The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time 

Ranker Film
Updated September 24, 2019 1.8k votes 316 voters 10.3k views 31 items

List Rules Only films that take place in real time.

Movies that take place in real time tend to be character-driven and in many cases have become cult classics among cinephiles. Early examples of the technique from Hollywood's Golden Age include Rope and The Set-Up. Among more modern films to use it are '90s German drama Run Lola Run and 2015's Victoria - notable for being shot in only one uninterrupted 138-minute take. 

Real-time movies employ a method of storytelling in which the events in the film match the audience experience. Another way to think of it is that if the real-time movie plot takes place over 90 minutes, then that's the same run time as the film. In order to maximize screen time, handy tricks like split screens may be used to demonstrate plots taking place simultaneously, along with time-measurement devices like clocks or stopwatch-style timers, which serve to reinforce the real-time film narrative to viewers. 

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Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn

Released: 1985

Directed by: Jonathan Lynn

Clue is a 1985 American ensemble mystery comedy film based on the board game of the same name. The film was directed by Jonathan Lynn, who collaborated on the script with John Landis, and stars ...more

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Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb

Released: 1957

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells ...more

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Katie Holmes, Colin Farrell, Jared Leto

Released: 2002

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Phone Booth is a 2002 American psychological thriller film about a man who is held hostage in a telephone booth by a sniper. It stars Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Katie Holmes, Radha Mitchell ...more
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Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam

Released: 2006

Directed by: Neveldine/Taylor

Crank is a 2006 American black comedy/action film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and starring Jason Statham, Amy Smart and Jose Pablo Cantillo. The plot centers on a ...more

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Run Lola Run is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
Franka Potente, Armin Rohde, Moritz Bleibtreu

Released: 1998

Directed by: Tom Tykwer

Run Lola Run is a 1998 German thriller film written and directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain ...more

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Al Pacino, Carol Kane, Charles Durning

Released: 1975

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Dog Day Afternoon is a 1975 American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, written by Frank Pierson, and produced by Martin Bregman and Martin Elfand. The film stars Al Pacino, John Cazale, ...more

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Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse

Released: 2006

Directed by: Richard Donner

16 Blocks is a 2006 American crime thriller film directed by Richard Donner. It stars Bruce Willis, Mos Def, and David Morse. The film unfolds in the real time narration method.
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Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Charles S. Dutton

Released: 1995

Directed by: John Badham

Nick of Time, starring Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Charles S. Dutton and Courtney Chase, is a 1995 political thriller film. It was directed by John Badham. It is noteworthy for taking place ...more
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Olivia Thirlby, Cheyenne Jackson, Denny Dillon

Released: 2006

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

United 93 is a 2006 drama film written, co-produced and directed by Paul Greengrass that chronicles events aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked during the September 11 attacks of ...more

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James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock, Cedric Hardwicke

Released: 1948

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Rope is a 1948 American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the 1929 play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton and adapted by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents. The ...more

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Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis, Stephen Tobolowsky

Released: 2010

Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés

Buried is a 2010 American thriller film directed by Rodrigo Cortés. It stars Ryan Reynolds and was written by Chris Sparling. The story is about Iraq-based American civilian truck driver ...more

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Grace Kelly, Gary Cooper, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1952

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper. In nearly real time, the film tells the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by ...more

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Unfriended is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead

Released: 2014

Directed by: Levan Gabriadze

Unfriended is a 2014 American supernatural horror film directed by Levan Gabriadze. A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the ...more

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George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell

Released: 2016

Directed by: Jodie Foster

Money Monster is a 2016 American thriller film directed by Jodie Foster. Financial TV host Lee Gates (George Clooney) and his producer Patty (Julia Roberts) are put in an extreme situation when ...more
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Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman

Released: 1964

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Fail-Safe is a 1964 Cold thriller film directed by Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. The film features performances by veteran actors ...more

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Elizabeth Olsen, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Adam Trese

Released: 2011

Directed by: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau

Silent House is a 2011 American independent horror film directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. The plot focuses on a young woman who is terrorized in her family vacation home while cleaning the ...more
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Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff

Released: 2004

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Before Sunset is a 2004 American romantic drama film, the sequel to Before Sunrise. Like its predecessor, the film was directed by Richard Linklater. He shares screenplay credit with actors ...more

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Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, Jean Lenauer

Released: 1981

Directed by: Louis Malle

My Dinner with Andre is a 1981 American comedy-drama film directed by Louis Malle. Two old friends (Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn) meet for dinner; as one tells anecdotes detailing his ...more
Locke is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
Tom Hardy, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson

Released: 2013

Directed by: Steven Knight

Locke is a 2013 British drama film written and directed by Steven Knight. The film stars Tom Hardy, with Tom Holland, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson, Ben Daniels, and Alice Lowe ...more
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Valery Gergiev, Alexander Sokurov, Sergei Dontsov

Released: 2002

Directed by: Alexander Sokurov

Arca Russa é um filme de 2002 dirigido por Aleksandr Sokurov.

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Salma Hayek, Holly Hunter, Leslie Mann

Released: 2000

Directed by: Mike Figgis

Timecode is a 2000 American experimental film written and directed by Mike Figgis and featuring a large ensemble cast, including Salma Hayek, Stellan Skarsgård, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Suzy ...more
Victoria is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
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Tony Todd, Richard Riehle, David Lee Smith

Released: 2007

Directed by: Richard Schenkman

The Man from Earth is a 2007 science fiction film written by Jerome Bixby and directed by Richard Schenkman. It stars David Lee Smith as John Oldman, the protagonist. The film gained recognition ...more
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Anna Karina, Michel Legrand, Jean-Claude Brialy

Released: 1962

Directed by: Agnès Varda

Cléo from 5 to 7 is a 1962 Left Bank film by Agnès Varda. The story starts with a young singer, Florence "Cléo" Victoire, at 5pm on June 21, as she waits until ...more
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Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz

Released: 2011

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Carnage is a 2011 black comedy-drama film directed by Roman Polanski, based on the Tony Award winning play God of Carnage by French playwright Yasmina Reza. The screenplay is by Reza and ...more