The 10 best movie shark performances – ranked!

Jason Statham may be about to battle a prehistoric example in The Meg but these creatures have evolved to the point that they’re attacking space shuttles

10. The wobbly shark from Batman: The Movie (1966)

Making your acting debut opposite the debonair Adam West while being suspended from the Batcopter’s rope ladder sounds scary. Yet this plucky (and clearly rubber) shark clamps on to West’s leg and boings around with such gusto you almost resent the shark-repellent bat spray.

9 The emotional shark from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003)

This CG beast lunges in for the kill only to be bopped on the nose by Angelina Jolie. While sharks are hardly known for their emotional range, the poor creature registers surprise, hurt and ultimately shame, turning tail while Jolie hitches a ride on its dorsal fin.

8 The sneaky mako sharks from Deep Blue Sea (1999)

The genetically tinkered mako sharks in this action-packed bite-’em-up are at least as intelligent as humans. Which is to say they really know how to hold a grudge, using injured scientists as battering rams and snacking on heroes mid-speech. The result is oddly relatable.

The Shallows
Shark bait … rusty metal and a side order of Blake Lively in The Shallows. Photograph: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

7 The greedy shark from The Shallows (2016)

This vengeful great white already has an all-you-can-eat floating buffet in the form of a whale carcass. Yet it single-mindedly throws itself into a series of injurious encounters with coral, jellyfish and rusty metal just to get a nibble of Blake Lively’s stranded surfer.

6 The zero-gravity sharks from Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)

If not for the cult success of this chomp-shlock franchise, would we be getting to see Jason Statham imminently face off against a giant prehistoric shark in The Meg? The Sharknado movies are always an ensemble effort, but a special shoutout to the brave CG sharks who attack a space shuttle in number three.

Finding Nemo
Dual personality … Bruce smells lunch in Finding Nemo. Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

5 Bruce from Finding Nemo (2003)

Unlike most candidates on this list, the leering Bruce has the advantage of being able to speak. As voiced by Barry Humphries, he preaches a fish-friendly agenda but exposure to blood instantly reactivates his blank-eyed killer instincts: terrifying for Marlin and Dory, electrifying for the viewer.

4 The sublime shark from The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)

When his comrade Esteban is killed by a rare jaguar shark, bobble-hatted oceanographer Zissou swears to track down and kill it. That vengeance melts away when the creature finally emerges from the abyssal depths, elevated by stop-motion grace and a Sigur Rós soundtrack swell.

3 The augmented sharks from Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Good fins come to those who wait: it may have taken three movies but supervillain Dr Evil finally got some sharks with laser beams attached to their heads, a calculated gift from his love-starved son Scott. A rare example of movie sharks bringing joy.

Open Water
Clear and present danger … Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis meet real sharks in Open Water. Photograph: Laura Lau/AP

2 The real sharks from Open Water (2003)

Using nonprofessional actors can be a risk, but in digitally shot survival thriller Open Water the footage of actual sharks surfacing in the same frame as two abandoned scuba divers generates genuine nerve-jangling dread.

1 Jaws (1975)

Spielberg’s animatronic great white was by all accounts a 25ft-long diva: there were false starts, missed days and a string of breakdowns. Yet the final result is a masterclass of menace, casting an ominous shadow across not just the entire film but the whole of pop culture.


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