What an Outdoor Enthusiast Must do on a Rainy Day:

Watch Epic Outdoors Movies.

A list of the essential films to see when nature is calling you

but the weather says, “Not today, human.”


Being trapped indoors may be frustrating for fellow outside adventure seekers like ourselves. I can already imagine the solemn eyes staring out the window as harsh raindrops cascade onto the glass in front of you, your fingers running down the frame for dramatic effect. The trees whistle in the wind as if they are crying out to you, begging. The trails in the distance become dark and lonesome, and guilt overtakes you. Instead of sulking in the shelter, playing old Radiohead records, you should take my advice (because, if you haven’t already figured it out, it is the best) and watch some of these films. I’ve created a list of my favorite nature-adventure-thrillist-action-power movies that will certainly make you feel like you are not cooped up indoors, simply preparing for your next battle. You’re welcome. 


1. “Wild”

This 2014 Jean-Marc Vallee film starring Reese Witherspoon (she was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Actress” for it)  and Laura Dern (she was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress” for the film) features the true story of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who wrote of her independent 1,100 mile hike through the Pacific Crest Trail.  Strayed’s journey is nothing less than empowering, for her narrative depicts her battle with life’s physical and emotional turmoils that ultimately make her stronger.  Flip this movie on and instantly feel motivated to plan a solo quest to find yourself.


2. “Okja”

Warning: this may cause uncontrollable sobbing if you love animals and the earth. This 2017 Netflix original film directed by Joon-ho Bong is a coming-of-age, environmentally aware piece that is extremely important to watch to understand a human’s impact on our natural planet. It is a futuristic fable of love between a young girl and her best friend, a genetically engineered “super pig” who is forced back into the industrialized nation by the agro-chemical company (headed by Tilda Swinton’s character). “Okja” highlights where our world is headed in a consumer society that profits from destroying what is organic and natural. It is beautiful, raw, and progressive. Hands-down one of the best films of the year.



3. “Into the Wild”

A sobering film about compassion, resilience, and simplicity, “Into the Wild” masters the art of living minimalistically and authentically with nature. Sean Penn directs this 2007 biopic of Christopher McCandless, a man who stripped away his privileged life in exchange for a plea to breathe in solitary and exploration in an abandoned bus in Alaska. McCandless’s story is something similar to that of a Jack London book, for he dedicates his life to the complete openness of the wild. Stream this film, and you, too, will question the balance between society, nature, and the mind.



4. “Life of Pi”

For some reason, movies involving boats always seem to go wrong. “Life of Pi” seemingly falls into that nautical category as it follows Pi, a young man who is lost at sea with a Bengal tiger. Adapted from Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, “Life of Pi” takes us through the 227 days Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with one of his family’s zoo animals. Wait, what? Yeah, so Pi’s family decides to sell their zoo in Pondicherry, India for a more fiscally safe move to Canada. Thus, they must board a ship with all of the zoo’s animals for a long quest to North America. And, like most ocean films, the ship is caught in a storm; Pi is ripped off the boat into the water and forcibly saved by a boat that was also found by the Bengal tiger.  The movie will have you on the edge of your seat as its poetic nuance flourishes over the beautiful sea in an epic fight for survival.



5. “Moonrise Kingdom”

Director Wes Anderson always knows how to create a world in which quintessential elements are abstracted and fueled with distinguishable moments of self-expression. His 2012 film “Moonrise Kingdom” is no exception. It is the small love story of two pre-teens, both squeamish yet properly adultish, who only want the company of each other and the wilderness. Freedom and angst cross with nature and Wes Andersonian fantastical design. One of my favorite films for its straightforward depiction of love and adventure, “Moonrise Kingdom” will have you packing a suitcase for a trip under the stars.



6. “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

A four-time Academy Award nominated film, Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is an unforgettable, heartfelt depiction of one of earth’s natural disasters and a human’s willpower to begin again. “Beasts” shows us the world of Louisiana’s Bathtub bayou community, a metaphorical area that is demolished by severe flooding (reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina’s tremendous damages) and fearsome animals that threaten survival. The protagonist is Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl who believes that peace can be found in the elements that our planet offers. The film will have you in tears but will ultimately fill you with a joy that only simplicity and optimism can provide.

Six movies is approximately twelve hours worth of screen time, so I think I shall stop there. But if you insist on keeping your Outdoor Adventure Movie Marathon running, here are a few popular more movies to consider:

  1. “127 Hours”
  2. “Castaway”
  3. “Avatar”
  4. “The Revenant”
  5. Virtually any Disney movie, really.


May your rainy day keep you sane. And may your tomorrow be a sunny one.  




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