February 23rd, 2017|0 Comments


By Sydney Straschnov, American Forests

Drive-in movie

Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr.

With the 89th Academy Awards coming up on Sunday, February 26, we wanted to take a look at some award-winning films that do a phenomenal job of showcasing the beauty and power of nature. So, with a nod to this year’s Oscars, here are our Top 10 movies known for their portrayal of the great outdoors. [Ranked in order of awards and nominations]

10. “White Fang” (1991)

This 1991 rendition of Jack London’s novel tells the story of a wolf-dog and the boy who rescues him from the fighting pits. Shot in the Alaskan countryside, this film is filled with natural beauty and wonder as Jack, accompanied by White Fang, journeys through the wild to seek his fortune. Winner of the Genesis Award for Feature Film – Family.

9. “The Grey” (2011)

While being hunted through a snowy landscape by a pack of wolves, a group of oil workers must fight to survive after a plane crash leaves them stranded. Starring award-winning actor Liam Neeson, this thriller portrays the fury and power that nature can unleash in a stunning depiction of winter in the Alaskan wilderness. Winner of two awards in addition to seven nominations.

8. “A River Runs Through It” (1992)

Set in the heart of untamed Montana, this acclaimed motion picture narrates the adventures of two brothers who grow to lead very different lives that ultimately center around the Blackfoot River and a love for fly-fishing. Winner of four awards in addition to seven nominations.

7. “Last of the Mohicans” (1992)

A love story set in the middle of the wild Adirondack Mountains during the French-Indian War, this film illuminates the period preceding the revolution of the 13 colonies that would eventually become the United States. Having not yet been chased out of the East, the last of a Native American tribe called the Mohicans, aided by a white man that was raised as the Chief’s adopted son, fight to remain in the territory they have lived in for generations. Winner of seven awards in addition to 13 nominations.

6. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013)

After years of living in his own head, an oversight at work forces Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, to move out of his comfort zone and embark on a global journey of self-discovery. An award-winning soundtrack paired with exquisite cinematography, featuring scenes from the icy shores of Greenland to the peaks of the Himalayas, this film offers a fantastic exploration of the wonders of nature and human perseverance. Winner of five awards in addition to 16 nominations.

5. “The Last Samurai” (2003)

When he is sent to Japan to train the new Japanese army, former army officer Nathan Algren, played by Tom Cruise, finds himself drawn to support the very cause he had been sent to fight: the samurai. In this breathtakingly exquisite and heartbreaking story depicting the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, viewers find themselves drawn in not only by the magnetism of the story and characters, but also the magnificence of the Japanese countryside. Winner of 19 awards in addition to 58 nominations.

4. “Dances with Wolves” (1990)

This film, taking place during the bloody civil war, tells the story of an awarded officer who maroons himself on the wild plains of the frontier, surrounded by grass, dirt and Native Americans. His fight to survive leads him to befriend the Natives and realize that the struggle for the West is much more complicated than he previously understood it to be. This amazing story truly encapsulates the push for western expansion and beauty behind the rolling hills of South Dakota. Winner of 50 awards in addition to 33 nominations.

3. “Into the Wild” (2007)

Follow in the footsteps of a young man on his quest to find true happiness by embarking on an amazing journey through the North American wilderness. Filled with magnificent scenes of the untouched forests, deserts and mountain ranges that lie in the West, and based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, this film is both inspirational and heart-rending in its depiction of what it’s like to get lost in the wild. Winner of 23 awards in addition to 101 nominations.

2. “Tree of life” (2011)

A truly exotic film filled with life, death and the exploration of the wonders of the universe, “Tree of Life” revolves around the story of Jack O’Brian and his internal battle with the memories he has of his family. Containing stunning imagery of space, Earth and 1950s Texas, this movie questions the meaning behind our lives and whether it relates to nature, the grace of God or a combination of the two. Winner of 105 awards in addition to 114 nominations.

1. “The Revenant” (2015)

Based on true events, this film is a stunning masterpiece depicting the ultimate quest for survival and revenge. While battling with the native Arikara, dangerous wildlife and the unforgiving elements, Hugh Glass, played by Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio, must fight his way through the wilderness in the unorganized territory of Montana and South Dakota back to civilization. A cinematic marvel, taking scenes from as far north as Canada to the southern tip of Argentina, this motion picture captures the harshness and beauty of some of the most remote places on the American continent. Winner of 82 awards in addition to 172 nominations.