Updated date:

10 One-Actor Movies You Should Watch Before You Die

Harry has read and watched unhealthy amount of comic books and movies.

Usually, the main actor/actress has the support of a wide range of cast members to help them carry the weight of the movie.

But there are those rare moments when one actor, confined in a single setting, could produce a gem of a movie.

These following 10 movies, sorted alphabetically, are some of the best that ever do such a bold concept and successfully achieve amazing results.

1. 127 Hours (2010)

This movie is based on a real-life accident of a rock climber who trapped their right hand and wrist between a boulder and a rock wall.

There are flashbacks and hallucinations involved, but for the most part, we only see the main character struggling to survive and to stay sane.

James Franco gives a stellar performance here, one of the best in his career. To pull the audience in despite being a lone star in a very tight space is not an easy task, but he magnificently did it.

2. All Is Lost (2013)

A man wakes up from the cabin of his boat to find that seawater has gushed through a hole on the hull. This is just one small problem in the torrents of issues that he will face during the course of the movie that will lead to him having to abandon his boat.

This is what I consider as a true one-man show in the world of cinema. There's no human interaction and no notable music to hide behind. There is only a handful of monologues.

Just a man trying as best as he can to stay alive in the middle of the ocean.

3. Arctic (2018)

Despite being stranded in the arctic, Mads Mikkelsen's character has found a way to stay alive while waiting for help.

One day, the helicopter that was supposed to rescue him ends up crashing as well. The pilot is gone but the co-pilot survived.

Now, our main character is faced with a heavy dilemma. He can stay put while the co-pilot will die or he can force his way through the ice and blizzards to find help.

Behind the seemingly simple premise and setting, this movie asks a larger than life question on what it truly means to be a human being.

4. Buried (2010)

A truck driver wakes up to find himself trapped in a suffocating wooden coffin, in Iraq. Accompanied by a phone left inside by his captor, he tries to call his way to survival.

Just like the movie 127 Hours, I am pleasantly surprised by how much drama they could cram inside such a tight place.

In fact, the restrictive settings gave many more ways for the filmmaker to exploit tension and built a relatable and three-dimensional character.

5. Cast Away (2000)

Cast Away is a movie that resides in the lone survival genre, much like the Arctic. A very familiar genre for this one-man show type of movie.

The story itself is about a FedEx employee stranded for years on a tiny island after their cargo plane crashes in the middle of the ocean.

This is by far the most crowded movie on this list. The main character spent roughly a third of the movie interacting with other minor and supporting characters.

But the magnificent and awe-inspiring two-thirds of the movie where Tom Hanks' character is really alone on the island makes it more than deserving to be put on this list.

6. Gravity (2013)

One of the most stand out moments in Gravity is the silent annihilation. When debris of the destroyed Russian satellite comes raining down on the crew of NASA's Explorer, everything reduces to rubble in a matter of seconds.

And it all happened in silence. As if somebody suddenly muted the film in the middle of the scene. The only sounds that we could hear are the oxygen-deprived screams of Sandra Bullocks' character.

And for the rest of the movie, her voice is the only thing that keeps her, and us, company while she gets from one space station to the next amidst the terrifyingly beautiful void of outer space.

7. The Guilty (2018)

We talked about a man with a telephone in the movie Buried. And we will talk about it again later in Locke below.

What makes The Guilty different than those two great movies is the sheer raw emotion and suspense built solely in using the crackling and helpless voice in the telephone.

This is a movie about a police emergency dispatcher operator that got a repeated call from a girl who claimed that she is currently being held against her will.

What follows is a roller coaster of emotions, suspicions, revelations, and unrelenting barrage of tension that keeps the viewer's eyes super-glued to the screen.

8. Locke (2013)

The last of the man with telephone trio on this list, and arguably the most dramatically personal of the three. Unlike in Buried, there's no personal safety at stake here, and unlike The Guilty, there are no other lives hanging in the balance at the end of the telephone.

What's glaringly visible is the slowly crumbling life of a man named Ivan Locke. The more he drives away, and the more he talks to his family and coworkers, the more the life that he holds dear falls apart.

Just like with James Franco earlier, this is definitely one of the best performances in Tom Hardy's career. The raw emotions, the regrets, the determination, the change of expression as he realizes how his old life has been damaged beyond repair is simply breathtaking to behold.

9. Moon (2009)

Sam Bell is weeks away from finishing his contract with the moon mining company, Lunar. He is excited to finally meet his wife and daughter on earth, but spending nearly three years in this isolation has taken its toll on his mind and body.

As the days are getting closer to his return date, everything around him starts to unravel, literally and metaphorically. Has he truly lost his marbles or is everything actually part of a larger conspiracy that lies beyond the scope of his comprehension?

10. The Shallows (2016)

When surfing in a secret beach by herself, Nancy stumbles upon the carcass of a whale that is filled with bite marks.

It doesn't take long for the attacker, a great white shark, to stumble upon Nancy as well and force her to defend for her life on a tiny, isolated rock for as long as possible.

One of the highlights of this movie is how fast it establishes its fully rounded character so that it has the luxury to spend the rest of its time on suspense.

Blake Lively manages to carry this movie alone without the viewers ever getting bored because of it.

Well, that's it, folks.

Although they reside roughly within the same concept, the movies on this list cover a wide range of genres, from survival, drama, thriller, and even sci-fi. So I'm sure you'll find something that suits your taste in one of these movies.

Anyway, have you watched any of these movies before? Or do you have similar movies that you think deserve to be put on this list?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.