5 astronaut movies you have to watch to celebrate the moon landing

Fifty years ago on July 16, 1969, NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon, and as we all know, they accomplished the mission. 

Space has always been known as the final frontier, and that hasn't stopped Hollywood from making movies about the historic space mission and also dreaming up movies about what else lies beyond our own galaxy. 

We decided to round up some of our favorite movies not only involving the Apollo 11 mission, but movies that focused on the race to the moon in general. 

"First Man"

It's kind of surprising there aren't a whole lot of movies about the first moon landing. There are a ton of movies about World War II, for instance, but not so many when it comes to historic space travel. Luckily, "First Man," starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, is a fantastic send-up to the people who worked on Apollo 11. Executively produced by Steven Spielberg, the film scored four Oscar nominations and many accolades for Gosling. The movie goes into great detail about Armstrong's life before he became the first man to walk on the moon, like the death of his 2-year-old daughter and becoming distant with his family. The shots from space are pretty neat, too. 


"Hidden Figures"

If you want to watch a movie that will inspire you to follow all of your dreams, then watch "Hidden Figures." Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, "Hidden Figues" is about a group of three black women who worked as mathematicians at NASA during the space race in the early '60s. It's an exceptional story about overcoming adversity, but it's also a story that went too long not being told. 


"Apollo 13"

This is the ultimate astronauts in space movie. "Apollo 13" came out in 1995 and starred Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton. The story follows a group of astronauts as they embark on the Apollo 13 mission, which ended up being aborted. The trip took place in 1970 and was supposed to be the third moon landing mission, but an on-board explosion caused the astronauts to turn around in a race against time to safely make it back to Earth. The film is full of thrilling moments, but it also shows the human struggle and making tough decisions. It's a classic that you will want to watch over and over again. 


"Apollo 11"

The only other film about the historic Apollo 11 mission is a documentary that shares its name. The documentary premiered this year and was directed by Todd Douglas Miller. It's made up of mostly archival footage, with a few moments of footage that had been previously unreleased to the public. The film doesn't hold the same emotional punch that feature films tend to have, but seeing the archival footage from 1969 is pretty priceless. 


"October Sky"

Some millennials might remember watching this flick in science class whenever a substitute teacher was in, but it still goes down as one of the best movies about astronauts and outer space. A young Jake Gyllenhal stars as real-life Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who wants to work for NASA, despite his father wanting him to become a coal miner. Laura Dern plays Hickam's teacher who inspires him to follow his dreams, and the real-life Hickam eventually became an engineer for NASA. Pretty incredible, right? 

What is your favorite movie about space and astronauts? Let us know in the comments below. 

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.