Total Nerd

Great Drama Movies That Play with Time 

Ranker Film
Updated November 5, 2019 671 votes 143 voters 4.7k views 23 items

List Rules Only dramatic films that have elements of time travel and skipping through time. No comedies or straight sci-fi movies.

Time can be a tricky thing. A minute can feel like a year, but an entire year can go by in the flash of an instant. The best drama movies that play with time skip ahead to show how characters grow, or sometimes allow them to change the future by making adjustments to the past. This is a list of the top time drama movies including everything from Brigadoon to The Butterfly Effect to Pleasantville.

What films will you find on this list of the best dramas about time? Though you might think of it as a holiday classic above all else, It's a Wonderful Life also features plenty of dashes forward and backward in time. Midnight in Paris allows fans to experience several inspiring eras in French history in one great film, while Slaughterhouse-Five sees the hapless Billy Pilgrim become "unstuck in time." Other good movies featured on this top dramatic time travel movies list include The Time Traveler's Wife, About Time, and The Lake House.

Do you have a favorite drama movie about time? Give the best films a thumbs up and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

list ordered by
1
Inception is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard

Released: 2010

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph ...more

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2
Eternal Sunshine of the ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey

Released: 2004

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama film about an estranged couple who have each other erased from their memories, written by Charlie ...more

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3
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

Released: 1946

Directed by: Frank Capra

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren ...more

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4
The Butterfly Effect is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman

Released: 2004

Directed by: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress

The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American psychological thriller film that was written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber. The title refers to the butterfly effect, a popular ...more

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5
Pleasantville is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker, Tobey Maguire

Released: 1998

Directed by: Gary Ross

Pleasantville is a 1998 American fantasy comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh, and ...more

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6
The Curious Case of Benj... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Elle Fanning

Released: 2008

Directed by: David Fincher

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American romantic fantasy drama film directed by David Fincher. The storyline by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord is loosely based on the 1922 short ...more

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7
Ranker Video
Dunkirk Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, James D'Arcy

Released: 2017

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Dunkirk is a 2017 British-American epic action thriller written, co-produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. During the early stages of WWII, Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium, Canada, ...more

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8
About Time is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Rachel McAdams, Margot Robbie, Bill Nighy

Released: 2013

Directed by: Richard Curtis

About Time is a 2013 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Richard Curtis. A young man (Domhnall Gleeson) with the special ability to time travel tries to change his past in order to ...more

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9
Somewhere in Time is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, William H. Macy

Released: 1980

Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc

Somewhere in Time is a 1980 romantic fantasy film directed by Jeannot Szwarc. It is a film adaptation of the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay. The ...more

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10
A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Ann Rutherford, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll

Released: 1938

Directed by: Edwin L. Marin

A Christmas Carol is a 1938 American film adaptation of Charles Dickens's 1843 novelette A Christmas Carol, about Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser, who learns the error of his ways on ...more
11
Kate & Leopold is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Hugh Jackman, Meg Ryan, Liev Schreiber

Released: 2001

Directed by: James Mangold

Kate & Leopold is a 2001 romantic-comedy fantasy that tells a story of a duke who travels through time from New York in 1876 to the present and falls in love with a woman in modern New York. ...more
12
Midnight in Paris is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hiddleston

Released: 2011

Directed by: Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris is an American 2011 romantic comedy fantasy film written and directed by Woody Allen. Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the ...more

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13
The Time Traveler's Wife... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Ron Livingston

Released: 2009

Directed by: Robert Schwentke

The Time Traveler's Wife is a 2009 American romantic science fiction drama film directed by Robert Schwentke. The story follows Henry DeTamble, a Chicago librarian with a paranormal genetic ...more

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14
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Valerie Perrine, Perry King, John Dehner

Released: 1972

Directed by: George Roy Hill

Slaughterhouse-Five is a 1972 film based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name about a writer who tells a story in random order of how he was a soldier in WW2 and was taken by aliens. The ...more

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15
The Lake House is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Christopher Plummer

Released: 2006

Directed by: Alejandro Agresti

The Lake House is a 2006 American romantic drama directed by Alejandro Agresti and starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Christopher Plummer. It was written by David Auburn. The film is a ...more

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16
Brigadoon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Van Johnson

Released: 1954

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli

Brigadoon is a 1954 MGM musical feature film made in CinemaScope and Ansco Color based on the Broadway musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The film was directed by ...more

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17
Safety Not Guaranteed is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Kristen Bell, Aubrey Plaza, Jeff Garlin

Released: 2012

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Safety Not Guaranteed is a 2012 American comedy film directed by Colin Trevorrow and inspired by a 1997 Backwoods Home Magazine classified ad—itself written as a joke filler by Backwoods ...more
18
Time After Time is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
naslaughs added Corey Feldman, Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen

Released: 1979

Directed by: Nicholas Meyer

Time After Time is a 1979 American science fiction film starring Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen. It was the directing debut of screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, whose screenplay ...more

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19
Don't Let Go is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Byron Mann

Released: 2019

Directed by: Jacob Aaron Estes

Don’t Let Go is a 2019 American supernatural thriller film directed by Jacob Aaron Estes. After the demise of a man's (David Oyelowo) family, he receives a phone call from his deceased niece.
20
The Ground Beneath My Fe... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Valerie Pachner, Pia Hierzegger, Mavie Hörbiger

Released: 2019

Directed by: Marie Kreutzer

The Ground Beneath My Feet is a 2019 Austrian drama film directed by Marie Kreutzer. A business consultant, Lola (Valerie Pachner) is on the fast track to success when a tragic event forces her ...more
21
Never Let Me Go is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield

Released: 2010

Directed by: Mark Romanek

Never Let Me Go is a 2010 British dystopian science fiction drama film based on Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mark Romanek from a screenplay by Alex ...more
22
The One I Love is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen

Released: 2014

Directed by: Charlie McDowell

The One I Love is a 2014 American romantic dramedy film, directed by Charlie McDowell and starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss. The film had its world premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival ...more

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23
The Kid is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
The Kid Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer