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'Into the Wild' (2007)
Plot: Based on the life of wanderer Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation whilst attempting to live in solitude in the Alaskan wilderness.
Main adversaries: Hunger, McCandless' own recklessness and lack of preparation
Why it's good: Sean Penn adapted Jon Krakauer's 1996 non-fiction book of the same name to poignant effect, dramatizing McCandless' naive quest across America in a sprawling, episodic, often poetic style that could rightly be criticized as brainless hagiography if only it weren't so well-crafted and heartfelt. Emile Hirsch's central performance as McCandless is a knockout; it's too bad he's been relegated to roles in mostly forgettable films since. - Chris Eggertsen