Hasn’t everyone fantasied about time travel at some point or another? Going back in time or getting a sneak peek at what the future holds is irresistible, and still impossible. Thankfully, we have movies that can hit rewind, fast forward and pause on time. Rian Johnson‘s Looper is opening this weekend, and we couldn’t be more excited. The movie uses time-traveling to show someone contracted to kill their future self. So in honor of Looper, we’ve come up with a list of the Top 10 Time Travel Movies In Cinema.
There’s actually a bunch of great time travel movies out there, and you’re in all your right to disagree with some of our choices. Some of you might argue that Time Bandits is better than 12 Monkeys, or that Peggy Sue didn’t actually go back in time. But we’re sticking with these Top 10 because they’re pretty darn fantastic. Be sure to tell us your favorites in the comment section below!
10. Somewhere In Time
Method Of Time Travel: Hypnosis
Somewhere In Time is not your typical time travel movie. It’s more romance than sci-fi, but its use of time and space is very important. Obsessed playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) uses hypnosis to take him back to the early 1900s to meet the love of his life, stage actress Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). This movie doesn’t get distracted by the idea of time travel. The main focus here is the love story and it stays true to that.
9. Peggy Sue Got Married
Method Of Time Travel: Unclear
Who wouldn’t want the chance to go back to their high school days, if only for day? Not to relive the (brutal) experience, but to do things differently. Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) gets a second chance when she’s sent back in time during her high school reunion. Peggy Sue Got Married uses time travel to get its hero to reevaluate her life. It’s a movie that poses an important philosophical question: if you got the chance to go back, would you do things differently? It’s also a touching, feel-good story about love.
8. Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes)
Method Of Time Travel: Time Machine (sort of like a pool)
Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo explores fate, regret and loss in his low-budget film Timecrimes, about a curious suburban husband named Hector (Karra Elejalde). One day, Hector wanders off into the woods of his backyard and gets stabbed with a pair of scissors by a man with a mummy-like face. Fate brings him to a science lab where he meets a scientist (Vigalondo) who sends him back in time. The movie is available on Netflix, so give it a chance. It’s got crazy twists and turns and never gets predictable. Vigalondo should be praised for handling such a high concept movie on such a small budget. His take on time travel is horrifying, and he delivers a suspenseful film that will leave you thinking long after it’s over.
7. Groundhog Day
Method Of Time Travel: Unclear, but something to do with Groundhog Day
Grumpy weatherman Phil (Bill Murray) hates Groundhog Day. He’s an egomaniac who doesn’t appreciate the wonderful things life has to offer, so he’s forced to live February 2nd over and over again until he gets it. Groundhog Day is one of the best comedies of all time, and the fact that it includes time travel is just one of its many assets. It doesn’t matter that the movie doesn’t explore “the concept” because that’s not the main point here. Still, a list like this wouldn’t be complete without this Harold Ramis classic.
6. 12 Monkeys
Method Of Time Travel: Time Machine
A Terry Gilliam movie can be a tough experience. He’s just an odd dude and his movies are kind of nuts. 12 Monkeys is a Terry Gilliam movie, and it is absolutely fantastic though. Bruce Willis (who also stars in Looper yo!) plays James Cole, a clueless convict from the year 2035 who is sent back in time to gather information about a virus that destroys the human population. Unfortunately, he arrives earlier than planned and is put in an insane asylum where he learns about the epidemic. 12 Monkeys is a remarkable piece of work, notable for its performances, originality, storyline and cinematography.
5. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Method Of Time Travel: Time-Turner necklace
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is usually considered the best Potter by cinephiles. That’s because it’s the only movie in the franchise that beats to the sound of its own drum. Alfonso Cuaron took J.K. Rowling’s third book and made it entirely his own. The film’s distinct style makes it standout among the others in the franchise and that’s all thanks to Cuaron, who wasn’t afraid to make a dark film for a young audience. The Time-Turner necklace is also a pretty neat time-travel gadget, wouldn’t you agree?
4. Midnight In Paris
Method Of Time Travel: Midnight, in Paris
Uninspired writer Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) goes to Paris with his unsupportive fiance (Rachel McAdams). One night, Gil wanders the streets of Paris at midnight and comes to a magical corner that takes him back in time to the roaring 20s. Midnight In Paris is a newbie among time travel movies, but it deserves to be recognized for its mix of comedy, romance and escapism. It’s also a Woody Allen film. Midnight In Paris doesn’t explore the concept of time travel like other sci-fi movies tend to. There’s no butterfly effect. No separate timelines are created. The past is merely Gil’s escape from the present day, a time he doesn’t feel he belongs in. Partying with literary greats like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald is Mr. Allen’s fantasy. We know this because Midnight In Paris is an idea he had been holding on to for almost 50 years, when he was still doing stand-up.
3. The Terminator
Method Of Time Travel: Electricity that leaves you naked
At this point, it’s fair to say that James Cameron‘s The Terminator has stood the test of time. A cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) goes back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of future rebel leader John Connor. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) also travels back to protect Linda from the killing machine, and in doing so helps close the time travel loop. The Terminator set the bar for sci-fi movies. It redefined the genre and stands as an American classic. And the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, is almost as good.
2. Back To The Future
Method Of Time Travel: Delorean DMC-12
Saying Back to The Future is your favorite time travel movie is the right answer (almost). At least, it’s the easy answer. Time travel and Back To The Future are like conjoined twins, attached at the hip. So much so that any time travel movie made since then has either been a response to the film or used it as a reference point (think Hot Tub Time Machine). So let’s just praise this movie for what it is – a timeless classic. It’s got everything from great performances, sincere characters, neat gadgets and a load of pop culture references we grew up on and still use today. The Back To The Future trilogy is, hands down, the most important and iconic time travel franchise is movie history. But the first is still the best.
Method Of Time Travel: A box
Engineers Abe (David Sullivan) and Aaron (Shane Carruth) spend their days working on science projects, until one day they realize they’ve accidentally created a time travel machine. Sounds simple enough, right? Primer is by no means simple. It is an extremely complicated movie that truly respects the theory of time travel. Writer and director Shane Carruth made this thrilling movie on an incredible low-budget of $7,000. He refused to dumb down his script and created a story so complex that it takes several viewings to understand what’s going on. You probably actually need to keep a chart and some notes to follow along. A lot of these movies tend to ignore just what a big deal it is to discover time travel. But Primer treats the concept with so much reverence that you eventually start to believe that it could be possible to move through time. Primer is 77 minutes of mind-blowing awesomeness and it’ll leave you with so many questions that your head might just explode. So just do yourself a favor and watch it again.