains at the pinnacle of shark attack cinema. Filmed on a tiny budget, this iconic classic had people absolutely terrified of swimming in a pool, never mind out in the open ocean.

The special effects are crude by today’s standards but the cleverly positioned camera means the shark is rarely seen on screen for more than a couple of minutes and John William’s excellent score remains a cinema highlight for many. For films set at sea, Jaws just can’t be eaten.

Honourable Mentions

The Shallows (2016) – Possibly the closest the shark attack genre has ever come to toppling Jaws, The Shallows is tense, nicely filmed and features a great performance from Blake Lively.

Cast Away (2000) – Truly meme worthy, Cast Away features one of Tom Hanks’ best performances in front of the camera. The only reason it didn’t make the list is because Life of Pi features similar films, and I think that is the better film.

Captain Phillips (2013) – Tom Hanks appears again in Captain Phillips, following a ship’s crew as they try to survive being boarded by pirates. Based on a true story, this is an emotionally charged film with an incredibly tense atmosphere.

Deepwater Horizon (2016) – Mark Wahlberg puts in one of his best performances in the truly underrated Deepwater Horizon. Again based on a true story about the oil rig of the same name, this devastating film shows the colossal failings of BP.

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