Top 10 Disaster Movies

These disaster movies will have you on the edge of your seat!

From natural disasters to alien invasions, these classic disaster films make us thankful we're safely seated in movie theaters or in front of our DVD players, and not actually a part of what's happening on the big screen.

One of the biggest blockbusters of all time tops my list of the best disaster movies not only because of its killer special effects (spoiler alert: the boat sinks), but also its top-notch acting and memorable storyline. Girls went crazy over Leonardo DiCaprio as the handsome, lower-class artist who falls for Kate Winslet's character, catapulting both actors onto the A-list where they remain today.

The 1974 effects of The Towering Inferno don't hold up, but the story does. Directed by John Guillermin and starring Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and William Holden, The Towering Inferno finds its victims trapped in a high rise building on fire (thus the film's title) and the audience is kept on the edge of their seats never knowing who among the star-studded cast is going to die next.

Independence Day helped Will Smith become one of the most recognizable - and bankable - actors in Hollywood. Directed by Roland Emmerich, a filmmaker who knows a thing or two about big budget epics (The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla), Independence Day depicts the Earth under attack by aliens bent on killing off humans. Smith plays a fighter pilot who has to save the day with the help of Bill Pullman as U.S. President Whitmore and an annoying scientist played by Jeff Goldblum. 2016 saw a belated sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, also directed by Emmerich.

Being a Southern California native, the threat of an earthquake is always lingering in the back of my mind. Earthquake the movie brings that fear to life - although the acting's pretty campy and the effects are so outdated they're laughable.

We're talking about the original 1972 movie - not Wolfgang Petersen's 2006 remake. 5 Academy Award winners star in this tale of a cruise ship going down on New Year's Eve. The water scenes still look spectacular and many of the cast members did their own stunts in order to make things look realistic.
06
of 10

Outbreak (1995)

Outbreak
Warner Bros.

Released when Cuba Gooding Jr. was on his mid-1990s hot streak, Outbreak is a creepy film about the spread of the 'Motaba' virus with Dustin Hoffman being the go-to guy who must save everyone on the planet. And it's all because of one renegade monkey. Memorably, the popular television series Friends featured the filming of a fictional sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in the streets of Manhattan.

Deep Impact was one of two movies released in 1998 in which our planet's threatened by a meteor. Mimi Leder's Deep Impact battled it out with Michael Bay's Armageddon (you know, the one with Ben Affleck running animal crackers across Liv Tyler) and although Bay's film had a bigger budget and brought in more money, Leder actually made the better movie.

Children of Men
Universal Pictures

Alfonso Cuaron directed Clive Owen in this futuristic thriller in which humankind is facing extinction because women have become infertile. True edge of your seat action, incredible cinematography, and Owen's performance make this one a must-see. More »

09
of 10

War of the Worlds (2005)

War of the Worlds
Paramount Pictures

My only issue with Steven Spielberg's 2005 take on the classic H.G. Wells novel about an alien invasion has to do with the ending. Otherwise, Spielberg weaves an entertaining tale starring Tom Cruise about aliens and how one family faces the invasion.

There are going to be people who scoff at my choice of including the tornado thriller Twister on my list, but this is one of those movies that I always end up watching when it's on television. Though the film doesn't feature the best acting ever in a film despite talented leads Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, the tornado action is pretty darn fun.

Edited by Christopher McKittrick

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Murray, Rebecca. "Top 10 Disaster Movies." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2016, thoughtco.com/top-disaster-movies-2432022. Murray, Rebecca. (2016, April 5). Top 10 Disaster Movies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-disaster-movies-2432022 Murray, Rebecca. "Top 10 Disaster Movies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-disaster-movies-2432022 (accessed November 25, 2017).