There are sea-faring dramas (i.e., films that primarily take place on floating vessels making longish or otherwise difficult voyages) and there are submarine movies (i.e., films that mostly happen underwater in 20th Century submersibles). These are two different kinds of aquatic animals and should not be mixed up or confused.
Topping the list of HE’s finest sea-faring dramas: Peter Weir‘s Master and Commander, J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost, Alfred Hitchcock‘s Lifeboat, Peter Ustinov‘s Billy Budd, John Huston‘s Moby Dick, Lewis Milestone‘s Mutiny on the Bounty (no one’s idea of a great film but one that delivers excellent 18th Century sea-faring realism), Paul Greengrass‘s Captain Phillips, Wolfgang Petersen‘s The Perfect Storm, James Cameron‘s Titanic, Richard Sales‘ Abandon Ship!, Byron Haskin‘s Treasure Island, John Sturges‘ The Old Man and the Sea, Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi.
No good: Ron Howard‘s In The Heart of the Sea. Irritating: Baltasar Kormakur‘s Adrift w/ Shailene Woodley. Disqualifiied: the stupid Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Cabin Boy.
HE’s finest submarine movies, in this order: Das Boot, Crimson Tide, U-571, The Hunt for Red October, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Destination Tokyo, Run Silent, Run Deep, The Enemy Below, Ice Station Zebra, Up Periscope, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea….what others?
Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws is neither fish nor fowl — it’s basically a landbubber monster movie that concludes with a third-act voyage in which three men try to hunt down and kill the beast.