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Great Drama Movies That Play with Time  

Ranker Film
638 votes 138 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
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
2
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey
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
3
The Butterfly Effect is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Logan Lerman
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
4
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
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
5
Ranker Video
Dunkirk Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, James D'Arcy
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
6
Pleasantville is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker, Tobey Maguire
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
7
The Curious Case of Benjamin B... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Elle Fanning
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
8
About Time is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Rachel McAdams, Margot Robbie, Bill Nighy
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
9
A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Ann Rutherford, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll
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
10
Somewhere in Time is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, William H. Macy
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
11
The Time Traveler's Wife is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Ron Livingston
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
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
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
13
Kate & Leopold is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Hugh Jackman, Meg Ryan, Liev Schreiber
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
14
Time After Time is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
naslaughs added Corey Feldman, Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen
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
15
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Valerie Perrine, Perry King, John Dehner
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
16
The Lake House is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Christopher Plummer
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
17
The Ground Beneath My Feet is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Valerie Pachner, Pia Hierzegger, Mavie Hörbiger
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
18
Don't Let Go is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Byron Mann
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.
19
Safety Not Guaranteed is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Kristen Bell, Aubrey Plaza, Jeff Garlin
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
20
Brigadoon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Van Johnson
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
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
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
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
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