Outdoor movies got off to an exceptional early start in 2019 when Free Solo, chronicling Alex Honnold’s historic ropeless climb of El Capitan, won an Academy Award for best documentary. We were just as obsessed with that film as anyone else (well, actually, maybe a little more), but that didn’t stop us from devouring other great films that followed. From documentaries to an indie adventure romance to a stop-motion animation film, here are our reviews of the best outdoor movies of the passing year.
This is the indie adventure film we didn’t know we needed. It’s a low-budget jaunt, with an encouraging message for anyone intimidated by getting outdoors.
Acclaimed Russian director Victor Kossakovsky’s abstract film tries to convey the urgency of climate change without a cast or narration. It’s stunningly beautiful and appropriately devastating.
‘Any One of Us’
Professional mountain biker Paul Basagoitia’s documentary about the spinal-cord injury he sustained at Red Bull Rampage struck our features editor, Gloria Liu, as moving and important—even before her partner experienced a similar life-altering accident.
‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’
The North Carolina–based buddy adventure brings blue-collar fishing culture to the big screen.
In a stop-motion animated feature, Chris Butler adds a contemporary twist to the old-fashioned tale of Bigfoot.
‘The River and the Wall’
This film aims to show what Trump’s border wall would destroy. It chronicles an intense journey down the Rio Grande, bearing witness to the ecosystems and livelihoods along the U.S.-Mexico border.
‘The Human Element’
James Balog’s newest documentary hopes to show the human side of climate change, bridging a deep political and cultural gap by elevating the stories of the people most affected by it.
This documentary on PBS’s Independent Lens chronicles the incredible life of George Attla—an icon of the dogsled world who dominated the sport while preserving a dying tradition.
Watch the first all-female sailing team finish the Whitbread Round the World Race in this riveting documentary. (Plus, we talked with the crew’s skipper, Tracy Edwards, about the historic feat.)