Entertainment

The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time  

Ranker Film
1.7k votes 306 voters 9.9k 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. 

list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn
Clue is a 1985 American mystery comedy film based on the board game of the same name. The film is a murder mystery set in a Gothic Revival mansion, and is styled after The Rocky Horror Picture ...more
2
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Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb
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
3
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Katie Holmes, Colin Farrell, Jared Leto
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
4
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Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam
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
5
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
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
6
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Al Pacino, Carol Kane, Charles Durning
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
7
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Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse
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.
8
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Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken, Charles S. Dutton
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
9
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Olivia Thirlby, Cheyenne Jackson, Denny Dillon
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
10
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James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock, Cedric Hardwicke
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
11
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Ryan Reynolds, Samantha Mathis, Stephen Tobolowsky
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
12
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Grace Kelly, Gary Cooper, Lee Van Cleef
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
13
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
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
14
Money Monster is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell
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
15
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Elizabeth Olsen, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Adam Trese
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
16
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Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman
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
17
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Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff
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
18
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Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, Jean Lenauer
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
19
Locke is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
Tom Hardy, Andrew Scott, Ruth Wilson
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
20
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Valery Gergiev, Alexander Sokurov, Sergei Dontsov
Arca Russa é um filme de 2002 dirigido por Aleksandr Sokurov.
21
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Salma Hayek, Holly Hunter, Leslie Mann
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
22
Victoria is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies That Take Place in Real Time
Victoria
23
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Tony Todd, Richard Riehle, David Lee Smith
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
24
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Monica Bîrlădeanu, Dragoș Bucur, Gabriel Spahiu
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is a 2005 Romanian dark comedy film by director Cristi Puiu. In the film an old man is carried by an ambulance from hospital to hospital all night long, as doctors ...more
25
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Anna Karina, Michel Legrand, Jean-Claude Brialy
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