The Best Survivor award

They took a licking and kept on ticking. The Oscar for survival under extreme circumstances goes to ...

Our Man (Robert Redford)

The movie: "All Is Lost"

The setup: Solo sailing expedition goes awry when boat collides with cargo container.

The threat: Dehydration, despair and, ultimately, drowning.

Survival strategy: Repair hole in ship's hull. Then leisurely prepare a meal(!) and sail aimlessly toward possible help.

Skill rating: 3 life preservers

Capt. Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks)

The movie: "Captain Phillips"

The setup: Somali pirates capture cargo ship, demand exorbitant ransom.

The threat: We mentioned there were pirates, right? They have guns and they're agitated.

Survival strategy: Misdirection, dogged perseverance, staying calm.

Skill rating: 31/2 life preservers

Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock)

The movie: "Gravity"

The setup: Space debris takes out astronauts' spacecraft, setting them adrift.

The threat: Loss of oxygen and the waning belief that life must continue in the face of tragic loss.

Survival strategy: Locate another way back to Earth, deal with existential estrangement.

Skill rating: 4 life preservers

David Grant (Will Forte)

The movie: "Nebraska"

The setup: Reluctant son, David, drives ornery, oddball dad from Montana to Nebraska to claim nonexistent sweepstakes prize.

The threat: Long stretches of close confinement with a mulish old-timer, prolonged exposure to weird relatives.

Survival strategy: Sustained consumption of alcohol, though, as we learn, "beer ain't drinking."

Skill rating: 4 life preservers

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