2020 has put everyone through the ringer. It’s no wonder disaster movies have suddenly become popular again. End-of-the-world movies are constantly enjoyable because they highlight just how strong and enduring people can get even during seemingly hopeless situations. In short, they have happy endings.
Top 5 Best End Of The World Movies
Disaster movies touch everyone whether you’re a bigshot from Texas in the sports and entertainment scene or an average jane from a town of under 10,000.
With all the end-of-the-world movies hovering around Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services, we picked the five best movies to binge on starting today.
In narrowing our selection to five, we went with as diverse a selection as we could find. We could always just narrow this down to the top 5 Roland Emmerich disaster movies but that’s no fun (or too fun).
Deep Impact (1998)
We give this film the edge over similar end-of-the-world-by-meteor brethren Armageddon. It’s more scientifically accurate and focuses on how it impacts the lives of the little people on Earth.
Although it was poorly received by critics (just straight hatin’), Deep Impact grossed nearly $350 million worldwide. The film features subtle but moving performances.
Leo (Elijah Wood) is a teenage astronomer just trying to love his girlfriend, Sarah (LeeLee Sobieski). Jenny (Téa Leoni) is a journalist looking to amend her past before it’s too late. And Captain “Fish” (Robert Duvall) and his crew contemplate their final moments as astronauts assigned to destroy the comet.
Deep Impact is touching and viewers of all kinds will find a character or two to relate with (on Amazon Prime to rent/buy).
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
We’re picking The Day After Tomorrow among Roland Emmerich’s end-of-the-world films portfolio because it’s the peak of his style of movies: equally bogus and entertaining – a great “bad” movie.
Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal play a father and son as they try to survive following the abrupt freezing of most of North America due to some mambo jumbo relating to the North Atlantic Ocean.
You will need to suspend all disbelief here and just take paleoclimatologist Jack Hall’s (Quaid) word that climate change is real and 90% of the Western world are screwed.
All the tropes of disaster flicks are present here from survivors bickering amongst each other to constant environmental hazards to heroic sacrifices. Grab some popcorn and enjoy (on Amazon Prime to rent/buy).
This is the End (2013)
Not all disaster movies have to be serious or even have a shred of realism to it. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This is the End features an ensemble cast of friends from Rogen to James Franco to Craig Robinson as they try to live with each other during a biblical apocalypse.
This irreverent film features fictionalized versions of the actual actors e.g. James Franco is a more obnoxious version of himself as they spoof themselves, celebrity culture, and disaster films all together.
With all that said, there are themes of friendship and redemption buried amidst all the expletives and spoofs of Christian ideology (squeamish and religious folk should beware).
And without spoiling too much, the film does have a happy (and funny) ending. This is a nice palette cleanser if you’ve been binging on end-of-the-world or pandemic movies lately (on Netflix).
We couldn’t complete this list without a movie about a pandemic, right? Steven Soderbergh’s scientific thriller is praised for its accuracy and discipline in depicting how a pandemic would affect society.
Contagion outlines the life cycle of a virus from its first transmission all the way to its eradication. It follows several interacting storylines using a “hyperlink cinema” style with an ensemble cast of heavyweights.
Matt Damon portrays the “everyman”, who must protect his surviving daughter after the disease kills his son and wife. Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet are doctors Ellis Cheever and Erin Mears who look to contain the epidemic while Jude Law gives them hell as an obnoxious conspiracy theorist and vlogger.
Nearing a decade since its initial release, Contagion has become one of the most popular films this year. For obvious reasons (on Netflix).
Children of Men (2006)
We left this for last because we’re cheating a bit on this one. “Happy ending” is up to you to decide, but this science fiction thriller from Alfonso Cuarón is too good to ignore.
Taking place in 2027, two decades of human infertility has led the planet on the brink of a collapse. Societies are in ruins, chaos reigns, and hope is a diminishing concept… until Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) reveals that she is pregnant, the first in over 18 years.
Then comes a race to lead Kee to safety as reluctant hero Theo (Clive Owen) does everything within his power to ensure she survives.
Considered as one of the best films of the 21st century, its award-worthy cinematography and editing will take you through a gut-wrenching 109 minutes.
When it all ends, you’ll be left pondering, sobbing, and relieved at everything you’ve just witnessed (on Netflix).