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Great Drama Movies That Play with Time

Updated November 5, 2019 1.0k votes 146 voters 5.0k 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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  • 1
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    93
    15

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 2
    The Butterfly Effect
    95
    24

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    Pleasantville
    58
    14

    Pleasantville

    Reese Witherspoon, Paul Walker

    Released1998

    Directed byGary Ross

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

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  • 4
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    56
    13

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Dunkirk
    58
    15

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    Inception
    58
    17

    Inception

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy

    Released2010

    Directed byChristopher Nolan

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

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  • 7
    About Time
    45
    10

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 8
    The Time Traveler's Wife
    47
    17

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 9
    Slaughterhouse-Five
    22
    9

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    A Christmas Carol
    22
    12

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Somewhere in Time
    21
    10

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 12
    Don't Let Go
    2
    4

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Safety Not Guaranteed
    16
    10

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 14
    The Lake House
    20
    15

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 15
    Kate & Leopold
    17
    12

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 16
    The Ground Beneath My Feet
    2
    4

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 17
    It's a Wonderful Life
    39
    42

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 18
    Never Let Me Go
    15
    12

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Midnight in Paris
    16
    13

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Time After Time
    7
    4

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Brigadoon
    9
    8

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 22
    The One I Love
    7
    11

    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 on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    The Kid
    9
    16

    The Kid

    Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin