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Great Drama Movies That Play with Time

Updated November 5, 2019 1.0k votes 146 voters 4.9k views23 items

List RulesOnly 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.

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    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst

    Released2004

    Directed byMichel Gondry

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American romantic science-fiction comedy-drama... more
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    The Butterfly Effect is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The Butterfly Effect

    Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart

    Released2004

    Directed byJ. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress

    The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American psychological thriller film that was written and... more

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    Pleasantville is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Pleasantville

    Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker

    Released1998

    Directed byGary Ross

    Pleasantville is a 1998 American fantasy comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by... more

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    The Curious Case of Benjamin B is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett

    Released2008

    Directed byDavid Fincher

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American romantic fantasy drama film directed by... more
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    Dunkirk is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Dunkirk

    Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh

    Released2017

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Dunkirk is a 2017 British-American epic action thriller written, co-produced, and directed by... more

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    Inception is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Inception

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy

    Released2010

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

    Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by... more

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    About Time is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    About Time

    Rachel McAdams, Margot Robbie

    Released2013

    Directed byRichard Curtis

    About Time is a 2013 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Richard Curtis. A young... more

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    The Time Traveler's Wife is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The Time Traveler's Wife

    Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana

    Released2009

    Directed byRobert Schwentke

    The Time Traveler's Wife is a 2009 American romantic science fiction drama film directed by... more

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    Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Slaughterhouse-Five

    Valerie Perrine, Perry King

    Released1972

    Directed byGeorge Roy Hill

    Slaughterhouse-Five is a 1972 film based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name about a... more

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    A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    A Christmas Carol

    Ann Rutherford, Gene Lockhart

    Released1938

    Directed byEdwin L. Marin

    A Christmas Carol is a 1938 American film adaptation of Charles Dickens's 1843 novelette A... more
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    Somewhere in Time is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Somewhere in Time

    Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer

    Released1980

    Directed byJeannot Szwarc

    Somewhere in Time is a 1980 romantic fantasy film directed by Jeannot Szwarc. It is a film... more

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    Don't Let Go is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Don't Let Go

    David Oyelowo, Storm Reid

    Released2019

    Directed byJacob Aaron Estes

    Don’t Let Go is a 2019 American supernatural thriller film directed by Jacob Aaron Estes.... more
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    Safety Not Guaranteed is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Safety Not Guaranteed

    Kristen Bell, Aubrey Plaza

    Released2012

    Directed byColin Trevorrow

    Safety Not Guaranteed is a 2012 American comedy film directed by Colin Trevorrow and inspired... more

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    The Lake House is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The Lake House

    Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves

    Released2006

    Directed byAlejandro Agresti

    The Lake House is a 2006 American romantic drama directed by Alejandro Agresti and starring... more

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    Kate & Leopold is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Kate & Leopold

    Hugh Jackman, Meg Ryan

    Released2001

    Directed byJames Mangold

    Kate & Leopold is a 2001 romantic-comedy fantasy that tells a story of a duke who travels... more

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    The Ground Beneath My Feet is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The Ground Beneath My Feet

    Valerie Pachner, Pia Hierzegger

    Released2019

    Directed byMarie Kreutzer

    The Ground Beneath My Feet is a 2019 Austrian drama film directed by Marie Kreutzer. A... more
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    It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    It's a Wonderful Life

    James Stewart, Donna Reed

    Released1946

    Directed byFrank Capra

    It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and... more

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    Never Let Me Go is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Never Let Me Go

    Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan

    Released2010

    Directed byMark Romanek

    Never Let Me Go is a 2010 British dystopian science fiction drama film based on Kazuo... more
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    Midnight in Paris is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Midnight in Paris

    Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard

    Released2011

    Directed byWoody Allen

    Midnight in Paris is an American 2011 romantic comedy fantasy film written and directed by... more

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    Time After Time is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Time After Time

    Corey Feldman, Malcolm McDowell

    Released1979

    Directed byNicholas Meyer

    Time After Time is a 1979 American science fiction film starring Malcolm McDowell, David... more
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    Brigadoon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    Brigadoon

    Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse

    Released1954

    Directed byVincente Minnelli

    Brigadoon is a 1954 MGM musical feature film made in CinemaScope and Ansco Color based on the... more

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    The One I Love is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The One I Love

    Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson

    Released2014

    Directed byCharlie McDowell

    The One I Love is a 2014 American romantic dramedy film, directed by Charlie McDowell and... more

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    The Kid is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Great Drama Movies That Play with Time
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    The Kid

    Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin
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