Water can illicit many emotions, from the serenity of a soft ocean wave to the melancholy of a gray rainstorm. These 25 movies utilize the beauty, terror, and comfort of bodies of water or rain that can create meaningful backdrops for all kinds of stories.
1. On Golden Pond (1981)
On Golden Pond is a drama about family and strained relationships. The movie takes place on idyllic Golden Pond, offering a beautiful backdrop for heavy themes and emotional events.
2. The African Queen (1951)
This classic adventure drama takes place on the Congo River in a steamboat called The African Queen. It has humorous moments and intense ones, and the river is practically a character.
3. Death on the Nile (2022)
Death on the Nile is a complex mystery thriller with a classic whodunit plot that keeps you guessing the whole time. All the drama and murder happen on a lavish boat that floats down the Nile River, offering an eerie setting for these mysterious events.
4. Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022)
James Cameron's blockbuster film is all about water, so it had to make this list. It's hard to find a scene in this movie where the aqua-blue ocean isn't prominent in the background, and water takes on a potent meaning that connects all life.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)
Of course, the ocean is a significant aspect of all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but the cinematography in Dead Man's Chest heavily focuses on the swirling, tumultuous water home to the dreaded Kraken.
6. The Titanic (1997)
While most people think about the iconic ship when they think of the movie The Titanic, the ocean is just as important in the film. From Rose's attempt to jump into the sea to Jack's final moments in the freezing water, the water is vital to the movie.
7. Splash (1984)
This charming rom-com is about a boy saved by a caring mermaid and falling in love with her 20 years later. He has to choose between staying a human on land or joining her in the deep blue sea.
8. Lake Placid (1999)
Lake Placid is a criminally underrated film with romance, drama, jump scares, humor, and more. It all takes place on a creepy lake in Maine that unexplainably contains a massive crocodile of unprecedented size and strength.
9. Triangle of Sadness (2022)
Triangle of Sadness is a satirical dramedy that takes place on a lavish cruise surrounded by pristine water. The crystal blue water is an amenity on this luxurious vacation until it becomes dangerous.
10. Island Zero (2018)
While island life seems picturesque and peaceful, that all changes when this remote Maine island loses all contact with the outside world. Their forced isolation in this horror film turns the ocean views from beautiful to terrifying.
11. The Beach (2000)
The Beach is a drama and thriller about a young man finding himself via world travels. But instead of a beach vacation in paradise, he uncovers a complex hidden society that lives by the beach, giving him a whole new perspective. Water is a prominent part of the cinematography, from beautiful blue waters to heavy rainfall to hidden waterfalls.
12. Life Aquatic (2004)
In this movie, the deep sea and the wonders it holds is a sarcastic scientist's entire life. He and his crew brave the ocean, go deep-sea diving and hunt for a mystical and absurd ocean creature in this Wes Anderson film.
13. The Abyss (1989)
The Abyss is a gripping sci-fi thriller about two former lovers and engineers sent on a dangerous mission to disarm a nuclear bomb in a bottomless abyss. Most of the movie takes place on a sub, surrounded by the mysterious and expansive ocean that goes deeper than anyone knows.
14. Underwater (2020)
This scary sci-fi movie takes place almost entirely underwater. A drilling station deep in the ocean is compromised, forcing the disaster survivors to trek across the terrifying ocean floor to reach safety, but they encounter unknown and aggressive sea creatures on their way.
15. The Meg (2018)
This movie is like Jaws on steroids, as scientists encounter an unbelievably giant shark threatening to terrorize their underwater base and the nearby shores. In The Meg, the ocean is beyond mysterious and dangerous, making you feel like you never know what lurks beneath.
16. The Shape of Water (2017)
The Shape of Water is a very dramatic and dark romance movie about a young woman who works at a research facility and falls in love with the creature who lives in the water at the lab. The color-scheme of this movie will make you yearn for the depths of the ocean.
17. Jaws (1975)
How could I make a list of movies featuring water and not mention this iconic film? Jaws is responsible for making many people, including me, hesitant to jump into the ocean, thanks to the ominous music and brilliantly terrifying scenes.
18. Captain Phillips (2013)
Captain Phillips is an emotional and heart-wrenching movie about a cargo ship captain caught in a scary situation when pirates take over his ship. In this movie, the ocean has a foreboding presence, preventing crew members from escaping the armed pirates.
19. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
This classic horror movie will give you the heebie-jeebies and make you think twice when driving by weird marshes and swamps. Scientists find evidence of an unknown creature and risk their lives exploring the murky and spooky lagoon water.
20. River Wild (1994)
In this thrilling drama, an experienced white water rafting guide must protect her family from criminals trying to escape to Canada. The tumultuous river with many twists, turns, and rapids is the set for almost the entire movie, becoming a vital part of the plot.
21. Cast Away (2000)
In this iconic adventure drama, a man gets stranded on an island with only a volleyball to keep him company. The ocean is a constant backdrop throughout his hardships, and the movie even begins with a dramatic rain scene.
22. Ponyo (2008)
This cute animated film is about how a goldfish princess and a little human boy form an unlikely and meaningful friendship. Ponyo wants to be human and slowly becomes one. The movie paints the ocean as a rich and magical place with whole kingdoms and beautiful societies beneath the surface.
23. Life of Pi (2012)
In Life of Pi, a young man survives a shipwreck and ends up on a lifeboat with a handful of wild animals. Most of the movie takes place on this tiny boat surrounded by the endless ocean, creating a continuous and expansive backdrop.
24. The Lakehouse (2006)
The Lakehouse is a unique romance about a man and woman who write to one another from different times, adding an unusual time-traveling element. They're connected by a stunning all-glass lakehouse on a calm, secluded lake.
25. Identity (2003)
This mystery thriller is soaked in rainwater. It rains in almost every scene of this movie, creating a gloomy and somewhat uncomfortable atmosphere that matches the characters' uncertainty.
Veronica is a food, fashion, and entertainment writer from Boston, MA, with a passion for all things lifestyle and culture. She graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a bachelor's in English literature. From Anna Wintour to Angelina Jolie to Alton Brown, she has her finger on the pulse of all things Hollywood and celebrity.
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She has written for and been syndicated by publications like The Weather Channel, The Daily Meal, The Borgen Project, The Good Men Project, The Express, MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Not Deer Magazine. Her writing experience ranges from global news articles to celebrity gossip pieces to movie reviews to homemade recipes and more.