As a big fan of space and movies about time travel, you could say I am a self-professed expert on the matter. Time travel movies are some of the most watched and loved genres of films so there were no shortage of amazing candidates. They transcend the idea of the present and show us an alternative reality, the future, the past and even another dimension of a world we never even thought to have imagined.
Some of the most iconic movies in history are time travel movies. With a good time travel movie often comes the premise of an apocalypse or destruction of some kind. Each time travel movie plays on the same idea of the “what” question. “What if” dinosaurs never went extinct? “What will” happen if we all move to the moon? Even if it has a dramatic or thrilling narrative, humor can also be peppered in throughout the best time travel movies. Either way, traveling in time is hilarious, dangerous and innovative. To be more clear, it truly is awesome.
One of the reasons why this genre is so appealing is because it can seem so real. It seems that if you can believe it enough that maybe this idea, in the movie, will actually be our past, present or future one day. This genre shows us the endless possibilities of perhaps a glimpse of our own reality! Cool, right?
The next time you want to binge watch time travelling movies, this list is all you need! If I haven’t sold you, you’ll never be sold, but you’ll be missing out on some of cinema’s classics, as time travel movies are the best.
Below I’ve complied a list of the top 10 greatest time travel movies EVER. While there are actually tons more, here are my personal favorites!
10. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
I need to start this list off with an absolute favorite of mine, Hot Tub Time Machine. It is arguably the funniest time travel movie. Maybe not one of “greatest” but definitely noteworthy enough to be on this list. The story is about four men having a casual vacation at a ski resort. They step into a malfunctioning hot tub time machine that suddenly takes a man, his two friends and his nephew back to 1986. As you can imagine, the characters mess with timelines a little bit and they have to in the end undo everything they did. If they are unable to undo their mistakes, then Clark Duke (…one of the character’s nephew’s) will never be born! (talk about high stakes).
9. Donnie Darko (2001)
This 2001 psychological thriller has one of the best twist endings ever. The story follows a troubled and disgruntled teenager, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) who claims to see visions of a giant bunny one evening. That night the bunny lures Donnie outside and Donnie narrowly escapes death when a jet-engine flies into his bedroom. The bunny, named Frank, somehow manages to manipulate Donnie into committing numerous crimes and tells him that the world will in fact end in 28 days. This movie is seriously twisted, but that just makes it a must see! If this is even kind of your type of genre, you will not regret it.
8. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Probably the most hilarious on this list (sorry Hot Tub Time Machine) is none other than Austin powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Mike Myers is able to completely and utterly destroy us with this hilarious film following a flirtatious government spy who travels back to the 60s. His arch enemy Dr. Evil is also back and has also created a time machine that allows him to go back to the 60s! To make things even more dramatic, Doom steals Mr. Powers’ “mojo” leaving the shagadelic legend of a spy completely and utterly shagless. Having multiple women throw themselves at him Powers is unable and unwilling to have relations with them until he finds his “mojo.” Talk about true torture!
7. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Though this one is a remake of the 1968 classic, Director Tim Burton does a fantastic job in doing the original credit. The films follows an astronaut crew that has landed on a planet. This planet is from the future (about two millennia from now) where the intelligent species that live on this “alien” planet are talking apes. Humans are enslaved and kept prisoner and the apes have a complete government like the likes of a present day government. Soon after their arrival, the astronaut crew discovers that this planet is not so unfamiliar, it is Earth and you can better believe things are about to go down!
6. Midnight in Paris (2011)
Directed by the wonderful Woody Allen and starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams this fantastical and romantic comedy is truly amazing! If you’re an English literature buff or an art lover this movie is perfect for you! The story is about a screenwriter (Owen Wilson) vacationing in Paris with his fiancée’s family. Feeling nostalgic, every night at midnight the screenwriter (and hopeful novelist) mysteriously goes back in time to Paris’ elite scene in the roaring 1920s. Throughout his travels, he meets famous figures such as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso and is able to rediscover inspiration, love and appreciation.
5. Groundhog Day (1993)
Groundhog Day is a childhood classic. Everyone one has seen it, everyone loves it and we will all forever love Bill Murray. The film tells shows us a story of a weatherman repeating the same day, every day. Realizing that he is repeating the exact same day, Murray begins to live his life dangerously and lavishly knowing that nothing bad will happen since the next day will only be a repeat. Murray’s exploits even range from him attempting to commit suicide multiple times, all to no avail. Slowly Murray switches stances and starts to do good deeds for the townspeople, ultimately to win the love of his fellow broadcaster Rita.
4. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, 12 monkeys is easily one of the best time travel movies. The movie is about a world in the future that is plagued with disease because a deadly virus struck in the 90s and everyone has to live underground. Now in 2027 a criminal (Willis) is sent back in time to gather all the information that he can on the virus that killed most of the population on the planet. Problems continue to occur when Willis arrives back in 1990 instead of 1996. Willis is then quickly placed in a mental institution for claiming fanatical ideas about upcoming plagues and underground civilizations. This is where he meets fellow patient, Brad Pitt, who steals the show with one of his best performances.
3. Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek is absolutely amazing! Originally a truly spectacular TV series from the 60s, it is probably the most recognizable movie franchise from this list. Episode after episode showcased an indefinite amount of past and future space and time travelling. The concept, and characters are truly exceptional and have garnered a massive following referred to as Trekkies. The latest iteration of the franchise started with the 2009 movie, which centers around Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) trying to live up to his father’s legacy. The film would not be complete without Kirk’s friend and co-captain Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) as they time-travel to different planets trying to stop the Romulan creating black holes that are destroying the world, one planet at a time.
2. The Terminator (1984)
As a HUGE Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, of course Terminator is towards the top of this list! If you haven’t seen it (seriously… get on that, finish reading this and go) this movie is about a lifelike, indestructible cyborg who is sent from the year 2029 to 1984. The mission? Assassinate a waitress whose unborn child will later lead the human race in a war against the machines. Schwarzenegger, known for his massive body building physic is totally awesome in this movie and even at some points magnificently funny. Not to mention that the cinematic classic phrase “I’ll Be Back” stemmed from this movie. Just remember that when you say it, you do it with Arnold’s accent. Always.
1. Back to the Future (1985), Back to The Future Part 2 (1989), Back to the Future Part 3 (1990)
Could you imagine a time travel list without a movie that literally has future in the title? #1 on the list goes to Back to The Future (…and Back to The Future Part 2 and Back to the Future Part 3). Director Robert Zemeckis does an absolutely fantastic job by essentially creating one of the first time traveling to the future movies! This movie is about a young man (Michael J. Fox) who is, by accident sent back thirty years into the past in a “time-traveling” DeLorean invented by Dr. Emmett Brown. However, while in the past, Fox threatens the relationship of his high school parents and thus puts his very existence in jeopardy! In a race to unite his parents, Fox is able to change aspects of the past, though he doesn’t necessarily create a better future.