Top 10 End of the World Films

To celebrate the release of Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, Top 10 Films and Studio Canal take a look at some of the most well-known “apocalypse” movies.

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Writer-director Lorene Scafaria presents Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, a comedy-drama starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, that presents us with a scenario that sees earth heading for destruction. Set in a too-near future, the film explores what the final days hold in store for Carell’s Dodge, a soft-spoken insurance salesman searching for his first love, and his neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley), an extroverted woman trying to get back to the UK.

Nothing quite captures the attention of an audience like the threat of impending destruction. So to celebrate the release of Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World on DVD and Blu-ray on the 5th Nov we have come up with a comprehensive list of the top ten world-ending films worth watching.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

You would not think that comedy and the apocalypse are natural partners on screen. But Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) that proves otherwise. Set in a too-near future, the writer/director explores what the final days hold in store for Dodge (Steve Carell), a soft-spoken insurance salesman searching for his first love, and his neighbour Penny (Keira Knightley), an extroverted woman trying to get back to the UK.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The pioneer Zom-Com, Shaun of the Dead highlights the plight of Shaun (Simon Pegg), a man who decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, giving his mother flowers, and dealing with a community of zombies who have returned from the dead to eat the living. Unfortunately for Shaun, rather than having Penny as company, he’s stuck with his lay-about best friend Ed (Nick Frost), who gets him into all sorts of Zombie-infested scrapes along the way. A innovation in British comedy this is comedy gold for zombie fans everywhere.

Wall-E (2008)

Dodge and Penny have no influence on their impending doom, this is not the case for humans in WALL-E, Pixar’s brilliant animated movie set in the distant future. Having turned the earth into one huge waste-dump, humans jumped ship onto an interstellar cruise-liner. Travelling through the infinite realm of space humans have become the ultimate creatures of convenience, partaking in a life where even walking is no longer needed. It is left then to Wall-E, a small waste collecting robot left on earth, who inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) who is much like Dodge in his shyness and timidity. Unlike Dodge however, Columbus isn’t dealing with the apocalypse but its aftermath, in which zombies run riot across America. Trying to reach his family in Ohio, Columbus joins Talahassee (Woody Harrelson), a gun-toting tough guy searching for the Last Twinkie and two sisters, (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin), trying to get to an amusement park. The consequences are as hilarious as they are gruesome and even a little romantic at times (in between zombie killing).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Dodge had a pretty bad day with the news that earth was ending and his wife was leaving him. However, Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) would argue his was worse. Seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by aliens, Arthur Dent is swept off-world by his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), a researcher writing “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Arthur embarks a journey that includes everything from being wanted by police to the search for the meaning of life, and all that with NO TEA! Now that is a bad day.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

This is more of an ‘end of the world as we know it’ film but remains as iconic as ever. I’m sure Dodge and Penny would rather the earth end than turn into a planet where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved. This is the situation for George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his crew when they land on a strange planet. Brilliant performances and one of the best twist endings ever make Planet of the Apes a classic for the ages.

Armageddon (1998)

A mission that fails in Seeking A Friend for the End of the World has a chance of succeeding in Armegeddon. After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, NASA recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save humanity. If impending death was not enough then add in cocking young-gun (Ben Affleck) in love with the mission commander’s (Bruce Willis) daughter(Liv Tyler) and you have a tear-jerker for the whole family.

Last Night (1998)

Much like Dodge and Penny, the group of Canadians in Last Night have differing opinions on how to spend their last day on Earth. Having known for months about an inevitable cosmic event that will destroy the planet Patrick just wants to be alone, but this plan is scuppered when Sandra turns up on his doorstep stranded and in need. This bitter-sweet comedy is well worth a watch!

Team America: World Police (2004)

For the South Park creators feature film debut we were given Team America: World Police. This is a film about the end of the world… as long as you are American. The plot follows popular Broadway actor Gary Johnston as he’s recruited by the elite counter-terrorism organization Team America: World Police. As the world begins to crumble around him, he must battle with terrorists, celebrities and falling in love. As funny as it is disturbing this is not a film for the faint hearted.

Idiocracy (2006)

Private Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) is nothing special, in-fact he is typically average. That is why he is selected to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future and discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he’s easily the most intelligent person alive. This may not be the end of the world, but it is the end of any world Dodge and Penny would want to live in. Let’s hope this is not what our future looks like.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Alex Withrow Reply

    Really solid list, love a lot of these flicks. I recently watched Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth – solid flick that fits this list.

    Hey, your description for Last Night is for Don McKellar’s 1998 film starring McKellar and Sandra Oh, but your picture is from Massy Tadjedin’s 2010 film. Just an FYI.

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    Jack Deth Reply

    Great list and critiques!

    Particularly like your inclusion of ‘Team America’ and ‘Idiocracy’. Having just voted, the world of ‘Idiocracy’ is about two generations away.

    Personal favorite of mine in the ‘One and done’ viewing category is ‘Threads’ from the UK in 1984. Made for television and done in the dry documentary style the Brits have mastered since the beginning of mass entertainment.

    The film focuses around a few diverse families during some Reagan style sabre rattling that ends with Russia nuking London, Sheffield and points west due to Afghanistan.

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    mark Reply

    I too watched Threads in 1984 but thought it was a wee bit inferior to War Game, Peter Watkin’s BW 1960s mocumentary about the holocaust that was originally banned by the BBC.

    Miracle Mile would be a worthy admission to the list – strangely funny and a great love story to boot.

    On the Beach – the Stanley Kramer version of the Neville Shute book; there was a TV movie of it too starring Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward, but it wasn’t as good.

    If zombie films fit the criteria for this, then either of the Dawn of the Dead films deserves a mention … the Romero one may be superior, but the Snyder 2004 remake does have a grimly apocalyptic epilogue.

    And if Armageddon is allowed, when Brucie actually saves the world and Ben gets to marry Liv to the strains of Aerosmith, then other stuff like Damnation Alley and Quintet could be put in there.

    But the obvious ommission – Dr Strangelove (or How I learnt to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). Hasn’t aged if one ignores the digital age and internet; arguably Kubrick’s best film … by the end, the Cold War has been reduced to a mine shaft gap.

  4. Avatar
    mark Reply

    Another obvious omission I failed to mention above – The Cabin in the Woods … humankind is destroyed because of the bong sucking fool and the woman who isn’t killed. Nice touch ….

  5. Avatar
    Pete Reply

    I think I’m a rare person that loved both Armageddon and Deep Impact. Something about asteroids that makes for spectacular cinema. 2012 was ok too but not worthy of this list for sure!

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    Evan Crean Reply

    Stellar list. Agreed that if zombies are going to come into play that Romero’s Dawn of the Dead should have made the list. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was probably the most surprising film that I saw this year. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the dark premise and how funny the end of the world could be. Just a really charming film and beautifully tragic.

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    Jaina Reply

    Great list. I’d add Cabin in the Woods to mine too. Love that film! End of all human kind!

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    ruth Reply

    Ahah, thanks to Alex for pointing out the picture. I was baffled too as I didn’t know that Keira’s version of ‘Last Night’ has anything to do w/ apocalypse, ahah. Props for including Wall•E though, one of my Pixar faves!

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    sati Reply

    Awesome list! I’d add Perfect Sense – highly recommend this one if you didn’t see it yet. I had no idea Last Night has End of the world in it too, I really need to see this one some time.

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    Louise Reply

    I’m so glad you included Last Night. I saw this a few years ago and it’s stayed with me. It’s a great, understated wee film that’s not known nearly as much as it should be.

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    niels Reply

    Hey, I’m back in the blogosphere and have just begun to peruse the many interesting top-10 posts you’ve made since my break.

    I do agree with most of the choices here, but I do think there’s a couple more worthy choices in my book. I would, for one, take out Armageddon and replace it with another Bruce Willis flick: 12 Monkeys. Less mainstream but, in my opinion, a lot more interesting.

    There’s also Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia” which is, at the very least, conceptually and visually superior than most other end-of-the-world films I’ve seen.

    Solid list though!

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