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The 10 best shark movies, ranked

Did your favorite shark movie make the cut?

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The ocean is a terrifyingly ominous idea for most people. Its expansive nature and seemingly infinite potential for animal life has mystified and scared humanity for generations, and movie makers have capitalized on these emotions with films that evoke the most frightening sentiments within us. No creature in the water is more iconic than the shark, and this king of the sea is often the subject or the main antagonist of many horror or thriller flicks that take place in aquatic settings.

With Shark Week just around the corner, shark movies are once again on people’s minds. Whether you like historical fiction, horror, documentaries, or something in between, there is a surprising variety to movies that focus on sharks. We want to get you in the mood for the season with the pictures that give you the best bite. These are the 10 best shark movies you should take a look at this year, ranked from worst to best!

10. Shark Beach With Chris Hemsworth (2021)

10. Shark Beach With Chris Hemsworth
Genre Documentary, TV Movie
Stars Chris Hemsworth, Valerie Taylor, Mick Fanning
Directed by Sally Aitken

This family-friendly docu-style TV movie has Chris Hemsworth, expert scientist opinions, and plenty of sharks. What’s not to enjoy? This one comes in at under an hour of content, so you don’t have to set aside a large chunk of time to watch it. In that hour, you’ll get a brief education in shark behavior and the ocean at large. Even if you’re more into fiction than documentaries, still give this one a try. You won’t regret it!

9. Kon-Tiki (2012)

9. Kon-Tiki
Genre Adventure, History
Stars Pål Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, Tobias Santelmann
Directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg

This historical drama focuses on a fictionalized account of Thor Heyerdahl’s journey from South America to Tuamotu Islands. Heyerdahl was a zoologist who wanted to help disprove the notions that only people from the West were to credit for migration to French Polynesia. The film was one of the most successful foreign-language films of 2012, as it was nominated for an Academy Award. Fans of sharks will enjoy the threat the animals posed to Heyerdahl and his crew in Kon-Tiki.

8. The Reef (2010)

8. The Reef
Genre Drama, Horror, Thriller
Stars Damian Walshe-Howling, Zoe Naylor, Adrienne Pickering
Directed by Andrew Traucki

The Reef is a perfect film for those shark fans who want to imagine the animals at their absolute apex predator peak. The humans in the movie are constantly at risk of being tracked down and eaten by the same great white shark the entire duration of the film after their boat capsizes. The horror aspects of the movie help to overcome the suspension of belief required to enjoy it.

7. Shark Tale (2004)

7. Shark Tale
Genre Animation, Action, Comedy, Family
Stars Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger
Directed by Vicky Jenson, Bibo Bergeron, Rob Letterman
When it comes to DreamWorks movies, Shark Tale isn’t one of the first films that pops up in most fans’ minds. Still, if we focus on just the shark aspect of the experience, this classic animated feature is an enjoyable romp for the whole family. Starring the voice talents of actors like Will Smith and Jack Black, Shark Tale tells the story of a rowdy fish who pretends to have killed a mighty shark. The movie dabbles in Italian-American humor to mixed affect, but the plot is easy to follow, and the oceanic backdrop is unique compared to other animated movies — except for one outstanding Pixar movie we’ll get to in a minute!

6. Jaws 2 (1978)

6. Jaws 2
Genre Horror, Thriller
Stars Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc

Sequels often are unable to replicate the same magic as the original films, but Jaws 2 does a decent enough job keeping the same visuals, storytelling, and horror aspects that made the first Jaws one of the best movies ever made. Steven Spielberg is no longer in the director’s chair, something that probably affected the overall results of the movie. Roy Scheider’s reprisal of his role as Martin Brody is a highlight of the experience.

5. The Meg (2018)

5. The Meg
Genre Action, Science Fiction, Horror
Stars Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
The Meg is one of the most successful blockbuster shark movies since Jaws. Jason Statham stars as a diver who is part of a crew of scientists who must avoid the terrors of a megalodon. This animal is one of the most infamous predators from prehistory, a shark so giant there is no comparison in modern times. The fun and exciting science fiction elements were enough to get a sequel titled Meg 2: The Trench that will release in August of 2023.

4. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)

4. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
Genre Action, TV Movie, Science Fiction, Comedy, Adventure
Stars Ian Ziering, Cassandra Scerbo, Frankie Muniz
Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
You know how it’s great to sometimes watch a movie that is so bad it’s somehow good? The Sharknado franchise is very self-referential, reveling in the offbeat humor and extremely poor special effects it presents to the audience to create a TV movie sure to illicit laughs from every demographic. This third film in the series even has a cameo from Shark Tank businessman Mark Cuban!

3. Playing with Sharks (2021)

3. Playing with Sharks
Genre Documentary
Stars Valerie Taylor, Ron Taylor, Jeremiah S. Sullivan
Directed by Sally Aitken

This Disney+ TV movie helps audiences understand the intricacies of sharks more than any other film on this list. Sharks are hunted, abused, and tarnished by humans on a daily basis, and photographer Valerie Taylor gives her unique and credible perspective on the subject with analysis and once-in-a-lifetime footage. You’ll come away from this film with a newfound appreciation for sharks and all animal life in general.

2. Finding Nemo (2003)

2. Finding Nemo
Genre Animation, Family
Stars Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Arguably Pixar’s best movie, Finding Nemo doesn’t focus solely on sharks in any way, but its shark character is one of the most memorable in movie history. Bruce is a great white shark who tries his best not to eat fish, such as Nemo’s dad, Marlin, and Marlin’s friend, Dory. This dichotomy between a shark’s purpose and fighting what people think of sharks is one of the ingenious highlights of the character.

1. Jaws (1975)

1. Jaws
Genre Horror, Thriller, Adventure
Stars Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Directed by Steven Spielberg
What else could be number one? Jaws is the definitive shark movie because of its horror approach to the animal that forces viewers to inspect their own fears of sharks. The antagonist shark is barely even shown in the movie, instead appearing more as a fearful concept than a tangible character. This ended up being the most iconic way Spielberg could have gone about incorporating sharks!

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Shawn Laib
Shawn Laib is a freelance writer with publications such as Den of Geek,, Edge Media Network, diaTribe, SUPERJUMP…
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