31 Best Movies For Surround Sound

Looking for the best movies for surround sound? If you’ve only heard a movie on standard speakers before, you’re missing out on an integral part of the movie experience.

Here are some of the best films to see which take full advantage of surround sound.

Adrift

Adrift is the gripping tale of a couple whose innocent sailing excursion turns towards disaster as they find themselves stranded far away, with no hope for rescue. The intelligent sound design emphasizes ambient noises to amplify the claustrophobia alongside the constant creaking of the ship’s hull.

Surround sound is always at its best when it makes you feel like you’re truly in the middle of events. However, unlike some action-focused films on this list, Adrift’s use of sound drastically amplifies the feelings of dread and makes the terror of isolation that much more powerful.

Avatar

Avatar is unquestionably one of the most impressive visual spectacles ever put to film, every frame filled with color and detail in a way matched by few others, despite how long it’s been out. That said, it’s so easy to be immersed in the visual splendor that you overlook the audio component, especially on first viewing.

While Avatar’s plot is relatively straightforward, the sheer beauty and complexity of the film make it worth watching in the highest quality you can get. Avatar is one of the true heights of cinema on the spectacle level and rightly deserves its accolades in that area.

Avengers: Infinity War

Infinity War is one of the top superhero movies ever made. Coming in at two and a half hours, it’s the first part of a major story climax that had fans following through numerous other films. Notably, its sound design amplifies the tense nature of the atmosphere as the near-unstoppable Thanos slams his way through an entire roster of heroes to reach his terrifying goal.

However, its most poignant moments come towards the movie's end as things get increasingly worse for the heroes. It’s easy to make mistakes when creating a film with so much storytelling weight to live up to, but the sound design in Infinity War brings everything together.

Avengers: Endgame

Following the events of the Infinity War, Endgame progresses the story of the Infinity Stones and Thanos to bring it to its conclusion. Lost and hurt after the events of the previous film, Endgame touches on the human nature of its heroes and the personal circumstances they’ve all faced since Infinity War’s climax.

Endgame is also one of the most gripping movies put to screen. Although it has a few more pauses than its immediate predecessor (which barely had a minute to rest before the plot came charging in), Endgame still advances at a quick pace and juggles a truly monumental cast.

Baby Driver

Although not nearly as well-known as some of the other films on this list, Bay Driver is a startlingly immersive film in surround sound. The plot follows a getaway driver named Baby, who links music to his incredible driving skills.

Unfortunately, when he’s brought in for what he thinks is one last job, the other members of the crew are far too unstable, and things rapidly escalate far beyond anything he thought he signed up for. The pumping music keeps the film's pace, forming an integral part of the experience.

Bird Box

In one of Netflix’s most gripping original shows, Sanda Bullock stars as mother Malorie when she tries to bring her two children to safety and freedom. However, the danger is amplified because of a mysterious threat that causes everyone who sees it to kill themselves.

Visuals are tricky in Bird Box because what’s most dangerous is what you can’t see in the film. To balance this, the film makes exceptional use of audio to amplify Malorie’s terror and make every threat around her that much more frightening.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 tells the story of the LAPD’s Officer K, whose discovery of a buried secret sends him on a mission to find the previous protagonist Rick Deckard and figure out what to do. Blade Runner 2049 is a gorgeous spectacle even without sound, but the audio pushes it to a new level.

Although it has plenty of action scenes, Blade Runner 2049 is a drama and mystery at heart, and the audio clues emphasize significant elements throughout the film. It’s gripping, exciting, and well worth the watch. That said, consider watching 1982’s Blade Runner first, or you may be a little lost.

Bohemian Rhapsody

It’s almost criminal to watch Bohemian Rhapsody without the best audio you can achieve, preferably Dolby Atmos. This documentary follows the band Queen, and especially singer Freddie Mercury, up until the time of a famous performance at Live Aid in 1985.

The surviving band members helped with the audio. As you might expect from one of the highest-selling bands in history, they understand sound, and the musical score is fantastic. If there are any regrets here, it’s that nobody can reproduce Freddie Mercury’s vocal talent, but Bohemian Rhapsody is as close as anyone can get.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Although a little older than some other films on this list, don’t let that dissuade you. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the best wuxia (fantastic Chinese martial arts) films ever made, with almost ballet-like elements that the movie brings together in the harmony that true mastery of martial arts provides.

This film also incorporates a lot of heart, as the relationships between the characters serve as a driving force for a deep look at life, love, and responsibility.

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan’s work appears several times on this list, which says something about his skill at making films. His 2017 film takes place in World War II when a mix of soldiers from Belgium, Britain, and France get surrounded by German forces and need to be evacuated. Moving 400,000 men is no easy feat, and Germany’s air superiority worsens everything.

As with other war films, sound is an integral part of the experience, even more than action. It sounds like weaponry is all around you, providing a deeper connection to the terror the soldiers felt in one of the most dangerous moments of an already-frightening war.

Godzilla vs. Kong

Kaiju (giant monster) films have a reputation for solid audio. Indeed, Godzilla’s roar is one of the most iconic noises in all of cinema, and that’s on full display in a movie that pits two of the greatest monsters against each other.

The audio adds weight to every blow in battle, but even beyond that, it emphasizes the sheer power and danger that such monsters represent. Every step in battle can send entire skyscrapers toppling, all backed by the tense inability of people to do much about the living forces of nature. This movie is all about spectacle, and it shows.

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One Comment

  1. I would add the 2009 BD of AKIRA. AFAIK it’s one of the few BDs with the soundtrack mixed in 24-bit/192khz 5.1 audio. A visual, sonic, and technical marvel all around.

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