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What to Watch: Our Favorite Adventure Films

Oscar season is upon us so we at ROAM decided to make our own picks for the best films of 2018, a year which saw some pretty incredible leaps in adventure filmmaking. As 2019 kicks into high gear, make sure you check these films off your list.

We’ll admit we are biased, but in addition to these masterpieces listed below, we think you will also enjoy our own 2018 hit, Surface.

And now for our picks …

Free Solo (see trailer at top of page)

ROAM founding contributor Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi, directors of award-winning Meru, tell the story of superhuman Alex Honnold, who took the world by storm when he climbed 3,000-foot El Capitan via Freerider with no ropes in June 2017 in Yosemite. Jimmy and Chai shot the entire vertigo-inducing climb with a stealth team of rockhounds positioned along the route. More than a character study of Alex, the film probes into his relationship with girlfriend Sanni McCandless, showing the universalities of being in a relationship. Watch the film in select theaters. —Mary Anne Potts

The Snowman Trek

It’s not every day you get to tag along with world-class athletes on an epic adventure. But The Snowman Trek is just that, a truly first hand account of a world record trek through the mountains of Bhutan… documented by just one guy. This film is a harrowing, first-hand account of the highs and lows a team endures when they set out to do something truly challenging while working with their Bhutanese support team to achieve it together. Director Ben Clark delivers a story that takes its viewers on a journey like few films can. Watch the full film on iTunes or Amazon. -John Rodosky

The Dawn Wall

Making this film was a Dawn Wall for the directors Josh Lowell and Pete Mortimer at Sender Films. Over seven years, they documented Tommy Caldwell’s quest to climb what is considered the world’s hardest free climb due to its length and sustained difficulty, the Dawn Wall route on El Capitan in Yosemite. The film sets up how Tommy got to the wall, from teenage climbing prodigy to getting kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan, from chopping off his finger to the end of his marriage with elite climber Beth Rodden. With brilliant graphics, the Sender team breaks down the complexities of the 15 pitches and why this feat was so difficult—though the masterful cinematography showcases this in extreme beauty. Watch the film on iTunes. —Mary Anne Potts

Truffle Pigs

When Travis Rice makes a film, it’s always worth paying attention. The man has spent the better part of the last decade pushing the boundaries not only of what is possible on a snowboard, but also what it means to document the sport. But far from the legendary Red Bull films of years past, Truffle Pigs plays almost like a nostalgic tribute to shred flicks from the past. Director/editor Justin Taylor Smith and Travis team up yet again to deliver a one of kind project. If you’re looking to get stoked before heading to the mountain, throw this one on. -John Rodosky

Beyond the Horizon

Fish-fishing films generally have some limitations in reaching a wide audience. This one surpasses the genre with a genuine character overcoming genuine problems in a tropical paradise. Rankin Jackson, whose struggle to provide for his family led to drug running, ultimately finds redemption through fly fishing. Watch the full film on vimeo. —Mary Anne Potts

Andy Irons: Kissed by God

Teton Gravity Research looks into the life and death of world-class surfer Andy Irons. Brother Bruce and wife Lyndie Dupuis pull back the curtain on Andy’s struggle with bipolar disorder and opioid addiction in striking honesty. Archival footage of the brothers sets up a brilliant life cut short and a surf industry that enabled self destruction. —Mary Anne Potts

Ode to Muir

Snowboarding legend Jeremy Jones is no stranger to the silver screen. Having starred in countless adventure films across a career spanning two decades, he is one of the most iconic figures in the game today. —John Rodosky

Space

I’m not usually drawn to watch surf films, but this one had me coming back for more over and over again. The surfing is absolutely mental, the music hits hard and the editing is on point. 10/10 will be watching this one again. – Brian Szymanski

The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water won the grand prize at Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival a few months ago and for good reason. It is a masterfully told story about blind kayakers Erik Weihenmayer and Lonnie Bedwell and their descent of the Grand Canyon. Poignant, funny and, at times, stressful, the Weight of Water is a must watch for anyone. -Brian Szymanski

The Frenchy

I’ve seen The Frenchy three or four times now at various film festivals and never fails to have the whole theater laughing hysterically. It tells the story of 82-year-old Jacques Houot, a Carbondale, Colorado, legend who thrives on mountain biking and kisses. Hilarious and inspiring, The Frenchy and is a perfect reminder that to some age is merely a number. I recommend watching it with others. -Brian Szymanski



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