Screen Rant

10 best animated movies about time travel, ranked.

Time travel is one of the most popular sci-fi tropes. Many animated movies have incorporated time travel into their plots and make the trope work.

  • Animated movies offer more creative freedom for exploring time travel concepts and expanding on them in unique ways.
  • Animated movies, including those about time travel, are not just for kids. They contain valuable life lessons for both children and adults.
  • Time travel movies in animation can touch on important themes like family and empathy, providing heartwarming and emotional experiences.

Many movies have taken advantage of animation to make some of the best time travel movies. As animation isn't hindered by what an actor is able to do on set, there is a lot more freedom when making an animated movie. It makes time travel an excellent plot device for animated movies to use, as they can really expand on the concept in unique ways.

A common belief is that animated movies are meant purely for kids. While there are a lot of kid-friendly animated movies, there are plenty of animated movies for adults , too, including Grave of the Fireflies, Loving Vincent , and even South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut . Animated movies tend to contain life lessons that are beneficial to kids and adults alike, and the ones about time travel are no exception, seeing as some of the best touch on subjects such as family and the importance of empathy.

10 Time Travel Movie Rules, Ranked Worst To Best

10 regular show: the movie (2015), a time travel flick based on the cartoon network show.

Regular Show: The Movie takes place between the first two episodes of the Cartoon Network show's seventh season. It follows Mordecai, Rigby, and their friends as they try to fix a mistake the duo made in their past. Mordecai and Rigby had made a time machine in high school that is now being used by their former volleyball coach for evil. Regular Show: The Movie maintains the wacky comedy that makes the TV series so popular. Its message on the importance of friendship and communication is surprisingly heartwarming as Mordecai and Rigby come to understand how past actions have hurt each other.

9 Steins;Gate: The Movie - Load Region Of Déjà Vu (2013)

A follow-up to the popular anime.

Taking place one year after the events of the anime series, Steins;Gate: The Movie - Load Region of Déjà Vu discusses a popular issue with time travel, what happens when one goes too far with it. The film takes it in an interesting direction as Rintaro Okabe's consistent time travel causes him to disappear from reality with only Kurisa Mikase remembering him. Steins;Gate succeeded at making a good anime sequel movie , which is a feat in itself. The movie is surprisingly emotional, as Kurisa's love for Rintaro is constantly tested by failures to rescue him. The movie does well at balancing the drama with a unique time travel story.

8 Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

A dog and his human son have to fix time.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a DreamWorks movie about a young boy whose antics rip a hole in time. Sherman and his dog adoptive father, Mr. Peabody, have to undo the damage while dealing with child protective services. The relationship between Mr. Peabody and Sherman is sweet and provides a lot of the movie's humor. Mr. Peabody & Sherman has a lot of heart and contains a lot of commentary on family and how families can be different. The overall message, that just because a family looks different doesn't mean it's bad, is one that will stand the test of time. Although parts of the movie were slow, the heart behind Mr. Peabody & Sherman makes up for it.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is based on characters from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends . Mr. Peabody and Sherman were in the segments titled Peabody's Improbable History .

7 Quantum Cowboys (2022)

A live-action/animated sci-fi western.

The ever-changing style of Quantum Cowboys makes it one of the most interesting animated movies. A sci-fi Western following two drifters who decide to help a woman get her land back, Quantum Cowboys is a unique mix of live-action and animation . The constant stylistic switches can make it difficult to understand, but once the plot gets moving and the idea of reality is thrown out of the window, the movie becomes engaging and philosophical. The ambition behind Quantum Cowboys is what makes it such a good time travel movie. As a lot of time travel movies focus on action, it's refreshing to see a time travel film take a more philosophical route.

6 Godzilla: The Planet Of The Monsters (2017)

Humans must flee earth after godzilla attacks.

After a Godzilla attack nearly makes humans extinct, the survivors are forced to flee Earth with two alien races on the ship Aratrum . 20 years later, Captain Haruo Sakaki convinces everyone to take the Aratrum back to Earth after finding Godzilla's weakness. When the Aratrum returns, 20,000 years have passed on Earth, and the planet has been drastically altered by Godzilla's presence. Like the best Godzilla franchise movies , Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters has incredible visuals and engaging action scenes . Although the characters are not fleshed out well, the beauty of the film overshadows that. The visuals, especially those of Godzilla, are magnificent and capture the essence of the kaiju genre wonderfully.

Two sequels were made in 2018, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle and Godzilla: The Planet Eater.

5 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

A girl's time travel exploits begin to have consequences.

In The Girl Who Leapt Through Time , teenager Makoto Konno discovers a device that allows her to jump through time. She uses it to avoid being late, get perfect grades, and avoid awkward situations. As she continues to use this new power, Makoto realizes that not only does she have a limited number of time jumps, but her actions have affected those around her. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a fun coming-of-age movie that feels like a Studio Ghibli movie. The imagery and softness of the film, juxtaposed with the real danger Makoto puts herself and others in, add a lot of weight to the film. The movie drives its message of understanding the consequences of one's actions home perfectly.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is loosely based on a novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui.

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4 mirai (2018), a young boy time travels to learn about his family.

In Mirai , 6-year-old Kun is distraught by the arrival of his baby sister, Mirai, as he is jealous of the attention she gets. Throughout the movie, Kun goes into the garden and travels through time. Every time he does so, Kun meets various people, and each one turns out to be a member of Kun's family, including a version of Mirai from the future and Kun's great-grandfather. Like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time , Mirai 's imagery and plot make it feel like a Studio Ghibli film. It's interesting to see time traveling affect the present in such an intimate way. The biggest change to come from Kun's time traveling in Mirai is within Kun himself as he learns to be more understanding of his family.

3 Meet The Robinsons (2007)

Kid-friendly time travel adventure.

Disney's Meet the Robinsons is a fun and heartwarming time travel adventure movie. Young inventor Lewis is taken to the future by a boy named Wilbur, who needs his help. Lewis bonds with Wilbur's family, the Robinsons, and soon becomes entangled in a conflict with the mysterious Bowler Hat Guy. Meet the Robinsons is full of emotion and humor as it tackles topics such as family and guilt. It's the perfect movie to watch again as an adult to catch hidden details about Meet the Robinsons ' characters , who are the ones who truly make the movie spectacular. Each one brings something different, and they are so complex that it makes Meet the Robinsons feel real, even if the setting and plot are fantastical.

2 Your Name (2016)

An emotionally charged anime movie about body-switching.

After wishing to be a boy in her next life, Mitsuha Miyamizu switches bodies with Taki Tachibana, a boy living in Tokyo. The two continue to switch bodies on certain days and help each other in their personal lives. When Taki tries to find Mitsuha, however, he learns that they've been time traveling as well, as Mitsuha died three years earlier when a comet destroyed her village. Your Name 's subversion of a classic trope makes it feel new and exciting. Despite the sci-fi aspects of it, Your Name stays incredibly grounded and focuses on everyday life. The intimacy of the film is what makes it so special, and every emotion that it invokes is genuine.

Your Name Ending Explained (In Detail)

1 a christmas carol (2009), an animated retelling of the classic novel.

Disney's version of Charles Dickens' novel, A Christmas Carol , was shot using motion capture and follows the original tale closely. Wealthy miser Ebenezer Scrooge is taken throughout his past, present, and future by three ghosts to show him the error of his ways. Many versions of A Christmas Carol have been made with varying degrees of accuracy. A Christmas Carol is one of the most prominent time travel stories, and the 2009 film did it brilliantly. The animation never takes away from the heart of the story and actually helps to enhance it at times. It maintains the fantastic nature of Dickens' novel while still maintaining the reality of the story.

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The 25 Greatest Time-Travel Movies Ever Made

best animated time travel movies

It must say something, surely, about humans, how often time-travel movies are about returning to the past rather than jumping to the future. As Mark Duplass’s forlorn character says in Safety Not Guaranteed , “The mission has to do with regret.” With all the potential to explore the unknown world of the future, so often when our minds conspire to bend the rules of time it’s instead to rehash the old. It’s compelling to watch a character in a movie do what we cannot — right past wrongs or uncover the reason for or meaning behind the events in their lives, whether they be emotionally catastrophic or merely geopolitically motivated.

So absent is the future from the canon, in fact, that when it is involved, typically future dwellers are leaving their own time to come back to the present. Back to the Future Part II aside, it seems as if there’s something about going forward in time that just doesn’t track for humans. (Of course, you could argue that this is because the present-day concept of bidirectional time travel would infinitely multiply or change beyond recognition any future that may occur, but that’s a knot for another article.)

In any case, the time-travel stories deemed worthy of Hollywood budgets aren’t always straightforward in their mechanics. Some films on this list barely qualify as time-travel movies at all; others could hardly qualify as anything else. There are movies about trips through time but also ones about the bending and fracturing and muddying thereof; then there are those about, as Andy Samberg aptly puts it in Palm Springs , “one of those infinite time-loop situations you might have heard about.” There’s even a movie in which we get only 13 seconds’ worth of time travel, when it functions more like a joke whose punch line hits at the film’s climax.

What these films all do have in common is a fascination with changing the way time works. That being said, the list leaves out movies in larger, more extended franchises in which time meddling is a one-off dalliance thrown into a sequel with little by way of foreshadowing: think Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban , Avengers: Endgame , and Men in Black III . (It also leaves off perhaps the Ur-time-travel movie, Primer , and the quite good Midnight in Paris because their directors don’t deserve the column inches.) We’re looking at self-contained stories using time mechanics from the start, with preference given to those that involve themselves more intently with the ins and outs of time travel; that ask questions about time, aging, memory and so forth; and that try to succeed at it in new and interesting ways. So let’s get to it.

25. Galaxy Quest (1999)

Does Galaxy Quest really count as a time-travel movie? Some compelling reasons argue that it doesn’t: Time travel isn’t a major factor in the plot, and the time traveling that does occur is, yes, only a 13-second jump. But its use of time travel is meaningful insofar as the movie itself is a loving spoof of Star Trek , which makes use of time travel in three films ( one of which made this list ), not to mention dozens of episodes across its various TV iterations. Tacking on time travel as a deus ex machina for the actors in a Star Trek– like show pressed into service as an actual space crew by an endangered alien race is the exact right amount of ribbing in a movie that’s as on point as it is hilarious.

Galaxy Quest is available to rent on Amazon .

24. Happy Death Day (2017)

Pick away at the surface of a time-loop movie and you find a horror movie. Most of the entries on this list are covered in enough feel-good spin to land as comedies, but Happy Death Day stares the horror of the time-loop phenomenon right in the face. (It’s also quite funny.) Reliving the same day over and over is an unimaginably potent form of psychological torture, and adding murder to the equation does little to dull that edge. The film follows a college-age protagonist struggling to escape from a masked slasher hell-bent on killing her again and again while she tries to solve the mystery of how she got stuck in a time loop.

Happy Death Day is available to rent on Amazon .

23. Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Seriously, this may be the only good movie in which the film’s whole focus is using a time machine to travel into the future. The fact that it’s a sequel is telling — the characters already traveled into the past in the first movie , and the filmmakers decided to save “traveling even further into the past“ for the third film in the trilogy. Still, Back to the Future Part II is a fun time that makes great use of sight gags and references, recasting scenes from the first film in the distant future year of 2015 with all its hoverboards and self-lacing Nikes.

Back to the Future Part II is available to rent on Amazon .

22. See You Yesterday (2019)

It’s a dirty little secret of time-travel movies that they tend to be, well, pretty white. Tenet ’s Protagonist aside, if Hollywood’s sending someone through time, they’re almost certainly not a Black person, and for obvious reasons: Most of post-contact North American history is deeply unfriendly to people of color, and the problems a person running around out of time and place is going to encounter are deeply compounded if they’ll likely be the target of racist abuse or violence — which makes See You Yesterday all the more compelling. Produced by Spike Lee and featuring one of filmdom’s most famous time travelers in a cameo role, it follows a Black teenage science prodigy who uses a time machine to try to save her brother from being killed by a police officer.

See You Yesterday is streaming on Netflix .

21. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

No offense to the Back to the Future franchise, but time travel never looks more fun on film than it does in the first Bill & Ted movie. It’s a concept that feels distinctly of a different era, so pure is its zaniness, that it’s hard to imagine anyone concocting it today. The titular duo, Californian high-school students in the ’80s, travel through the past looking for historical figures in order to ace a history project, then bring them all back to the present. High jinks ensue! We get Genghis Khan in a sporting-goods store and Mozart on an electric keyboard. What more could you want?

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is streaming on HBO Max .

20. Source Code (2011)

Time-travel-film aficionados know this won’t be Jake Gyllenhaal’s only stop on this list, but no matter. Source Code finds him repeating the same eight minutes over and over as he struggles to find the culprit in a train bombing — with each replay ending in his own death by explosion. For some reason, a romantic subplot is shoehorned into this, along with a bunch of frankly unnecessary technical mumbo-jumbo, but the core idea is a compelling mix of the time-loop movie and the train whodunit that Gyllenhaal is a perfect fit for.

Source Code is available to rent on Amazon .

19. 12 Monkeys (1995)

Some sort of law of nature dictates that every genuinely good idea and/or piece of true art has to at some point be turned into a Hollywood movie. Thank God La Jetée was adapted into something that can stand on its own feet artistically. 12 Monkeys may not retain its source material’s black-and-white look or stripped-down, static-image presentation, but it is a rollicking good time nonetheless. That’s in no small part due to director Terry Gilliam getting the best out of Bruce Willis and a young Brad Pitt, and recasting World War III as a planet-decimating virus. Which, like at least one other movie on this list , “speaks to the present moment,” or whatever.

12 Monkeys is available to rent on Amazon .

18. Run Lola Run (1998)

Unlike almost all of the other films on this list, the terms time travel and time machine don’t show up anywhere in Run Lola Run . Rather, it’s a sort of de facto time-loop scenario in which the protagonist tries repeatedly to pay a ransom to save her boyfriend’s life. In fact, if not for a few key details, it could easily be characterized (and often has been) as an alternate-endings movie rather than a time-travel film. But the fact that Lola seems to be learning from her past attempts with each successive one suggests that she is, indeed, using knowledge gained from previous loops to bring a satisfactory end to this situation.

Run Lola Run is available to rent on Amazon .

17. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

One of the most striking things about Groundhog Day is the mutability and replicability of its core conceit. Perhaps the best case in point is Edge of Tomorrow , sometimes known as Live. Die. Repeat. after its original tagline. It’s the kind of physically grueling movie only an actor as genuinely unhinged as Tom Cruise could pull off. A noncombatant thrust into a war against invading aliens, Cruise’s character finds himself reliving day one of combat over and over, slowly but surely refining his techniques in order to survive the extraterrestrial onslaught. Like the central twosome in the much less violent Palm Springs , he winds up with a partner in (war) crime, teaming up with the similarly time-trapped Emily Blunt, and the explanation for the replay glitch here is actually pretty satisfying.

Edge of Tomorrow is streaming on Fubo TV .

16. Star Trek (2009)

If you could create some sort of an advanced stat to measure controversy generated per unit of interesting filmmaking decisions, J.J. Abrams would have to be near the top in terms of his ability to rig up movie drama from almost nothing. This is a guy whose filmography is like Godzilla rip-off, Spielberg homage, safe reboot of cherished IP, repeat. Star Trek may be his best film, though, a sure-footed reinvention of a dorky sci-fi franchise that made it, well, cool. Somehow, the beauty of Spock and Kirk’s bromance being woven through chance encounters with future selves kind of … works?

Star Trek is available to rent on Amazon .

15. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

There’s a relative dearth of time travel in animated film, which perhaps is a function simply of the fact that it’s less impressive to stage in a world that’s already unreal. If you can Looney Tunes your way through physics, what’s so special about grabbing the flow of time and tying it into a bow? Still, the original Girl Who Leapt Through Time deserves mention here. It’s a beautiful story that interlaces the complexity of time leaping with the intensity of teenage emotion and the thorny process of growing up where the opportunity to redo things leads, over time, to growth — a less shitty Groundhog Day , in a way.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is available to rent on Amazon .

14. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

She may not be the most famous, decorated, or emulated actress of her generation, but Aubrey Plaza is someone whose personality spoke to the irony-soaked 2010s in a way that simply could not be denied. Her character on Parks and Recreation , April Ludgate, was, by all accounts, created specifically to channel Plaza’s real-life personality to the screen, and she plays essentially the same character in Safety Not Guaranteed . Here, she’s a sarcastic intern at a magazine working on a story about a would-be time traveler and using her feminine wiles to slowly gain his trust. The chemistry between Plaza and Mark Duplass is probably the film’s high point; the subplot about the FBI feels like it was clipped out of a bad X-Files episode.

Safety Not Guaranteed is streaming on Tubi .

13. La Jetée (1962)

At only a 28-minute run time, La Jetée is arguably too short to merit inclusion on this list. However, what it lacks in content (and in, well, moving images; it’s almost exclusively a collection of static black-and-white shots set to voice-over), it more than makes up for in inventiveness and influence, and it would be a travesty to leave it out in favor of more recent by-the-book fare. Tracing the tale of a man held prisoner in post-WWIII Paris being used in time-travel experiments as his captors seek to remedy the postapocalyptic state of the world, he’s sent into both the future and the past and ends up unraveling a lifelong personal mystery while he’s at it.

La Jetée is streaming on the Criterion Channel .

12. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Unlike the worse but more straightforwardly time-traveling Tim Burton remake, the relationship between the original Planet of the Apes and time travel is inexact — technically, the astronaut crew that lands on the titular planet does travel forward 2,000 years, but it’s not done via a time machine. The travel isn’t instantaneous: It literally does take them 2,000 years to get there; they’re just unconscious and on life support. Still, the way the film’s ending handles the iconic reveal is exactly in line with the best of the time-travel canon, the telescoping, mise en abyme feeling of the world shifting in front of your very eyes without your moving an inch.

Planet of the Apes is available to rent on Amazon .

11. Groundhog Day (1993)

The famous Bill Murray vehicle essentially invented the infinite-time-loop genre (and it’s hardly a movie that succeeds on the strength of its concept alone), but the idea at its core is so steeped in the casual misogyny of late-’80s and early-’90s cinema that it’s hard to watch today without cringing. Murray’s character employing what amounts to PUA-style techniques over and over and over in a desperate bid to fuck his hapless co-worker just doesn’t hit the way it did back then. If the story arc didn’t present a guy detoxifying himself of the worst aspects of masculinity in order to be worthy of a woman’s love as the primary way for a 20th-century white man to achieve full personhood, this would be much higher on the list.

Groundhog Day is streaming on Starz .

10. Predestination (2014)

This is probably the most complicated film on the list. Following a “temporal agent” (played by Ethan Hawke) who’s trying to prevent a bombing in 1970s New York, it’s based on a Robert A. Heinlein short story and features Shiv Roy herself, Sarah Snook, in a star-making turn as someone with a complicated backstory and a secret. Like the best sci-fi, the film’s premise raises all kinds of fascinating questions about the titular concept and throws in some interesting musings on sex, gender, and the self in the process.

Predestination is streaming on Tubi .

9. Looper (2012)

Wes Anderson gets a lot of flak for his overwrought twee visuals, but Rian Johnson has a knack for making movies that feel and function like dioramas even if they don’t look it. Narratively speaking, everything here is constructed just so — and there’s a certain beauty in that — but who ever had a profound experience of art by looking at a diorama? Looper was probably Johnson’s least precious pre– Star Wars film, which is nice because the temptation to drastically overmaneuver the mechanics of a time-travel story can lead to disaster. The tech used to Bruce Willis–ify Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face is distracting, and the third act’s retreat from the postapocalyptic city of the future to the postapocalyptic corn farm of the future is a brave choice that the film struggles to land. Still, Johnson’s vision of a future in which organized crime runs time travel is compelling and well worth a watch.

Looper is streaming on Netflix .

8. Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko is a bit of a genre mash-up. Part high-school movie, part sci-fi flick, part bleak meditation on the soullessness of late-’80s America, it’s nevertheless a weirdly successful piece of filmmaking that makes fantastic use of a young Jake Gyllenhaal, a great supporting cast (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, and Patrick Swayze among others), and an absolutely iconic haunting cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” Watching high schoolers navigate parallel universes, wormholes, and time travel is a dicey proposition, but director Richard Kelly makes it work, somehow.

Donnie Darko is streaming on HBO Max .

7. Back to the Future (1984)

While it’s clearly superior to the sequel (and leagues ahead of the final film in the trilogy), the original Back to the Future is a bit of a mess (John Mulaney was right , to be honest). Its racial and gender politics are cringey, and the incest subplot is weird (“It’s your cousin Marvin. Marvin Pornhub . You know that new plot element you’ve been looking for?”), but there’s a clear interest in time travel beyond its shimmering surface: the very real addressing of the “grandfather problem” in time travel via the slow disappearance of Marty from his family photo, the accidental invention of rock music, and a genuine curiosity about the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of time machines. Ahh, what the hell. It’s a romp.

Back to the Future is available to rent on Amazon .

6. Palm Springs (2020)

No offense to Gen-Xers and boomers, but the best time-loop movie of all time is Palm Springs . The film isn’t without its missteps, but it’s much more curious about life than Groundhog Day was through the eyes of Murray’s misanthrope. Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg‘s characters, stuck in the loop together, are a perfect comedic match, and their shared humanity makes for a beautiful arc. The film raises questions about what’s worth doing in life when nothing lasts and how to stay sane when every day is the same. Of course, as a sort of polar opposite of Tenet , it benefited from coming out during the pandemic by speaking, as it does, to the experience of lockdown.

Palm Springs is streaming on Hulu .

5. Tenet (2020)

Interstellar wasn’t enough for Chris Nolan, apparently. Tenet ’s legacy may end up being little more than that of the COVID action movie no one saw — a bloated thriller that Nolan fought to get into theaters and bar from home viewing reportedly to swell the size of his own pockets. It really did suffer from bad timing, though, because this is genuinely a quintessential big-screen popcorn movie whose absurdity is all the more palatable when it’s given the audiovisual bombast it deserves. Ambitious in scope as it traces a war on the past by the future (yes, you read that right), Tenet is as enamored of action tropes as it is in bucking them, and its investment in rendering visible the brain-bendingly knotty mechanics of moving through time is laudable, even when the movie itself remains opaque — as impenetrable as the future, as hazy as the past.

Tenet is streaming on HBO Max .

4. The Terminator (1984)

A partner to Blade Runner in the mid-’80s invention of sci-fi noir, The Terminator is a stunning film in many ways, despite the third act’s now-iffy visual effects. While it’s not James Cameron’s debut, and it would go on to be bested by its sequel , it functions as an incredible showcase for an emerging young director who would exclusively make big stories for the rest of his career. Arnold Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast as the relentless, unemotional killer cyborg sent back from the future to terminate the mother of the eventual resistance leader, and the film’s romantic subplot has just the perfect amount of time-travel-induced cheesiness for it to work.

The Terminator is streaming on Amazon Prime Video .

3. Interstellar (2014)

It’s not inaccurate to say Christopher Nolan is a director who’s more interested in scale and scope than in expressing the minutiae of the human experience in its purest form. But in Interstellar, a Nolan movie in its titular ambitions, there’s a core element of time travel wrought not as sci-fi fireworks but as a paean to the sheer force and will of the power of love. It both does and doesn’t work, depending on your capacity for cheese in space, but even besides that, Nolan’s use of time as story arc — the way Miller’s planet functions, in particular — is conceptually masterful in the best kind of time-travel-movie way.

Interstellar is streaming on Paramount+ .

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Whereas the franchise’s first movie spends more time on the question of time travel, in the second it takes a bit of a back seat to the action itself. It’s hard to fault director James Cameron for this decision; T2 remains one of the best action movies of the ’90s and — along with Jurassic Park and The Matrix — one of the decade’s best when for special effects. The groundbreaking T-1000 would honestly be enough to get this movie on the list; a tween John Connor grappling with questions of predestination and the fact that he is vicariously responsible for his own conception feel almost like icing on the time-travel cake. Much as in 12 Monkeys , time travel here is mistaken for delusion, as valiant Sarah Connor, in a Cassandra-esque nightmare, has to battle against the future only she knows is coming. Of course, Cassandra never had access to any firepower stored in underground desert arsenals.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is streaming on Netflix .

1. Arrival (2016)

It’s fair to wonder whether Arrival really is, in fact, a time-travel movie. The Ted Chiang short story it’s based on isn’t about time travel per se; rather, it’s an exploration of alternate forms of temporal understanding. The linguist protagonist, played by Amy Adams, doesn’t travel through time so much as come to experience it differently. Still, the plot ends up hinging on foreknowledge that she is granted not via visions but by actually experiencing her future simultaneously with her present and past. For our purposes, though, that’s time fuckery enough to merit inclusion, and boy howdy does the film deliver in overall quality. Partly, that’s simply a question of the source material. Chiang is arguably the most talented (and possibly the most decorated) American sci-fi writer of his generation. But the source story is not especially Hollywood friendly, and director Denis Villeneuve has adopted it lovingly, borrowing a plot device from another of Chiang’s stories, the more straightforwardly time-travel-based “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” in order to add some third-act blockbuster flavor. The result is a beautiful meditation on love, choice, and courage that packs art-film ethos into a genuine sci-fi blockbuster.

Arrival is streaming on Hulu and Paramount+ .

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Total Recall

15 must-see time travel movies, with mr. peabody & sherman hitting theaters, we run down some of the most memorable journeys across time and space..

best animated time travel movies

Back to the Future

Great Scott! On one hand, Back to the Future is quintessentially 1980s — you’ve got Huey Lewis on the soundtrack, Michael J. Fox in the lead, and a DeLorean for a time machine — but on the other, it’s a charmingly old-fashioned comedy that sends its hero back in time as much to save his own father from growing up to be a schmuck as it does to laugh along with the audience at the many ways in which American pop culture changed between 1955 and 1985. The sequels had their moments, but it’s the original that still really hits the spot; as Adam Smith wrote for Empire Magazine, “To put it bluntly: if you don’t like Back to the Future , it’s difficult to believe that you like films at all.”

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Two teenage idiots, George Carlin, and a magic phone booth. They don’t sound like the most likely ingredients for cinematic glory, but then there’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure , starring Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as our two non-intrepid heroes, a pair of high school buddies destined for greatness — but only if they can pass an upcoming history test. They get a little extra help courtesy of Rufus (Carlin), a citizen of the future utopian society inspired by the music Bill & Ted go on to record, who travels back in time to help them study by giving them some most excellent face time with historical figures like Napoleon, Socrates, Billy the Kid, and Abraham Lincoln. Not the most serious fare ever spun from the time-travel premise, but it works; as Larry Carroll wrote for Counting Down, “This is the rare kind of movie that you could watch along with your kids and actually feel like you’re teaching them something.”

Donnie Darko

Time travel, a falling jet engine, and a dude in a bunny suit: From these disparate ingredients, writer-director Richard Kelly wove the tale of Donnie Darko , a suburban teenager (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) charged with repairing a rift in the fabric of our dimension. Or something. To call Darko “open to interpretation” would be understating the case a bit — it’s been alternately confounding and delighting audiences since it was released in 2001 — but its dense, ambiguous plot found stronger purchase with critics, who cared less about what it all meant than about simply having the chance to see an American movie that took some substantial risks. Though a few reviewers were confused and/or unimpressed (Staci Lynne Wilson of Fantastica Daily called it “derivative,” and Joe Leydon dismissed it as “a discombobulating muddle” in his write-up for the San Francisco Examiner), overall critical opinion proved a harbinger of the cult status the film would eventually enjoy on the home video market; as Thomas Delapa wrote for the Boulder Weekly, “If the sum total of Donnie Darko is hard to figure, there’s no questioning that its separate scenes add up to breathtaking filmmaking.” Despite a paltry $4.1 million gross during its original limited run, Darko returned to theaters in 2004 with a director’s cut — one whose 91 percent Tomatometer actually improved upon the original’s.

Groundhog Day

Under the right circumstances, time travel sounds like quite a bit of fun. Finding yourself trapped in a time loop in Punxsutawney, PA, on the other hand, is a living nightmare — at least for Phil Connors (Bill Murray), the obnoxious newscaster at the heart of director Harold Ramis’ classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day . But for the audience, Connors’ torment is an invitation to cinematic bliss — first courtesy of Murray’s perfectly deadpan depiction of the callous Connors, then through his progressively more unhinged reaction to the discovery that he’s doomed to repeat the same 24 hours of his life seemingly forever, and then finally in his expected (but no less sweet) moments of self-discovery in the final act. “ Groundhog Day may not be the funniest collaboration between Bill Murray and director Harold Ramis,” admitted the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan. “Yet this gentle, small-scale effort is easily the most endearing film of both men’s careers, a sweet and amusing surprise package.”

Hot Tub Time Machine

The 1980s got kind of a bum rap at the time, but that hasn’t stopped those of us who grew up during the decade from giving in to nostalgia during the 21st century, or from fetishizing the era’s best films — which is why it was such a winkingly self-referential treat to see 1980s hero John Cusack lead an ensemble cast through Hot Tub Time Machine , director Steve Pink’s ribald comedy about a group of schlubby friends given a surprise chance (via magic hot tub, natch) to revisit the best years of their lives. It’s an unabashedly goofy premise, but screenwriter Josh Heald manages to leave the whimsy with a few dashes of surprising poignancy; as Laremy Legel wrote for, “Well played, Hot Tub Time Machine , well played. You defied expectations, in a good way, and managed to evolve from ‘potentially silly concept’ to ‘fairly funny film.'”

Plenty of people would love to take the opportunity to travel back in time and see our younger selves, but Rian Johnson’s Looper takes this premise and adds a nasty twist. When a hit man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) realizes his latest quarry is his older self (Bruce Willis) — an event known among his peers as “closing the loop” — he muffs the job, allowing him(self) to escape and setting in motion a high-stakes pursuit that puts a widening circle of people in danger. Tense, funny, and surprisingly heartfelt, Looper may suffer from some of the same scientific story flaws as other time travel movies, but it also manages to turn its by-now-familiar basic ingredients into an uncommonly affecting and thought-provoking sci-fi drama. “ Looper imagines a world just near enough to look familiar,” mused Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, “and just futuristic enough to be chillingly askew.”

Like any genre, science fiction has its share of clichés — and anything relating to time travel probably belongs on that list. But few films have ever dealt with time travel — or the many personal and ethical questions that could arise from ownership of the technology — with the level of intelligence that Shane Carruth’s ultra low-budget Primer brought to the table. The story of two garage scientists who accidentally build a time machine, Primer eschews whiz-bang special effects for a nuts-and-bolts look at the science behind the device, and a cold, hard look at how quickly and easily a friendship can be torn asunder by unchecked power and bottomless greed. It certainly isn’t for everyone — the reams of technical dialogue prompted critics such as the BBC’s Matthew Leyland to dismiss it as “one of the most willfully obscure sci-fi movies ever made” — but if you can absorb the material, it’s uncommonly gripping. Time Out’s Jessica Winter was appreciative, saying “this film imagines its viewers to be smart, possessed of a decent attention span and game for a challenge. It doesn’t happen all that often.”

Somewhere in Time

Time travel has been used as a plot device to set up all kinds of stories, but rarely has it been employed with the sort of three-handkerchief weepie abandon brought to bear on 1980’s Somewhere in Time . Starring Christopher Reeve as a starry-eyed playwright accosted by a mysterious older woman who pleads with him to “come back to me” before pressing a locket into his hand and disappearing, Time slowly morphs into a fantastical tale about coming unmoored in time via self-hypnosis in order to be with the one you love — even if that love is inspired by a portrait of someone you don’t remember ever knowing. A divisive cult classic, Time has always been dismissed by less patient or romantically inclined viewers, but for others, it’s well worth watching. “Above all,” argued Apollo Guide’s Ryan Cracknell, “this film captures a romantic part of the imagination that is often left unexplored.”

Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home

Having explored the outer limits of space, Star Trek spent much of its fourth cinematic installment in decidedly more familiar environs — namely, the America (specifically the San Francisco bay area) of 1986, thanks to a storyline, conceived by returning director Nimoy, that had the crew of the Enterprise traveling 600 years back in time to retrieve a humpback whale in order to… Well, it isn’t important, really; what mattered — at least to the folks who helped Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home to a $133 million worldwide gross — was that it lived up to Nimoy’s goal of showing audiences “a great time” with a feature that played up the lighter side of a franchise whose humor was often overshadowed by its big ideas. Weathering a number of pre-production storms — including William Shatner’s refusal to come back without a raise and the chance to direct the next sequel — Voyage triumphantly emerged as what Roger Ebert referred to as “easily the most absurd of the Star Trek stories — and yet, oddly enough… also the best, the funniest and the most enjoyable in simple human terms.”

The Terminator

It was made with a fraction of the mega-budget gloss that enveloped its sequels, but for many, 1984’s The Terminator remains the pinnacle of the franchise — not to mention one of the most purely enjoyable movies of the last 30 years. Subsequent entries would get a little hard to follow, but the original’s premise was simple enough: A scary-looking cyborg (Schwarzenegger) travels back in time to kill a woman (Linda Hamilton) before she can give birth to the child who will grow up to lead the human resistance against an evil network of sentient machines. Tech noir at its most accessible, Terminator earned universal praise from critics such as Sean Axmaker of Turner Classic Movies, who wrote, “Gritty, clever, breathlessly paced, and dynamic despite the dark shadow of doom cast over the story, this sci-fi thriller remains one of the defining American films of the 1980s.”

Time After Time

What if H.G. Wells really built a time machine — and what if Jack the Ripper used it to flee into the future? That’s the intriguing premise behind Nicholas Meyer’s Time After Time , starring Malcolm McDowell as Wells and David Warner as the killer. After Jack travels to 1979, Wells pursues him, setting in motion a cat-and-mouse thriller, culture-clash comedy, and love story all in one, with a dash of sharp social commentary thrown in for good measure. “ Time After Time is still a fun fish-out-of-water flick that deserves more attention than it has received in the thirty years following its release,” wrote Simon Miraudo for Quickflix. “But there’s still plenty of time for that.”

Time Bandits

Terry Gilliam and time travel: A match made in cinematic heaven. Years before he proved it for a second time with the much darker 12 Monkeys , Gilliam directed a far sillier — and visually dazzling — venture into the genre with 1981’s Time Bandits , uniting a stellar cast (including Shelley Duvall, John Cleese, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, and Sean Connery) in service of a deceptively thought-provoking caper about an 11-year-old history buff (Craig Warnock) on a journey through time with a group of dwarves. A solid critical and commercial hit, Bandits proved a favorite for writers like Roger Ebert, who pronounced it “amazingly well-produced” and applauded, “The historic locations are jammed with character and detail. This is the only live-action movie I’ve seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine.”

In a career dotted with cult classics, 1994’s Timecop manages to stand out as one of the cultiest. And okay, so it’s hard to call a movie that raked in more than $100 million worldwide a “cult” picture — but if you’ve seen the way Timecop takes a cool premise (time travel, natch) and renders it both impenetrably complicated and irrelevant to the action, you know it’s essentially the very definition of the term. (Also, it stars Ron Silver.) The plot is full of holes, but as the filmmakers knew, once you accept the notion of Jean-Claude Van Damme as an officer of the Time Enforcement Commission, you can buy into pretty much anything, and by the time you get to Timecop ‘s final act — in which past and future versions of Van Damme battle past and future versions of Silver — you’ve reached that wonderful place where the laws of logic no longer exist. The highest-grossing movie of Van Damme’s career, Timecop spun off a sequel, a short-lived television show, and even a series of books. Not bad for a movie that Roger Ebert described as “the kind of movie that is best not thought about at all, for that way madness lies.”

The Time Machine

This isn’t the only time Hollywood’s tried adapting H.G. Wells’ classic story, but it’s definitely the best. Starring Rod Taylor as the Victorian time-traveling scientist George and featuring Oscar-winning special effects from Gene Warren and Tim Baar, director George Pal’s version of The Time Machine might seem somewhat quaint by today’s standards; still, whatever it lacks in modern-day visual pizzazz, it more than makes up in the stuff that matters — right down to Wells’ vision of a distant post-human future populated by docile creatures and the monstrous Morlocks who use them for food. It’s “Somewhat dated, and not quite up to the source material,” admitted Luke Y. Thompson of New Times, “but still some good retro fun.”

Any time director Terry Gilliam manages to wrangle one of his films through the studio system, it’s a cause for celebration — and that goes double for a picture like 12 Monkeys , which almost seamlessly weds Gilliam’s signature flights of fancy with good old-fashioned commercialism to produce a knotty time travel story starring a pair of matinee idols (Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt) in an apocalyptic thriller that never stops asking questions — or forcing the audience to answer their own as they hustle to keep up with the unfolding drama. “There’s always overripe method to his madness,” observed Janet Maslin for the New York Times, “but in the new 12 Monkeys Mr. Gilliam’s methods are uncommonly wrenching and strong.”

Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives . And don’t forget to check out Mr. Peabody & Sherman .

Finally, here’s what happened when Peabody and Sherman met Ludwig Van Beethoven:

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The 23 best time travel movies of all time

From Back to the Future to Looper to Palm Springs, the time travel narrative traverses the film spectrum. Here are EW’s picks for 23 of the best. 

Despite time travel being considered more of a science fiction trope, there is something positively enchanting about the idea of being able to go back to another time or forward into the future, even if just for a moment. While this list deals with a mix of films, some of which consider the hazards of time travel (mostly through time loops), for the most part, these films see time travel as a net positive. Time travel is also a sphere that is mostly occupied by television, thanks to shows like Doctor Who , Quantum Leap , and Lost , even though the number of time travel movies has shot up over the past two decades or so.

Unfortunately, the earliest this list goes is 1962; while there are some time travel movies from the Old Hollywood days, they lack a lot of the imagination and thoughtfulness about the nature of time that the movies on this list bring. This list is a mix of straight dramas, killer action, rollicking comedies, and heartfelt romance — and sometimes, all of those elements exist in a single movie. This list is unranked, and mostly grouped together according to each movie's particular "genre" of time travel: conventional time machines, time loops, magical circumstances, and missions to save the past and the future at the same time. These are 23 of the best time travel movies of all time.

La Jetée (1962)

Kicking off an unranked list of time-travel movies chronologically seems like a good place to start, actually. La Jetée is also probably the most experimental of the films on this list. A French Left Bank short film set in a post-nuclear apocalypse future told through narration and photographs, this is not the first time-travel film by any means, but its impact on the time-travel movies that came after, like 1995's 12 Monkeys , cannot be understated.

A young prisoner (Davos Hanich) is forced to undergo torturous experiments to induce time travel by using impactful memories — and unlike those who came before him, he succeeds, but he ends up discovering a time loop in the process. This is an incredibly stylish telling of what is now a familiar type of story, but in 1962, it was absolutely revolutionary. Honestly, because of its unique technical and visual elements, it still is.

Watch La Jetée on Criterion Channel

Time After Time (1979)

Nicholas Meyer is behind not one, but two brilliant time-travel movies that made this list. For this particular film, he not only wrote the screenplay but also made his directorial debut. The tale of two 19th-century former friends, H.G. Wells ( Malcolm McDowell , unusually wide-eyed and adorable) and John Leslie Stevenson a.k.a. Jack the Ripper ( David Warner , never more menacing yet charming), as they chase each other through 1979 San Francisco thanks to Wells' time machine, Time After Time doesn't spend too much time on the science of time travel, and it's better for it.

This is, in essence, a romantic thriller, as Wells falls for quirky bank clerk Amy ( Mary Steenburgen , delightfully independent) while in search of his old friend turned enemy. It has chase scenes, interrogation sequences, gory murder (courtesy of Jack), and a delightful sense of humor as Wells learns to navigate the future. He thought it would be a utopia; instead, he finds a world in sore need of his idealism, kindness, and dedication to justice.

Where to rent or buy Time After Time

The Back to the Future trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990)

While it's true that the first Back to the Future movie is probably one of the greatest time-travel movies of all time, with its two sequels living in its shadows, all three are essential to understanding the character of Marty McFly ( Michael J. Fox ). The Back to the Future trilogy is an '80s version of a bildungsroman about a teenager who has to learn that there's much more to life than being, well, a teenager. The first film, confidently directed by Robert Zemeckis , is imbued with so much humor and heart, it's all too easy to get sucked into a plot that should be convoluted, but that works so awfully well.

Back to the Future Part II evokes a bit less feeling than the original, and it's significantly grittier, but it's still " another fantastic voyage " as EW's Ira Robbins wrote, flinging Marty and Doc Brown ( Christopher Lloyd ) into a slightly prescient future version of 2015. Back to the Future Part III , meanwhile, restores the heart, but its story is slighter as it wraps up Marty's saga, sending Doc off on a brand new adventure all his own. While the first Back to the Future movie is required viewing for any time travel enthusiast, stick around for the rest of the trilogy, too: Even if this franchise's view of time travel is riddled with potential paradoxes, they are entertaining paradoxes nonetheless.

Watch the Back to the Future trilogy on Tubi

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

"Be excellent to each other" is the reigning philosophy of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure , the adventurous, fun-loving, stoner time-travel comedy that spawned a franchise, including a third installment released in 2020. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves absolutely triumph in the roles of lackadaisical teenagers Bill and Ted, respectively, as they journey through time to bring back legends in order to pass their history class.

If the film seems silly, that's because it is meant to be. Whereas the Back to the Future franchise intended to craft a legend, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure kicks off the journey with George Carlin as the duo's time travel guide and mentor, Rufus, who intends to enlighten the pair on their mission and destiny. In any other film, the two budding legends, with their free-wheeling ideals and misadventures, would bring down the fabric of time and space itself. However, Excellent Adventure is not a time-travel film that forces you to think too hard about its premise; instead, it invites you to just kick back and have a good time.

Watch Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Amazon Prime Video

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Meet the Robinsons received mixed reviews when it first debuted, but of the 3-D animated movies that came out of Disney Animation in the 2000s, it's probably the most imaginative and outstanding of the bunch. Following a young orphan as he goes on a fantastic voyage into the future with another young boy who is a time traveler (kind of), Robinsons is stylish to a point and is filled with heart. It's probably also the most kid-friendly entry on this list, but its good-natured humor and complicated emotional palette will appeal to adults, too.

It also fits neatly into a more classic genre of time travel, with time machines, eccentric inventors, and kids looking to make an impact — not just on their time, but on the time they find themselves in, be it the near future or the distant past.

Watch Meet the Robinsons on Disney+

Run Lola Run (1998)

This is, in many ways, the time loop movie; debuting in 1998 to rave reviews, Run Lola Run , a German experimental thriller, is one you will not be able to shake, long after you've finished a viewing (or even a second, to catch what you missed the first time). The protagonist, Lola (Franka Potente, in a punishingly physical performance), is forced to relive a scenario, again and again, involving saving her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) from certain death.

Potente's performance alone is worth the watch, and of the films on this list, Run Lola Run is actually one of the shorter ones, using its 80-minute runtime to its full advantage. The other time loop movies on this list are also worthy viewing experiences in a lot of ways, but for a pure shot of adrenaline, you can't miss the film EW deemed "a masterful pop piece, humming with raw romance, youth, and energy." If you're interested in more of director Tom Tykwer 's work, he also codirected 2012's Cloud Atlas with the Wachowskis , which, while not a pure time-travel movie, certainly plays with the intertwined nature of time and memory.

Where to rent or buy Run Lola Run

Source Code (2011)

Duncan Jones made a splash with his 2009 feature directorial debut Moon , a moody, philosophical insight into possible lunar labor practices in the future. He followed that thoughtful film up with Source Code , which, while not a movie that could always be described as "thoughtful," could certainly be described as moody. Hitchcockian in a sense, Source Code follows the misadventures of a U.S. Army pilot ( Jake Gyllenhaal ), as he attempts to stop a terrorist attack on a Chicago commuter train — repeatedly.

Source Code does have something to say about the commodification of bodies and minds in the service of the so-called "greater good"; while Gyllenhaal's Captain Stevens' services are no doubt helpful, are they necessary, the film asks. Is it really a good idea to force someone to relive an incredibly stressful idea, over and over again? The movie has its funny moments, even in the thick of all the intense chase scenes through the train; EW noted back in 2012, "The director finds moments of humor in unlikely corners of that train of fools." Indeed. If you enjoyed a film like The Commuter (2018), but thought it could use a time loop and the potential of alternate realities, Source Code is your next mandatory viewing.

Watch Source Code on Showtime

Looper (2012)

Before Rian Johnson introduced us to Benoit Blanc or journeyed to a galaxy far, far, away , he made the tangled time-travel film fittingly called Looper . Starring Bruce Willis , Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt , Looper tells the tale of a contract killer sent after his next target: himself. This is a complicated film, and it is imperfect in a lot of ways, but its brutal appraisal of a possible dystopian future, and the efforts one man takes to prevent that future, are worth the amount of head-scratching you might find yourself doing throughout.

That Johnson likes his narratives to be impenetrable Gordian knots that only his designated protagonist can solve can perhaps be frustrating to the audience. However, if there's one thing that the Knives Out franchise seems to have reinforced, it's that not trying to unpack the mysteries of his work might work to your advantage as a viewer, because Johnson will probably have someone explain what just happened by the end, anyway. Like most of his films, Looper has a social conscience lurking within it as well. As EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum noted , "It's time to wipe the drops from our eyes or else get stuck in a loop, an endless cycle, a rut" about Looper 's core tenet back in 2012. It's a worthy takeaway from a film obsessed with self-fulfilling prophecies people find themselves within.

Watch Looper on Freevee

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Time loop movies need some incredible editing in order to really succeed, and Doug Liman 's enthralling Edge of Tomorrow certainly does so on that point. While Tom Cruise is the lead as a cowardly lion–turned–near-super soldier, all eyes are on Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski, who rules this movie as one of the few heroes this dystopian, post-alien invasion world actually has left. While the quest Cruise and Blunt go on may be a bit convoluted, the film is so incredibly entertaining because it's so sharply cut, keeping up the pace even as we see similar things over and over and over again.

A tip of the hat must, of course, go to the action, which is as compelling as you would expect from a mega-star who seems determined these days to do all of his own stunts. In an era of often depressing science fiction, Edge of Tomorrow , as EW's Chris Nashawaty mentioned , is a fun, "deliciously subversive kind of blockbuster" to immerse your senses in for two hours, if nothing else.

Watch Edge of Tomorrow on Max

Interstellar (2014)

While this film might technically be considered more of a space opera than a time-travel movie, there's no reason it can't be both. Christopher Nolan 's Interstellar is a dazzling portrait not just of space travel, but of the love between a father and daughter that stretches over the thin fabric of both time and space. Matthew McConaughey as the astronaut father has never been so serious, but acclaim needs to go to Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway as Nolan's strongest women characters to date.

Interstellar varies between being almost too tense to stand, and, at other points, utterly relaxed. As a cinematic experience, it feels all-encompassing, using every possible outstanding special effect to draw its viewers in before the script hits them with emotional truth. While Nolan can certainly be considered " cold and clinical " as EW noted, his space-journeying meditation on the intersection between love and time is anything but.

Watch Interstellar on Paramount+

Palm Springs (2020)

Releasing a time loop movie during a global pandemic where life felt increasingly repetitive and bizarre was certainly a strategy for Hulu and Neon with Palm Springs , but it paid off. While the film was certainly developed long before COVID-19, the scenario of two wedding guests trying to escape the situational loop they've found themselves definitely resonated at the time, and it still does. Palm Springs may seem serious from the above description, but it is actually a fun sci-fi-tinged tale that is largely driven by the comedic skills of leads Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti .

EW noted that the movie avoids " true discomfort comedy ," and honestly, it's all the better for it. If Palm Springs had been angrier, it wouldn't hit home so hard, and it also wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. Instead, it's an often sweet rom-com that doesn't take itself or its completely made-up time loop physics too seriously. It was a Sundance darling for a reason, never quite letting up on the wild ride it takes its characters or its viewers on over the course of its 90 minutes.

Watch Palm Springs on Hulu

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time might employ one of the strangest methods of time travel of all the movies on this list: time travel by hypnosis, of all things. (And self-induced hypnosis, for that matter.) Time travel on such shaky ground can't possibly hold up, and it somewhat doesn't, in the end. Science fiction great Richard Matheson adapted his own novel into a lackadaisical screenplay for this film, starring Christopher Reeve in a perfectly tragic role as the young man who gives his all for a woman (Jane Seymour) he can never really have.

In many ways, Somewhere in Time feels like a curio of the era from which it came, serving as a time capsule of how stories were told in the late-'70s and early-'80s. That is actually not a mark against it; this is a film that is just a peak tragic romance in a lot of ways; special nods must also go to Christopher Plummer as the young woman's cynical mentor, who seems to possess a certain foresight about the impossibility of Reeve's character. If you want a time-travel movie that is beautifully romantic, from its iconic score to its grand cinematography, you shouldn't stray from Somewhere in Time .

Watch Somewhere in Time on Tubi

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

The tale of a grown, about-to-be-divorced woman forced to relive her high school days and her courtship with a dorky-cool musician, Peggy Sue Got Married might be one of Francis Ford Coppola 's most small-scale movies, but it decidedly has the most soul of his catalog of mostly epics. Peggy Sue ( Kathleen Turner , in an Oscar-nominated performance) just wants to leave Charlie (Nicolas Cage) behind, but her time-traveling coma dream conspires against her to force her to reconsider. (It forces Charlie to become a better person, too.)

The film combines the cynicism of a rightfully embittered '80s housewife with the unbridled idealism of a '60s teenager to make one heck of a sincere cinematic concoction. That the film starts at a high school reunion could mean it becomes awkward very quickly, but instead, it's completely joyful. Whether Peggy Sue Got Married started a tradition of "person has some sort of crisis and subsequently ends up in another time" movies is unclear, but it does have a rather clear descendant in one of our next entries.

Where to rent or buy Peggy Sue Got Married

Kate & Leopold (2001)

Doesn't everyone want a young Hugh Jackman from the 19th century to fall out of the sky and into their lives? Leopold (Jackman) is a foppish and geeky, if not perfect, gentleman who quickly has Kate ( Meg Ryan ) falling for him despite her modern understanding of the world. That so many time-travel movies somehow end up in romantic territory is an interesting phenomenon, but one that does make sense. There is something appealing about falling for someone whose time is not your own.

Kate & Leopold is decidedly not a perfect film, although it is the first of director James Mangold 's and Jackman's collaborations (see 2017's Logan for the much grittier future fruits of their labor). It's fluffy, it's light, and it creates a paradox without even really acknowledging it. Someone looked at the Meg Ryan comedies of the '80s and '90s and asked, "But what if we made them science fiction?" It works in spite of itself, with Jackman's physical comedy as he plays " a doll of a boyfriend " and Ryan's sardonic tone carrying the day.

Watch Kate & Leopold on Paramount+

13 Going on 30 (2004)

When a 13-year-old girl is crushed after being tricked at her own birthday party, she makes a wish to be "30, flirty, and thriving," quickly waking up the next day to find herself just that, in the body of Jennifer Garner . Instead of traveling back to the past à la the protagonist of Peggy Sue Got Married , Jenna (Garner, Christa B. Allen) ends up in a potential future, where she is all the things she wished for, but definitely not as happy as she thought she would be.

The 2004 rom-com is a magical time travel tale — there's literally "magic wishing dust" — but that doesn't take away from the hilarity that comes with a 13-year-old trying to navigate an adult woman's life. Of course, in the end, Jenna learns her lesson — it's okay to just be young, for a little bit longer — but the journey she goes on as she discovers not just herself but also her true love ( Mark Ruffalo ) is worth all the silliness in the end.

Watch 13 Going on 30 on Max

Mirai (2018)

This lovely little gem directed by Japanese animation visionary Mamoru Hosoda tells the story of a little boy who unhappily gets a baby sister and ends up learning a lot of lessons about the past and the future. Kun (Moka Kamishiraishi) gets a chance to meet not only the grown, future version of his sister Mirai (Haru Kuroki) but also members of his family at different points in their lives. Mirai is a delightfully imaginative film with some gorgeous animation that contains some " mind-boggling visuals " as EW's Christian Holub pointed out.

It is also a genuinely heartwarming tearjerker; while all ends well for little Kun, the meditations this film offers on the nature of family bonds over the course of multiple generations might just leave you in a state of reflection on your own ties that bind. While many time-travel movies tell their stories from the perspective of youth, few unveil them through the eyes of a rambunctious preschooler, and gaining that perspective, in this case, allows for a truly precious journey.

Where to rent or buy Mirai

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

If you know anything about Star Trek , you know the fourth film is "the one with the whales," but if you don't know anything about the franchise, you probably also know that this one is "the one with the whales." Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home often gets acclaim as the funny Star Trek movie, but it brings a lot more than just comedy. The original crew of the Enterprise fling themselves back in time to save humpback whales in the past in order to save the future from a strange probe that threatens Earth...and will stop, but only if it hears some natural whalesong.

The crew finds themselves in 1986 San Francisco, so it's great that Time After Time's Nicholas Meyer returned to the franchise not as director (he helmed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ), but as a screenwriter. Watching these characters from a literal utopia navigate a world not designed for them creates not only dynamic humor but great tension as well. As they almost always do, the Enterprise team breaks all the rules in order to save the future as well as the whales. Or, as EW noted in a tribute to the film: "It has heart, and passion — Save the Whales! — and a tremendous sense of fun."

Watch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home on Max

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Star Trek: First Contact doesn't particularly feel as much like a Star Trek movie as Voyage Home does, and EW, in fact, says it harnessed "a sleek, confident style fully independent of its predecessors." As a Trekkie, this may not be the most complimentary way of looking at it, but as a film fan, however, it might be the highest honor someone could bestow upon a movie within this franchise. Captain Jean-Luc Picard ( Patrick Stewart ) turns from a peace-loving diplomat to a Borg-slaying action star while the rest of his crew tries to get the inventor of the Warp Drive (the technology upon which the future relies) to stop drinking so much and actually invent the thing. James Cromwell, as the inventor, Zefram Cochrane, serves as the comedic relief for a remarkably serious and often scary film.

The Borg, '90s Star Trek 's biggest villain, are the main antagonists here, and they do provide some chilling action, even if the introduction that they can easily time travel would really wreck things for some future Trek series. Stewart manages the transition from his mild-mannered diplomat to traumatized warrior well, turning in one of his most ferocious performances. Star Trek: First Contact also gives us a look at a post-apocalyptic world in the midst of a recovery, and in that respect, it makes it both a thoughtful entry in the Trek canon and a time travel action-thriller with a brain.

Watch Star Trek: First Contact on Max

The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

What would a best time-travel films list be without including at least one of the Terminator movies? While an often brutal franchise with diminishing returns after James Cameron 's first two installments, the misadventures of an evil cyborg-turned-good (played to physical perfection by Arnold Schwarzenegger ) in a consistently dangerous world are always thrilling and entertaining.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, mother of the future's savior (and much, much more), is also due an acknowledgment; while the films are remembered for Schwarzenegger's portrayal of the T-800, Hamilton is the heart of this franchise a great deal of the time, as she refuses to die or let her son face the same fate, either. The first two Terminator films are so much more than "scary robots take over the world, everybody dies" – they're action-packed, bloody thrillers with startling narratives, pioneering visual effects, and, of course, time travel as the catalyst.

Watch The Terminator on Max

Where to rent or buy Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

"Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke...I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED": This is part of the joke classified ad from which this movie was inspired. You might inspire a more risky movie from the tone of the ad, but what you get is a light comedy that served as the first leading film role for Aubrey Plaza . This Colin Trevorrow -directed film isn't so much about time travel as it is about the cultural assumptions that surround the concept, and those who think it might be possible.

In that sense, it's a meta-narrative on nearly every time travel story which has come before it, and quite possibly, that will come after it. EW called it " a fable of 'redemption' "; redemption, and the acts of salvaging something, anything, for the benefit of the future, is a regular time travel theme, from all those time machines to all those time loops. Safety Not Guaranteed manages to explore these themes with a lot of irony and a splash of heart.

Where to rent or buy Safety Not Guaranteed

Related content:

  • The Terminator movies, ranked
  • Back to the Future cast: Where are they now?
  • Let's talk about the plot of Interstellar

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The 25 Best Time Travel Movies of All Time, Ranked

best animated time travel movies

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Time travel movies have been done to death, and many time travel movies suck because they rehash the same old predictable tropes and cliches. But there's still a lot of potential left to be mined in the genre!

Despite the vast number of lackluster time travel movies, there have also been many notable films that came out in the past few decades—and that's on top of the sci-fi classics that still hold up.

At the end of the day, all movies are meant to deliver an entertaining experience for the viewer. With that in mind, here are what I consider to be the best time travel movies of all time.

Warning: I hate spoilers as much as anyone, so I've taken care to exclude spoilers from all movie descriptions in this article. However, knowing that a movie involves time travel could itself be a spoiler! Read on at your own risk.

25. Project Almanac (2015)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Dean Israelite

Starring Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Virginia Gardner

Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 46m)

6.3 on IMDb — 38% on RT

Project Almanac is an underrated time travel movie that probably flew under your radar. Don't let the fact that it seems like a teen drama deter you from checking it out.

A group of high schoolers find something strange in an old home video, which spurs them to investigate—and uncover secrets plans for a time machine. They build it, of course, and that's when the trouble starts.

best animated time travel movies

24. ARQ (2016)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Tony Elliott

Starring Robbie Amell, Rachael Taylor, Shaun Benson

Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 28m)

6.3 on IMDb — 43% on RT

A strange energy-providing device causes a couple to be stuck in a time loop while being forced to defend the device against a group intent on stealing it. The setup is strange, the ending is stranger.

This low-budget film is really nothing more than a popcorn flick, but it's a fun ride as long as you don't think too deeply about it. Compared to other thought experiment-type time travel movies, this one's pretty good.

23. Click (2006)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Frank Coraci

Starring Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy (1h 47m)

6.4 on IMDb — 34% on RT

Using a magical universal remote, a workaholic finds himself able to skip ahead or rewind back to various points in his life. During those skipped times, his body continues to live on autopilot.

Don't be turned away by the fact that this is an Adam Sandler movie. In one of his best performances ever, Sandler effectively carries this funny-but-heart-wrenching story on his back.

best animated time travel movies

22. Time Lapse (2014)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Bradley King

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt O'Leary, George Finn

Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 44m)

6.5 on IMDb — 74% on RT

When three friends discover a machine that can take photos 24 hours in the future, things take a dark turn as each photo reveals more than they could've anticipated.

Smart writing makes up for the mediocre performances in Time Lapse . If you go into this indie film without much in the way of expectations, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

best animated time travel movies

21. The Endless (2017)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Starring Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez

Drama, Fantasy, Horror (1h 51m)

6.5 on IMDb — 92% on RT

Sci-fi horror done well tends to be pretty rare, but The Endless is a shining example of when it goes right.

The film centers on two brothers who used to belong to an alleged UFO death cult when they were young. Years later, after they'd escaped, they both have different memories of what the cult was like—so they agree to return for one day to set the record straight.

What they find is that the supposed UFO death cult is nothing like how either of them imagined, and they end up embroiled in all kinds of mysterious happenings, including a time loop.

20. The Adam Project (2022)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo

Action, Adventure, Comedy (1h 46m)

6.7 on IMDb — 67% on RT

The Adam Project stars Ryan Reynolds as Adam Reed, a man from the future who goes back in time to save his wife. He's injured and takes refuge in his childhood home, but is accidentally discovered by his younger self. They work together to complete Adam's mission of saving his wife.

It's a simple story with Ryan Reynolds basically playing Ryan Reynolds—which is great, if you're into that—but what sets The Adam Project apart is the deeply moving emotional threads that undergird the characters and weave together into a surprisingly cathartic climax.

best animated time travel movies

19. Primer (2004)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Shane Carruth

Starring Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden

Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 17m)

6.8 on IMDb — 73% on RT

Four entrepreneurs accidentally invent a time travel machine, which ends up ruining their lives when they decide to give it a spin. Primer is the quintessential time travel film and a must-see movie for time travel fans who love poring over the tiniest details.

It's short (only 77-minute runtime) but insanely dense—the kind of movie you have to watch multiple times to really understand what actually happened, and even then you may not fully get it.

best animated time travel movies

18. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson

Adventure, Comedy, Drama (1h 26m)

6.9 on IMDb — 91% on RT

Safety Not Guaranteed is a comedy romance film centering on three magazine staffers who go out to interview a strange man who's looking for a partner for his upcoming time travel mission. They think it's all a joke, but the truth slowly shows itself to be something more.

While the actual act of time traveling doesn't play a huge role, Safety Not Guaranteed is a must-watch for anyone who's looking for a heartfelt drama that's well-written and infused with depth by a solid cast.

17. Triangle (2009)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Christopher Smith

Starring Melissa George, Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor

Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 39m)

6.9 on IMDb — 80% on RT

In the wake of a yachting accident, a group of friends are rescued by what appears to be a mysteriously empty cruise ship. As they further explore the ship's interior, they encounter horrors unknown.

Again, well-done science fiction horror films are hard to come by, and Triangle stands out for its premise and execution, particularly in how time travel is revealed and incorporated. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's certainly interesting and memorable.

16. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Starring Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston

7.1 on IMDb — 39% on RT

In The Time Traveler's Wife , Henry is a man who has a genetic anomaly that causes him to time travel. The thing is, he can't control when or where he travels to, and thus struggles to keep his marriage alive.

Based on the novel by the same name, The Time Traveler's Wife may not be able to capture the full magic that made the book so great—there's just too much content to fit into one movie—but it's still a stirring romantic drama with several twists and moving moments.

15. Timecrimes (2007)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Nacho Vigalondo

Starring Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga

Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 32m)

7.1 on IMDb — 90% on RT

In the Spanish-language Timecrimes , an average man accidentally travels back in time one hour, unleashing a series of disastrous events. That's all you really want to know about this film before diving in.

More to the tune of mystery than action, Timecrimes is a flawless example of a "What actually happened?" narrative that asks you to puzzle things together as events unfold before you. The twists are plentiful here.

14. Palm Springs (2020)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Max Barbakow

Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J. K. Simmons

Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery (1h 30m)

7.4 on IMDb — 94% on RT

Palm Springs takes place at a wedding in Palm Springs, California. Two guests inadvertently get stuck in a time loop, reliving the same exact wedding day over and over, and try to find a way to escape.

The premise may not seem like anything special, but the performances by Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti elevate this film to new heights. Infused with comedy, drama, and romance, Palm Springs makes full use of its time loop situation to tell an impactful story.

best animated time travel movies

13. Predestination (2014)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig

Starring Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor

Action, Drama, Sci-Fi (1h 37m)

7.4 on IMDb — 84% on RT

A time-traveling agent's final assignment is to track down the one criminal who he's never been able to capture. But the further down the rabbit hole he goes, the more mind-bending the truths become.

Predestination isn't just a time travel film. What sets this film apart from most sci-fi movies is how deftly it handles its deeper themes, how deep it's willing to go with its characters, and how expertly the narrative unfolds. It's truly one of the most complex time travel movies ever made.

12. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber

Starring Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters

Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 53m)

7.6 on IMDb — 34% on RT

A man discovers he has the ability to change the present by traveling back into the mind of his younger self, but around every corner await unintended consequences.

You've heard of "the butterfly effect" before, and The Butterfly Effect effectively takes that concept and turns it into a dark thriller. Ashton Kutcher stars in this film against type and delivers a surprisingly great performance in this gripping film about regret and control.

best animated time travel movies

11. About Time (2013)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Richard Curtis

Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy (2h 3m)

7.8 on IMDb — 70% on RT

A man who can travel through time decides to use his power to woo the girl of his dreams, but things aren't as easy as they seem—and the limits of his power cause him to make a tough and important decision.

With Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams taking the lead, About Time ends up being a romantic comedy that's far better than it has any right to be, complete with a superbly moving ending that's completely earned.

best animated time travel movies

10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint

Adventure, Family, Fantasy (2h 22m)

7.9 on IMDb — 90% on RT

It's Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts and this time Lord Voldemort isn't his main concern. Instead, Sirius Black—the one who was suspected as betraying his parents—has escaped from Azkaban Prison and rumor has it that he's coming to finish Harry off.

Often praised as the best film in the Harry Potter franchise—thanks to impeccable direction by Alfonso Cuaron— The Prisoner of Azkaban isn't just a standout for its time travel subplot but also for its cohesive narrative that combines numerous themes with stellar cinematography.

9. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Doug Liman

Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi (1h 53m)

7.9 on IMDb — 91% on RT

In the face of an alien invasion, a soldier somehow ends up reliving the same day over and over every time he dies. He must somehow use this to his advantage and defeat the invading aliens while also finding a way to escape the endless loop in which he's trapped.

As far as time loop movies go, Edge of Tomorrow is one of the better executed ones. Not only is the tight story well-paced, but stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt put in excellent performances that carry the narrative forward from start to finish.

best animated time travel movies

8. The Man From Earth (2007)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Richard Schenkman

Starring David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley

Drama, Fantasy, Mystery (1h 27m)

7.8 on IMDb — 100% on RT

During a retirement party, an aging professor reveals that he's been alive longer than his colleagues can imagine.

The Man From Earth is best described as a "play caught on camera," delivering an engaging mystery that's built on the foundation of an interesting thought experiment.

Not many dialogue-only films are this riveting, which is why you should definitely give this one a watch.

best animated time travel movies

7. Arrival (2016)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 56m)

7.9 on IMDb — 94% on RT

When aliens arrive on Earth, a linguist is brought to the frontlines to decipher their language and establish communications.

Easily one of the most cerebral science fiction movies ever made, Arrival takes things to the next level by exploring deep themes and ideas that few other films have dared to touch. You won't ever forget this one.

best animated time travel movies

6. 12 Monkeys (1995)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Terry Gilliam

Starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt

Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller (2h 9m)

8.0 on IMDb — 88% on RT

In the year 2035, a convict is sent back in time to 1996 with one mission: to investigate the cause of a man-made virus that decimated the world. But his mission is sidetracked when he's sent back to the wrong time period and ends up in a mental hospital.

Featuring one of Bruce Willis's best performances, 12 Monkeys starts off slow but ends with a bang. There's a lot to love about this mind-bending movie if you can get through the slow but necessary setup.

best animated time travel movies

5. Donnie Darko (2001)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Richard Kelly

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell

Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi (1h 53m)

8.0 on IMDb — 87% on RT

A high schooler begins to see visions of a man in a deranged bunny suit who warns him that the world is going to end in a few days—and convinces him to commit all sorts of crimes and unsavory deeds to prevent the oncoming apocalypse.

Donnie Darko is a strange film with time travel elements that aren't as overt as in other time travel films. But if you're itching for a uniquely surreal film experience, it doesn't get much weirder than Donnie Darko .

4. Groundhog Day (1993)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Harold Ramis

Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy (1h 41m)

8.0 on IMDb — 94% on RT

An insufferable weatherman finds himself caught in a time loop, reliving the same mundane day over and over again with seemingly no way out of it—and after thousands of repeats, it starts to take its toll on him.

Groundhog Day is a hilarious comedy that's also surprisingly deep if you're willing to unpack it, acting as a lesson in what really brings about happiness and self-improvement. If you're a fan of Bill Murray and haven't seen this yet, what have you been waiting for?!

best animated time travel movies

3. Your Name (2016)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

Starring Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Kyle Hebert

Animation, Drama, Fantasy (1h 46m)

8.4 on IMDb — 98% on RT

One day, a high school boy in Tokyo and a high school girl in the countryside start swapping bodies, seemingly at random but only when they go to sleep. But then the swapping stops. The boy is compelled to find the girl, but investigating leads to a heartbreaking answer.

Your Name isn't just one of the best animated movies of all time, nor simply one of the best Japanese movies of all time, but one of the best, period. It's incredibly heartfelt with a climax that'll hit you in the gut.

2. Back to the Future (1985)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi (1h 56m)

8.5 on IMDb — 93% on RT

A teenage boy from 1985 accidentally goes back in time thirty years with his mad scientist friend. Not only does he need to find a way home, but he accidentally puts his own existence in danger and must make sure his future parents end up falling in love.

Back to the Future is a classic time travel movie and you owe it to yourself to make it the next movie you watch if you've never seen it. Look past the 1980s cheesiness and you'll see an engaging story beneath it all.

best animated time travel movies

1. Interstellar (2014)

best animated time travel movies

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi (2h 49m)

8.7 on IMDb — 73% on RT

With Earth on the brink of extinction, a team of astronauts must travel through a wormhole to find a new planet for humans to colonize. But journeying through outer space comes with all kinds of complications, and finding a habitable planet isn't going to be so easy.

For all its flaws, Interstellar packs a thrilling story on top of dazzling visuals and one of the most moving soundtracks of any film, period. This is the kind of film that'll have you thinking long after the credits roll, and for many reasons beyond just time travel.

best animated time travel movies

55 Best Time Travel Movies Of All Time Ranked

Arnold Schwarzenegger staring

One of the fun things about time travel movies (apart from, you know, the time travel part) is that they're not married to one particular genre. Hopping from one year to the next is a narrative device that benefits everything from romantic comedies to slasher films. If you have a preferred genre, there is a very good chance that there's a time travel film within it just waiting to blow your mind. On the other hand, if you're not picky about your watch habits and are just as keen to watch a Western as a psychological thriller, time travel films are a great way to experience a generous swath of genres while keeping one thematic element consistent: messing with the sanctity of the space-time continuum. 

Below you'll find 55 of the best time travel films that the sub-genre has at its disposal. Along the way, you'll notice a couple of recurring narrative trends. More than one pair of lovers find themselves separated by a decade (or a century). Time-traveling protagonists are forced to accept the messiness of the past after attempting to right the wrongs of history. There are also fish out of water comedies galore, from helicopter-piloting samurai to modern-day teenagers stranded in the Wild West. So with all that said, feel free to take notes, synchronize your watches, and settle in for a look at the best time travel films cinema has to offer ... at least in this timeline.

55. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court

You may be familiar with that holiest of fish-out-of-water scenarios: "man from the present gets transported back to medieval times." The third installment in the "Evil Dead" franchise, which may or may not feature later on this list, is one example. The 2001 Martin Lawrence vehicle "Black Knight" is another. But there's something especially charming about Tay Garnett's 1949 film, "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court," which adapts Mark Twain's 1889 novel of the same name. 

Inspired by Twain's text, the film follows a crooning mechanic (Bing Crosby) who is launched back to 6th-century England after receiving a blow to the head. There, he finds allies, lovers, and rivals as his modern ways inevitably clash with the antiquated traditions of a medieval court. "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" is an easy-breezy Saturday matinee flick that highlights Crosby's undeniable charm.

54. G.I. Samurai

Criminally underseen outside of Japan, Kōsei Saitō's 1979 film "G.I. Samurai" follows an elite squad of soldiers who accidentally slip through the cracks of time to an era when roving samurai clans warred in hopes of securing dominance over the country. Starring comedic legend Sonny Chiba (who, as ever, does most of his own stunts), the film is undoubtedly one of the strangest entries on this list. That said, don't let that stop you from checking out this violent genre mish-mash. "G.I. Samurai" (which also goes by the equally accurate name "Time Slip" and the utterly baffling "I Want To") is a charming if eccentric adventure through time.

53. The Visitors

Directed by Jean-Marie Poiré (who also helmed the 2001 English-language remake "Just Visiting"), "The Visitors" follows two poor medieval souls who accidentally stumble into modern times, landing in the early 1990s thanks to a bumbling, not-all-there magician. With his loyal servant (Christian Clavier) in tow, brazen knight Godefroy de Malfête (Jean Reno) must navigate such futuristic horrors as concrete roads, dentistry, and bowl cuts no longer being a fashion-forward haircut choice. Wacky to its core and endlessly over the top, "The Visitors" is a fish out of water time travel romp that's just about as goofy as they come.

52. The Butterfly Effect

While "The Butterfly Effect" wasn't particularly well-regarded when it first premiered in 2004 (as its low score on Rotten Tomatoes testifies), Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber's high-concept time travel film has since enjoyed a modern reevaluation, emerging as one of the more interesting sci-fi horror offerings of the early naughties. The film follows Evan (Ashton Kutcher, playing against type), a young man who struggles to remember his past, thanks to a history of harrowing abuse. By chance, Evan discovers that reading from his old journals allows him to literally embody his younger self, changing the most traumatic parts of his past by making different decisions. Unfortunately, as the film's title suggests, Evan's meddling in the past, however seemingly insignificant, produces a domino effect of tragic consequences for not just his own life, but the lives of those around him.

51. The Final Countdown

Plenty of films on this list have time machines. Heck, one of those time machines is even a DeLorean. But only one film has a time-traveling nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Released in 1980, "The Final Countdown" tells the story of a US military vessel that has the misfortune of traveling back in time to December 6th, 1941, the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Once the crew (which includes the talents of Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen) comes to terms with the moral implications of their situation, a "Twilight Zone"-like dilemma breaks out as to whether they ought to intervene and change the course of history, or allow a national tragedy to unfold. Part B-movie science fiction romp, part recruitment tool for the US Navy, "The Final Countdown" is utterly unlike any other time travel film on this list.

50. Somewhere in Time

Released in 1980 and starring three of the hottest people to ever exist (Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, respectively), "Somewhere in Time" follows a young playwright named Richard (Reeve) who has an uncanny experience on the opening night of his first stage play: An old woman, who he has never met before, begs Richard to come back to her. Obsessed by the mystery-laden encounter, Richard does what any self-respecting romantic would do and travels back in time to find her via self-hypnosis. Directed by French filmmaker Jeannot Szwarc (whose 1975 creature feature "Bug" gives William Castle a run for his B-movie money), "Somewhere in Time" is both charming and emotionally devastating. You've been warned!

49. 13 Going on 30

One of the more straightforward romantic comedies on this list, "13 Going on 30" follows a young dorky teen named Jenna who makes a wish on her thirteenth birthday to grow up faster (specifically, she wants to be, "30, flirty, and thriving"). And just like that, Jenna is catapulted into the future, waking up as a 30-year-old woman with 30-year-old problems (first and foremost, the naked man she finds in her new apartment, to her considerable disgust). While the thrills of independence and adulthood are exhilarating at first (what 13-year-old doesn't dream of disposable income?) Jenna soon finds that being older comes with its own set of challenges. A contagiously charming document of all the fashion crimes the early naughties had to offer, "13 Going on 30" is notable for highlighting the considerable talents of its main cast, especially Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, and the ever-delightful Judy Greer.

48. Déjà Vu

Marking the reunion of director Tony Scott and actor Denzel Washington after 2004's "Man on Fire," "Déjà Vu" is a bombastic (pun intended) time-traveling romance that also dares to be a straight-laced crime thriller. The film follows Doug Carlin (Washington), a federal agent who is summoned to investigate a horrific bombing on the Mississippi River. When Carlin proves himself to be a competent ally, an experimental FBI team invites him to participate in a new, super-secret form of investigation: A device, dubbed "Snow White," that allows users to take brief glimpses back into the past. But as the investigation persists, Doug grows less interested in catching the perpetrator in the present day, instead looking to alter history to prevent the accident from ever happening. With Denzel Washington's engaging presence, "Déjà Vu" is thrilling and heart-wrenching in equal measure.

47. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

While there's certainly a debate to be had about whether or not being cryogenically frozen counts as time travel, around these parts we're liable to vote yes. As far as we're concerned, superspy Austin Powers (Mike Myers) going to sleep in the swinging '60s and thawing out in the 1990s absolutely makes the cut. And with his bald-headed nemesis Dr. Evil (also Mike Myers) equally de-thawed and back with a vengeance, it's up to the shagadelic international man of mystery to acclimatize to these modern times in order to save the day. The first (and best) entry in the "Austin Powers" series, Jay Roach's 1997 film is brimming with sly nods and genuinely insightful critiques of its source material (namely, the "James Bond" films). A hoot from start to finish, "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" stands tall in the genre of spy parodies.

46. Army of Darkness

The third entry in the flawless "Evil Dead" trilogy, "Army of Darkness" was director Sam Raimi's vision of a horror film set in the past. This tale of the medieval dead reunites us with the series' incredibly groovy hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), who was sucked through a wormhole (book of the dead-hole?) at the end of "Evil Dead II" that transported him to the year 1300 A.D. Somehow goofier than its predecessor, "Army of Darkness" follows Ash as he wins over the hearts, minds, and women of a walled city besieged by nefarious deadites. As he attempts to woo his crush and banish evil from the land, our strong-jawed hero is preoccupied with figuring out how to return back to his own time. Bonkers to its core and unabashedly full of both Raimi and Campbell's love of physical comedy, "Army of Darkness" is a blast from the past in more ways than one.

45. Happy Death Day 2U

Yeah, we hear you: Everything was tied up in one neat little bow at the end of the original 2017 film, "Happy Death Day." How could there be a sequel? What could possibly be worse than getting trapped in a time loop where you are killed over and over again by a killer wearing a creepy baby-faced mask? Well, all of you who answered "getting stuck in a parallel dimension where you're stuck in a time loop again " deserve a pat on the back. Yes, Tree Glebman (Jessica Rothe) may have escaped the maddening time loop in  her dimension, but thanks to the science experiment of some neighboring dorks, she's lost all that hard-won narrative closure and must fight for her life (well, lives ) once again. Matching its predecessor in charm and creativity, "Happy Death Day 2U" is an arguably unnecessary yet still delightful sequel.

44. Slaughterhouse-Five

Based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name, "Slaughterhouse-Five" follows the time-tripping exploits of Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks), an aptly named man who is "unstuck in time" after becoming a prisoner of war in 1940s Germany. Slipping in and out of his past, present, and future, Billy trips in and out of decades and major life events (including being abducted by aliens). Directed with a dreamy, atmospheric competence by George Roy Hill (the man behind "The Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), even Vonnegut himself praised the movie as "a flawless translation ... I drool and cackle every time I watch that film." And if praise from the horse's mouth doesn't do it for you, the film just so happens to enjoy critical acclaim across the board.

If you know one thing about 2004's "Primer," it's that it's famously difficult to explain without sounding like you spent a lot of time in a glue factory. That said, let's have a go at it: "Primer" follows four tech bros who build a machine in their garage that does ... something. They're not sure what, exactly. But it's something . One of the bizarre effects of their creation is that time appears to work differently inside the machine, making it a kind of "time machine," if you will. After much discussion, the foursome decide to experiment with it, only to discover a strange side effect: Whatever passes through the machine creates a double. A puzzle of a film full of paradoxes, loopholes, and sequences of events that overlap, dovetail, and intersect, "Primer" is a feisty, wildly ambitious indie movie that holds its own amidst the bigger blockbusters of the genre.

42. Triangle

Packaged as a typical slasher movie, Christopher Smith's 2009 psychological horror film follows a group of shipwrecked survivors who seek refuge on a mysteriously deserted ocean liner. At first, they think they are alone. Then a shotgun-wielding masked killer emerges out of the woodwork to make an already terrifying situation even worse as they pick everyone off one by one. To say much more than that (or how any of this has to do with time travel) would give away the film's secrets. So we will say no more! Featuring an innovative mid-film plot twist, "Triangle" is an unexpected delight with a captivating lead performance from Melissa George as the mentally fragile Jess. An expectation-subverting watch, "Triangle" will unquestionably win over adventurous fans of the slasher genre.

41. Happy Death Day

Grounded by a charming and sardonic performance by Jessica Rothe, Christopher Landon's 2017 horror-comedy sticks the slasher and time-travel genres in a blender with hilarious results. "Happy Death Day" follows Tree (Rothe), a mean-spirited sorority girl with a tragic past who finds herself reliving the day of her murder over and over again. Some psycho wearing the very creepy mask of their college's mascot has it out for her. And somewhere between being stabbed and electrocuted, Tree starts to suspect that uncovering the identity (and motive) of her die-hard killer is the only way to get out of this cursed time loop. But when the effects of being murdered in a variety of brutal ways start catching up with her, Tree realizes that she doesn't have much time (ironically enough) to solve the mystery. "Happy Death Day" makes dying repeatedly look super fun, and if that isn't a stamp of approval, we don't know what is.

40. Trancers

We have a fair number of time travel methods on this list: cars, hypnosis, telephone booths, you name it. But "Trancers," in all of its 1980s wisdom, takes a different approach: time travel via drugs. Set in the far-flung future of 2247, our hero is the improbably named Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson), a bounty hunter hot on the heels of a psychic villain (Michael Stefani) capable of entrancing his victims with his mind. When Deth finally learns that his foe has traveled back to the 1980s to assassinate the ancestors of future City Council members, it's up to Deth to follow him to the past and stop the nefarious mesmerist from executing his violent scheme. With more laser special effects than you can shake a stick at, "Trancers" comes courtesy of the ingenious low-budget mastermind Charles Band. Ripoffs of "The Terminator" are a dime a dozen, but they're rarely this entertaining.

39. About Time

While you could certainly say that all of the films on this list are about time, only one film is really "About Time." The 2013 sci-fi rom-com follows a young man named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who learns that he's inherited the ability to travel in time and change the course of his life. Written and directed by Richard Curtis — a New Zealand-born filmmaker who readers may know from the likes of "Love Actually" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" — "About Time" has charm to spare, with one of the most lovely onscreen father-son dynamics of the 2010s. A film that is the cinematic equivalent of a warm bowl of soup, "About Time" is a high watermark for one of the more persistent themes in time travel cinema: learning to accept things just as they are.

38. Back to the Future Part II

While admittedly falling short of the lighting in a bottle effect of its predecessor, "Back to the Future Part II" succeeds in being better than most sequels and most time-travel films. Directed once again by Robert Zemeckis, the 1989 film sees scrappy teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his geriatric pal Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) journeying forward in time to the unthinkably futuristic landscape of 2015. The objective is to stop Marty's future son from making a mistake that will land him in the slammer. As you'd imagine, things don't go exactly according to plan, leaving the future (and the past) a little shaken in the wake of Doc and Marty's meddling. A solid if decidedly more chaotic sequel, "Back to the Future Part II" is full of charms of its own.

37. Frequency

Released in the year 2000 and directed by Gregory Hoblit (the man behind the Richard Gere vehicle "Primal Fear"), "Frequency" follows John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel), a New York City detective who accidentally stumbles on a way to communicate across time with his now-deceased father (Dennis Quaid) using a HAM radio. Overcome with joy at the possibility of saving his father's life, Gregory warns his father of his cause of death, triggering a series of events arguably more tragic than his dad's fiery demise. "Frequency" is a suspense-riddled character study that also makes for a solid (and probably weepy) Father's Day watch.

36. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Are all movie adaptations of Charles Dickens' cautionary ghost story time travel stories? In our estimation: yes. The story spends Christmas with Ebenezer Scrooge, a real jerk who begins his journey to becoming a better person after he is visited by three ghosts that show the miserly curmudgeon his past, present, and future to gain some much-needed perspective. While everyone has their own favorite "Christmas Carol" adaptation, we're going to make an executive decision here: The best "Christmas Carol" movie is 1992's "The Muppet Christmas Carol," the directorial debut of Brian Henson. Roll your eyes all you want at the presence of the titular Muppets, but this film features one of Michael Caine's finest performances as the cold-hearted Scrooge. Also, it's a musical. What more could you want?

35. The Time Machine

Based on H.G. Wells's novella of the same name, which was literally the work that popularized the concept of a "time machine" , George Pal's 1960 film follows a fancy and adventurous Victorian Englishman (Rod Taylor) who travels into the far-flung future only to find humanity divided into two warring factions: the child-like Eloi and the brutish Morlocks. While the inventor had hopes that the future would be a paradise of new, utopic developments, it would seem that the warring tendency in our species is bound to persist throughout the centuries unless we change our ways. Warmly received by critics , the 1960 adaptation of "The Time Machine" is campy in all the right places with plenty of charm to spare.

If you ask us, "Tenet" is less about the convoluted ins and outs of using time travel to prevent World War III than it is about the vibes (and the friendship between John David Washington and Robert Pattinson). Look, it's totally possible to enjoy a movie without having the faintest idea what it's about. Then again, director Christopher Nolan has always been interested in non-linear filmmaking, from the memory-loss of "Memento" to the languid dream logic of "Inception." "Tenet" is Nolan leaning fully into his love of temporal logistics and while it's disorienting, there can be no denying that it's a hell of a good time. Despite any flaws it may have, "Tenet" is what you get when you put James Bond and time travel in a blender (in the best possible way).

33. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Directed by Leonard Nimoy (yes, the same Leonard Nimoy who plays the pointy-eared Spock), the fourth feature film in the "Star Trek" franchise begins in a far-flung future on the edge of disaster. An alien probe is wreaking havoc on Earth's environment, drying up our oceans and polluting our atmosphere. (Are we sure it's an extraterrestrial threat? Sounds like plain old climate change to us.) In order to save humanity from the impending apocalypse, the swashbuckling Captain Kirk (WIlliam Shatner) and his intrepid crew voyage back in time to the year 1986, where they hope to locate a soon-to-be-extinct animal that can respond to the mysterious probe. Pivoting the series' sci-fi into more comedic waters, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" leans hard on the chemistry of its cast to buoy the severity of its environmentalist message. If you're going to watch one of the older "Star Trek" films, this is the one to seek out.

32. Peggy Sue Got Married

There is no time machine, per se, in "Peggy Sue Got Married." Instead, the titular character (played by Kathleen Turner) travels back in her own memories. Or maybe it's an especially vivid daydream. Who's to say? When you faint at your high school reunion, anything can happen! In any case, middle-aged Peggy Sue unintentionally travels back to her teenage days in the early 1960s, where she plays with the idea of breaking off her marriage to her high school sweetheart before it even has the chance to start. With a stellar ensemble cast, including Nicolas Cage, Helen Hunt, and Jim Carrey, Francis Ford Coppola's 1986 film is a bittersweet gem.

31. Back to the Future Part III

Very few films as excellent as "Back to the Future" are succeeded by a sequel that doesn't disappoint. And it's even rarer for such a film to produce two excellent sequels. Enter: "Back to the Future Part III," which catapults spunky skateboarder Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and the white-haired Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) back to the 19th century. The pair find themselves stranded in the Wild West, contending with saloon brawls, rowdy dames, and deadly gunfights. As always, the time-hopping duo must lay low while attempting to find a way back to their own time. There are adorable frontier romances, villains with the faces of modern-day bullies, and plenty of adoring references to old cowboy films. Although it doesn't always get the credit it deserves , "Back to the Future Part III" is a sweet-natured love letter to the Western genre.

30. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

In the first of three films charting the time-traveling/dimension-hopping adventures of Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted "Theodore" Logan (Keanu Reeves), our titular doofuses are tasked with a harrowing objective: passing history class. Unbeknownst to these two Southern Californian himbos, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, because at some point in the future, Bill and Ted write a rock song so great it actually achieves world peace. But in order for the dynamic duo to rock out, they first need a passing grade. Armed with a time machine helpfully supplied by an ally from the future (George Carlin), the pair journey through the past to amass a gang of history's most prolific figures. Lighthearted and energetic, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" is a profoundly silly journey through history with two of cinema's most radical dudes who have charm (and air guitar riffs) to spare.

29. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey

A wildly strange film on a list full of kooky adventures, Vincent Ward's 1988 fish-out-of-water time travel jaunt is truly an under-discussed, one-of-a-kind experience. The surreal and atmospheric Australia/New Zealand co-production was selected in competition for  the highest prize at the Cannes film festival and received eleven awards from the Australian Film Institute . With a dream-like approach to storytelling, "The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey" follows a psychic nine-year-old named Griffin (Hamish McFarlane) who has trippy visions of an alternate reality that looks completely different from his 14th-century mining village. With the Black Plague at their door, the villagers heed Griffin's warnings and follow his directions to dig deep below the earth. On the other side, the medieval peasants emerge into a bold and bizarre new land: 20th century New Zealand. Full of fantasy and imagination that flies in the face of the film's modest budget , "The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey" is an underrated classic.

28. Jubilee

"Jubilee" boasts one of the wackiest concepts as far as time travel films are concerned. Get this: Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen herself, travels forward in time with the help of occult magic to visit 1970s Britain. Instead of a futuristic new world full of utopian progress, Elizabeth (Jenny Runacre) finds a crumbling country riddled with anarchy, social unrest, and debauchery. Directed by Derek Jarman (who also helmed the evocative 1986 biopic "Caravaggio"), "Jubilee" vibrates with undeniable punk rock energy, both critical and celebratory. So, the next time you're living your best nihilistic teenage dream, think to yourself: what  would  Queen Elizabeth I think?

27. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Released in 2006, Mamoru Hosoda's animated feature film follows the teenage Makoto (voiced by Riisa Naka), a high school girl who acquires the ability to literally jump into the past after stumbling upon a mysterious device in the science lab. Being a teen, Makoto uses her new gift for trivial, self-serving adjustments, acing pop quizzes and side-stepping embarrassing situations with ease. But when Makoto begins to realize that her adjustments have consequences for others, she resolves to only use her powers for good, and begins uncovering the mystery behind these strange abilities in the process. A decidedly personal (and relatable) approach to sci-fi fantasy, "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" captures audiences' hearts.

26. Time After Time

This 1979 film may share a name with a melodramatic ballad, but don't be fooled! "Time After Time" is way kookier than anything Cyndi Lauper could dream up. Behold, the plot: "War of the Worlds" author H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) hunts down infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper (David Warner), who has traveled to the 20th century after stealing the writer's time machine. With little interest in its pseudo-science and a romantic subplot that often gets in the way of the suspenseful thrills, "Time After Time" is an odd duck that manages to charm in spite of its idiosyncrasies. Then again, when your lead actors are having this much fun with a premise this bananas, you're bound to conjure up a good degree of movie magic.

25. Timecrimes

Easily scampering away with the best title on this list, "Timecrimes" follows Héctor (Karra Elejalde), a middle-aged nobody whose lazy day is ruined when a blood-soaked madman chases him into a secret lab in the woods. Inside, he meets a suspiciously unfazed scientist (played by writer-director Nacho Vigalondo) who casually instructs Héctor to hide in a big vat of sci-fi liquid. Sure enough, Héctor is launched back in time by one hour, forced to navigate (and solve) a string of disasters perpetrated by different iterations of himself. Few films on this list have a protagonist this stupid. But that is, in effect, part of the charm of "Timecrimes:" Héctor is just some dude who winds up at the center of an increasingly complicated web of cause and effect. Inventive, moody, and effective for its smaller scope and scale, "Timecrimes" is a pure delight.

24. Je t'aime, je t'aime

One of the older films on this list, Alain Resnais' 1968 film blends time travel with romantic obsession. From the director of "Last Year at Marienbad," the film sees a depressed young man named Claude (Claude Rich) reeling after the end of his relationship with Catrine (Olga Georges-Picot). Claude agrees to participate in a human experiment with a time travel device that promises to send its user back in the past by one year, for one minute. But when the machine malfunctions, Claude finds himself stuck reliving his nightmarish past out of sequence. Navigating fluidly through time, memory, and trauma, "Je t'aime, je t'aime" is arguably the most heartbreaking film on this list, an emotionally draining experience that must be seen (and wept over) to be believed.

23. Time Bandits

From the demented, hyper-imaginative mind of director Terry Gilliam, 1981's "Time Bandits" follows a young history nerd named Kevin (Craig Warnock) who is whisked away by six time-hopping criminals on an adventure to steal treasures from different historical eras, thanks to some convenient holes in the fabric of space and time. With whimsy to spare and an approach towards fantasy that charms both kids and adults alike, "Time Bandits" is simultaneously silly as hell and bursting with technical prowess, it contains the absurdism and production design that distinguishes Gilliam's cinematic output.

22. Safety Not Guaranteed

A bizarre ad shows up in the classifieds section of a local Washington newspaper. Someone is looking for a partner to travel back in time with them. They stress that it isn't a joke, and that they have only traveled in time once before. Tasked with covering the ad as an amusing fluff piece, a group of reporters, including the listless college grad Darius (Aubrey Plaza), set off to find and meet this clearly unhinged individual (Mark Duplass).There's no way that this lunatic actually invented a time machine, right? Unapologetically quirky, this indie rom-com could not be more twee if it tried. But sometimes adorable awkward dorks finding happiness and love while trying to journey through the ages together is exactly what the doctor ordered.

21. Il Mare

This 2000 South Korean romantic comedy follows a love story that transcends time itself ... literally. When Eun-joo (Jun Ji-hyun) in "Il Mare" abandons her seaside home for the city, she leaves a card in the mailbox for the next owner so that they can forward her any mail. Two years earlier , a young man named Sung-hyun (Lee Jung-jae) receives Eun-joo's letter. The pair soon realize that the beach house's mailbox can traverse time and space, and begin a really long-distance relationship. Remade stateside six years later as the Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock romance "The Lake House," Lee Hyun-seung's original is a captivating love story that is worth seeking out.

20. Predestination

Based on Robert A. Heinlein's short story, "Predestination" follows a time-hopping government agent (Ethan Hawke) who is hot on the heels of a serial terrorist equally unstuck in time. In his quest to catch the notorious Fizzle Bomber, the agent allies with a mysterious individual (Sarah Snook) who writes under the pseudonym "The Unmarried Mother." It is difficult, if not impossible, to dig into the "chicken or egg" delights of "Predestination" without giving away key plot details, so you'll just have to seek this one out to see for yourself. It's ambitious, imaginative, and a must-watch for anyone who enjoys a head-scratcher (you may have to whip out a corkboard and some red string once the credits roll).

Did  you  know that Wong Kar-Wai, the acclaimed Hong Kong director behind "Chungking Express" and "Fallen Angels," made a time travel pseudo-sequel to "In the Mood For Love"? If not, you do now. Spanning multiple timelines, real and imagined, "2046" follows a sci-fi author named Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) as he writes about, and lives within, a hotel filled with memories. Like much of Wong Kar-Wai's work, "2046" is deeply interested in missed connections, the painful "what-ifs?" that haunt you long after they've come and gone. With aching melancholy, Chow Mo Wan recounts his experiences with the mysterious titular room and all the lost souls who pass through it. Many films can be summarized by the mournful thesis that "love is all a matter of timing," but few are able to tease out the visual poetry of such a statement quite like Wong Kar-Wai.

18. Source Code

Directed by Duncan Jones, who more than proved himself in the sci-fi genre with 2009's "Moon," "Source Code" tells of Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal), a soldier dropped into the body of an unknown man aboard a commuter train en route to Chicago. Soon enough, he realizes his mission: There's a bomb on board, and he's the only one who can prevent the catastrophe from taking place. Reliving the last eight minutes of his host's life again and again, Colter must piece the clues together to thwart further bombings. More action-heavy than many of the films on this list, "Source Code" is a kinetic take on the time loop format grounded by a brilliant and demanding lead performance by Gyllenhaal.

The third feature film from "Knives Out" director Rian Johnson, 2012's "Looper" takes place in a future where mob bosses use time travel to dispose of bodies. Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one such time-traveling hitman, raking in the big bucks with dreams of retiring to a quiet life in France. Then, one day during a hit, Joe is shocked to come face-to-face with his future self (Bruce WIllis). A game of cat and mouse ensues, with mob intrigue, paradoxes, and determinism galore. A thinking man's sci-fi time travel thriller, "Looper" will satisfy viewers who enjoy world-building, masterful plotting, and inventive takes on the noir genre.

16. 16. Midnight in Paris

One of the many entries in the "Rachel McAdams is romantically involved with a time traveler" cinematic universe, "Midnight in Paris" follows Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), an aspiring novelist with his head in the clouds who accidentally stumbles through time while vacationing in Paris with his fiancé (McAdams). Brushing shoulders with literary idols, infamous artists, and starry-eyed creatives, Gil soon finds that the draw of the past easily outweighs his obligations to the present. Featuring an all-star ensemble cast and an undeniably charming romantic attitude, "Midnight in Paris" is an enjoyable viewing experience (especially if you cover your eyes and ears when the director/writer credits flash on screen).

15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

What's a "Harry Potter" film doing on a list of time travel movies? Well, if you'll recall, the third film in the franchise features a third-act plot device called a Time-Turner that allows our wizarding heroes to rewrite history, saving the father figure of hero Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) from a fate worse than death. Sure, the Time-Turner primarily features in the story as a way for bookworm Hermione (Emma Watson) to attend multiple overlapping classes. But, as we'll quickly learn, rules (and the space-time continuum) are meant to be broken. Directed by Mexican New Wave wunderkind Alfonso Cuarón, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" follows Harry, Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione as they contend with yet another life-threatening development: the escape of notorious convict Sirius Black (Gary Oldman).

14. Donnie Darko

A moody teen named Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) narrowly avoids being incinerated by a plane crashing into his bedroom when he is lured outside by a giant, demonic-looking bunny rabbit. You know. Typical teen stuff. The rabbit, Frank (James Duval), informs Donnie that the whole world is going to end in less than a month. As Frank continues to pull the strings of Donnie's life, the teen is nudged to commit mischief, arson, and yes, time travel. Famously confusing, with tangential universes and deterministic quandaries galore, "Donnie Darko" is the kind of film that will make your brain hurt ... hopefully in a good way. Featuring one of the greatest soundtracks of the 1990s (INXS and Tears for Fears? In this economy ?), Richard Kelly's "Donnie Darko" is one of the defining films of the early 2000s.

13. Arrival

While Ted Chiang's 1998 short story was long thought to be unfilmable, director Denis Villeneuve has a talent for bringing high concept stories to the screen (there's a reason he was drawn to "Dune"). In Villeneuve's 2016 film "Arrival," a renowned linguist named Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is summoned to assist with a bizarre development: Twelve mysterious, smooth-edged alien crafts have touched down across the world. It's up to Dr. Banks to devise a way to communicate with the beings inside the craft and determine if the extraterrestrial visitors are friends or foes. As Dr. Banks discovers, the key to cracking the code may lie in the aliens' nonlinear experience of time. A quiet masterpiece that benefits from repeated viewings, "Arrival" is an intelligent and hopeful slice of science fiction.

12. Palm Springs

Some time travel films see folks hurtling forward (or backward) in time. Others, like 2020's "Palm Springs," have time travelers moving in circles over and over again. One of the most inventive spins on the time loop sub-genre, Max Barbakow's feature film debut follows Nyles (Andy Samberg), a man who has been attending the same wedding over and over again in sunny Palm Springs. After Nyles is shot with an arrow during an impulsive hook-up with Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the depressed maid-of-honor joins the nihilistic Nyles in perpetually sun-drenched purgatory. Released during the beginning of the pandemic when every day really did feel the same, "Palm Springs" embraces the Sisyphean metaphor inherent in the time loop structure.

11. Planet of the Apes

Now, look. If this film's inclusion on this list has you scratching your head, that can only mean one of two things: You haven't seen the original "Planet of the Apes" film,  or you've been living under a pop-culture rock and have somehow avoided stumbling across the iconic twist ending of the 1968 sci-fi classic. Indeed, as we learn at the film's end, our resilient hero George Taylor (Charlton Heston) hasn't actually traveled through space at all ... just time. Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, "Planet of the Apes" couches some genuine existential horror in the seemingly campy premise promised by its title. It's an oldie but a goodie that will reward the patient viewer with one of the greatest rug-pulls sci-fi filmmaking has to offer.

10. Interstellar

Are all movies set in space time travel movies? It's certainly a question worth asking. Aging in a relativistic biological space-time is one hell of a drug, after all. Without getting too deep into Albert Einstein's twin paradox , long story short: We age slower when we're zipping about in space. Christopher Nolan's 2014 sci-fi film "Interstellar" not only features some heartbreaking moments of time dilation, but a third act reveal that the power of love can bend the fabric of space and time itself. The film begins with an apocalyptic scenario: A global blight is turning Earth into a pile of ash and dust. A plan forms to find humanity a new home planet and a team, including former NASA test pilot Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), is sent out into the galaxy to scout the three potential candidates. Operatic, inventive, and brimming with intergalactic spectacle, "Interstellar" is an epic space saga of the highest quality.

9. 12 Monkeys

In the alarmingly not-too-distant future of 2035, mankind has been driven underground by a deadly viral pandemic. James Cole (Bruce Willis), a mild-mannered, soft-spoken convict, "volunteers" to act as a time-traveling guinea pig. His mission is to voyage back to 1996, the year of the outbreak, and discover its cause. However, when Cole is accidentally transported back too far into the past, his sweaty warnings about the impending disaster come across as the ravings of a lunatic, and he is promptly incarcerated in a mental health facility. There, he meets two individuals who will profoundly impact not only his life, but the future of the human race: a compassionate psychiatrist and a fellow mental patient who just so happens to be the son of a prominent virologist. Directed by the imaginative former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, "12 Monkeys" balances its gritty surreal gait with an uncomfortable degree of plausibility.

8. Edge of Tomorrow

Arguably the greatest video game movie ever made (despite not being directly based on any one particular video game), "Edge of Tomorrow" (also known by its more plot-accurate title "Live, Die, Repeat") tells of a future in which mankind is engaged in an apocalyptic battle with an alien force that is giving humanity a real run for its money. Major Bill Cage (Tom Cruise), a smooth-talking PR man who's never held a gun (or piloted a mech-suit), finds himself on the frontlines of a naval landing meant to turn the tide. The catastrophic invasion quickly claims the life of the inexperienced Cage, who dies slathered in the corrosive blood of an especially large alien foe. Then Cage wakes up, startled to find that he is very much alive and apparently stuck in a time loop reliving the disastrous day of the invasion over and over again. With creative action set pieces and an inventive approach to the time-loop sub-genre, "Edge of Tomorrow" is a tremendous amount of fun.

7. Run Lola Run

On the face of it, "Run Lola Run" doesn't seem to be an obvious entry in science fiction cinema. The 1998 German film follows a young woman (the titular Lola, played by Franka Potente), whose forgetful boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreau) accidentally leaves a big chunk of change on a subway car that belongs to a dangerous criminal. It's up to Lola to rustle up the funds and rendezvous with Manni in 20 minutes to avoid disaster. Over the course of the film, we witness three different timelines of Lola's sprint, each deviating significantly thanks to the butterfly effect. Experimental, kinetic, and brimming with undeniable 1990s energy, "Run Lola Run" is a breezy, fast-paced meditation on chaos theory, determinism, and all the mind-breaking side effects time travel entails. "Run Lola Run" might not have a time machine, but its detailed, hyper-specific concern with the fallout of how small decisions shape our lives more than justifies its presence on this list.

6. La Jetée

Directed by the prolific experimental filmmaker Chris Marker, this 1962 French-language film may be short, clocking in at just under 30 minutes, but its influence on science fiction cinema is vast. "La Jetée" follows an unnamed man (Davos Hanich), a prisoner of a future war that has driven all survivors below the surface to survive the post-apocalypse. Tapped as a reluctant test subject to be launched back in time (presumably to learn more about and ultimately prevent World War III), the man is hurtled backward and forward through the decades in search of a solution to humanity's "present" predicament. If this brief plot synopsis sounds familiar, that's because "La Jetée" served as the source material for the aforementioned "12 Monkeys." Still, the 1962 film stands on its own and is absolutely worth checking out, even if you're only familiar with Terry Gilliam's quasi-remake.

5. Groundhog Day

One of the best "time loop" films and one of the best romantic comedies of all time, 1993's "Groundhog Day" follows a grumpy, self-centered weatherman named Phil (Bill Murray) who is dispatched to a small town to cover the titular rodent-related holiday. To Phil's horror (and our amusement), the cranky newsman finds that he can't leave the humble borders of Punxsutawney even if there weren't a snowstorm. Trapped reliving the same day over and over again, Phil's anger and despair eventually transform into something far more endearing and productive. A comedy classic that makes full use of Murray's dual mastery of crankiness and charm, "Groundhog Day" is a cinematic gem worth revisiting again (and again and again).

4. The Terminator

The original 1984 "Terminator" film is the real deal. Straddling genres with mercurial ease (Is it a slasher? Science fiction tech-noir? All of the above?), "The Terminator" follows Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who finds herself the target of a nightmarish foe: a machine wearing the flesh of a man, tasked to kill her. Unbeknownst to her, Sarah is going to give birth to the leader of the human resistance in an impending machine-led apocalypse. And while the titular muscle-bound hunk of junk (Arnold Schwarzenegger) aims to kill her son before he can be conceived, an agent of the resistance (Michael Biehn) has been tasked to protect her. Textured, brutal, and methodical, "The Terminator" is the slow-stalking progenitor of its much more bombastic follow-ups. Respect where respect is due, we say.

3. Your Name

Do you know what all of these films about time travel were missing? If you answered "romantic comedy body-swapping" you are correct . Directed by Makoto Shinkai (who readers may know from his 2019 film "Weathering with You"), "Your Name" follows the story of two 17-year-old high schoolers, Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) who repeatedly switch bodies at random. To say much more, or how the story relates to time travel, would give too much away. Suffice to say, "Your Name" was a runaway commercial success , surpassing the international box office of "Spirited Away" and garnering critical praise to match. If you like to cry, "Your Name" is the film for you — a heartbreaking and visually stunning story that features some of the most strikingly well-realized teenage characters in cinema, animated or otherwise.

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" holds a number of high-octane superlatives: it's one of the best time travel films of all time, one of the best sci-fi action films ever made, and one of the best sequels. Taking a decidedly punchier approach than its moodier horror-adjacent predecessor, "Terminator 2" sees John Connor, leader of the human resistance against the AI apocalypse, sending Arnold Schwarzenegger's unstoppable machine back in time to protect his younger self (Edward Furlong). After breaking John's survivalist mom Sarah (Linda Hamilton) out of a psychiatric institution, the trio set off to prevent doomsday before it can happen. Hot on their heels is the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), an advanced AI assassin capable of morphing its liquid-metal body to imitate anyone it pleases. Packing a genuinely emotional center into its back-to-back action sequences and time-defying special effects, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" deserves all the praise it receives.

1. Back to the Future

Spunky teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) joins his senior citizen pal, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) for a nighttime science experiment: a test drive of a time machine that also happens to be a DeLorean. But an unexpected run-in with a gang of terrorists sends Marty fleeing to the year 1955. Through no fault of his own, Marty accidentally threatens his own existence by forming a love triangle with his own parents that would make Freud spin in his grave like a wind turbine. It's up to Marty to make his own parents fall in love and reconnect with the younger version of Doc Brown to find a way back ... to the future. Full of crackerjack silliness and goofy plotting, the secret strength of "Back to the Future" is its simple message that your parents, believe it or not, are people too. Bouncy and full of the charm that makes director Robert Zemeckis a pillar of the 1980s, "Back to the Future" is pure candy-coated perfection.

The 15 Best Time Travel Movies Ever Made

Turn back the clock

best animated time travel movies

In Netflix’s “The Adam Project,” a fighter pilot from the future named Adam (Ryan Reynolds) accidentally crash lands in 2022, and has to team up with his 12-year-old former self (Walker Scobell) in order to have a chance at a future victory. But while Adam physically journeys to his own past, other time travel movies have seen objects, communication, and even consciousness skip back and forth along the timeline to affect their stories.

Below, we look at 15 of the very best movies centered around time travel, each putting its own unique spin on the concept of characters who, in some way, manage to traverse time. 


“Time After Time” (1979)


While none of the cinematic adaptations of the prolific works of 19th century science-fiction writer HG Wells are on this list, the writer himself is (or at least a fictionalized version of him) in the time hopping murder mystery “Time After Time.” Malcolm McDowell plays Wells, who takes to his newly invented time machine after realizing that notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper (David Warner) is not only someone he considered a friend, but has also used his machine to travel to the future. Feeling partially responsible for the harm Jack will inflict, Wells follows him to the late 1970s, where both men set their sights on bank teller Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen, who also appears later on this list in “Back to the Future III”), although for very different reasons. While viewers may come to “Time After Time” for the time-hopping cat and mouse chase, as Wells races to stop Jack from killing again, they’ll stay for the sweet romance that blooms between Wells and Amy along the way. 

“Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1984, 1991)


After the second (and arguably superior) film, the “Terminator” franchise gets a bit uneven, but James Cameron’s first two installments still hold up, with one of the coolest premises in the time travel genre. In a war-torn future where humans are locked in a battle with intelligent machines, a cyborg assassin called a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the woman fated to give birth to the eventual hero of mankind. Meanwhile, humans also send back one of their own to protect her. The result is a tense and action-packed adventure that capitalizes on its paradoxical premise by delivering some truly jaw-dropping twists. The sequel, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” sees Sarah’s son, now a teenager, still in danger from time-traveling machines, but this time protected by a reprogrammed Terminator sent back to save him.

“Back to the Future” trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990)

back to the future

Still the gold standard for time travel movies nearly four decades later, the “Back to the Future” trilogy has been the entry point to concepts like temporal paradoxes, causal loops, and the space-time continuum for multiple generations of viewers. While the first movie is commonly considered the best, all three are a ton of fun, due in large part to knockout comedic performances from Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox as Doc, the man who invents time travel, and Marty, the high school student who accidentally uses it to break his own timeline, respectively. “Back to the Future II” sees Marty catastrophically changing his own present by getting greedy to the future, while “Back to the Future III” finds Doc and Marty stranded in the Old West and pressed to figure out a way to escape before Doc’s time runs out. 

“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986)


The Star Trek franchise is no stranger to time travel stories, and there are numerous Star Trek films that would make solid additions to this list. But for our money, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” is the best of them. After an alien probe starts vacuuming up all of Earth’s oceans in 2286 in an attempt to make contact with a then-extinct species, it’s up to Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the starship Enterprise to travel back in time to retrieve a pair of humpback whales from 1986 and save the future. Is the premise a little silly when you spell it out? Yes. But it’s also a ton of fun, giving the original Star Trek cast a chance to stretch their comedic muscles after a few much more dramatic outings, while still delivering the type of earnest, optimistic storytelling that has always defined Star Trek at its best. “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” also stars Catherine Hicks as the 20th century scientist who aids Kirk on his mission, who you may also remember from the other big time travel film of 1986, “Peggy Sue Got Married.” 

“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989)


There are some time travel movies that challenge everything you thought you knew about reality, and then there are movies like “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” We’ll never pretend that this ridiculous romp through history to save the GPAs of a couple high school goofballs (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) destined to write a song that will save the world is exactly what you’d call smart. Its premise alone would be bound to give Doc Brown a migraine. But there’s something undeniably joyous about watching these two kindhearted and enthusiastic doofuses get to interact with some of the most notable figures from history. Just don’t think too hard about it (Bill and Ted certainly don’t) and enjoy the ride. 

“Groundhog Day” (1993)


One of the most fascinating sub genres of time travel is the time loop story , in which a character gets stuck repeating the same stretch of time over and over. But while many movies have come along to play with this idea, the reigning champion continues to be “Groundhog Day,” which sees Bill Murray as a cantankerous weatherman destined to cover the same Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Groundhog Day festival every day ad infinitum, unless he can figure out a way to stop it. “Groundhog Day” hilariously takes every approach imaginable to the idea of repeating the same day for all eternity, from the macabre to the benevolent and everything in between. It’s a romcom, it’s a drama, it’s a fantasy, and it’s some of Bill Murray‘s best work that will leave you and stitches no matter how many times you watch it.

“12 Monkeys” (1995) 


Sometimes time travel movies have a bit of a wacky idea of what the future might look like, which is definitely the case with “12 Monkeys,” which sees humanity driven underground in the wake of a civilization-ending virus. Bruce Willis plays a low level criminal named James Cole who is presented with the opportunity to wipe his record clean in exchange for traveling to the past and gathering information about the virus. But of course, you can’t just show up in the mid-’90s ranting about being from the future without consequences, and Cole quickly finds himself committed to a mental institution, where he crosses paths with a good-natured psychiatrist (Madeleine Stow) and a fellow patient (Brad Pitt), who finds Cole’s ideas of the future very intriguing. The tone of “12 Monkeys” starts off feeling a little bizarre and off kilter (thanks to director Terry Gilliam), which only increases as the film progresses, helping put the viewer in Cole’s shoes as he begins to question his sense of reality. Like several others on this list, “12 Monkeys” enjoys challenging our perceptions of linear cause-and-effect, having a lot of fun as it tosses Bruce Willis back and forth between a bizarre future and a doomed past, daring us to guess where it’s going.

“Donnie Darko” (2001)


“Do you believe in time travel?“ That’s asked early on in brooding high school drama “Donnie Darko,” although it takes a while for viewers to fully understand why that question is so central to the story. The film follows Donnie, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a moody high schooler who begins seeing visions of a man in a nightmarish bunny costume with warnings about the imminent end of the world. Soon, Donnie starts experiencing premonitions that he uses to guide his actions, kicking off a series of events that invites questions of predetermination, free will, and inevitability. “Donnie Darko” doesn’t feel like a typical time travel film, forgoing the typical tropes of the genre in lieu of an unconventional coming-of-age tale focused far more on teen angst, mental health, and social dynamics than questions of temporal causality and metaphysics. Still, the film is predicated on fascinating ideas about the malleability of time, and although it doesn’t provide all the answers, the questions alone are worth it. 

john carter

“Primer” (2004)


No film has ever been less interested in interpreting its scientific jargon for lay people than Shane Carruth’s “Primer,” a film which focuses on a pair of engineers who accidentally invent a time machine in their garage. After initially being overjoyed with their groundbreaking discovery, the pair finds themselves at odds over implications of their invention. Unlike many films about scientific innovation, “Primer” makes zero effort to translate the technical and scientific vernacular used by its characters for the audience; Unless you have PhDs in mechanical engineering and theoretical physics, you’ll just just have to pay attention to context clues and hope for the best. (And if you have to watch the film more than once to figure out what’s going on, that’s okay, too. Most people do.) But whether or not you can fully follow the intricate mechanics of the film’s time travel, the intriguing conflict between the two central characters — one of whom sees time travel as a shortcut to prosperity, while the other views it as a Pandora’s box of potentially disastrous consequences — should be more than enough to keep you invested.

“About Time” (2013)


While many time travel movies tend to deal with world-threatening stakes or adrenaline-fueling adventures, “About Time” is a quieter entry into the genre that simply asks what you might do if you had the ability to revisit any moment in your life. Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim, who finds out on his 21st birthday that the men in his family have the ability to travel back to points in their own past. From then on, Tim uses his ability to undo embarrassing moments, relive fond memories, and find true love with Mary (Rachel McAdams). Although Tim experiences his fair share of thrilling moments in his non-linear life, his journeys through time are much more about learning what gives life meaning, what moments matter, and accepting that there are some types of pain that even time travel can’t circumvent. Bring tissues for this tear-jerker from Richard Curtis, the filmmaker behind “Love, Actually” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

“Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)


While “Groundhog Day” trapped Bill Murray in a humdrum small town holiday, “Edge of Tomorrow” finds Tom Cruise stuck in a far more precarious loop when an alien infection gives him the ability to reset back to 24 hours before that infection every time he dies. And he dies a lot, since unfortunately he got infected in the midst of a doomed battle with massive insect-like aliens invading London. Fortunately, along for the ride is Emily Blunt, whose character Rita Vrataski has experienced the same ability, and has some ideas about what to do with it. Featuring awesome creature design, impressive visual effects, and an action-packed storyline that makes great use of its premise, “Edge of Tomorrow” delivers a thrilling blend of sci-fi action and time bending twistyness that, despite having seen the same day dozens of times by the time the movie ends, leaves us yearning for more.

“Interstellar” (2014)


It takes a while before Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” truly reveals itself as a time travel movie, but the pieces are there from the beginning. After learning that the Earth is dying, former pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) gets recruited on a mission to travel to another star system in the hopes of finding a planet to which humanity can flee. The journey takes Cooper and his crew to uncharted regions of space and fascinating new worlds, and along the way, the astronauts are faced with questions of relativity, our perception of time, and faith in the unknown. But it’s not until the final act of the film that it fully addresses the idea of sending something through time, although the seed of that idea is planted much earlier. The film’s approach to time travel is more philosophical than scientific, asking what sorts of things transcend the limits of time, and what they might give us the power to do.

“Predestination” (2014)


If the age old question of the chicken in the egg were a time travel movie, it would be “Predestination, a mind-scrambling exploration of cause-and-effect that will make your brain feel like it just ran a marathon. Sometime in the future, a time agent played by Ethan Hawke is on the hunt for a temporal terrorist responsible for killing hundreds of people throughout the timeline. His investigation leads him to cross paths with a person with their own interesting story to tell, and the way their story intersects with Hawke’s will leave your head spinning. It’s impossible to say much more about “Predestination” without spoiling some of the film’s many surprising twists, but suffice it to say that if you like your time travel challenging and accompanied by a hefty helping of existential wrestling, this is the film for you.

“Your Name” (2016)


Many animated films have delved into the world of time travel, but the Japanese film “Your Name” is perhaps one of the most impressive of the bunch. The story follows a rural teen girl named Mitsuha, who lives in a remote village and yearns for a more exciting life in the city, and Taki, a teenage boy from Tokyo, after the two inexplicably begin waking up some mornings in each other’s bodies. For the first half of the film, the two teens work to navigate their bizarre situation so that their daily lives are disrupted as little as possible, before it eventually becomes clear that not only are they swapping bodies; they’re also swapping times. From there, it becomes a race against the clock as they hurtle towards a cataclysmic event that is in the past for one, and the future for the other. Yet despite the compelling time travel element, it’s Mitsuha’s and Taki’s unlikely relationship with each other that gives the film its heart, and lingers with viewers afterwards. 

“Avengers: Endgame” (2019) 


After the snap heard round the universe at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” there was really no place for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to go other than back in time. Once the Avengers figure out that the only way to save the day is to retrieve the all-powerful Infinity Stones from various points in their past, “Avengers: Endgame” becomes a delightful tour through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, revisiting plots and places from over a decade’s worth of films in a way that pays off years of careful and expansive world building. It’s a plot that could only work within a long-running franchise, but in addition to being an excellent capper for the first three phases of the MCU, it’s also a satisfying time travel adventure in its own right, nodding to the many time travel films that have come before while also presenting its own unique spin on the genre.

best animated time travel movies

The Best Time Travel Movies for a Brief Escape from 2023

We don't have time machines yet, so these films are the next best thing.

time travel movies

Every item on this page was chosen by an ELLE editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

Add these titles to your watch list to awaken the time traveler within you. From Japanese animations to over-the-top comedies to dramas saturated with social commentary, these films all have one thing in common: They'll boggle your mind and make you think, while keeping you entertained. But remember, no matter how cool it looks to fly in a time-traveling spaceship, the present moment is and always will be the most important time there is.

13 Going on 30 (2004)

Before anyone tries to suggest that 13 Going on 30 isn't a time travel movie, I'd like to point out that Jenna Rink seamlessly moves between the present and the future, navigating alternate timelines with ease. In this female-led riff on the Big story, Jenna Rink wishes to escape high school and become “thirty, flirty, and thriving.” With the help of a little magic wishing dust, Jenna gets her dream, waking up in the future as a successful magazine writer who looks just like Jennifer Garner. However, she's lost touch with her childhood bestie Matty (Mark Ruffalo), and she can't help but wonder what could have been.

Tenet (2020)

Christopher Nolan's epic sci-fi flick stars Denzel Washington's son, John David Washington, as The Protagonist, a former CIA agent enlisted with stopping World War III, which is no mean feat. In order to prevent the world's total destruction, The Protagonist learns to bend time, leading to some pretty trippy storylines. Robert Pattinson and The Crown 's Elizabeth Debicki co-star.

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Meet Cute (2022)

Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson make a delightful couple in Peacock's deliciously dark romantic comedy Meet Cute . Cuoco plays Sheila, a woman having suicidal thoughts until she discovers a time machine in the back of a nail salon. Chronically unlucky in love, Sheila decides to go back in time 24 hours so that she can re-live her first date with Gary (Davidson), trying to create the perfect evening each time. However, the ability to time travel comes with some drawbacks, and the temptation to mess with history is pretty overbearing, especially in the search for true love.

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About Time (2013)

Richard Curtis' About Time employs time travel in an extremely inventive way to tell a (probably sweet) love story; though there's been much discourse around the story's portrayal of consent, or lack thereof. The movie follows Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a man looking for love, who inherits the ability to travel through time from his father. Using his newfound gift, Tim courts Mary (Rachel McAdams), attempting to build a relationship in spite of any obstacles in the way.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass star in this intriguing indie film about the possibility of time travel. Plaza plays an aspiring journalist who takes on a very strange assignment involving a bizarre personal ad. “You'll get paid after we get back,” it reads. “Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.” What starts as an unlikely hoax soon challenges everyone's beliefs about the ability to travel through time.

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

2017's Happy Death Day delighted fans with its innovative twist on the time loop comedy. 2019's Happy Death Day 2U takes the concept to another level, and will have time travel aficionados screaming. Having escaped from her original time loop, Tree (Jessica Rothe) finds herself being hunted by the Babyface killer once more. After one of Tree's classmates develops an experimental quantum reactor, Tree finds herself caught in a brand new loop, and she's forced to find even more inventive ways to escape.

Needle in a Timestack (2021)

Needle in a Timestack is a romantic drama presenting an alternate future in which the rich are able to time travel for fun. However, these “time jaunts” have very real consequences, and often send ripples through the lives of the less wealthy. The film focuses on a happily married couple whose relationship is threatened when a wealthy ex decides to tamper with the timeline. The all-star cast includes Cynthia Erivo, Orlando Bloom, Leslie Odom Jr., and Freida Pinto.

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Kate & Leopold (2001)

Kate & Leopold stars Hugh Jackman as a 19th century duke who is accidentally transported to 21st century New York by one of his ancestors. Amateur physicist Stuart discovers that he can use gravitational time portals, bringing Leopold to the present day without meaning to. Stuart's ex-girlfriend Kate (Meg Ryan) hilariously hits it off with Leopold, despite the fact that he's set to travel back to his own time period the following week.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Before dedicating his life to the Avatar franchise , James Cameron was responsible for a plethora of fun blockbusters, including Terminator 2: Judgment Day . Expanding upon the first film, Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, finds herself targeted by Skynet once again. This time, a killer T-1000 Terminator is sent back in time to assassinate Sarah's teenage son, John (Edward Furlong), the future leader of the resistance. Meanwhile, a reprogrammed, and much funnier, T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to protect Connor. Easily the best installment in the franchise.

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Mirai (2018)

The Japanese animated film Mirai is a dreamy adventure fantasy about a four-year-old boy named Kun, who starts feeling neglected when his little sister is born. Fleeing to the garden of his new house, Kun accidentally discovers a time travel portal. Throughout his wondrous journey, Kun encounters his mother as a child, and his little sister as an adult, learning so much about his family in the process.

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When We First Met (2018)

Noah (Adam DeVine) regrets missing his chance with Avery (Alexandra Daddario), especially when she meets her future fiancé, Ethan, the very next day. At Avery and Ethan's engagement party, an incredibly drunk Noah ends up in a photo booth, which transports him back in time. Hoping for a second chance, Noah uses the photo booth on multiple occasions, but he ends up altering the course of everyone's lives in the process, for better and worse.

Last Night in Soho (2021)

Edgar Wright's dazzling psychological thriller follows aspiring fashion designer Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie), who manages to time travel back to the 1960s. There, she meets Sandie, a striking woman trying to get her start as a singer. Ellie's fashion designs become infused with the glamour she witnesses in the '60s, as well as the darkness she finds there. Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith co-star.

The Lake House (2006)

After demonstrating some intense chemistry in Speed , Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves reunited for 2006's The Lake House , a romantic drama with a time travel twist. Architect Alex (Reeves) and doctor Kate (Bullock) find themselves living in the same house, but years apart. By some magical turn of events, they're able to communicate by writing letters to one another via the Lake House's mailbox. Despite the distance between them, Alex and Kate strike up a romance thanks to their time traveling letters.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

A list of the best time travel movies wouldn't be complete with at least one of the Bill & Ted movies on it. 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is responsible for launching Keanu Reeves's career, and it remains one of the most enjoyable films from the era. In the first movie, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are failing history, until they magically discover a phone booth that just so happens to be a time machine. The academically-challenged pair meet some of history's most important figures, who they enlist to help with their dreaded school assignment.

Groundhog Day (1993)

Groundhog Day may belong in the "time loop" sub-genre of time travel movies, but it most definitely deserves a place on this list. Bill Murray's performance as disgruntled weatherman Phil is literally iconic, and the fun begins when he's set to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the annual Groundhog Day event. Unfortunately for Phil, his worst nightmare is realized when he wakes up the next morning to find that he must relive February 2 again. The hilarious time loop is made even better by Murray's co-star, Andie MacDowell.

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Back To The Future (1985)

This classic sets the scene for all time-travel movies that came after it. When 17-year-old high school student Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) hops into in a time-traveling car invented by his scientist friend Doc (Christopher Lloyd), he is accidentally sent 30 years into the past. From the moment he lands in 1955, Marty just wants to get back to the future. So, he embarks on a hysterical adventure to ensure his teenage parents-to-be meet and fall in love so that he can get back to life as he knows it. There are two sequels to the film, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III , all of which deserve their own plaque in the time travel movie hall of fame too.

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Avengers: End Game (2019)

The dramatic finale to The Infinity Saga (comprised of 23 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Avengers: Endgame pulls out all the stops. This epic showdown between the Avengers and Thanos uses newly discovered time travel technology to give the Earth's Mightiest Heroes a chance to win another battle. When Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) devises a time-bending strategy to gather all the Infinity stones, he enlists the help of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to build a special device to time-jump. But with his new priorities as a family man, Tony is wary of altering history in any major way. So, instead of going back in time, they decide to bring back their fallen friends into their current timeline, five years later. Once reunited, the Avengers assemble to restore balance to the universe.

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Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

This surreal A24 sci-fi flick is a brilliant take on the multiverse. Teeming with enchanting visuals, the action film features a Chinese-American woman named Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) who co-owns a little laundromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). She feels trapped in an unfulfilling marriage and is struggling to make ends meet. However, when she accidentally discovers the multiverse, she is granted an opportunity to reach her full potential. While a tale of time travel, EEAAO is ultimately a story of self discovery. Directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (collectively nicknamed “The Daniels”) are the minds behind this epic inter-dimensional adventure, which brings to light the powers hidden within every individual. You may want to consider the advice of one viewer who said, “Don’t do drugs, watch this instead.”

See You Yesterday (2019)

An amalgamation of time travel fantasy, political critique, and powerful family ties, See You Yesterday is a movie you don't want to miss. Produced by Spike Lee and directed by Stefon Bristol, who was taken under Professor Lee's wing while attending NYU's graduate film program, the story features two prestigious teenagers who spend all their spare time working on scientific inventions that eventually lead them to develop time travel technology. When her brother is caught in a fatal encounter with the police, Claudette “CJ” Walker (Eden Duncan-Smith) builds two time machines that can help her and her friend Sebastian (Danté Crichlow) change the series of events that lead to CJ’s brother getting killed. But their experience leads them to time travel's greatest truth: All actions have a ripple effect that can change the present moment in unseen ways. The film critically engages with police brutality and was made by a team of creators of predominantly African descent to bring you this time-travel adventure that will leave you entertained, engaged, and inspired.

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Hot tubs have a good reputation for their steamy bubbles and even steamier memories. But what if they also doubled as time travel devices? This hilarious guilty-pleasure comedy features three pals who are caught in a rut in their adulthood, from being freshly dumped by a girlfriend, to being stuck in a dead-end job, to drinking away the sorrows of having accomplished absolutely nothing by the age of 40. Needless to say, these friends could all use a life upgrade. Luckily, when they venture into a magic hot tub at a winter resort, they accidentally travel back to 1986 and are given a second chance at life. Their tumultuous journey through the past leads them to be more conscious about the future. Plus, they have the opportunity to do a few things differently. When the hot tub teleports them back into the present day, each of them is better than they left off. Most hot tubs leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, but this one took it to a whole other level.

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The Best Time Travel Movies of … All Time

anne hathaway in interstellar

Time—ravager of youth; spoiler of milk; humanity’s oldest and deadliest foe. Yet in films we can conquer time easily: running it forwards and backward, skipping into the future or past with a simple edit. Filmmakers constantly time travel, so it’s no coincidence that there are so many films where this trick becomes a plot conceit.

But unfortunately for their protagonists, the best time travel films often show us that time’s prison is inescapable. Even when these protagonists look like they’ve found a way out, from natural wormholes to heretical machines, their fates are usually shown to be predetermined: Often they end up stuck in time loops, or just dead. Time and death are close companions .

Of course, this chaos translates into mind-bending entertainment for the viewer, so without further ado, let us introduce our picks for the best time travel movies.

Terminator 1 and 2 are really quite different movies. In the first, Arnie—the terminator—is the bad guy. He’s sent back in time by our machine overlords to kill a woman who will give birth to a child that will lead the human resistance to victory. A human from said resistance is sent back to stop Arnie. It’s a dark and weird story: a classic action film made on a stringent budget. The second, in contrast, is a big-budget extravaganza, featuring perhaps the greatest special effects in movie history relative to their time. Here, Arnie, now a blockbuster star, demanded to play the good guy: He’s still a robot, but he’s defending the key kid from the icy, and more advanced, T-1000 robot.

The most famous art house film about time travel, La Jetée follows a man sent back from a post-World War III dystopia to save the future, and to find the truth behind a traumatic memory for his past. Only 28 minutes long, the film is a simple series of black and white photographs put to a hazy narrative, yet it's captivating. Terry Gilliam turned it into 12 Monkeys , a zany, colorful caper starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, a similarly weird but tonally different film.

This modern sci-fi classic follows the alien “arrival” of giant, peaceful, ink-inscribing squids. Before geopolitical squabbles can escalate the situation into a nuclear exchange, Amy Adams must translate the squid’s inky pleas into American English. (Spoiler: It relates to time travel.) This visually stunning film is based on Story of Your Life , a short by Ted Chiang, one of the best living sci-fi writers. The movie is a great introduction to his writing.

A classic featuring Bill Murray at his laid-back best. Murray plays a jerkish newsman who wakes up one morning to find that he is stuck in a time loop on Groundhog Day (and, yes, that is where the term comes from). Fear gives way to joy as he realizes he is now an omniscient god. This then gives way to boredom as he lives out the same day an infinite number of times, and Murray must work out why he has been cursed. Still a moving and thoughtful comedy.

This is really the time travel movie to beat them all, if you really want to get into the nuts and bolts of time travel itself. Two engineers accidentally discover an “A-to-B” causal loop side effect: They can basically travel back a short distance of time, and begin to use it to make huge amounts of money on the stock market. What follows is a highly technical and philosophical take on the implications of time travel.

Looper is just an air tight, fantastic action film: a compelling world, sketched in just under two hours, with entertaining and interesting characters. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a contract killer who kills and disposes of his targets in the past, in order to avoid detection in the future. Bruce Willis plays his older self, who Levitt is tasked to kill. The time travel aspect being realistic isn’t really the point of the film: Writer Rian Johnson contrasted it directly to Primer , where the rules of time travel are so important; Looper was intended instead as a character driven thriller.

One of the highest-grossing anime films of all time, Your Name is a slick, ever so slightly hollow affair, but undoubtedly fantastic entertainment. Two school kids swap bodies each night, bicker about wrecking each other's lives, then eventually fall in love. They must fight through time to save a town from an apocalyptic disaster. The animation is gorgeous, painterly and fluid, the music from Radwimps is brilliant earworm pop, and the story is a real tearjerker.

Where the time travel in Tenet was left largely unexplained, in Interstellar Nolan actually seems interested in teaching his audience, and does an admirable job depicting some of the implications of Einsteins’ theory of general relativity. The movie’s dialog can be a bit saccharine and vapid, but the visit to the mountain-high planet of waves, where years pass as minutes, is just a great piece of cinema, worth the price of entry alone.

A cult classic that rocketed Jake Gyllenhaal to massive fame. It’s one of those high concept films that bombards you with lore, but really isn't as smart as it thinks it is. It’s better to just sit back and let it wash over you, including, of course, Frank, the iconic black bunny rabbit, who tells Gyllenhaal the world will end in 28 days. It’s also an important artifact of a certain section of Millennial culture: any Gen Z cultural critic trying to understand Millennial neuroses should definitely add this film to their research.

The original Planet of the Apes is a deeply odd film—there’s something disconcerting about the apes now: the prosthetic makeup techniques by artist John Chambers were revolutionary at the time. But while the prequels with Andy Serkis are certainly more action packed, the original has got to make the list because it features the most iconic time travel “twist” in cinema. Charlton Heston’s final revelation as he smashes his fists into the beach at the film’s end has been parodied to death, most notably by The Simpsons . (Which also created a fantastic musical adaptation of the film.)

This story originally appeared on WIRED UK .  

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The 100 best animated movies

The best animated movies of all time to add to your watch list

World-famous animators pick the best animated movies, including Disney and Pixar movies, cult movies, anime and more

Cartoons aren’t just for kids, of course. But for most kids, cartoons are where a love of movies often starts. No matter how highfalutin your taste in movies as an adult, chances are, your first cinematic obsession was an animation – whether it was a classic of Disney’s Golden Age or its ‘90s renaissance period, a Pixar heart-tugger or perhaps even a Studio Ghibli masterpiece. It’s a love most of us never never fully grow out of, either. Ask any parent about the joys of early child-rearing and they’ll undoubtedly tell you about showing their kids a cartoon they loved as a young’un. It’s a magical experience you get from few other forms of entertainment.  

But the best animated movies don’t just appeal to kids, nor childhood nostalgia. They work on multiple levels, for broad audiences and age groups. In composing this list of the greatest animated movies ever made, we polled Time Out writers and experts including Fantastic Mr Fox ’s Wes Anderson and Wallace and Gromit’ s Nick Park, and the results run the gamut, from from those Disney, Pixar and Ghibli no-brainers to stop-motion nightmares, psychedelic headtrips, illustrated documentaries and bizarre experimental features that are decidedly for adults only. The movies on this list may make you feel like a kid again – but they may also blow your grown-up mind in ways you never expected. 

Written by Trevor Johnston, David Ehrlich, Joshua Rothkoph, Tom Huddleston, Andy Kryza, Guy Lodge, Dave Calhoun, Keith Uhlich, Cath Clarke  and  Matthew Singer


🐭 The 50 best Disney movies 🇯🇵 The 20 best anime movies of all-time 🤣 The best family comedy movies 🦄 The 50 best fantasy movies of all-time   

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Best animated films to watch

Pinocchio (1940)

1.  Pinocchio (1940)

A wooden puppet yearns to be a real boy; he must prove himself worthy.

Directors:   Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Norman Ferguson, Jack Kinney, Wilfred Jackson and T. Hee

Best quote:  ‘ Always let your conscience be your guide.’

Defining moment:   Playing pool, drinking beers, smoking cigars: Who knew it could transform kids into jackasses? (Literally.)

Pinocchio   is the most magical of animated movies, a high point of cinematic invention. Its influence on fantasy is massive: Steven Spielberg quotes the soaring ballad ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ in his dream project   Close Encounters of the Third Kind   (and remade the whole picture with his aching robot-boy adventure,   A.I. ). Disney’s second feature – originally a box-office bomb – begins with a sweetly singing cricket, yet plunges into scenes from a nightmare: in front of a jeering audience on a carnival stage; into the belly of a monstrous whale; beyond all human recognition. (Pinocchio’s extending schnoz is animation’s most sinister and profound metaphor.) It’s staggering to think of this material as intended for children, but that’s the power here, a conduit to the churning undercurrent of formulating identity. The takeaway is hard to argue with: Don’t lie, to yourself or others. Cultural theorists have, for decades, discussed   Pinocchio   in psychosexual terms or as a guide to middle-class assimilation. But those readings are like cracking open a snow globe to see that it’s only water. A swirling adventure flecked with shame, rehabilitation, death and rebirth, the movie contains a universe of feelings.   Pinocchio   will remain immortal as long as we draw, paint, tell tall tales and wish upon stars.

2.  Spirited Away (2001)

Moving is a drag for ten-year-old Chihiro, until she discovers she’s meant to work in a bathhouse for the spirit world.

Director:   Hayao Miyazaki

Best quote:  ‘ There must be some mistake: None of these pigs are my parents!’

Defining moment:   Tea and cakes with the monstrous Yubaba and No-Face – a moment in the same surreal league as Lewis Carroll.

The apex of Japanese animation – to fans worldwide,   all   animation – is one of cinema’s finest tales of untrammeled imagination. It’s a movie that emboldens children to embrace weirdness and wonder, and adults to remember how they once did. The plot is a stew of essential anxieties: dislocation, separation from one’s parents, fear of disappearing forever. Even more thoroughly,   Spirited Away   is a compendium of ancient folklores – the secret lives of radishes and other gods, the sins we commit against nature, her punishments. But as brilliantly woven together by Hayao Miyazaki (at the peak of his creative gifts), the movie is basically a story about growing up. The world is strange; let’s not fool ourselves. But maybe we, as human beings, are stranger. Chihiro is constantly (and riotously) told that she reeks; she fumbles around and incites fury. The lesson here is humility in the face of immortal forces. Critics were wowed, sensing parallels with Japan’s busted economic bubble and polluted streams. Yet the content was – and is – strong enough to stand on its own, a palimpsest of psychology, dreams and fear brought to life by exquisite craft. No film on our list speaks more to the inner animal and   anima ; is it any wonder those words are so close to   animation ?

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

3.  My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Miyazaki proves he has the heart of a child, the eye of a painter and the soul of a poet.

Best quote:  ‘ Trees and people used to be good friends.’

Defining moment:   The first appearance of the roving cat-bus will have viewers of all ages gasping in delight.

Some filmmakers build their great artworks with blood, sweat and toil. Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki seems to sprout his from seeds, planting them in good earth and patiently watering them until they burst into bloom.   My Neighbor Totoro   is the gentlest, most unassuming film on this list, a tale of inquisitive children, mischievous dust fairies, magical trees and shy sylvan creatures. But in its own quietly remarkable way, it’s also one of the richest and most overwhelming. This is a story whose roots go deep: into Japanese tradition and culture, into its creator’s personal past, into a collective childhood filled with tales of mystery and a love of all things that grow. There is darkness at the film’s heart – the fear of losing a parent, the loneliness and frustration of childhood – but its touch is gossamer-light, delighting in simple pleasures like raindrops on an umbrella, dust motes drifting in the sun and midnight dances in the garden. The visual style is unmistakably Japanese (unadorned and artful) and the theme song is so sugary-chirrupy-sweet that it’s impossible to dislodge once heard. But the cumulative effect is unique and utterly all-encompassing, returning us to a world we have all, at one time, lived in – and perhaps will again.

Toy Story (1995)

4.  Toy Story (1995)

Cowboy or spaceman – which is Andy’s favorite plaything? And how do these secretly alive toys feel about that?

Director:   John Lasseter

Best quote:  ‘ To infinity… and beyond!’

Defining moment:   The elaborate escape from evil Sid’s room, a breathtaking action sequence that put Hollywood’s A-list to shame.

Nothing less than the first shot in what would become a revolution, John Lasseter’s simple tale turned adults into happy children, naysayers into believers, and computer animation into the dominant expression of an entire industry. Pixar’s debut feature is its most beautiful thing, emphasis on   thing : The genius idea here was to embrace the stuff of toys – to imbue plastic and cloth with solidity and tactility. Suddenly there was a real weight to billions of bits and bytes, and audiences were enraptured. Naturally, none of this would have worked had there not been a killer script, labored upon for years by a creative team that included Lasseter and future directors Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and   The Avengers ’ Joss Whedon. The humanity imparted by Tom Hanks as the passed-over Woody can’t be understated: This was a role rich enough to lure the hottest actor in the game.   Toy Story   speaks to our love of play, and the way we invest our dolls and action figures with the souls of whom we want to become. It makes sense that these toys would keep dreaming even when put away for the night. But the film’s lasting impact is simpler than that: Swinging, bouncing or skidding, toys are alive in our minds. Lasseter’s team bent gravity itself to make that a reality.

The Incredibles (2004)

5.  The Incredibles (2004)

A superheroic family tries to blend into their quiet suburban lifestyle, but realizes that their skills are nothing to be ashamed of.

Director:   Brad Bird

Best quote:  ‘ When everyone’s super…no one will be.’

Defining moment:  ‘ No capes!’ declares Edna Mode, the film’s snooty fashionista, and we see the fates that befell some unlucky caped crusaders.

Firing on all cylinders, Pixar’s first film to earn a PG rating signaled a grabbing of the brass ring: Yes, the studio’s computer animation was peerless, but could it also do marital malaise, middle-aged belly spread and sneakily ambitious philosophy – all of it tucked into spandex? Writer-director Brad Bird commanded a degree of control unprecedented since the days of old Walt himself. Everything was riding on his long-germinating vision of an exceptional family rediscovering its purpose. The plot’s spirit proved infectious, the reviews rapturous. Thematically, the movie’s deepest fear concerns the creeping slump of mediocrity: If greatness lies within us, why can’t we let it out? Maybe it’s because we’re told – in subtle ways – not to shine too brightly and make others feel inadequate. Some pegged the notion as straight out of Ayn Rand (this would have been her favorite movie ever), but the idea was somehow made to feel inclusive via Bird’s humor, panache and narrative clarity.   The Incredibles   makes us believe in heroes, but more importantly, it reclaims the virtue of heroism itself: a blessing, an ideal, an ambition. And it’s not easy.

Dumbo (1941)

6.  Dumbo (1941)

It ain’t easy being gray in one of Disney’s most simple, cute and memorable tales.

Directors:   Ben Sharpsteen, Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts and John Elliotte

Best quote:  ‘ It ain’t nobody’s fault you got dem big ears.’

Defining moment:   Dumbo visits his caged mom at night and cuddles up to her trunk as it extends through the bars – all to the sound of the lullaby ‘Baby Mine.’

We challenge anyone not to shed a tear at the sight of young Dumbo, the son of a troubled circus elephant, locking trunks with his incarcerated single mother through the bars of a cage. It doesn't help that the weepie lullaby on the soundtrack, ‘Baby Mine,’ is machine-tooled to get the waterworks going. This was Disney's fourth animated feature, and its short running time and simple structure were forcibly concocted after both   Pinocchio   and   Fantasia   had performed poorly. The movie's story of an elephant born and then unfairly separated from its mother might be straightforward, but there are still some memorable set pieces along the way, including scenes of the big top being erected during a storm and the circus train yanking itself over a rugged landscape. There's experimentation here, too, especially during a jazz-scored, trippy sequence when Dumbo accidentally gets drunk and sees ‘pink elephants on parade.’ Also unforgettable, though not necessarily helpful to society, are the early scenes of cute storks delivering baby animals, an early sign of the ‘no sex, thanks, we're Disney’ mantra. And who can forget Dumbo's big, floppy ears, so unwieldy that he ends up wrapping himself up in them in a brilliant piece of animated slapstick?

7.  The Iron Giant (1999)

The Ted Hughes novel came to Hollywood in a studio movie that broke technical and storytelling boundaries – if not box-office records.

Best quote:  ‘ I am not a gun.’

Defining moment:   The giant carries Hogarth in his hand, high above the treetops below.

Before directing   The Incredibles   and   Rataouille , animator Brad Bird made his feature debut with this charming, intelligent adaptation of the late 1960s Ted Hughes children’s story   The Iron Man . Best known at the time for his work on   The Simpsons , Bird moved the tale from Britain to 1950s Maine, lending it distinct Cold War flavor. A young boy, Hogarth (given the surname Hughes in honor of the poet, who died in 1998, a year before the film’s release), discovers a metallic giant in his hometown and fights to protect it from being pulverized by the military – while simultaneously teaching it how to live in peace on earth. The widescreen film has a streak of smart humor as well as a winning, harmonious worldview, and mixes computer animation and more traditional techniques: The CGI was mostly invested in rendering the giant as convincingly as possible, while traditional hand-drawn techniques were reserved for the humans. Visually, the film offers stunning moments without sacrificing a pleasingly old-fashioned air. It wasn’t a success at the box office, although it was hailed as a rare example of a family movie with heart and brains. Thankfully, Pixar gave Bird a chance to fly again.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

8.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Not the first animated feature, but the start of the Disney empire.

Directors:   David Hand, William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce and Ben Sharpsteen

Best quote:  ‘ Magic mirror on the wall…’

Defining moment:   Snow White’s headlong dash through the moonlit forest is expressionistic, beautiful and terrifying.

They called it Disney’s folly. It took years and millions of dollars to produce   Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , and one huge question remained unanswered right up to the day of release: Would an audience really sit still for 83 minutes of cartoon antics? Of course, the movie was a huge hit, and kick-started Uncle Walt’s decades-long domination of the painted-cel scene. It may not have been the first feature-length animated film – that honor is held by Argentine animator Quirino Cristiani’s 1917   El Apóstol , though all copies have since been destroyed – but it was the first to receive a global release, and the first to wake up audiences (and producers) to the seemingly limitless potential of a brand-new medium. What makes   Snow White   truly special is not its success, however, but its originality: Working without a rule book, Disney and his animators created – fully formed – an entirely new genre. Just look at last year’s   Frozen   and ask yourself how far mainstream animation has actually developed:   Snow White   has a dashing fairy-tale heroine, a hunky but slightly dull dude, lovable pratfalling sidekicks, important life lessons, groundbreaking and gorgeous animation, whistleable tunes and, perhaps most notably, the greatest femme fatale in film history. It just goes to show: You can’t improve on perfection.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

9.  The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The film that made Christmas creepy.

Director:   Henry Selick

Best quote:  ‘ Jack, you make wounds ooze and flesh crawl!’ (It’s a compliment.)

Defining moment:   The opening song, gloriously and ghoulishly upbeat.

It all started in 1982, with a poem written by Tim Burton, then a humble animator at Disney. A year later, Burton pitched   A Nightmare Before Christmas   to his bosses as a TV special. But the powers that be thought the idea ‘too weird,’ and the project went on the back burner until   Beetlejuice   and   Batman   made Burton a hot property. Too weird? Not a bit. Burton’s graveyard fairy tale is a good old-fashioned musical, with song-and-dance numbers that would get Gene Kelly tapping his feet. It’s the story of Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, who discovers a portal to Christmas Town and likes what he sees – children throwing snowballs instead of heads. No one is dead. Jack crafts a plan to kidnap Father Christmas, or Sandy Claws, as he calls him. Directed by stop-motion maestro Henry Selick from Burton’s story, the movie took 15 animators almost three years to make. Working with more than 227 puppets, they completed just one minute of the film a week. That translates into mind-boggling detail, right down to the mayor’s spider tie. The dialogue is deliciously macabre, the storytelling dizzyingly inventive and the characters touchingly sweet. A twisted delight.

Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

10.  Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

An idiosyncratic auteur gets animated with this stop-motion take on Roald Dahl’s children’s novel.

Director:   Wes Anderson

Best quote:  ‘ Redemption? Sure. But in the end, he’s just another dead rat in a garbage pail behind a Chinese restaurant.’

Defining moment:   Fox and friends come face-to-face with a mysterious black wolf.

The news that   Rushmore   director Wes Anderson was directing a stop-motion version of the Roald Dahl classic made complete sense once the film – madcap with a strong sense of refinement – was actually revealed. Stop-motion itself (old-school, hand-made) seems particularly Anderson-esque, and the chance to design an entire new world down to the tiniest detail is something Anderson has always leapt at. And there’s something about Dahl's tale of an urbane, well-dressed fox (voiced by George Clooney) who rises up to defeat three evil, rich farmers that seems totally fitting for this filmmaker. The voice cast, Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, feels especially adult and Wes-like. This is an animation as much for adults as for kids, if not more so, and underlying it all is a smart examination of the clash between instincts and responsibilities. We're all a little bit wild, but sometimes we've got to shape up and represent.

Alice (1988)

11.  Alice (1988)

This Lewis Carroll adaptation, from a brilliant Czech surrealist, is too wild and wonderful for kids.

Director:   Jan Svankmajer

Best quote:  ‘ Alice thought to herself, Now you will see a film… made for children… perhaps.’

Defining moment:   The Mad Hatter’s tea party: hilarious, anarchic and a fabulous example of Svankmajer’s ability to make the impossible seem absolutely real.

Jan Svankmajer’s first feature is a characteristically inventive but rigorous account of Lewis Carroll’s   Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , faithful in spirit to the original while remaining conspicuously true to his own highly distinctive brand of surrealism. Blending live action (Kristyna Kohoutová, who plays the heroine, is the only human in the film) with various forms of stop-motion animation, Svankmajer creates a wonderland notable for its bizarre dreamlike logic and its grotesque beauty: Skeletal creatures scuttle and steaks crawl while Alice, no stranger to thoughts of cruel whimsy, changes size and becomes her own doll. It’s brilliantly imaginative, bitingly witty and fittingly Freudian. This is no saccharine celebration of innocence, but a foray into the darker recesses of childhood fears and desires. And therefore, perhaps not a film for children.

Yellow Submarine (1968)

12.  Yellow Submarine (1968)

The cartoon Beatles rampage through a psychedelic Pop Art dreamscape.

Director:   George Dunning

Best quote:  ‘ Nothing is Beatleproof!’

Defining moment:   The gorgeously downbeat ‘Eleanor Rigby’ sequence, utilizing monochrome photos of Liverpool.

This may prove to be the most divisive film on our list: Hardened Beatlemaniacs will tell you that   Yellow Submarine   is a travesty, employing fake (and not especially convincing) Liverpudlian accents to tell a nonsensical tale steeped in late-’60s acid-fried sentiment, never mind that the Fab Four pop up in person at the end to give their blessing. Art maniacs, meanwhile, will tell you it’s a dazzling work of the imagination, harnessing every animation technique available at the time to create an eye-frazzling, insanely inventive trip. To be fair, they’re probably both right: The script is silly, the story is cringeworthy, and the Beatle characterizations are a bit soft. But visually it’s breathtaking, one of the few genuinely hallucinatory cinema experiences, and fully deserving of its high placement here.

Akira (1988)

13.  Akira (1988)

A biker teen unleashes a psychic with apocalyptic powers – oh, and it’s 2019.

Director:   Katsuhiro Ohtomo

Best quote:  ‘ The future is not a straight line. It is filled with many crossroads.’

Defining moment:   Motorcycle gangs tear through the night destroying all in their wake – a scene that would give Mad Max chills.

Anime’s breakout moment, this supercharged sci-fi thriller turned a niche subgenre into a global phenomenon: Western teens started using the term   cyberpunk   in casual geek-speak, while Japan’s printed manga suddenly flew off the shelves. To the nonfan dragged along for the ride, the movie felt a lot like   Blade Runner   and   Brazil , featuring incredibly vivid details and attention paid to urban decay. But   Akira   was also a watershed moment for sci-fi in a larger sense, popularizing ideas of citywide ruination, futuristic rebirth and a distinctly Asian notion of psionic powers that would influence everything from   The Matrix   to   Inception . The mutable setting of Neo-Tokyo anticipated the larger playground of the Internet, still years off but somehow of a piece with these youthful speed racers.

Fantasia (1940)

14.  Fantasia (1940)

In Disney’s extravaganza, eight fantastical vignettes are scored to music by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.

Director:   No less than 11 directors slaved on individual sequences, many without credit.

Best quote:  ‘ Mr. Stokowski! Mr. Stokowski!’

Defining moment:   Sorcerer’s apprentice Mickey Mouse finds himself on the wrong end of the broomsticks.

At first, Walt Disney’s middlebrow folly was a commercial dog, seriously jeopardizing the company’s bottom line with extravagant touring costs (including the installation of Fantasound, the first stereo theatrical presentation). But re-releases and modifications eventually made the movie profitable– and realized a deeper dream: This was a movie that turned kids on to classical music. It also made conductor Leopold Stokowski a minor celebrity, and produced a best-selling soundtrack. Most memorably among the short films, Mickey Mouse stars in the phantasmagorical ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,’ but with musical selections ranging from Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ to Mussorgsky’s ‘Night on Bald Mountain,’   Fantasia   was doing some real good, building a global taste for drama and subtlety alike.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

15.  Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

This unflinching war story proves that, in animation, anything is possible.

Director:   Isao Takahata

Best quote:  ‘ September 21, 1945… that was the night I died.’

Defining moment:   We don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but it features one of the most heart-wrenching character deaths in movie history.

The year 1988 saw Studio Ghibli at the peak of its powers, releasing a pair of richly personal tributes to youthful resilience that proved the breadth and brilliance of their work.   My Neighbor Totoro   (coming up!) was studio founder Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, a work of wondrous beauty and grace. But it’s matched – some would say surpassed – by Isao Takahata’s   Grave of the Fireflies , perhaps the bleakest and least-forgiving film in our top 100. Set in the midst of WWII, the story follows two children, Setsuko and Seita, as they lose their mother in an American bombing raid and are forced to fend for themselves. At first it’s all a game, but as sickness and starvation begin to intrude, the film deepens and darkens, ultimately reaching a place of complete emotional exhaustion and absolute, devastating grief. This is not a movie to be taken lightly.

Coraline (2009)

16.  Coraline (2009)

Nightmare Before Christmas director Selick’s follow-up is altogether more unsettling.

Best quote:  ‘ They say even the proudest spirit can be broken…with love.’

Defining moment:   Coraline’s first, dizzying adventure in the night garden, with its exploding flowers, fountains and mechanical grasshoppers.

The director is an animator whose ghoulishly giddy feature debut,   The Nightmare Before Christmas , is worshipped among shopping-mall misfits. Surely, the notion of pairing macabre kid-lit author Neil Gaiman’s   Coraline   with stop-motion maverick Selick was an inspired one, a perfect peanut-butter-and-chocolate combo for goth teens. Even while this adaptation sometimes feels frustratingly DOA, there are glimpses of greatness that remain inspiring: monstrous transformations, womblike corridors and beasts of all shapes and sizes.

Song of the Sea (2014)

17.  Song of the Sea (2014)

A Celtic fairytale of impossible beauty.

Director: Tomm Moore

Best quote: ‘My son, remember me in your stories and in your songs. Know that I will always love you, always.’

Defining moment: Saoirse sings the ancient selkie song.

With their intricate woodcut designs and full embrace of both Celtic lore and historical struggles, Cartoon Saloon’s animated works are a wonder to behold, but often come with a heavy barrier to entry for younger audiences and foreigners (see: Wolfwalkers , The Secret of Kells ). Song of the Sea , however, strikes a miraculous balance, submerging viewers into a magical realm of faeries and elves, witches and sea spirits. With its ethereal Celtic music serving as a siren song drawing viewers into its eye-popping world, the tale of a mute girl’s quest to understand her ancient lineage is Cartoon Saloon co-founder Tomm Moore’s most accessible work. It’s a stirring journey that serves as an immersion into Celtic heritage without feeling like a history lesson.  

It's Such a Beautiful Day (2014)

18.  It's Such a Beautiful Day (2014)

A one-man masterpiece.

Director:   Don Hertzfeldt

Best quote:  ‘ Someone sits on the shore and tells him how the waves have been there long before Bill existed, and that they’ll still be there long after he’s gone. Bill looks out at the water and thinks of all the wonderful things he will do with his life.’

Defining moment:   In the epic finale, a stick hero is reborn into an ageless existence and learns all the secrets of the universe.

How satisfying it is to find Don Hertzfeldt’s self-made saga of schizophrenia and self-loss nestling comfortably in the higher reaches of our rankings. Written, directed, produced, animated, photographed, voiced and distributed entirely by Hertzfeldt himself (he admits to getting a little help with the editing),   It’s Such a Beautiful Day   is the tale of a young everyman, Bill, who finds his mind and his world unexpectedly going to pieces. Hertzfeldt’s style may have started off simple, with stick figures and basic line drawings, but by the time of this feature, it had broadened to include a dizzying array of in-camera, nondigital visual effects. The result is one of the great outsider artworks of the modern era, at once sympathetic and shocking, beautiful and horrifying, angry and hilarious, uplifting and almost unbearably sad. Seek it out.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

19.  Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

  • Action and adventure

An eccentric inventor and his loyal canine companion hunt a mutant bunny.

Directors:   Steve Box and Nick Park

Best quote:  ‘ I’m sorry, Gromit – I know you’re doing this for my own good, but the fact is I’m just crackers about cheese.‘

Defining moment:   Gromit follows the oversize bunny in a vehicular chase that goes below ground.

British animator Nick Park made his name with a series of award-winning stop-motion shorts featuring Wallace, an inventor whose creations often go awry, and Gromit, his devoted dog. In their Oscar-winning feature debut (a coproduction between Park’s Aardman Animations and DreamWorks), the two are hired to protect their town’s vegetable patches from ravenous rabbits. Wallace tries to brainwash the bunnies with his latest creation (the Mind Manipulation–O-Matic), but instead ends up creating a bigger foe – a towering were-rabbit that emerges at every full moon. The canvas is a bit bigger than in Aardman’s previous excursions: Celebrities like Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter lend their vocal talents, and there are a few beautifully bombastic action scenes. Yet the endearingly handmade qualities of Park’s shorter works are still fully evident, especially in Gromit’s priceless silent reactions to his human master’s frequent obliviousness.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

20.  Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Disney busts open a portal to the original multiverse of madness. 

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Best quote: ‘I’m not bad – I’m just drawn that way.’

Defining moment: A quivering cartoon shoe meets its demise via ‘the Dip’ – a legitimately disturbing moment for kids and adults.

‘Groundbreaking’ is often thrown around recklessly in film discussion, but in the case of Robert Zemeckis’s exceedingly clever send-up of Golden Age noirs, it absolutely applies, in several different ways. First off, there’s the nearly seamless blend of animation and live action, creating a world in which big-name cartoon characters mingle with human Hollywood stars. It was one of the first films to employ motion-controlled technology, and still looks better than most of those that came afterward, even decades later. Then there’s the primordial ‘multiverse’ concept, in which recognisable characters from the Disney universe share space with those from other companies, including Warner Bros. and Universal – something which, with Disney owning half the world, seems less impressive today but was mind-blowing back then. Beyond that, Roger Rabbit established a tone for a certain kind of animated movie, one that operates on two different levels for two different audiences. Kids could lose their shit over seeing Mickey Mouse and Yosemite Sam in the same movie, while the script’s pulpy dialogue and innuendo flies right over their head to amuse their parents. Everyone, though, ended up a little bit creeped out by Christopher Lloyd’s genuinely scarring turn as the genocidal Judge Doom.

21.  Ratatouille (2007)

Pixar was at the height of its powers when it made this Paris-set tale of a rat with immense cooking talent.

Directors:   Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava

Best quote:  ‘ In many ways, the work of a critic is easy.’

Defining moment:   Food critic Anton Ego tastes Remy’s dish and is plunged into memories of his childhood.

This charming, Paris-set Pixar film from Brad Bird has something of a midcentury Disney air to it in its story of a food-obsessed rat, Remy, who ends up secretly assisting a likable but extremely green newbie chef, Linguini, in a high-class city restaurant. It's a great example (even down to its title, a play on the name of the classic French dish) of Pixar's belief in being able to sweep mass audiences along in popular stories that might sound eccentric but are defined by fascinating characters, true emotions and having something to say about the world around us. Part of this film's charm is the relationship between Remy and Linguini and how it develops to a point where Linguini is forced to remember that his newfound success is entirely founded on the help of his unsung rodent friend. Equally memorable is the character of Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole, in fine voice), a feared, arrogant food critic whose claws retract at the taste of a ratatouille which reminds him of his youth. His subsequent review, a beautiful piece of writing honoring creativity and talent, is surely close to the heart of the Pixar project itself.

Up (2009)

22.  Up (2009)

Pixar’s saddest, sweetest, strangest film.

Directors:   Pete Docter and Bob Peterson

Best quote:  ‘ Adventure is out there!’

Defining moment:   An obvious one – the heartbreaking opening sequence tracking Carl and Ellie through their life together.

It's the brief opening chapter of   Up   that everyone remembers best, and rightly so – even Pixar and director Pete Docter returned to its model for their later film   Inside Out . It's in those few minutes that we race through the life of now-elderly Carl, a widower who once dreamed of becoming an explorer before work and family, love and tragedy, took over. Rarely has popular animation displayed such acute sensitivity to the pattern and flow of real life. From there, we're back to the present day as Carl decides to respond to the authorities who are trying to push him off his property by tying a thousand balloons to his home and floating off, with his house, to find the waterfalls in South America that he and his wife had always dreamed of visiting. The rest of the film is inventive, fast and visually extravagant, even if it doesn't quite reach the imaginative heights of Pixar’s absolute best (we’re not spoiling it).

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

23.  The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

An oldster saves her kidnapped grandson with the help of three peculiar singers.

Director:   Sylvain Chomet

Best quote:  ‘ Swinging Belleville rendez-vous!’

Defining moment:   The Triplets sing their signature tune to a down-and-out Madame Souza.

For his feature debut, French animator and graphic novelist Sylvain Chomet crafted a wondrous, touching homage to the work of the great physical comic Jacques Tati ( Playtime ). Madame Souza is a devoted grandmother to her cyclist grandson, Champion, whom she trains to compete in the Tour de France. During the race, he is kidnapped by the mob and taken to the city of Belleville for cryptic purposes. Souza follows and befriends three aging music-hall singers, the Triplets, who assist in her quest to save Champion. Dialogue is kept to a bare minimum; you could count the number of spoken sentences on one hand. This frees Chomet to concentrate on the stunning, sublimely grotesque visuals, which play delightfully with perspective and proportion. Two joined-at-the-shoulder henchmen look like a rectangular black block with legs. Champion’s dog, Bruno, is a galumphing blob of jowl and fur. And the Triplets – as good at making music with household appliances as they are at outwitting gun-toting gangsters – seem to expand and contract at will, as if their spines were Slinkys.

Fantastic Planet (1973)

24.  Fantastic Planet (1973)

Surreal social commentary in a Gallic animated sci-fi milestone.

Director:   René Laloux

Best quote:  ‘ I was only a tiny toy, but on occasion a toy who dared to rebel.’

Defining moment:   A mother runs in terror cradling her child, only to be picked up and flung to the ground by a giant blue hand.

Take the big’uns-versus-little’uns conflict from   Gulliver’s Travels , sprinkle with the Blue Meanies from   Yellow Submarine , add a political allegory as forceful as Orwell’s   1984   and you’re beginning to grasp this unique combination of Gallic creativity and Czech production expertise. No other animated feature looks like this, since planet Ygam and its weirdly wonderful inhabitants are drawn in a deliberately antique fashion, like some illustrated bestiary from before Columbus set sail. The tiny Homs (think   hommes , French for ‘men’) are kept as pets by their otherworldly conquerors, the giant Draags (perhaps   drogues , French for ‘drugs’), but they have the spirit and ingenuity to turn the tables on their technologically advanced yet dangerously self-absorbed masters. This definitely prefigures the world of Hayao Miyazaki’s   Nausicäa , even if it lacks his robust storytelling and crisp action. It’s a ’70s landmark all the same.

25.  101 Dalmatians (1961)

Disney’s most stylish baddie concocts a devilish plan.

Directors:   Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wolfgang Reitherman

Best quote:  ‘ I live for furs. I worship furs! Is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t?’

Defining moment:   The puppies sneak past Cruella De Vil, covered in soot, disguised as black Labradors.

You can accuse Disney of softening a lot of things in the making of their animated tales, but scrimping on villains has never been part of their approach. There are few evil Disney folk as memorable as Cruella de Vil, the fur-coated harridan who sweeps into the home of newly-married Roger and Anita to the sound of a thunderclap and in a cloud of cigarette ash. Cruella, an old friend of too-nice Anita, has heart set on skinning their two dogs’ 99 Dalmatian puppies. Unwittingly, she kickstarts a plot that sees the local animal world rising up to defeat her and her henchmen (and inspiring songwriter Roger to pen a catchy new ditty about his wife's awful, murderous acquaintance). The animation here was simpler than its less-successful Disney predecessor   Sleeping Beauty , but the film has a metropolitan charm to it, especially in its depiction of London's suburban streets, houses and parks.

Bambi (1942)

26.  Bambi (1942)

The film that makes little kids (and grown adults) cry.

Directors:   James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield and Norman Wright

Best quote:  ‘ Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don’t look back! Keep running! Keep running!’

Defining moment:   Bambi and his mother graze peacefully in a clearing. Her ears prick up. Something’s not right. A gunshot rings out. They run for their lives.

For lots of us,   Bambi   is so many firsts: the first time we cried in the theater, when… you know when; the first time we realized that really bad things happen to adorably cute deer. In 1942, Walt Disney described   Bambi   as ‘the best picture I have ever made, and the best ever to come out of Hollywood.’ Today, it still has friends in high places.   The Pixar crew are huge fans, arguing that, from boy to buckhood,   Bambi   contains some of Disney’s most charming animation (Walt set up a small zoo at the studio for his team to study the animals). And in the roll call of Disney supporting actors, Thumper the rabbit is an all-time great. Despite its reputation for being sentimental, the film’s closing scene – Bambi abandons his mate and newborn twin fawns to join his father in the forest – is as un-Disney as it gets.

Persepolis (2007)

27.  Persepolis (2007)

An Iranian expat remembers her tumultuous childhood during the Islamic revolution.

Directors:   Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi

Best quote:  ‘ Shut up, you bitches! Yes, I’m Iranian, and I’m proud of it!’

Defining moment:   Young Marjane talks her way out of a tough spot after buying an Iron Maiden bootleg.

This autobiographical, mostly black-and-white animation looks back on the early life of its creator, the Iranian author and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi. Born in 1969, Satrapi's formative years coincided with radical change in her homeland of Iran, which moved from the rule of the Shah, through the 1979 revolution, to being an Islamic state. Mouthy and awkward as a Tehran student, Satrapi was then sent to school in Vienna, where she discovered music and men and challenged the settled European apathy of classmates who called themselves ‘anarchists.’   Persepolis   is politics as personal testimony, touched with the humor and wisdom of hindsight, and it’s full of the dry wit of its storyteller. Visually, the film is beguiling: Satrapi gives us characters drawn in soft monochrome, against the charcoal backgrounds of cities. Although told from an adult's perspective,   Persepolis   retains a child's-eye view of the world, which perfectly suits the deceptively straightforward style of animation.

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

28.  South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

Freed from the constraints of network TV, prepubescent paper-cut terrors go on the rampage.

Director:   Trey Parker

Best quote:  ‘ That movie has warped my fragile little mind.’

Defining moment:  ‘ Uncle Fucka,’ the foulmouthiest jolly little musical number in animation history.

The Broadway-conquering, Tony-sweeping success of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s stage musical,   The Book of Mormon , took many by surprise – but only the sort of people who wouldn’t have touched the   South Park   movie with a conductor’s baton. If they had, those audiences would have known that the Coloradans were not merely purveyors of taste-baiting trash for sniggering schoolboys, but the slyest, smartest and (yes) most tuneful satirists America had produced since, well, ever. And   South Park Bigger Longer & Uncut   remains their defining statement, a work combining epic scale (a land war with Canada, a trip to the depths of Hades, a daylight raid on the Baldwin compound) with intimate character comedy (Satan’s grief over his lover Saddam Hussein’s infidelity is genuinely touching), wrapped in a biting commentary on censorship and topped off with belting show tunes worthy of   West Side Story .

Watership Down (1978)

29.  Watership Down (1978)

Nothing is child’s play in this vivid, gutsy adaptation of Richard Adams’s novel about a colony of rabbits seeking a new warren.

Director:   Martin Rosen

Best quote:  ‘ All the world will be your enemy, Prince of a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you.’

Defining moment:   The harrowing apocalyptic vision of young Fiver, which sets the story – and decidedly mature tone – in motion.

Not quite children’s adventure, not quite grown-up epic, rich with classical allusions and biblical allegory, Richard Adams’s unexpectedly popular novel posed something of a challenge to animators: How do you make a creature feature that’s not too cute for adults, and a story of death and displacement that’s not too grim for families? Martin Rosen’s solemn, urgent and exquisitely rendered film strikes just that balance. There are sequences in this riveting survival tale to terrify viewers of any age, many involving General Woundwort, the face that launched a thousand childhood nightmares. But there’s comforting, compassionate sweetness, too (exemplified by Art Garfunkel’s sentimental theme song, ‘Bright Eyes’), all folded into powerful, traditional storytelling. Nobody would dare make anything like it today.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

30.  Princess Mononoke (1997)

Ancient forests mark the battleground for mankind’s future in this mythical drama set in medieval Japan.

Best quote:  ‘ My goal is to see with eyes unclouded by hate.’

Defining moment:   The first sight of the Deer God, antlers glowing as we glimpse him through the trees.

Like   Nausicäa of the Valley of the Wind and Laputa: Castle in the Sky , this Miyazaki epic puts ecological concerns at the center of a human power struggle – but a decade on from those earlier films, the director’s worldview had become much more complex. The nascent technology of iron smelting allows for the development of firearms, but also means that forests are felled to fuel the process – forests where the ancient gods still live. Half-human, half-spirit Mononoke embodies the contradictions of change, vowing to protect the woods yet drawn to youthful warrior-tribesman Ashitaka, who’s seeking his own destiny at the heart of this threatened landscape. Unlike the Disney universe, there are no simplistic heroes or villains here, just the steady realization that our bid to master nature will have profound consequences: both our making and our undoing. Muscular, troubling, uncompromising storytelling on a grand scale.

WALL-E (2008)

31.  WALL-E (2008)

Pixar pushes the boundaries (again) with a near-wordless tale of robot romance in a dystopian future.

Director:   Andrew Stanton

Best quote:  ‘ Computer, define   dancing .’

Defining moment:   Wall-E’s increasingly frenzied, love-struck attempts to revive his comatose flame are heartbreaking.

This must remain Pixar's most bold movie to date. Taking its cue from the worst projections imaginable of the environmental destruction of our planet,   Wall-E   imagines Earth in the year 2805 completely devoid of humans. The only animate object that remains is a rusty old robot designed to collect waste (his name stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth Class). This is a rare popular animated feature that offers a challenging, angry vision of the future. And, moreover, it's almost an experimental movie – for its first 40 minutes or so, we watch in awe as Wall-E goes about his work on Earth in almost complete quiet. It's virtually a silent movie, meaning that the script relies heavily on visual gags, messages and cues. The film's later scenes slightly betray the promise of its first, awe-inspiring half when we move to a frenetic, horrific space station where all the remaining humans now live, but even then the film's vision of man's folly is no less cutting. For all its quiet anger,   Wall-E   is a romance too, and when, back on Earth, a second robot, Eve, appears, we find ourselves cheering on a nascent union in a way that only Pixar could inspire.

The Jungle Book (1967)

32.  The Jungle Book (1967)

Disney gets with the ’60s.

Director:   Wolfgang Reitherman

Best quote:  ‘ I’m the king of the swingers / The jungle VIP / I’ve reached the top and had to stop / And that’s what’s botherin’ me.’

Defining moment:   King Louie of the Apes and Baloo the Bear’s scat-’n’-dance routine.

Has there ever been a Disney movie with a more memorable, enduring soundtrack? Perhaps we'll still be humming ‘Let It Go’ from   Frozen   in 40 years time, but until then, numbers like ‘Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ reign supreme. It helps that those songs have such a groovy home, as if the Disney crew had decamped to Haight-Ashbury to get their inspiration for this loose, hippyish spin on Rudyard Kipling's India-set tales.   The Jungle Book   has a distinctly 1960s flavor, from the vultures with mop tops and British accents to a snake's tripped-out eyes. And the characters, of course, remain some of Disney's most beloved, topped by Baloo (the Bill Murray of bears). Walt himself passed away during the making of this film; its enormous box-office haul is now credited with rescuing the studio's animation division from the possible jaws of closure.

Toy Story 2 (1999)

33.  Toy Story 2 (1999)

The toys are back in town!

Directors: John Lasseter, with Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich

Best quote: ‘Woody, you're not a collector's item, you're a child's plaything. You. Are. A. Toy!’ 

Defining moment: The devastating Jessie and Emily montage. Stings every time.  

Initially conceived as a signature Disney straight-to-video cash-in, the first sequel to Pixar’s studio-defining debut feature proved that Buzz, Woody and the gang might just be the millennial Muppets: a cast of colourful characters who’ll never fully leave our lives, and who we’ll always be happy to see pop up every few years, no matter how old we get. (A fifth film in the franchise has been announced, too.) Rescued from that ignominious fate by Pixar head John Lasseter, Toy Story 2 doesn’t just offer more of what we got in the original movie – even if its rescue-mission plot feels familiar – but rather expands the universe and inner lives of Andy’s playthings, fleshing out Woody’s backstory, heightening the emotions, introducing compelling new characters and confronting startlingly mature themes about self-worth, abandonment and letting go. (Seriously, try to get through that Jessie montage without getting a little misty.) Best of all? It remains fun and funny as heck, ultimately hitting a laughs-to-tears ratio that would carry Pixar’s classics still to come.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

34.  Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Romance, music and comedy combine in a latter-day Disney milestone.

Directors:   Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale

Best quote:  ‘ It’s no use. She’s so beautiful. And I’m… well, look at me!’

Defining moment:   The camera sweeps through the ballroom as the couple hits the floor.

A Disney Renaissance high point, this ‘tale as old as time’ is as essential to the Mouse House’s rep as   Pinocchio   or   Cinderella . Famously,   Beauty and the Beast   would be the first animated movie ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar – and that’s back in the cutthroat era of five nominees, mind you. But all awards talk aside, the movie is enchanting: exactly how a romantic animated fantasy should feel. You might be able to find tougher versions of the fable (nothing can compare to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 stunner), but there’s great compensation via this batch of original musical numbers, including ‘Be Our Guest,’ ‘Belle’ and the title track. All were created by lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken, the former to whom the movie is dedicated – he died of AIDS complications mere months before the release.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

35.  Toy Story 3 (2010)

Pixar scored a hat trick – in 3-D – with the third film of its signature franchise.

Director:   Lee Unkrich

Best quote:  ‘ What are you going to do with these old toys?’

Defining moment:   When the toys are threatened with a horrific end at the garbage dump.

It took 11 years for Pixar to make a third visit to the playroom. Getting there was a bumpy ride: Development for the final   Toy Story   film became caught up in the intricacies of the animation studio’s production deal with Disney, and at one point the Mouse House was planning to make the second sequel without Pixar’s involvement. That all changed when Disney bought the studio in 2006, and Pixar took charge of Disney Animation. Much of the original team – including John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, the latter of whom would now direct   Toy Story 3   solo – went back to the drawing board and came up with a narrative that saw Andy, the toys’ owner, about to go to college and the toys escaping the terrible fate of the attic and heading instead to a day-care center – which turns out to not be the paradise they’d hoped for. The mix of energy and emotion was as winning as ever.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

36.  The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Handcrafted silhouettes captivate in the first-ever animated feature.

Director:   Lotte Reiniger

Best quote:   It’s silent, so you’ll have to provide your own dialogue.

Defining moment:   The good witch takes on the evil sorcerer in a shape-shifting smackdown.

Given the immense visual sophistication of today’s computer-aided animation, is there still any point in watching a silent film where paper cutouts move across illuminated sheets of glass? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is a resounding yes, since this fairy-tale adventure from Germany’s Lotte Reiniger is no fusty historical artifact, but a mesmerizing viewing experience, precisely because (unlike modern animation) we can see the handiwork involved in creating the exquisite silhouettes peopling this classic   Arabian Nights   tale. There’s a flying horse, a dashing prince, an evil sorcerer, a damsel in serious distress, and even a special appearance by Aladdin and his ‘wunderlampe.’ It’s all rendered in filigree detail that brings the time-honored story to life. There’s not quite the seamless movement we’ve come to expect these days, but when Reiniger fills the screen with spiky winged demons, the sheer craft on display is genuinely breathtaking.

Chicken Run (2000)

37.  Chicken Run (2000)

Aardman’s first feature applied their signature style to a tale of farmed chickens trying to break free.

Directors:   Peter Lord and Nick Park

Best quote:  ‘ All my life flashed before my eyes... It was really boring.’

Defining moment:   When our feathered friends finally fly a homemade mechanical bird over the fence.

Britain’s Aardman Animations had been going since the early 1970s, and had won three Oscars for its short films ‘Creature Comforts,’ ‘The Wrong Trousers’ and ‘A Close Shave’ (the latter two featuring Wallace and Gromit), by the time that the company’s founder, Peter Lord, and his collaborator Nick Park codirected their first feature,   Chicken Run , in 2000. A feathery spin on   The Great Escape , the film showcased the same clay animation Aardman had employed to bring the much-loved Morph character to life on British TV in the 1970s and ’80s. Only now their budget was bigger, they were working with DreamWorks and Pathé, and the voices included Mel Gibson as an arrogant American chicken among an ensemble of winged prisoners in Yorkshire desperate to escape a vicious farm and its chicken-pie machine. The Aardman style – amusing, down-to-earth, homey dialogue coupled with simple, oversize features –survived the company’s first brush with Hollywood.

Finding Nemo (2003)

38.  Finding Nemo (2003)

Pixar’s beloved shaggy-fish story hooked the box office.

Best quote:  ‘ Just keep swimming.’

Defining moment:   Those toothy, Aussie ‘vegetarian’ sharks really are terrifying. Nowadays we take it as a given that half of the year’s biggest moneymakers are going to be cartoons: Even inferior animated sequels draw the kind of audiences once reserved for Schwarzenegger and Spielberg.   Finding Nemo   may not have managed to crack the top slot at the box office – it was up against   The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King –  but its success both at the multiplex and on home video (it’s the biggest seller of all time, apparently) heralded a new age of animated blockbusters. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving film, the warmest, most universal of all the Pixar home-run hitters. Particularly notable:   Finding Nemo   eschews a big-name voice cast in favor of talented character actors like Albert Brooks and Allison Janney, a lesson that too many recent animated films have failed to learn.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

39.  How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How the Vikings learned to stop warring and love dragons.

Directors:   Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

Best quote:  ‘ It’s only fun if you get a scar out of it.’

Defining moment:   Pint-size Viking Hiccup meets Toothless, the not-so-scary Night Fury dragon. Odin almighty! Here’s a kids’ animated film with wit, charm and one-liners. The story is as old as a Nordic longboat: a coming-of-age yarn about a boy with daddy issues. Our hero is Viking pipsqueak Hiccup, raised in a proud nation of dragon slayers. All Hiccup wants is to please his warrior father, Stoick the Vast (who sums up the macho Viking philosophy nicely: ‘When I was a kid, my dad told me to bang my head against a rock – and I did it’). Hiccup’s trouble is that he is the geekiest, weediest Viking in the tribe. But (pay attention, kids) since the brain is mightier than brawn, he learns the ways of the dragons. The film climaxes with a spectacular aerial battle sequence. Meanwhile, Hiccup’s little dragon buddy Toothless is the cutest kitten-bat-lizard crossbreed you’re likely ever to see onscreen.

Consuming Spirits (2012)

40.  Consuming Spirits (2012)

A one-man, multidiscipline labor of love.

Director:   Chris Sullivan

Best quote:  ‘ I do not suggest using ashes as fertilizer – these bitter urns of charred memories soak into the soil and leave a blackened taste on the lips.’

Defining moment:   A scratchy, pencil-sketch scene of loss, as the authorities come to take away little Lydia and Victor Blue.

Surely the most obscure film on our list,   Consuming Spirits   is the result of more than a decade’s work for writer, director, animator, musician and voice artist Chris Sullivan and his small team. Running 136 minutes and encompassing more than 230,000 individual frames, this epic achievement combines cutout, stop-frame and pencil sketches and a beautiful soundtrack steeped in mountain folk. But as with any great animated movie, it’s the emotional content that’s most rewarding. Set in a small Pennsylvania town, this is a poetic, downbeat tale of three characters united by disappointment, alcohol and a haunted past. Thanks to an extremely limited U.S. release,   Consuming Spirits   is little known even within the animation community, but almost everyone who voted for it here made it their number-one choice.

Waking Life (2001)

41.  Waking Life (2001)

Conversations swirl in a treatise on the need to stay curious.

Director:   Richard Linklater

Best quote:  ‘ Are you a dreamer? I haven’t seen too many around lately.’

Defining moment:   Floppy-haired Wiley Wiggins floats high above his suburban neighborhood, a black shape against the blue sky.

Trippiness of a highly verbal nature wasn’t unexpected from the director of   Slacker   and   Dazed and Confused . Still, Richard Linklater’s hypnotic plunge into rotoscoping proved a litmus test even for his fans: You either let the flow of cosmic ideas sweep you up in a stimulating rush or you checked out somewhere. In either case, the filmmaker’s creativity was undeniable. Friends morph into banks of fluffy, chatting clouds; flirters launch words like love into earholes. Amateur philosophizing was never so well-supported or flattered by its form. Fans of   Before Sunrise   noticed Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke lounging in bed (a hint of two sequels yet to come). Yet for the most part, all footholds evaporated.   Waking Life   was – and still is – a surreal invitation to cut loose.

When the Wind Blows (1986)

42.  When the Wind Blows (1986)

An elderly British couple thinks it can survive a nuclear attack with Blitz-era gumption.

Director:   Jimmy T. Murakami

Best quote:  ‘ There’s no need to forget your manners just because there’s a war on.’

Defining moment:   Surveying their destroyed kitchen, the couple brews a cup of tea and baffles over their silenced TV.

A sick joke on paper, this devastating domestic drama today feels like one of the more honest works of the anti-nuke movement. It’s a complete and utter downer, making a larger point subtly through the employment of animation itself: Such an adorably hand-drawn universe is too precious to last in a world of mutually assured destruction. We’re all living in a cartoon if we actually believe survival is possible when the radiation headaches mount and your hair starts failing out in tufts. (Heartbreakingly, the husband assures his wife that women don’t go bald – a ‘scientific fact.’) Big-name pop stars lent their music to the cause, including Roger Waters, Squeeze and David Bowie, who crooned the soulful, undanceable title track. If you haven’t seen this one, that’s totally understandable; it makes   The Day After   look like a gentle summer shower.

Inside Out (2015)

43.  Inside Out (2015)

Pixar’s fantastic voyage into the mind brings all the feels.

Director: Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen

Best quote: ‘ Take her to the moon for me. Okay?’

Defining moment: The early, stakes-raising collapse of Goofball Island.

Inside Out feels like a dare: Here is Pixar, known trafficker of emotional manipulation, creating an entire universe of anthropomorphic feelings set within the mind of a child on the cusp of adolescence. Yet what pushes Inside Out to masterpiece status is the way its creators craft their fantastic voyage into the mind, allowing sentient emotions like Joy and Sadness to ebb and flow. Children will find lessons in emotional management and the importance of sorrow. Parents will find solace in the universality of embracing a child’s whirligig emotional shifts. And anyone with a pulse will find themselves enraptured in the full spectrum of emotions being brought vividly to life.

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

44.  The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Threatened farm animals seek the help of super-smart experimental rodents from a lab.

Director:   Don Bluth

Best quote:  ‘ We can no longer live as rats. We know too much.’

Defining moment:   The fearsome, golden-eyed Great Owl smashes a spider, chomps on a moth – and offers some sage advice.

A very smart film for kids (and a less-than-escapist one for parents), this animated masterpiece plays off the sad premise of lab rats made superintelligent by experimental drugs. Director Don Bluth led the exodus away from Disney in 1980 when he felt that the company was abandoning its attention to detail for cheaper production methods.   NIMH   is Bluth’s defiant, richly adorned response. It also features the scariest owl ever committed to film.

Mary and Max (2009)

45.  Mary and Max (2009)

A wise, funny Claymation tale of lives lived on the edge of society.

Director:   Adam Elliot

Best quote:  ‘ Butts are bad because they wash out to sea, and fish smoke them and become nicotine-dependent.’

Defining moment:   Max wins the lottery and uses his prize money to buy a lifetime supply of chocolate.

This Claymation feature observes the letter-writing relationship between Mary Dinkle, a chubby, lonely eight-year-old girl in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a severely obese, Jewish 44-year-old New Yorker with Asperger’s syndrome. Say all that five times fast. More importantly, see it. It’ll convince you that animation can contain a universe of comic variety, from overbearing-mom jokes to pugnacious outsider resiliency. Philip Seymour Hoffman voices Max, movingly.

Cinderella (1950)

46.  Cinderella (1950)

Who needs a caring stepmother when you’ve got glass slippers, an enchanted lifestyle and a hunky Prince Charming at the end of the day?

Directors:   Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske

Best quote:  ‘ A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.’

Defining moment:   A pumpkin and some mice get a magical makeover.

Even today, when you watch a Disney film, the impact of   Cinderella   can be felt from the very first frame: That iconic castle, the studio’s logo, comes right from this picture. It was the make-or-break gamble that, had it failed, would have meant the end for Walt & Co. Instead, his film’s runaway success allowed him to finance the theme parks and cement his name forever. The elements of the story are bedrock components of the Disney formula: plucky, charming heroine, helpful sidekick animals, the promise of total transformation. Yet there was innovation here, too; musical numbers would, for the first time, be commissed out to Tin Pan Alley experts, while live-action footage was shot as a model for most scenes.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

47.  The Little Mermaid (1989)

The calypso-inflected Hans Christian Andersen adaptation that revived the Mouse House’s ailing fortunes.

Directors:   John Musker and Ron Clements

Best quote:  ‘ Somebody’s got to nail that girl’s fins to the floor.’

Defining moment:   In the infectious ‘Under the Sea,’ Sebastian the crab attempts to convince wayward Ariel of the merits of ocean living.

Two years later,   Beauty and the Beast   received more acclaim, but it was this cheery musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s bleakly fatalistic fairy tale that redesigned the template of contemporary Disney animation and returned the studio to pop-culture prominence. The formula – take a story everyone knows with a plucky princess, then add a bunch of hip, catchy-as-chlamydia show tunes – still works, as the recent success of   Frozen   demonstrates. But alongside the witty, verbally intricate contributions of ingenious songsmiths Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, it’s the depth of yearning for other lives and other forms that gives this one emotional resonance and staying power. Well, that and the lasciviously tentacled, Mae West–and–Divine-inspired sea witch Ursula, surely among the greatest Disney villains.

Waltz with Bashir (2008)

48.  Waltz with Bashir (2008)

The madness and futility of war…in animation.

Director:   Ari Folman

Best quote:  ‘ Memory fills the holes with things that never happened.’

Defining moment:   The acid-trip opener: An ex-soldier describes a recurring dream of being chased by a pack of 26 ferocious dogs.

Animation is often used to illustrate the impossible (a talking rat, for example), but Ari Folman’s masterpiece takes unique advantage of the medium’s ability to see things that live-action can’t show us.   Waltz with Bashir   is a film about a uniquely filmic problem: How do you visualize something that’s been forgotten? Recreating real-world testimony with Adobe Flash animation (and a haunting Max Richter score), Folman tries to remember the role he played in a massacre as a young Israeli soldier. What he finds is less important than how he looks for it, but the results of his search are unforgettably devastating all the same.

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

49.  Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

An animation giant plunders classic kids’ lit for this tale of a resourceful young witch.

Best quote:  ‘ You’d think they’d never seen a girl and a cat on a broom before.’

Defining moment:   The airship disaster is one of the most thrilling sequences in the Ghibli catalog.

One of the best-known anime features apart from   Akira , this charming comedy about a teenager who leaves home to try her luck as a witch was Japan’s highest-grossing film of 1989. (In America, that top grosser was Tim Burton’s   Batman , as stark a contrast as could be imagined.) In the movie’s wake, teenage witchery would become a huge industry dominated by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.   Kiki   can’t exactly claim credit for that trend, but it is an early example of turning the magic of spell-casting literature (in this case, an unassuming novel by Eiko Kadono) into popular entertainment.

Allegro Non Troppo (1976)

50.  Allegro Non Troppo (1976)

Animation meets classical music in an Italian-style Fantasia.

Director:   Bruno Bozzetto

Best quote:  ‘ Someone called Disney has already made this?’

Defining moment:   Humanity’s evolution scored to Ravel’s Bolero is a magnificent set piece.

Popularly known as the Italian   Fantasia , this animated feature is hit and miss, but the chronicle of evolution set to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ is a truly remarkable achievement, and damn funny. There’s definitely a Monty Python–style antiestablishment surrealism at play here, not least the musical sections, in which we see humanity evolve from the sludge at the bottom of a Coke bottle. And unless we’re forgetting,   Fantasia   didn’t include live-action behind-the-scenes bickering, shot in black and white.

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

51.  The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

Miyazaki’s first feature is an affectionate, fun-filled take on ’60s spy capers.

Best quote:  ‘ My prize is a treasure locked away in a tower by an evil magician – please allow this humble thief to steal it.’

Defining moment:   The dashing hero facing certain death entombed in the baddie’s catacombs.

Created by French writer Maurice Leblanc in 1905, gentleman thief Arsène Lupin later morphed into Rupan, the dashing antihero of a manga. It became a hit TV series and generated master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s very first feature. Fresh from another jewel robbery, Rupan finds himself in the tiny duchy of Cagliostro, hoping to rescue comely Clarisse from marriage to the scheming count who’s usurped the throne. What unfolds is a cavalcade of scrapes and gadgetry, indicating that Miyazaki knew his ’60s celluloid spy capers back to front. The result is undeniably lightweight yet breathlessly entertaining: Plotting is resourceful in its succession of twists and reversals, and the architectural hyperdetail of the castle itself is typical Miyazaki. It’s a delightful movie that sits at a slight remove from the rest of his work.

Coco (2017)

52.  Coco (2017)

A life-affirming journey to the land of the dead. Director: Lee Unkrich

Best quote: ‘ Don't be afraid of losing people. Be afraid of losing yourself trying to please everyone .’

Defining moment: Mama Coco’s lucid ‘Remember Me’ duet. 

Coco is Pixar’s most brazen attempt to harvest every human tear on Earth, a film of almost unbearable emotional manipulation that stacks its gut-punches perilously high in an attempt to stretch the first 15 minutes of Up into feature length. Yet Coco soars. While it’s undeniably the apex of Pixar’s ‘all the feels’ formula, the film is also a joyful celebration of Mexican culture, vibrant music and the importance of family highlighted by a vividly colorful afterlife teeming with fantastical creatures, beautifully sketched characters and a smart villainous heel turn. By the end, it’s hard to tell whether you’re crying out of grief, joy or wonderment. Probably all three.

The Lego Movie (2014)

53.  The Lego Movie (2014)

This politically charged family adventure effortlessly transcends its toy-exploiting roots.

Directors:   Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Best quote:  ‘ Everything is awesome!’

Defining moment:   When our hero Emmet awakes to find himself in the ‘real’ world.

Can you imagine the raised eyebrows when this one was announced? And can you imagine what would have happened if the filmmakers had ruined the reputation of these most-loved plastic toy bricks? Luckily,   Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs   writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller came up with a movie that was confident, strangely moving and loopy. Adding a hint of   The Truman Show   to their conceit, they give us Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), an everyday builder who's ridiculously chirpy and content (the stupidly catchy ‘Everything is Awesome’ is the key song) and totally unaware that he's a tiny cog in a malevolent corporate machine designed to keep its lowly workers ignorant, useful and disempowered. The film has a cutting streak of satire to it, as well as a stream of sophisticated gags that keep coming. Best of all, the entire thing exists in a world of plasticy brick-ness. The film's final moments have proved divisive, but whatever you make of them, they're no less bold than everything that comes before.

Fritz the Cat (1972)

54.  Fritz the Cat (1972)

Hard to be a collegian feline in the city? Not really, especially when there’s so much sex and pot to be had.

Director:   Ralph Bakshi

Best quote:  ‘ I’ve fought many a good man, and laid many a good woman.’

Defining moment:   Fritz gets handsy in a bathtub with at least three other animals.

It’s not an overstatement to divide the whole of animated cinema into two eras: Before   Fritz   and After   Fritz . Aside from becoming a global sensation (and outgrossing most Disney films up to that point), Ralph Bakshi’s libidinous Greenwich Village romp was a slap in the face to purists who hoped to keep cartoons safe for kids. Notoriously, the film received an X rating (and includes a fair amount of bare-assed rutting), but that pejorative label might have also been due to its director’s overall vision, inspired by Robert Crumb’s countercultural characters and filled with Vietnam War–era surliness. Bakshi cut his teeth at Paramount Pictures and in advertising for clients like Coca-Cola; he was no fool to the realities of commerce. Still, it took someone familiar with the game to break the rules so completely. His triumph is animation’s puberty.

Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

55.  Sita Sings the Blues (2008)

A modern woman’s breakup is paralleled with a musical retelling of the   Ramayana.

Director:   Nina Paley

Best quote:  ‘ Assemble the monkey warriors!’

Defining moment:   Sita wonders, ‘Whooooooooo’s that knockin’ at my door?’ in an energetic battle-scene-cum-musical-number.

Comic-strip-writer-turned-animator Nina Paley draws (literally) various parallels between her own experiences traveling through India and the ancient Sanskrit poem   Ramayana . The result is an impressively dense combo of mix-and-match toon styles, literary references and plain ol’ ingenuity. The most distinctive turn is giving Sita the voice of Jazz Age singer Annette Hanshaw, whose cheery verve adds a defiant layer to a story normally defined by machismo.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

56.  Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Three Japanese vagabonds attempt to find the parents of an abandoned baby during Christmastime.

Directors:   Satoshi Kon and Shogo Furuya

Best quote:  ‘ You peep pretty loud for a chick that can’t even find its own worms.’

Defining moment:   The little bundle of joy, miraculously saved after a fall from a skyscraper, yawns in reply.

Three homeless people find an abandoned baby wanted by the yakuza, and vow to protect her by any means necessary. Kon’s tribute to John Ford’s   3 Godfathers   was a departure from his usual psychedelic kitchen-sink aesthetic, and is easily his most accessible film. Whether you want something so straightforward from someone so adept at mining the edges of imagination, however, is another story. But the dramatic range of animation continues to expand, always cause for hope.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

57.  Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Pixar’s purple patch spawns another monster smash.

Director:   Pete Docter

Best quote:  ‘ There’s nothing more toxic or deadly than a human child.’

Defining moment:   The closing credits, as our heroes perform their hastily improvised stage musical ‘Put That Thing Back Where It Came from or So Help Me.’

For a while, it seemed so simple: Pixar was on such a spectacular roll that even something as wildly inventive and eye-slappingly beautiful as   Monsters, Inc . could be regarded as just another link in the chain. Only now, following a string of disappointments (including 2013’s forgettable prequel,   Monsters University ), do we realize how good we had it. Perhaps more than any other Pixar flick,   Monsters, Inc.  plays havoc with the possibilities of animation, harking back to the golden age of Looney Tunes for its wild, dimension hopping action sequences and wealth of background gags, cramming the screen with color, life and wit. The characterization is equally noteworthy: Director Pete Docter milks every ounce of humor and pathos from his voiceover frontmen Billy Crystal and John Goodman, and the script is packed with memorable one-liners and fuzzy warmth.

Mind Game (2004)

58.  Mind Game (2004)

This anime film is a searingly intense mash-up of styles, genres and narrative techniques.

Director:   Masaaki Yuasa

Best quote:  ‘ I was killed! Shot by that creep! Then I was sucked up to heaven.’

Defining moment:   Nishi, the protagonist, is murdered and sent into limbo, where he encounters a shape-shifting god who’s preoccupied with grooming himself in front of a mirror.

What starts out as a typical anime fantasy – robots, outrageously large-breasted heroines, sci-fi futurism – veers off the rails into anything-goes territory when the geeky male hero dies. Several arguments with God later, he travels back in time and…well, we won’t ruin it for you. Suffice to say,   Mind Fuck   might have been a better title. Check it out.

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

59.  Whisper of the Heart (1995)

A bookish Tokyo schoolgirl ponders her future – and delicately comes of age.

Director:   Yoshifumi Kondô

Best quote:  ‘ It looks like springtime has come for Shizuku at last.’

Defining moment:   The heroine’s telling first visit to the creepy-yet-enticing antiques emporium.

A book-happy female junior-high student, a young man whose family is obsessed with music, and a magical cat are but a few of the elements in this difficult-to-summarize, rather whimsical romance. Shame about the gooey title. Tragically, its director, Yoshifumi Kondo, died of a brain aneurism at 47. He was set to succeed the great Hayao Miyazaki and based on this lovely feature (Kondo’s only completed work), it would have been a gloriously inspired reign.

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

60.  Lady and the Tramp (1955)

What happens when a well-groomed cocker spaniel meets the love of her life, a stray mutt from downtown?

Best quote:  ‘ I wonder what the leash-and-collar set does for excitement.’

Defining moment:   As if you have to ask: a romantic Italian dinner, a single spaghetti strand and two slurpers.

None of Disney’s animated productions speaks better to that studio’s legendary machine than this one, hatched a full 18 years before its ultimate completion. The story was inspired by an actual dog, Lady, the pet of scenarist Joe Grant (also the cowriter of   Dumbo ), who began shaping material as early as 1937. In the subsequent decade, several more scripters hacked away at drafts, incorporating their own doggie anecdotes. By the early ’50s, a working story was approved, but technology demanded a wider canvas: This was the first animated film to be crafted in CinemaScope (a far greater headache for draftsmen than you’d imagine). As for that famous ‘spaghetti kiss,’ a now-classic bit of flirtation? Walt almost killed it. Legendary artist Frank Thomas defied his boss and mocked up a rough version that won the day.

The Illusionist (2010)

61.  The Illusionist (2010)

An unfilmed Jacques Tati script is realized with gentle wit and piercing melancholy.

Best quote:   Not big on dialogue, but the tears of the broken-down clown in the gutter speak volumes.

Defining moment:   When Tatischeff the magician is reduced to doing shopwindow demonstrations.

For a film so delicate and graceful, a surprising amount of controversy continues to swirl around Sylvain Chomet’s nearly silent feature about an aging magician and the young Scottish woman who can’t help but believe in his tricks. The title character is an obvious homage to legendary French filmmaker Jacques Tati, and the story goes that Chomet based the movie on a script that Tati wrote as a private apology to his estranged daughter. Tati may never have intended for   The Illusionist   to be a love letter to himself (or even made at all), but this gorgeously hand-drawn and ineffably heartbreaking wisp of a movie is so perfect that it feels like it was written just for you.

Animal Farm (1954)

62.  Animal Farm (1954)

A landmark work of British animation, terrifying to kids, and some adults.

Directors:   John Halas and Joy Batchelor

Best quote:  ‘ All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

Defining moment:   Utterly corrupted by greed and selfishness, the pigs send Boxer the cart horse to the glue factory (an allegory of Stalin’s betrayal of the proletariat?).

Don’t bother toting the little ones to this impressive animated feature: Though the ending has been altered to make the experience a tad less despairing, Orwell’s biting political satire remains largely intact and it’s a fearsome beast. Of historical note: This was the first feature-length British animated film. Moreover, it was partly funded by the CIA, looking to create some quality propaganda to combat the perceived Communist threat. The film was still taught in schools as late as the 1980s.

Tangled (2010)

63.  Tangled (2010)

No more little miss shy and retiring, this princess means business.

Directors:   Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

Best quote:  ‘ I’m malicious, mean and scary/My face could curdle dairy.’

Defining moment:   Escaping the tower, Rapunzel feels grass under her feet for the first time, and breaks into song (as you would).

The brothers Grimm’s   Rapunzel  must have presented modern Disney with a bit of a head-scratcher. Long gone are the days when a Disney princess would spend her hours mooning around a tower dreaming of a knight in shining armor to rescue her. So in this version (with Pixar’s John Lasseter executive-producing), gone is the handsome prince, replaced with an egotistical thief, Flynn Ryder. When he first smarms his way upstairs, Rapunzel thwacks him with a frying pan. This sparky princess will do her own escaping, thank you very much, twirling all that hair like a lasso. Tangled has energy and humor in spades. Best are the beasts: Maximus the army horse (on a mission to capture Flynn) and Pascal the chameleon.

Only Yesterday (1991)

64.  Only Yesterday (1991)

The best film Mikio Naruse never made.

Best quote:  ‘ So many memories playing in my head like a movie, almost overpowering me.’

Defining moment:   A ’60s Tokyo family tucking into a whole pineapple becomes a metaphor for life’s promises and disappointments.

An office worker traveling to the countryside reflects upon her childhood. What, no giant killer robots or floating houses or anything? Isao Takahata’s quiet masterpiece is a key entry point into the serious side of Studio Ghibli – and Japanese anime as a whole, viewed at home as a perfectly legitimate forum for non-fantastical drama.   Only Yesterday   has all the panache of modern-day animation, but weds it to a sweetly nostalgic tale of growing up. And that proves to be wild enough.

Heaven and Earth Magic (1962)

65.  Heaven and Earth Magic (1962)

Wonderfully madcap early-1960s experimental piece.

Director:   Harry Smith

Best quote:   This is all about the imagery. Words are too pedestrian, man.

Defining moment:   A machine that allows you to play a game of tennis with a baby.

You gotta figure that if a fella spends 11 years crafting an hour-long movie, it’s gonna be pretty darn dense. Program notes distributed by NYC’s Anthology Film Archives (a producer) have described the film as ‘alchemical,’ while director Harry Smith best characterizes his avant-garde, surrealist approach: ‘The first part depicts the heroine’s toothache consequent to the loss of a very valuable watermelon, her dentistry and transportation to heaven. The second part depicts the return to Earth from being eaten by Max Müller on the day Edward VII dedicated the Great Sewer of London.’ Got that?

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)

66.  Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)

The seminal anime series comes to a close with an apocalyptic bang.

Directors:   Kazuya Tsurumaki and Hideaki Anno

Best quote:   Our protagonist laments, ‘I’m so fucked up.’

Defining moment:   This is the way the world ends… to a pop song.

Fans were mightily displeased with the cerebral, action-free conclusion of Hideaki Anno’s anime TV series   Neon Genesis Evangelion   (1995–96), in which humans fight otherworldly ‘angels’ with giant robots. So he went back to the drawing board and came up with this immensely satisfying, theatrically released alternate ending, which increases the orgiastic machine-on-monster violence tenfold while doubling down on the heady philosophical and spiritual allusions. This is a movie that begins with our weak-willed adolescent hero, Shinji, masturbating over the comatose body of his colleague, and climaxes with an end-times free-for-all that mixes Christian symbology, Jewish mysticism, sexual paranoia and teenage angst into a searing apocalyptic stew. In between are sights and sounds you’ll never forget – from Shinji’s horrifying descent into insanity to a live-action sequence that provocatively implicates the audience itself in the madness.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

67.  Sleeping Beauty (1959)

  • Family and kids

Never has a party snub had such dire consequences.

Director:   Clyde Geronimi

Best quote:  ‘ Now you shall deal with me, O prince, and all the powers of hell!’

Defining moment:   Evil fairy Maleficent turns herself into a fire-breathing dragon and goes to battle.

Inspired by classic tales by both Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, this Disney animated movie was initially a flop at the box office, postponing the company's return to fairytale territory for three decades until 1989's   The Little Mermaid . Watching it today as a kids' film, it's striking how truly creepy and terrifying   Sleeping Beauty   can be, not least when Princess Aurora is led to the fateful spinning wheel by the evil witch Maleficent (much later given her own, live-action incarnation in the form of Angelina Jolie). The final gothic-tinged showdown between the prince and Maleficent (taking the form of a dragon) in the forests and castle of the decaying Forbidden Mountain is both breathtaking and likely to have little children hiding under the furniture for weeks.

Frozen (2013)

68.  Frozen (2013)

Disney takes a modern approach to an old-fashioned fairy tale.

Directors:   Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck

Best quote:  ‘ Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?’

Defining moment:   Whether you think it’s a feminist belter or reactionary pop drivel, the Oscar-winning song ‘Let It Go’ is a new Disney classic.

Disney can’t have imagined that this reworking of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale   The Snow Queen   would be such an astounding success – just as so many parents could never have imagined that the film's songs and dresses would dominate their lives for so long. It's now the highest-grossing animated film of all time and, as of this writing, has a sequel in the works. Why was it so beloved? Hard to say – it's not exactly groundbreaking.   Frozen   is, however, sweet, witty and gently empowering, with a belting soundtrack, crowned by Idina Menzel singing ‘Let It Go,’ that sells its charm over and over and over. Presumably the troubled sisterly relationship between Anna and Elsa, the latter of whom has dangerous ice-making powers, is part of the emotional pull of the film, as is, surely, the intoxicating powers of their showstopping dresses and hairstyles.   Frozen   has plenty of well-imagined comic relief too, including Olaf, the singing snowman who foolishly dreams of summer. It's a traditional-looking melodrama with a distinct but subtle modern edge to it.

Porco Rosso (1992)

69.  Porco Rosso (1992)

A tribute to classic Hollywood, aviation and the unlimited possibilities of cinema.

Best quote:  ‘ I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.’

Defining moment:   The climactic duel between Porco and his archnemesis, American air ace Curtis.

A decorated WWI pilot finds his head transformed into that of a pig in this truly bizarre toon. Gotta hand it to the Japanese – they don’t just make the same damn film over and over. It’s hard to pick a weirder Ghibli movie, this one or our No. 70 pick,   Pom Poko . Both of them will have you giving animals plenty of respectful distance after you emerge scarred.   Porco Rosso   isn’t a simple if-pigs-had-wings fantasy: It also contains political wit, old Hollywood nostalgia (especially for the derring-do of Errol Flynn) and a sad wisdom about flying too high.

Aladdin (1992)

70.  Aladdin (1992)

Disney’s comeback was assured when this lively romp made millions.

Directors:   Ron Clements and John Musker

Best quote:  ‘ Three wishes, to be exact. And ixnay on the wishing for more wishes.’

Defining moment:   The first appearance of the genie, voiced by Robin Williams, is a rat-a-tat stand-up routine set to dizzying visuals.

It’s all about Robin Williams as the Genie in this Disney blockbuster about the titular street urchin and his three wishes. See if your little ones are even more baffled by the William F. Buckley Jr. parodies –  Aladdin   feels more dated than ever. But time has made it a classic and we can’t deny its innovations. This was the first Disney movie to use computer animation in an extended way (with mixed results); these days, Pixar has perfected that technique. And Williams’s constantly riffing character has become a testament to the boisterous spirit of the man, one who bent an entire industry to his mania.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

71.  Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

With great power comes great responsibility… and Spider-Ham.   

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Best quote: ‘I was bitten by a radioactive pig.’

Defining moment: Miles Morales’s upside-down leap of faith. 

After years of CG heroes weightlessly ping-ponging across the screen, Sony finally realised the best way to bring comic-book chaos to life is through animation. But nobody could have predicted the kinetic, deliriously funny, colourful, gasp-inducing glee with which Into the Spider-Verse would explode off the screen, pushing the capabilities of computer animation to vertiginous new heights. It finally gave audiences the joys of a Black/Latino Spidey, Miles Morales, unleashing the oddball wonders of Spider-Ham and Nicolas Cage’s Spider-Man Noir while also refreshing the whole great power/great responsibility narrative in surprising ways. It’s not just one of the best comic-book movies of all time : It’s a game-changer for animation, and a hell of a fun ride from start to finish. 

Pom Poko (1994)

72.  Pom Poko (1994)

This thunderous Ghibli romp – part satire, part family adventure, part war ‘documentary’ –is one of the weirdest movies ever made.

Best quote:  ‘ I have no face!’

Defining moment:   The scene in which a raccoon transforms his scrotum into a giant sailing ship bound for nirvana. (We know you’re curious.)

It’s raccoons against humans – actually, raccoons   disguised   as humans   against humans – in this wacky battle for the forests outside Tokyo. (Jeez, not another metamorphosing raccoon flick, for crissakes!) You know the cats over at Studio Ghibli are on their own wavelength, but there’s a special delight in discovering that it includes self-inflatable testicular pouches deployed as hot-air balloons. The movie also has a fair amount of human casualty – again, a weird reason for celebration. It’s two hours that simply can’t be compared to anything else.

The Lion King (1994)

73.  The Lion King (1994)

A furry retelling of Hamlet, set on the African savannah.

Directors: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff

Best quote: ‘A king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun.’

Defining moment: Vengeful Scar allows his brother, Mufasa, king of the lions, to fall to his death during a stampede. We know, you’re still not over it.

For a while, it was up for debate which of the three major films of the Disney Renaissance reigns supreme. But in terms of cultural footprint (make that ‘pawprint’), The Lion King has left the biggest mark. No wonder: the story is straight-up Shakespeare; the animation is stunning; young Simba is adorable; and the songs, from Elton John and Tim Rice, are undeniable. You know you still well up when Mufasa dies, cheer Simba returns to claim his throne and can’t get ‘Hakuna Matata’ out of your head, no matter how hard you try to expel it – and no unnecessary ‘live action’ remake can dilute its impact. 

Rango (2011)

74.  Rango (2011)

A Hawaiian-shirt-wearing chameleon bullshits his way into becoming sheriff of a Western town – and finds himself way over his little green head.  

Director: Gore Verbinski

Best quote: ‘If this were heaven, we'd be eating Pop-Tarts with Kim Novak.’

Defining moment: An eye-popping canyon chase involving rodents, dive-bombing bats and a bluegrass version of ‘Flight of the Valkyries’.

Cribbing part of its plot from Chinatown , packing the script with references to Sergio Leone and Hunter S Thompson, and featuring a Salvador Dali-inspired dream sequence, Gore Verbinski’s existentialist cartoon Western ain’t exactly for kids, even if that’s still who it’s aimed at. But hey, not every animated movie needs to be Toy Story . Sometimes, it just has to be weird, wild fun. To that end, Rango works for all ages – it just might be the weirdest, wildest animated movie to come from a non-Pixar studio. Sure, the jokes about mammograms and Golden Age Hollywood starlets will whoosh right over wee ones’ heads. But the climatic duel between our heroic lizard (voiced by Johnny Depp) and a gun-toting rattlesnake (a truly menacing Bill Nighy) will leave everyone screaming.

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)

75.  Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)

A spooky sequel descends even deeper into virtual reality’s underworld.

Director:   Mamoru Oshii

Best quote:  ‘ When dialogue fails, it’s time for violence.’

Defining moment:   Our heroes get trapped in an M.C. Escher–like time loop.

Oshii’s futuristic cyberthrillers have made fanboys of the normally silly-proof; it’s hard to fathom why. This entry reheats the same half-baked existential questions of the 1995 original, of   Blade Runner   and of a zillion other sci-fi dystopias. Still, the animation has a gorgeously bruised, glowing quality that even Ridley Scott could roll with. And who doesn’t get turned on by a tale of malfunctioning sexbots? We still couldn’t tell you precisely who the ghost is, innocent or guilty, but perhaps that’s okay. Start with the first one.

Flee (2021)

76.  Flee (2021)

A harrowing refugee memoir and Oscar history-maker.

Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Best Quote: ‘Home… it’s someplace safe.’

Defining Moment: When Amin’s migrant boat is loomed over by an ocean liner full of rubber-necking holidaymakers.

Where 2008’s Waltz with Bashir – to which this Danish production is frequently compared – used animation to bring into focus a young soldier’s blurry recollections of war, Flee ’s minimalist illustrations give form to memories which, for its subject, remain all too vivid. At the onset of the civil war that engulfed Afghanistan in the 1980s and ’90s, the pseudonymous Amin Nawabi escaped Kabul with his family, going first to Russia, then Copenhagen, where he and director Jonas Poher Rasmussen initially met as teenagers. Reuniting in adulthood, with a tape recorder rolling, Nawabi, now about to marry, unburdens himself of a personal history he’s kept hidden even from his soon-to-be husband. An emotional and stylistic triumph, Flee became the first film in history nominated simultaneously for Best Animated Feature, Documentary Feature and Best International Feature at the Academy Awards.  

Heavy Traffic (1973)

77.  Heavy Traffic (1973)

A grubby New York City, a murderous cast of characters and plenty of off-color jokes – Walt would not approve.

Best quote:  ‘ Now listen here, boy: As long as Carole’s got this here good thing [ Slaps own butt ] and this here left [ Taps head ], she don’t need anything else unless she wants it – and child, I don’t want it!’

Defining moment:   A Mafia boss slurps up a forkful of pasta, out of which tiny, helpless figures fall, shaken from the strands.

‘It’s animated, but it’s not a cartoon,’ promised the trailer, yet the movie that followed, in scummy NYC theaters in August 1973, didn’t fulfill that pledge. Ralph Bakshi’s passion project, a swirling java of urban stereotypes (the overbearing Jewish mother, the Italian mobster, the sassy black girlfriend, etc.), is overstated in a garish, ethnically broad way, very much a cartoon. No matter: There was nothing like it at the time. It’s worth noting that potential viewers had to actively be told that animation could deal with adult subjects like crime, violence and poverty. The style is hand-drawn, superimposed over grainy photographs of Brooklyn’s decay. Though much of   Heavy Traffic   has since dated poorly, it’s closer to the vibe of early Scorsese than any other movie on this list – and it still represents an avenue that’s gone largely unexplored.

Paprika (2006)

78.  Paprika (2006)

A gizmo that records people’s dreams goes missing, resulting in chaos.

Director:   Satoshi Kon

Best quote:  ‘ Isn’t it wonderful to see inside a friend’s dream as if it were your own?’

Defining moment:   The opening scene moves from a surreal chase sequence to playback of the same dream images now stored on computer.

Kon’s anime is a cross between Hello Kitty and Philip K. Dick, and yes, we mean that as a very good thing. The director would die from cancer only four years later at the premature age of 46. But at least judging on the evidence of this phantasmagoric final feature, he went out with a bang. Don’t go in expecting it to make sense. Just ride the dream logic like you did with   Inception , and you’ll enjoy where you end up, a place of professional dream capturers (using tech called a DC Mini), giant robots and a psycho-cutie Japanese doll.

Faust (1994)

79.  Faust (1994)

A gleefully bizarre twist on the Faust story that blends live-action with puppetry, stop-motion animation and more.

Best quote:  ‘ How comes it then that thou art now out of hell with me?’

Defining moment:   The scene showing a baby’s rapid journey through childhood and adulthood to death is Svankmajer’s Claymation at its best.

Svankmajer’s shorts tend to be more effective than his feature-length works, but this inventive pastiche of Goethe’s classic tale is the exception, combining stop-motion animation and live action in breathtaking fashion. It’s got the devilish naughtiness of the best music videos, as a nondescript man emerges from a Prague subway to receive a mysterious map with an X on it. He goes to the secret spot, where de descends into a maelstrom of spells, alchemy and every technique known to modern animation.

The Lord of the Rings (1978)

80.  The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Peter Jackson was only 17 when a brave filmmaker tackled Tolkien.

Best quote:  ‘ My precious…’

Defining moment:   The attack at the ford by Rotoscoped Black Riders is truly unnerving.

In the hindsight given to us by Peter Jackson’s sterling live-action trilogy, it’s easy – though perhaps unfair – to say that this earlier attempt is a lesson in how   not   to adapt Tolkien’s trilogy for the silver screen. Truthfully, Bakshi’s animated version gets a lot wrong, and also abruptly stops midway through the narrative. (To quote   Annie Hall : ‘The food here is terrible – and such small portions!’). But even with its limitations, this version of Middle-earth was the first one experienced by many young viewers, who became full-throated fans of fantasy. And for that alone, Bakshi has done honorable service.

The King and the Mockingbird (1980)

81.  The King and the Mockingbird (1980)

A mockingbird conspires to bring down a despotic king in this seminal futuristic fairy tale.

Director:   Paul Grimault

Best quote:  ‘ Attention: A charming shepherdess and a worthless little chimney sweep are being hunted by His Majesty the King’s police.’

Defining moment:   A giant robot under the mockingbird’s control frees a young chicken from its cage, before smashing said cage with its fist.

No less an authority than Hayao Miyazaki has claimed that this French adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen tale has been a major influence on a generation of animators. We trust Miyazaki-san’s taste and judgment; you should too. Imagine Disney-style talking animals juxtaposed against weird science fiction, the arrogance of royalty and Bavarian imagery, and you’ll get a whiff of the joint this film lights up for you.

Robin Hood (1973)

82.  Robin Hood (1973)

The easiest and breeziest of all the classic Disney cartoons.

Best quote:  ‘ Oh, he’s so handsome… just like his reward posters.’

Defining moment:   The opening tune sung by ‘King of the Road’ balladeer Roger Miller sets the scene perfectly, with laid-back country charm and wheezy gags.

Disney may be infamous for manhandling the world’s finest folktales into moralistic all-American parables (see also   The Sword in the Stone ,   Aladdin ,   Mulan , etc.), but there are times when it really works.   Robin Hood   is a fine example: The   Jungle Book   director Wolfgang Reitherman’s decision to transplant hokey, cowpokey Western movie tropes to Ye Olde England should have led to disaster, but the resulting film is so sweet-natured, so casual, so doggone friendly that it becomes impossible to resist. The minuscule budget meant that entire sequences and characters were lifted wholesale from earlier Disney hits (just think of Little John as a brown Baloo), but somehow this only adds to the film’s unpretentious, shaggy-dog charm.

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

83.  Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Samurai, stop-motion style.

Director: Travis Knight Best quote: ‘ If you must blink, do it now.’

Defining moment: The battle in the Hall of Bones.

Laika’s high-water mark – and the high-water mark of stop-motion’s storytelling capabilities – is a ripping adventure steeped in Japanese lore. Kubo fully realises the tactile, dreamlike animation technique in all its immersive glory, offering up a hero’s journey through Eastern mythology that plays out like a top-tier action yarn, one populated with gargantuan skeletons, ghostly apparitions and white-knuckle swordplay. It’s hard to ignore the whitewashing on screen – casting Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron and Ralph Fiennes looks great on a poster, not so much when you note that they’re playing Japanese characters – but it’s equally difficult to deny the master craftsmanship on screen as the hero hops from one eye-popping trial to the next.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

84.  Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Anime’s international breakthrough, probing the dystopia of an all-engulfing network.

Best quote:  ‘ I am a living, thinking entity who was created in the sea of information.’

Defining moment:   Our security-agent heroine pulls the connectors from her neck and we realize she’s a cyborg.

Few films, animated or otherwise, have ever been more ahead of their time than Mamoru Oshii’s   Ghost in the Shell , the iconic Japanese anime that anticipated everything from   The Matrix   and   Avatar   to Internet culture. A ridiculously dense technothriller set in 2029, the movie introduces a world where cybernetic bodies are commonplace, and hackers are able to remotely take control of the people inside them. Following an assault team as they track the elusive Puppet Master, the movie starts as a slick action film but soon evolves into a prophetic look at the fluidity of identity in the modern world.

Alice In Wonderland (1951)

85.  Alice In Wonderland (1951)

Lewis Carroll is brought to the screen the Disney way.

Best quote:  ‘ If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.’

Defining moment:   Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole is only the beginning of the weirdness.

Walt Disney had long had his eyes on adapting Lewis Carroll, and when he did so, the results were faithful enough to qualify as one of the studio’s strangest offerings. Evoking the books’ original John Tenniel illustrations but with more than a touch of Disney cuteness, the film as a whole is in thrall to Carroll’s singular visual imagination and his play with language. But it doesn’t quite know how to turn dotty schoolgirl Alice’s episodic odyssey following the white rabbit into anything resembling a satisfying story. One can only imagine what apple-pie audiences thought of it at the time, besieged by hookah-puffing caterpillars, hallucinogenic mushrooms, the Mad Hatter’s tea party and an evidently psychotic Queen of Hearts. It was subsequently a late-night favorite among the herbally assisted.

Castle in the Sky (1986)

86.  Castle in the Sky (1986)

Thrilling adventure, as an archetypal Miyazaki heroine seeks a mythic lost city somewhere above the clouds.

Best quote:  ‘ The crystal should remind us that we come from the earth and to the earth we must return.’

Defining moment:   The destructive power of a giant robot signals the ominous threat of Laputan technology.

Also known as   Laputa , after the hidden city in which the eponymous fortress is located, this was the first true Studio Ghibli feature, and one of the few to receive even a token theatrical release in the United States. Miyakaki’s deeper stories are still to come on this list, but the aerial dogfights of this film remain marvelous.   Castle in the Sky   has a symbolic value, introducing Westerners to the glories of anime two years before   Akira   kicked open the door for good.

The Tale of the Fox (1930)

87.  The Tale of the Fox (1930)

The world’s first feature-length stop-motion animation…and one of the greatest.

Directors:   Irene Starewicz and Wladyslaw Starewicz

Best quote:  ‘ Sir, I demand compensation for a cold, a nervous breakdown and some stolen hams.’

Defining moment:   The silver-tongued, rascally fox talks his way out of the hangman’s noose.

Stop-motion-animation aficionados should seek out this rare Polish work about a sly fox who outwits everyone around him (you can see it in full on   YouTube ). It’s been name-checked in recent years by none other than Wes Anderson, who called it a primary influence on his   Fantastic Mr. Fox . That makes sense: Even though our hero is a bit of a Clooney-esque scoundrel, you end up loving him.

Gulliver's Travels (1939)

88.  Gulliver's Travels (1939)

Jonathan Swift is adapted in the first feature from Disney’s closest rivals.

Director: Dave Fleischer

Best quote:  ‘There’s a g-g-giant on the b-b-beach!’

Defining moment: Lilliputian ingenuity and effort transport their new arrival back to the royal castle.

The achievements of the Fleischer brothers (director Dave and producer Max) have long been overshadowed by Walt Disney, yet they invented many key animation techniques, brought sound to the medium, and found wide audiences for their Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman shorts. Still, Disney’s 1937 Snow White was a game-changer, and the Fleischers responded with their own animated feature, which took the more family-friendly elements from Swift’s caustic original and delivered an upbeat story in which shipwrecked sailor Gulliver intervenes in the senseless conflict between tiny rival nations over the music at a forthcoming royal wedding. The operetta-influenced warbling hasn’t worn especially well, and the knockabout comedy lacks subtlety, yet the thought-through detail with which the Fleischers imagine Lilliput’s micro fixtures and fittings still impresses. A worthwhile reminder that Disney didn’t have it all its way.

The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979)

89.  The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979)

This compilation of classic Looney Tunes cartoons deserves to be far better known.

Directors:   Chuck Jones and Phil Monroe

Best quote:  ‘ Duck season! Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!’

Defining moment:   Too many to choose from, but the Wagner-inspired ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ will make your jaw drop.

The only conceivable reason why this roundup of the best Warner Bros. shorts isn’t higher on this list is because so few are aware of its existence. Released briefly into theaters in 1979, the film opens with Bugs Bunny in scholarly mode, looking back over the history of the chase movie from the earliest silents to the present day. Cue a cavalcade of some of the most insanely inventive, vigorously intelligent, wildly subversive and mind-bendingly bizarre skits and spoofs ever seen on film. The highlights are now part of our culture: Elmer Fudd going toe-to-toe with Bugs in ‘Rabbit Fire’; Daffy Duck berating his own animator in the dizzying ‘Duck Amuck’; the surly appearance of Marvin the Martian in ‘Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century.’ But where else can you find them all in one place? We don’t use the word   genius   lightly, but this qualifies.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

90.  The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)

A road-trip comedy for the online generation.

Directors:  Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe

Best quote: ‘I’m here to bust criminals and lick my own butt… and I’m all out of criminals.’

Definitive moment: The Rick Mitchell maneuver.  

At once a classic road-trip comedy in the tradition of Vacation and a visual feast, this Netflix adventure is perhaps the first film that truly understands the digital lives of Gen-Z. With comedic ringers like Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph and Danny McBride leading a stacked voice cast, Mitchells manages a tremendously high ratio of laughs in its rat-a-tat dialogue and non-stop sight gags. But even were you to strip the film of its techno-thriller narrative about a machine apocalypse enslaving mankind, it would still work beautifully as comedy of cross-generational conflict. That the sci-fi narrative works so well to supplement its beating human heart elevates Mitchells to the same storied tier as Pixar’s very best. 

Ernest & Celestine (2012)

91.  Ernest & Celestine (2012)

A French children’s publishing phenomenon is brought to handmade life in this story of friendship across species.

Directors:   Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner

Best quote:  ‘ If you don’t eat me, I’ll give you whatever you most want in the world.’

Defining moment:   Parallel court cases above and below ground, as Ernest and Celestine try their best to end bear-mouse apartheid.

Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar came to prominence with the deliciously absurd, aptly titled   A Town Called Panic , to which this more conventionally visualized heart-warmer seems positively Disneyesque by comparison – if Disney made off-kilter political allegories involving bohemian bears and tooth-collecting mice on the fringes of society, all rendered in delicate watercolor tones. A dark-horse Oscar nominee in 2014, this adorable oddity was big in France, but has yet to find the English-speaking audience it deserves; perhaps a new Forest Whitaker–featuring dub will make the difference. In its current form, however, it’s as pretty and as quintessentially Gallic as a plate of pastel-colored   macarons , though with a sharper bite than you might expect.

Goodbye Mr. Christie (2011)

92.  Goodbye Mr. Christie (2011)

Part art piece, part gross-out comedy, part apocalyptic epic, all indescribable.

Director:   Phil Mulloy

Best quote:  ‘ That villain’s penis is huge!’

Defining moment:   When our hero Mr. Christie accidentally kills God. Well, He was disguised as a spider.

How’s this for a plot synopsis? After being seduced by a studly French sailor, straitlaced upper-middle-class father, husband and unwitting reality-TV star Mr. Christie goes insane and decides to dig a hole to Australia in the garden. Emerging in the Tokyo subway system by mistake, Mr. Christie inadvertently murders God and is exiled to the land of the dead, where he meets Adolf Hitler, Jesus and Dracula. Sadly, just as he’s starting to get a handle on things, the local parish priest decides to rape Mrs. Christie, leading to the destruction of the universe. Part of artist and animator Phil Mulloy’s ongoing Christie series (which has so far consisted of 12 shorts and two features, with another in the pipeline),   Goodbye Mr. Christie   utilizes ultraminimalist animation, computer-modulated deadpan voices and a dry, mordant wit to create something that is at once enlightening, aggravating, strangely moving and extremely funny.

Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)

93.  Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998)

  A West African village folktale pits a plucky tot against a fearsome magician.

Director: Michel Ocelot

Best quote:  ‘Why are you mean and evil?’

Defining moment: Any time Kirikou’s tiny legs scamper across the savannah.

A multicultural mix of African folklore and European artistic sensibilities, this tiny animated gem follows a mythical baby who ‘has willed himself from his mother’s womb’ (ouch!) to fight a wicked witch. Even more impressively, the story can be read by adults as a political metaphor for modern African strife, while the kiddies thrill to the exploits of a defiant pint-size hero with a badass stare. And honestly, the sorceress is pretty cool, too. Eat your heart out, Disney.

Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)

94.  Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)

A cosmic journey through time, space and spirituality. With cats.

Directors: Gisaburo Sugii and Arlen Tarlofsky

Best quote:  ‘I’m going to be just like that scorpion…’

Defining moment: An old woman sings ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ in the most cracked and haunting voice imaginable.

Kenji Miyazawa’s 1927 novel is a standard text for Japanese schoolchildren but remains virtually unknown elsewhere. Combining eerie Christian mysticism, awestruck pseudoscience and bleak realism, the book follows two put-upon schoolboys, Giovanni and Campanella, as they board the titular train to the stars and beyond. Anime directors Gisaburo Sugii and Arlen Tarlofsky made one major change when they adapted Miyazawa’s work for the screen: They replaced all the central human characters with cute anthropomorphized kittens. But if their intention was to make the story more appealing to youngsters, they were way off. With its meditative pace, unstructured plotting, and rambling, often incomprehensible discourses on morality and mortality, this is about as kid-friendly as a morning in church. For those with patience, however, it is a beautiful, frequently enlightening trip.

Little Otik (2000)

95.  Little Otik (2000)

A couple’s desire for a child inspires a tree stump to come to life – and take over their lives – in this funny absurdist yarn.

Director: Jan Svankmajer

Best quote:  ‘He’s our child and we have to stick by him through thick and thin.’

Defining moment: When the baby devours his own father: Svankmajer never lets Freud get the better of him.

The most accomplished feature-length effort to date from renowned Czech animator Svankmajer – best known for his brilliantly surrealistic short films –  Little Otik explores the dark side of parenthood with a disturbing dream logic equaled only by David Lynch’s supremely creepy Eraserhead . Shot mostly in arrestingly precise live action, Little Otik functions both as a fantastical evocation of pseudocyesis (in which women who are infertile develop psychosomatic symptoms, including a swollen abdomen) and as a hilariously chilling metaphor for the voracious appetite, both physical and psychic, of a newborn child. In this case, that child is a tree stump.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

96.  Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

This richly imagined postapocalyptic fantasy is Miyazaki’s first masterpiece.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Best quote:  ‘Man and insect cannot live together!’

Defining moment: The glow of the rampaging insects’ hate-filled red eyes lines the horizon.

The environmentally conscious plot of this early Miyazaki favorite involves a young girl trying to bring peace to her post-apocalyptic society and halt the spread of polluted wastelands. Even after the director grew into the ambition of such masterworks as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro , there’s still something essential about this one, a film that contains all the familiar Miyazakian elements. Centrally, a thoughtful heroine confronts warmongering forces with compassion. If you’ve got a young Rey in your household, obsessed with The Force Awakens , she’ll love you for introducing her to this similar story.

Perfect Blue (1997)

97.  Perfect Blue (1997)

A former J-pop idol’s move into acting triggers psychological meltdown.

Director: Satoshi Kon

Best quote:  ‘The Internet? That’s popular at the moment. What is it?’

Defining moment: The sight of Mima’s alter ego skipping in midair from lamppost to lamppost would freak anyone out.

Satoshi Kon’s existential sex thriller has generally appealed to only the most ardent anime fans, but it deserves a wider audience – if only to show off a philosophical ambition rarely seen in animation. Weighty ruminations about the nature of reality versus illusion undergird the circling dance of death between a pop star and a deranged superfan. Critics called Perfect Blue a pretentious excuse to indulge in a bit of the old animated ultraviolence, but its psychosexual lure has proven more durable than anticipated. It feels like a Japanese cousin to Black Swan .

Fehérlófia (1981)

98.  Fehérlófia (1981)

Hungarian folktales go psychedelic…and then some.

Director: Marcell Jankovics

Best quote:  ‘Tell your mother to breast-feed you for another seven years, then you’ll be able to pull out the tree single-handed.’

Defining moment: When an animated film starts with a hallucinogenic birthing scene, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Any director who has written 15 books on folklore takes his ancient legends seriously, and in Magyar maestro Marcell Jankovics’s full-on fable, three princes ignore the king’s warning about ‘the lock which must not be opened.’ All hell (literally) breaks loose, and a white mare goddess spawns three human sons – who subsequently take the fight back to the underworld. An archetypal saga involving daunting trials of endurance, it unfolds in a Day-Glo visual style suggesting Kandinsky’s colorful curves, Matisse’s cutouts and way too many prog-rock album covers. It is unlike anything else in the world, ever, which makes this a must-see, though the sheer brutality with which Treeshaker, Stonecrumbler and Ironrubber press through the pit of Hell and back may make this just a bit too heavy-duty for sensitive younger viewers.

Millennium Actress (2001)

99.  Millennium Actress (2001)

A career-spanning interview of an elderly film star traces a romantic odyssey fusing life and art.

Best quote:  ‘It’s the key to the most important thing in life.’

Defining moment: When we first realize Chiyoko’s memories and movies are blurred into one.

Satoshi Kon only directed four features before he died of cancer in 2010 at the young age of 46, and while all of them were incredible, it’s Millennium Actress that best illustrates the tender humanity of his limitless imagination. Framed as an interview with fictional fading movie star Chiyoko Fujiwara and folding itself into her various roles in much the same way as Inception would later dive into dreams, this dazzlingly wistful story of lost love is also a beautiful examination of how movies and memories come to occupy a shared space in our minds.

Peter Pan (1953)

100.  Peter Pan (1953)

Disney tackles J.M. Barrie’s tale of Neverland and the spirit of childhood.

Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske

Best quote:  ‘But Mother, I don’t want to grow up!’

Defining moment: Peter leads Wendy and her siblings across the London night sky.

Parents, do you know where your children are? Maybe they’re following mischievous spirit Peter Pan past the second star and straight on to Neverland, where kids can be kids to their hearts’ content. The sight of grown men threatening children with cutlasses and even a ticking bomb makes this occasionally uncomfortable viewing today (and its dubious treatment of the crimson-hued Native Americans is hard to forgive). But while definitely from a more innocent age, the comedy still plays: Blustery Captain Hook remains an endearingly fallible bad guy, hotly pursued by an ever-ravenous crocodile, while the vigorous action throughout suggests that the Disney team had one eye on Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes output. It’s somewhat superficial overall, but still the best adaptation of Barrie’s play, perennially unlucky onscreen.

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Disney time travel movie

“To... the future!”

You need to watch the best time travel movie on Disney+ ASAP

This forgotten Disney classic should go down with 'Wall-E' as classic sci-fi animated features, but has slipped into obscurity.

When you think “Disney+” and “time travel,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably Avengers: Endgame . The monumental Marvel film used time travel as a catalyst to conduct a time heist , bring back a past version of Thanos, and show Steve Rogers admiring his own butt.

However, there’s another time travel Disney movie released 12 years earlier that captures all the intrigue and ensemble cast of Endgame, with a lighthearted and slightly less complicated plot.

Meet the Robinsons has a classic Disney movie start. Lewis is a 12-year-old orphan with a knack for inventions, but those inventions don’t make him the most attractive candidate for adoption. While preparing for his local science fair, where he intends to enter a memory scanner, he gets kidnapped by a mysterious boy about his age named Wilbur Robinson.

After his scanner is sabotaged, Wilbur reveals he’s a time cop who needs Lewis’ help with a secret mission. In order to convince Lewis he’s the real deal, Wilbur takes him into the future. There, he meets Wilbur’s offbeat family, strange not only because they’re from the future, but also because ... well, because they’re just strange. Finally, Lewis feels like he fits in — and that’s because it’s his own family from the future.

Meet the Robinsons Disney+ time travel movie

The Robinsons clan in all their glory.

Of course, this family “preunion” is interrupted by a nefarious villain known as the Bowler Hat Guy — the most Bond-like villain of any Disney movie — who seeks to ruin Lewis’ reputation. But the threat serves as little more than a vehicle for time hijinks, character studies, and hilarious gags. (“Why is your dog wearing glasses?” “Because his insurance won’t pay for contacts!”)

Other than the truly underrated dialogue, Meet the Robinsons boasts a plot that explores nearly every time travel trope. There are grandfather paradoxes, alternate timelines, time loops, and going back into the past with the knowledge any change would greatly affect the future. Plus, the iconic Jonas Brothers time travel anthem “Kids of the Future” was released in conjunction with the film. It’s the definitive time travel work.

Meet the Robinsons slipped into obscurity as one of the few non-musical Disney movies to not secure a sequel. Going up against cult powerhouses Ratatouille and Enchanted certainly didn’t help. But who knows. Maybe a powerful enough fan movement can secure the Robinson family their own Disney+ original sequel or TikTok crowdsourced musical. After all, it’s the future we’re talking about. Anything is possible!

Meet the Robinsons is now streaming on Disney+.

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best animated time travel movies

best animated time travel movies

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The 50+ Best Time Loop Movies

The 50+ Best Time Loop Movies

Ranker Film

Welcome to our expertly curated list of the most fascinating time loop movies that have captivated audiences and critics alike. These films represent a unique genre that serves as a playground for daring and imaginative storytelling. From mind-bending thrillers to thought-provoking drama, and even heartwarming comedies, these cinematic treasures about time loops provide a relatable sense of déjà vu, often leaving us pondering over the eternal human dilemma: If given a chance, what would we change in our past?

The beauty of time loop movies lies in their versatile narrative. They allow us to explore the mystery of time and fate through the characters' repeated experiences. These films invite us into a labyrinth of recurring events, where protagonists learn, adapt, and attempt to alter the outcome, providing a fascinating viewing experience.

Our list features a wide range of classics and what are set to become new classics. From movies like the critically acclaimed Edge Of Tomorrow , the hilarious Palm Springs , to enduring classics like Groundhog Day , these films each tell compelling stories that provoke thought and emotion in their exploration of the time loop phenomenon. And to sweeten the deal, we've packed the list with a host of time loop films that you can find on streaming platforms, allowing you to dive in instantly.

With each film on the list, we provide relevant details about the cast, plot, and how popular it is in the form of votes. Furthermore, we offer direct links for you to watch these amazing movies about time loops on an assortment of streaming platforms. Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Paramount+ are all included so that you can start streaming these time loop tales right away and just in the order you prefer.

We invite you to explore this list, indulge in these thought-provoking films, and immerse yourself in the diverse world of time loop storytelling. Remember to vote up your favorite films, sharing your love for these intriguing tales with the community. These unforgettable narratives await your discovery, so grab that popcorn and prepare for a wondrous journey through time.

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

This iconic comedy stars Bill Murray as a cynical weatherman who inexplicably becomes trapped in an endless cycle of reliving the same day over and over again. Throughout the film, audiences watch as the protagonist confronts the monotony and frustration of his endless existence, eventually learning valuable lessons about life, love, and self-improvement. The film expertly weaves humor with existential musings, leaving viewers contemplating the significance of one's actions and personal growth.

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Edge Of Tomorrow

Edge Of Tomorrow

In this thrilling sci-fi adaptation of the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill , an inexperienced public affairs officer finds himself caught in a cycle of dying and resurrecting while combating alien invaders. With the help of a seasoned war hero, they attempt to unravel the mystery behind his newfound ability and determine how to use it to their advantage. As they grow closer in their efforts, the characters grapple with the implications of this phenomenon and whether it may hold the key to humanity's salvation.

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs

This fresh and inventive romantic comedy follows two strangers who meet at a wedding and become involuntarily entwined within a mysterious and seemingly infinite time loop. As the protagonists come to terms with their shared predicament, they develop a strong bond and navigate the challenges of an existence without consequences. The film provides a unique exploration of human relationships and the importance of finding meaning in one's life, regardless of the circumstances.

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12 Monkeys

This dystopian sci-fi masterpiece tells the story of a convict sent back in time to gather information about an apocalyptic virus, which leads him to cross paths with various eccentric characters in his quest for the truth. The film's intricate narrative and complex character relationships delve deep into themes of fate, causality, and identity. Its powerhouse performances and haunting imagery captivate audiences while they're left pondering the consequences of the protagonist's actions on both past and future events.

  • Dig Deeper... Behind-The-Scenes Stories From '12 Monkeys'
  • # 26 of 253 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 552 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

Source Code

Source Code

In this gripping sci-fi thriller, a soldier participates in an experimental program using his consciousness, which is repeatedly sent back in time for eight minutes to discover the perpetrator of a deadly train attack. Each iteration of his journey reveals new clues, but also further complicates the truth of his mission and identity. The film's tense pacing and clever twist-filled narrative keep viewers on the edge of their seats while pondering the nature of reality and the morality of sacrificing one life to save many others.

  • # 138 of 253 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 114 of 173 on The Best Science Fiction Action Movies
  • # 22 of 48 on The Best Train Movies


Set in a futuristic world where time travel is possible but illegal, this action-packed thriller introduces hitmen called "loopers," who eliminate targets sent back in time by organized crime syndicates. When the protagonist is ordered to kill his older self, a harrowing game of cat-and-mouse ensues, leading to shocking revelations about fate and the power of choice. The film's innovative premise, compelling performances, and visceral action sequences make it an unforgettable addition to the genre.

  • # 438 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 52 of 162 on The 150+ Best Futuristic Dystopian Movies
  • # 89 of 173 on The Best Science Fiction Action Movies

About Time

Blending romance and fantasy, this charming British film centers around a young man who discovers he possesses the ability to travel back in time and alter events, a gift he initially uses to improve his love life. However, as he manipulates his experiences, he begins to understand the butterfly effect and the importance of accepting life's imperfections. The film's tender narrative and emotional depth offer a touching exploration of love, loss, and personal growth within a fantastical framework.

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Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day

Injecting new life into the horror genre, this film follows a self-absorbed college student who becomes trapped in an unyielding cycle of reliving her murder until she can identify and stop her killer. As the protagonist endures each gruesome demise, she learns valuable lessons about herself and those around her. The film expertly balances moments of genuine terror with dark humor, resulting in a uniquely gripping and thought-provoking experience.

  • # 13 of 79 on The Best Teen Horror Movies Of All Time
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This thought-provoking sci-fi drama follows a time-traveling agent tasked with stopping a terrorist known as the "Fizzle Bomber," and the shocking revelations that unfold throughout his mission. The film deftly weaves a complex narrative, exploring themes of fate, identity, and the consequences of our choices. Its intricate storyline and superb performances make it a standout within the genre.

  • # 179 of 253 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 99 of 162 on The 150+ Best Futuristic Dystopian Movies
  • # 11 of 69 on The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made


This psychological horror film follows a group of friends who become stranded on an abandoned ship, where they are pursued by a masked figure and confronted with a chilling temporal anomaly. As the protagonist tries to escape the nightmare, she begins to uncover the disturbing truth behind their situation. The film's eerie atmosphere, tense pacing, and mind-bending twists keep viewers enthralled from start to finish.

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Déjà Vu

In this heart-pounding thriller, an ATF agent uses revolutionary technology to travel back in time in order to prevent a devastating terrorist attack and save the woman he loves. The film's innovative premise and skillful blend of action, romance, and sci-fi elements create a captivating experience for viewers, who are left to ponder the intricate connections between past, present, and future.

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Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Marvel's foray into the world of mystic arts and cosmic forces introduces audiences to renowned neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, who embarks on a journey to master his newfound powers after a devastating accident. The film delves into the manipulation of time and space, showcasing visually stunning sequences and thought-provoking concepts about the nature of reality. It expertly balances special effects with emotional stakes, providing a fresh take on the superhero genre.

  • # 183 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
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  • # 12 of 33 on The Best Movies In The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ranked


This action-packed sci-fi film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a law enforcement officer responsible for policing time-travelers, who must stop a corrupt politician from altering history for personal gain. Amidst the thrilling action sequences and special effects, the film explores themes of morality, power, and the consequences of tampering with time, offering a high-stakes adventure that keeps audiences engaged throughout.

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Boss Level

This action-packed thrill ride follows a retired special forces operative who finds himself trapped in an infinite cycle of death and rebirth, hunted by an array of deadly assassins. As he fights for survival and seeks answers to his predicament, the protagonist uncovers a vast conspiracy with far-reaching implications. The film's breakneck pacing, intense action sequences, and dark humor make for a wild and entertaining experience that keeps viewers engaged from start to finish.


This Spanish thriller follows a man who accidentally travels back in time and inadvertently sets off a series of events with dangerous consequences. The film's expertly crafted narrative features mysterious figures, confounding twists, and a chilling exploration of the power of manipulation. Its simplistic style and minimalist approach make it an effective and engrossing entry in the genre.

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Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run

This German experimental thriller follows a young woman who is given 20 minutes to come up with a large sum of money to save her boyfriend's life, with the narrative cycling through multiple iterations of her attempt. Each version plays out differently depending on Lola's interactions with various characters, offering a fascinating exploration of fate, choice, and the butterfly effect. With its innovative structure and pulsating energy, the film is a groundbreaking and exhilarating take on the genre.

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Happy Death Day 2U

Happy Death Day 2U

This inventive sequel picks up where the original left off, with the protagonist once again trapped in a repeating cycle of death but now forced to confront new challenges and even higher stakes. The film successfully expands upon the mythology established in the first installment, while maintaining its signature blend of horror, humor, and emotional depth. It offers a satisfying continuation of the story that will leave audiences questioning fate, identity, and the nature of second chances.

  • # 42 of 79 on The Best Teen Horror Movies Of All Time
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In this mind-bending independent film, two engineers accidentally invent a device that allows limited time travel, and they quickly become obsessed with exploring its capabilities and consequences. The film's incredibly complex narrative is matched by its intelligent dialogue and challenging themes, providing an experience that continually rewards attentive viewers. It's a daring and thought-provoking take on the implications of tampering with time.

  • # 239 of 253 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
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The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

This charming coming-of-age film centers around two teenagers who find themselves stuck in an endless time loop, and together they embark on a quest to find all the perfect moments hidden within their repetitive day. As they grow closer and learn about each other's lives and regrets, the protagonists grapple with the meaning of happiness and how to embrace life's imperfections. The film's heartfelt storytelling and relatable characters offer a touching exploration of the human experience and the impact of shared memories.

Before I Fall

Before I Fall

Based on the popular young adult novel, this emotional drama follows a high school student who becomes trapped in a repeating cycle of the last day of her life, forcing her to reconsider her choices and relationships. As she navigates through her seemingly endless existence, the protagonist learns valuable lessons about friendship, love, and the impact of her actions on those around her. The film presents a poignant exploration of the consequences of one's choices and the importance of personal growth.

  • # 8 of 15 on The Most Underrated Teen Movies Of The Decade
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Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

In the third installment of the beloved fantasy series, young wizard Harry Potter discovers the Time-Turner, a magical device that can transport its user back in time to change past events. The film expertly utilizes this fantastical element to weave a thrilling tale of mystery, danger, and unexpected consequences, while exploring themes of loyalty, friendship, and the power of choice. It stands out for its engaging portrayal of time manipulation and the emotional stakes that come with it.

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  • # 37 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

The Endless

The Endless

In this ambitious sci-fi horror film, two brothers return to the cult they escaped from as children, only to become ensnared in a terrifying temporal anomaly. The film's eerie atmosphere, engrossing mystery, and challenging themes about the nature of free will and the power of belief make it a standout addition to the genre. Additionally, the film's connections to previous works by the filmmakers provide a rewarding experience for discerning viewers.

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Project Almanac

Project Almanac

In this found-footage sci-fi film, a group of high school friends discovers the blueprints for a time machine and decides to build it, only to discover the dire consequences of meddling with the past. Their repeated attempts to "fix" the timeline result in increasingly complex and devastating outcomes, offering an engaging examination of the butterfly effect and the moral implications of altering history. The film's unique format and believable performances make it a standout entry in the genre.

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The Final Girls

The Final Girls

This innovative horror comedy centers around a group of friends who are accidentally transported into a classic slasher film and must survive its deadly villain by embracing the tropes and cliches of the genre. The film cleverly satirizes familiar horror conventions while offering its own unique twists and turns, providing a perfect blend of humor, scares, and heart. The end result is a delightful love letter to horror films that highlights the power of friendship and self-discovery.

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Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Based on the best-selling novel, this fantastical adventure follows a young boy who discovers a hidden world of children with extraordinary abilities, protected by a time loop that keeps them safe from the dangers of the outside world. As the protagonist learns about his own unique power and the value of found family, the film delves into themes of belonging, sacrifice, and embracing one's differences. Its captivating visuals and imaginative story make it a standout entry in the genre.

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This tense sci-fi thriller centers around an engineer and his partner, who are unexpectedly caught in a repeating time loop as they attempt to protect a groundbreaking energy device from a group of masked intruders. With each iteration, the protagonist uncovers new information that helps him refine his strategy for survival, while also revealing shocking truths about the world outside their isolated home. The film's claustrophobic setting and high-stakes action make for an intense and gripping viewing experience.

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The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

In this acclaimed animated film, a high school girl gains the ability to time-travel and initially uses her newfound power for personal gain, only to discover the unintended consequences of her actions. As she attempts to rectify her mistakes, the protagonist learns about friendship, love, and the importance of living in the present moment. The film's thoughtful narrative and stunning visuals make it an unforgettable entry within the genre.

  • # 294 of 447 on The 400+ Best Animated Kids Movies
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Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

This delightful animated film weaves three classic holiday tales, one of which centers around Mickey Mouse and friends reliving an eventful Christmas day over and over again. As they experience the joys and challenges of their repeating festivities, the characters learn valuable lessons about gratitude, friendship, and the true meaning of the holiday season. This charming installment within the Disney canon offers a heartwarming and enjoyable viewing experience for audiences of all ages.

  • # 27 of 126 on The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time
  • # 146 of 447 on The 400+ Best Animated Kids Movies
  • # 18 of 78 on The Best Christmas Movies for Kids

Futurama: Bender's Big Score

Futurama: Bender's Big Score

In this feature-length installment of the popular animated series , the Planet Express crew becomes entangled in a time-traveling adventure involving alien scammers, parallel timelines, and the sinister motives of everyone's favorite bending robot. As the tangled narrative unfolds, the film expertly blends humor, action, and emotion while exploring themes of loyalty, friendship, and the impact of our choices on the future. It's a worthy addition to the franchise that offers both familiarity and whimsical innovation.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Based on the popular video game series, this action-packed adventure film follows a resourceful prince who acquires a mystical dagger that grants him the power to manipulate time. As he battles enemies and uncovers hidden conspiracies, the protagonist must navigate the perils of altering the past while discovering the true value of loyalty, love, and heroism. The film's swashbuckling action, exotic locales, and compelling character dynamics make it an enjoyable romp that both fans and newcomers can appreciate.

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  • Entertainment
  • Time Travel
  • Watchworthy

As they say in well-written scripts, "You mean... like time travel?" + also a few bizarre stories about real people who have claimed, despite every law of physics, they have traveled through time.

These Time Travel Movies Ar...

best animated time travel movies

Best Family-Friendly Time Travel Movies

By Parul Singh

If you and your family love watching time travel movies together, make sure to add some of the following films to your watchlist. These classics are fun and good entertainment. They will surely keep you hooked till the end. And be it  kids , partners, or your whole family, there is something for everyone here. So grab your popcorn buckets and enjoy the bonding time with your littles!

1. Back to the Future

As the name suggests, this movie is about time travel. In this film, Michael J. Fox plays the role of Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student who accidentally travels back in time. The story starts in the 1980s when a scientist’s  experiment  takes the wrong turn, leading to Marty returning to the 1950s to reunite his parents’ younger selves. This movie has sequels, so watch Part II and III to finish the series.

2. The Time Traveler’s Wife

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is a story about a man who can travel through time. Based on Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel of the same name, the story revolves around the life of Henry DeTamble, a  librarian  who possesses a unique gene that lets him involuntarily travel through time. However, his wife, Claire Abshire, finds it difficult to cope, creating friction between them.

3. Source Code

Do you like action thrillers? If so, then you will surely love this time travel movie.  The story  is about Colter Stevens, an army officer hired for a secret operation. Things were fine till he found himself in the body of a stranger and then on a mysterious trail to track down the bomber of a commuter train in Chicago.

4. Time After Time

This is a classic time travel movie you should  watch with your family . It shows H.G. Wells pursuing Jack the Ripper to the 20th century when the serial murderer uses the future writer’s time machine to escape his time period.

5. Run Lola Run

If you are a hardcore  romantic , this time travel movie is for you. This film shows a Chicago playwright, Richard Collier, using self-hypnosis to meet Elise McKenna, a famous American actress of the 1900s, after being mesmerized by her portrait hanging in a hotel. With his technique, the playwright goes back in time to meet the actress and fulfill his fantasy.

6. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Two  teenagers , Bill and Ted, are best friends and struggle to finish a history assignment. However, with the help of a man from the future, the two are finally able to complete their assignment with ease. Watch them achieve this feat by collecting prominent figures from different time periods. You can also watch “Bill & Ted Face the Music” to see more of their exciting time-traveling adventures.

7. Peggy Sue Got Married

This is a teen time travel  movie  in which a middle-aged divorcee regrets all her life decisions, but things change when she attends her 25th high school reunion. She faints at the event and wakes up to find herself in the past.

This time travel movie will  make you laugh all the way till the end . Starring Adam Sandler, the movie is about a workaholic architect who doesn’t have time for his wife and kids. However, his life changes when he meets a sales clerk who gives him a universal remote that permits him to fast-forward and rewind to different periods of his life. However, things get complicated when the remote begins to override his preferences.

Apart from these time travel movies, you can also watch “Palm Spring,” “Tenet,” “Interstellar,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Looper,” “Kate & Leopold,” and “The Flight of the Navigator.”

So, which of these time travel movies will you watch with your family? Do let us know in the comment section below. We suggest starting with the  classics  and having a movie marathon with your family.

Parul Singh

Parul Singh is a content writer by profession and a mother by choice. She has written for various reputed websites about parenting, movies, news, etc. When not working, she would either be traveling or dozing off (if her kids let her). Other than this she is also a chocoholic, movie buff, and a foodie. She lives in India (Karnataka) with her Mr. Right and two innocent yet mischievous daughters.

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10 Best Animated Movies About Time Travel, Ranked

10 Best Animated Movies About Time Travel, Ranked

Many movies have taken advantage of animation to make some of the best time travel movies. As animation isn’t hindered by what an actor is able to do on set, there is a lot more freedom when making an animated movie. It makes time travel an excellent plot device for animated movies to use, as they can really expand on the concept in unique ways.

A common belief is that animated movies are meant purely for kids. While there are a lot of kid-friendly animated movies, there are plenty of animated movies for adults, too, including Grave of the Fireflies, Loving Vincent , and even South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut . Animated movies tend to contain life lessons that are beneficial to kids and adults alike, and the ones about time travel are no exception, seeing as some of the best touch on subjects such as family and the importance of empathy.

10 Best Animated Movies About Time Travel, Ranked

10 Time Travel Movie Rules, Ranked Worst To Best

Time travel movies are often riddled with plot holes, but some of them, like Interstellar, manage to stick to their own rules from beginning to end.

10 Regular Show: The Movie (2015)

A time travel flick based on the cartoon network show.

The cast of Regular Show: The Movie

Regular Show: The Movie takes place between the first two episodes of the Cartoon Network show’s seventh season. It follows Mordecai, Rigby, and their friends as they try to fix a mistake the duo made in their past. Mordecai and Rigby had made a time machine in high school that is now being used by their former volleyball coach for evil. Regular Show: The Movie maintains the wacky comedy that makes the TV series so popular. Its message on the importance of friendship and communication is surprisingly heartwarming as Mordecai and Rigby come to understand how past actions have hurt each other.

9 Steins;Gate: The Movie – Load Region Of Déjà Vu (2013)

A follow-up to the popular anime.

Kurisu Makise and Suzuha Amane in Steins;Gate - The Movie

Taking place one year after the events of the anime series, Steins;Gate: The Movie – Load Region of Déjà Vu discusses a popular issue with time travel, what happens when one goes too far with it. The film takes it in an interesting direction as Rintaro Okabe’s consistent time travel causes him to disappear from reality with only Kurisa Mikase remembering him. Steins;Gate succeeded at making a good anime sequel movie, which is a feat in itself. The movie is surprisingly emotional, as Kurisa’s love for Rintaro is constantly tested by failures to rescue him. The movie does well at balancing the drama with a unique time travel story.

8 Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

A dog and his human son have to fix time.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a DreamWorks movie about a young boy whose antics rip a hole in time. Sherman and his dog adoptive father, Mr. Peabody, have to undo the damage while dealing with child protective services. The relationship between Mr. Peabody and Sherman is sweet and provides a lot of the movie’s humor. Mr. Peabody & Sherman has a lot of heart and contains a lot of commentary on family and how families can be different. The overall message, that just because a family looks different doesn’t mean it’s bad, is one that will stand the test of time. Although parts of the movie were slow, the heart behind Mr. Peabody & Sherman makes up for it.

7 Quantum Cowboys (2022)

A live-action/animated sci-fi western.

Kiowa Gordon, John Way, and Lily Gladstone as Frank, Bruno, and Linde in Quantum Cowboys

The ever-changing style of Quantum Cowboys makes it one of the most interesting animated movies. A sci-fi Western following two drifters who decide to help a woman get her land back, Quantum Cowboys is a unique mix of live-action and animation . The constant stylistic switches can make it difficult to understand, but once the plot gets moving and the idea of reality is thrown out of the window, the movie becomes engaging and philosophical. The ambition behind Quantum Cowboys is what makes it such a good time travel movie. As a lot of time travel movies focus on action, it’s refreshing to see a time travel film take a more philosophical route.

6 Godzilla: The Planet Of The Monsters (2017)

Humans must flee earth after godzilla attacks.

Scene from Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

After a Godzilla attack nearly makes humans extinct, the survivors are forced to flee Earth with two alien races on the ship Aratrum . 20 years later, Captain Haruo Sakaki convinces everyone to take the Aratrum back to Earth after finding Godzilla’s weakness. When the Aratrum returns, 20,000 years have passed on Earth, and the planet has been drastically altered by Godzilla’s presence. Like the best Godzilla franchise movies, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters has incredible visuals and engaging action scenes . Although the characters are not fleshed out well, the beauty of the film overshadows that. The visuals, especially those of Godzilla, are magnificent and capture the essence of the kaiju genre wonderfully.

5 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

A girl’s time travel exploits begin to have consequences.

Makoto Konno in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

In The Girl Who Leapt Through Time , teenager Makoto Konno discovers a device that allows her to jump through time. She uses it to avoid being late, get perfect grades, and avoid awkward situations. As she continues to use this new power, Makoto realizes that not only does she have a limited number of time jumps, but her actions have affected those around her. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a fun coming-of-age movie that feels like a Studio Ghibli movie. The imagery and softness of the film, juxtaposed with the real danger Makoto puts herself and others in, add a lot of weight to the film. The movie drives its message of understanding the consequences of one’s actions home perfectly.

Whisper of the Heart, The Boy and the Heron, and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Every Hayao Miyazaki Movie Ranked, Including The Boy And The Heron

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the biggest names in animation, and here’s how all of his movies, including The Boy and the Heron, compare to each other.

4 Mirai (2018)

A young boy time travels to learn about his family.

In Mirai , 6-year-old Kun is distraught by the arrival of his baby sister, Mirai, as he is jealous of the attention she gets. Throughout the movie, Kun goes into the garden and travels through time. Every time he does so, Kun meets various people, and each one turns out to be a member of Kun’s family, including a version of Mirai from the future and Kun’s great-grandfather. Like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time , Mirai ‘s imagery and plot make it feel like a Studio Ghibli film. It’s interesting to see time traveling affect the present in such an intimate way. The biggest change to come from Kun’s time traveling in Mirai is within Kun himself as he learns to be more understanding of his family.

3 Meet The Robinsons (2007)

Kid-friendly time travel adventure.

Disney’s Meet the Robinsons is a fun and heartwarming time travel adventure movie. Young inventor Lewis is taken to the future by a boy named Wilbur, who needs his help. Lewis bonds with Wilbur’s family, the Robinsons, and soon becomes entangled in a conflict with the mysterious Bowler Hat Guy. Meet the Robinsons is full of emotion and humor as it tackles topics such as family and guilt. It’s the perfect movie to watch again as an adult to catch hidden details about Meet the Robinsons ‘ characters, who are the ones who truly make the movie spectacular. Each one brings something different, and they are so complex that it makes Meet the Robinsons feel real, even if the setting and plot are fantastical.

2 Your Name (2016)

An emotionally charged anime movie about body-switching.

Your Name Taki writes Mitsuha's hand

After wishing to be a boy in her next life, Mitsuha Miyamizu switches bodies with Taki Tachibana, a boy living in Tokyo. The two continue to switch bodies on certain days and help each other in their personal lives. When Taki tries to find Mitsuha, however, he learns that they’ve been time traveling as well, as Mitsuha died three years earlier when a comet destroyed her village. Your Name ‘s subversion of a classic trope makes it feel new and exciting. Despite the sci-fi aspects of it, Your Name stays incredibly grounded and focuses on everyday life. The intimacy of the film is what makes it so special, and every emotion that it invokes is genuine.

Your Name Ending Explained

Your Name Ending Explained (In Detail)

Your Name, a 2016 animated film, combines an emotional love story with a sci-fi time travel element in a plot that can be hard to follow.

1 A Christmas Carol (2009)

An animated retelling of the classic novel.

Disney’s version of Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol , was shot using motion capture and follows the original tale closely. Wealthy miser Ebenezer Scrooge is taken throughout his past, present, and future by three ghosts to show him the error of his ways. Many versions of A Christmas Carol have been made with varying degrees of accuracy. A Christmas Carol is one of the most prominent time travel stories, and the 2009 film did it brilliantly. The animation never takes away from the heart of the story and actually helps to enhance it at times. It maintains the fantastic nature of Dickens’ novel while still maintaining the reality of the story.

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Inspired By Maps

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust!

Posted on Last updated: December 15, 2023

Categories Travel Via Cinema

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust!

Sofia De Vera combines a heartfelt passion for cinema with over 15 years of critiquing for esteemed film publications, wielding academic credentials from the University of Southern California and New York University, to serve as your personal guide through the enchanting worlds of film and television.  Her full guest bio can be found here.

If you can’t go on vacation right now, immersing yourself in a movie about travel or set in another world is sometimes the next best thing.

There are many animated movies that have far-flung settings that can inspire your next travel adventure in addition to having adorable, heartwarming plots.

So here are the best-animated movies set in beautiful destinations, and some tips for the vacations they’ll eventually inspire. though if you are not a film buff, you could always start with these best travel books instead.

Just don’t blame us when after watching these films you immediately start searching for the cheapest flight deals possible…

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students ) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions . Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

Page Contents

The Lion King

Finding nemo, spirited away, lilo & stitch, the road to el dorado, the emperor’s new groove, ratatouille.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust!

Frozen may take place in the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, but there are many parallels in the setting to real-life locations in Scandinavia. Much of the movie could take place in Norway, which is known for its natural beauty and stunning fjords, as well as the elegant city of Oslo.

Norway is a travel destination everyone should add to their bucket list, regardless of what type of travel you enjoy. It has plenty of culture and urban life, but also plenty to do outdoors, particularly if you like winter sports.

During part of the story, Elsa flees Arendelle and heads to a land in the far north, which could be compared to Lapland in Finland. While Lapland is very secluded, it is a place where you can experience the Northern Lights and the midnight sun. It’s also home to some of the world’s most exciting ski resorts.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

The Lion King follows a young cub, Simba, through his life as he becomes king of a pride of Lions in Africa . If you love the wild animals of this movie and want to see them in real life, you might consider taking an African safari trip. There are many African countries where you can take safaris, such as Tanzania , Botswana, South Africa, and more.

These trips give you the opportunity to see wildlife that doesn’t exist on other continents, and you may also get the opportunity to experience life with an African tribe.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

If you aren’t so keen on the idea of heading to the world’s colder destinations, you may be inspired by the Disney film Coco. The movie is inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, which is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd.

It’s a holiday that gives time for families to remember the lives of their loved ones. In the movie, a young boy accidentally travels to the Land of the Dead, where he meets his great-great-grandfather, who helps him return to the living.

Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico are full of bright flowers, music, and pinatas, and many cities host parades. It is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the culture of Mexico , and although the tone of the celebration is respectful, it’s not somber – instead, it is a celebration of life.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

Finding Nemo is a Pixar movie about a fish living underwater off the coast of Australia who is searching for his son. He goes on a range of adventures with fellow underwater creatures in order to find him, and their travels might inspire you to go diving off the Great Barrier Reef yourself.

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, and you can visit it by going diving. It’s home to some of the world’s most diverse underwater wildlife and has been labeled a UNESCO World Heritage site. When you’re on land, be sure to check out the vibrant city of Sydney as well, which is known for its blend of urban and beach cultures.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

Spirited Away is one of the most beloved animated films of all time, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film takes place in Japan , where a young girl enters a world of spirits that is based on Japanese folklore from the Shinto-Buddhist tradition.

If you are charmed by the rich culture and folklore featured in Spirited Away, you will definitely want to visit the temples of Japan. There are historic Buddhist temples and gardens located throughout the country, with many located in the large cities of Tokyo and Kyoto.

Japan also has a very unique culture that can’t be replicated anywhere else, so be sure to spend your time exploring the city.

The food, fashion, music, and nightlife are all very vibrant and colorful, and you can easily fill a long vacation in this magical country. Interestingly, however,  Jiufen a gentrified old mining town near Taipei (in Taiwan, not Japan) is rumored to provide much of the inspiration for Spirited Away.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

In Lilo and Stitch, a sweet Hawaiian girl who adopts an alien named Stitch. Although Stitch is initially very destructive, Lilo teaches him about ohana, the Hawaiian concept of family, and they come to care for each other deeply. If you love this adorable movie , you should add Hawaii to your travel bucket list.

Surfing, in particular, is a big part of the movie, and Hawaii is home to some of the best surfing in the world. The three biggest islands in the chain are Hawaii, Oahu , and Maui, all of which have very pristine beaches and tropical scenery in addition to great surfing.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

Aladdin is based on the classic Arabic tale One Thousand and One Nights , and although it is set in the fictional city of Agrabah, the setting takes inspiration from several places, including India, Iraq, Iran, and more. Tehran, Iran is one Middle Eastern city where you can experience the vibrant markets and elegant temples that you see in Aladdin. The city is also home to many beautiful palaces, as well as modern skyscrapers and elegant museums.

There are also many other places in Iran you could experience these Islamic wonders, though obviously, you can also see them across the Middle East in general.

Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan - UNESCO World Heritage Site - Things To Do in Isfahan

This goofy movie follows two con artists who travel from Spain to the New World in search of gold and end up on the shores of Guatemala. While the movie is a crazy ride full of twists and turns, you’ll also end up inspired by the beautiful waterfalls and historical cities, which are inspired by the real Mayan cities in Guatemala.

If you love history and ancient ruins, you need to visit Tikal, a Mayan city located in the jungles of Guatemala with ruins dating back thousands of years. While you are in Guatemala, be sure to explore the country’s stunning mountains, luxurious swimming holes, and bustling cities.

tikal guatemala star wars / tikal mayan ruins / tikal pyramids

Mulan is based on an old Chinese legend, and follows a young girl who dresses up as a man so that she can go off to fight the Huns during an invasion. In addition to having some of the catchiest songs in all of Disney’s library, it also has several scenes that take place at the Great Wall of China, one of the world’s great architectural wonders.

If you are a travel buff, you absolutely must visit the Great Wall at some point during your lifetime. While there are pieces of the wall located throughout the southern part of China , the most accessible sites for visitors are located just outside of Beijing (which is worth a visit in its own right).

To get really off-the-beaten-track make sure to visit Mt. Taishan, and bring the Mulan playlist to set on repeat throughout the grueling hike. It will be entirely worth it, we promise…

Mt Tai

Hercules is based on the mythology of ancient Greece, and you can still see many of the landmark Greek ruins that are featured in the movie today. When visiting Athens, you can see some of the world’s most beautiful historic ruins, including the Parthenon and the Acropolis.

You can easily fill several days exploring the city’s historical sites, as well as trips to the local museums to learn more about its history.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

This movie is set in ancient Peru , and follows an Inca Emperor who is transformed into a llama because of his immature and selfish behavior.

The movie is full of laughs, but it also showcases many of the historical ruins that make Peru a world-class destination, particularly for avid hikers and backpackers. The most noteworthy ruin is Macchu Picchu , but there are many other Incan ruins in the Sacred Valley and throughout the country.

Additionally, the city of Lima is full of beautiful art, delicious food, and vibrant culture that is worth at least a day of exploring on your trip – and has some very cool sea lions, once you have had enough of all the llamas.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

One of Disney’s most recent movies, Moana celebrates Polynesian culture by taking viewers on an adventure through Oceania. If you’re one of the many people that fell in love with this movie, you will enjoy visiting travel destinations like New Zealand , Hawaii, or any of the South Pacific islands where Polynesian culture is alive and well.

While Hawaii and New Zealand are both very popular travel destinations, there are also many smaller islands, like Tahiti or Bora Bora , where you can experience the Polynesian culture. Be sure to take advantage of the area’s beautiful beaches and lush forests by trying activities like surfing, diving, hiking, or climbing.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

While watching Ratatouille, you may find yourself getting hungry for some delicious French food. Ratatouille is set in Paris, which is one of the world’s most elegant, cultured cities – in which, many, many other films have found their home.

If you want to experience incredible French food like the dishes featured in the film, you may want to splurge on an incredible dinner at a notorious restaurant like Bistrot Paul Bert, Chez Michel, or Pierre Gagnare.

Of course, while you’re in France you have to take advantage of the incredible museums and shopping as well, and take a trip to the Eiffel Tower.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

Brave follows Princess Merida, a young woman who defies her country’s customs by deciding not to get engaged. The entire movie takes you on an adventure through the Scottish Highlands , which is one of the most stunningly moody places in the world.

The vegetation is lush and green, and you’ll see many old castles (like the  spooky Buchanan Castle ) and dark, murky lakes as you adventure through this part of the world.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are also home to their own historical sites as well as being centers of art and music in Europe. The Isle of Skye is also pretty spectacular and we can just envisage Princess Merida running around here too…

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

Not quite sure where you want to go yet? Watch Up and get inspiration to just head on an adventure. The movie follows an old man who ties balloons to his house so that he can fly away and see South America , which he has always dreamed of seeing.

It will show you that with some imagination, any of your travel dreams are possible.

Ok, we don’t have any suggestions *quite* like this, but an Amazon jungle stay is almost as incredible – which we also have for you, in both Ecuador and Peru.

The Best Animated Travel Movies Guaranteed To Inspire Wanderlust

  • Genshin Impact
  • Super Mario

Top 20 Best Time Travel Anime Series & Movies

Time machine in SteinsGate

Here’s a question: what’s your favorite time travel anime? Are there even enough good titles in this sci-fi subgenre?

It isn’t filled to the brim each season unlike with the case of isekai titles, but it’s not impossible to find some great ones.

If you’re in the mood for some mind-boggling twists and turns (or even minor time travel elements in an otherwise typical anime) check out my list below.

And fair warning: spoilers ahead(in some cases). Some titles here have time travel itself as a key turning point or surprise in the series, so if you don’t want to know any more just skim the titles and pick one that interests you!

20. Nobunaga Concerto

Nobunaga Concerto anime screenshot

I’m going to start with Nobunaga Concerto, an anime that does have time travel — but is also more of an isekai.

This is why I’m including it on my list but, but not the highest for sure. So what’s it all about?

As you may have already guessed, it involves Oda Nobunaga . Arguably one of the most popular Japanese historical figures.

He was a brutal leader, but he was also brilliant and a key figure in the reunification of Japan.

But Nobunaga isn’t the OP. In Nobunaga Concerto, he meets Saburou who mysteriously time travels from the 21st century and looks like him.

Saburou was just an ordinary high school kid, but now he must replace Nobunaga, who wishes to relax in his final years.

19. Natsu-iro no Sunadokei (Sandglass of Summer Colors)

Natsu-iro no Sunadokei screenshot

This is an old anime. Like, really old.

But while its character design, animation, and overall quality haven’t stood the test of time, it is a worthwhile show that involves more time travel than Nobunaga Concerto.

Sandglass of Summer Colors is an adaptation of a video game, a visual novel (VN) from Princess Soft that was released way back in 2002.

Also, it only has two episodes; it’s an OVA. Still, it’s an intriguing show.

Yes it once again involves a teenage boy, this time named Kotaro Makimura.

But here, the time travel comes in the form of Kotaro waking up to the next school year, and then going back and forth to specific days of his summer vacation.

Through this he learns some very crazy news about his girlfriend Kaho Serizawa. It gets deep.

18. Buddy Complex

Buddy Complex anime screenshot

In 2014, Sunrise released an action-heavy mecha title that surprisingly wasn’t another entry to their sprawling Gundam franchise.

It’s called Buddy Complex, and it does enough to distinguish itself from other similar titles with its appealing trio, plot, and solid execution.

Buddy Complex starts with the main hero Aoba Watase nearly getting killed in the hands of a massive robot from the future.

Hina Yumihara saves him, and also takes him 70 years into the future for him to learn all about the fighting robots and possibly prevent his demise.

Can he go back to his actual timeline? Or is he stuck in this future of warring military forces?

17. Doraemon

Doraemon anime screen

Yes, Doraemon is indeed a time-travel anime — and quite a good one at that.

Some argue that the time travel aspect is a mere gimmick here. But I honestly love what the anime has done with it.

The story isn’t about a dystopian future and someone who wants to save it by going back to the past.

No, it’s about Sewashi Nobi from the 22nd century sending a cat robot to improve the life of his grandfather Nobita Nobi — and that’s wonderful.

With 1,700 episodes, Doraemon has proven that this subgenre can be wholesome for kids.

Likewise, who doesn’t want a four-dimensional pouch that can bring out all sorts of gadgets of different sizes?

16. Punch Line

Punch Line anime screenshot

Punch Line was MAPPA’s third original anime after Garo: The Animation and Zankyou no Terror, the latter being one of my all-time favorites.

No, Punch Line wasn’t a modern classic in my eyes at all.

It didn’t have the serious or ambitious tone of those previous shows.

However, Punch Line was a creative risk that needs commending — and even a reappraisal from anime fans.

It’s silly but fully aware of it.

How silly? It involves spirits, nose bleeding, panty shots.

Also, the OP has to avoid looking at panties as he travels through time as a spirit. Otherwise a meteor immediately kills all life on Earth. So that’s fun.

15. InuYasha

InuYasha anime screenshot

I’ve got another entry here from Sunrise Studio.

InuYasha was one of the biggest shounen titles before series like Naruto, Bleach, and Fairy Tail took over — and it does have time travel.

Kagome Higurashi goes back hundreds of years to feudal Japan. The difference is instead of meeting a general, he meets a white-haired guy who also has dog ears.

Also, both Kagome and Inuyasha can travel between modern Japan and feudal Japan with relative ease.

And I suggest InuYasha just because it’s one of the best shounen series of all time. Time travel or not.

14. Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara (Iroduku: The World in Colors)

Iroduku: The World in Colors anime

I have a soft spot for original anime. It takes a lot of guts to push through with a story you don’t know will work out.

It doesn’t have a built-in fan base unlike with adaptations of manga, LNs, and video games.

But Iroduku: The World in Colors was more than just an original anime.

It was a visually imaginative and wonderfully animated series, and it was clear that P.A. Works didn’t just do this half-heartedly.

Think of it as a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and school drama.

A grandmother sends her emotionally distant granddaughter 60 years back to the past, but she doesn’t say why.

And now that she’s back to 2018(present when released) the young girl named Hitomi Tsukishiro learns all about self-discovery and human connection. Go see it.

13. Charlotte

Charlotte anime screenshot

Look, I get it — Angel Beats was a great anime series.

That was a show that managed to make me love all the students in just 13 episodes.

Plus, I’m confident that most viewers won’t ever forget the ending.

Since then, people have been clamoring for something like it from Jun Maeda.

Well Charlotte came into the fray, but it wasn’t exactly as good as Angel Beats or Clannad.

Still, Charlotte certainly has its moments as a school drama with time travel (among other powers).

Also this is an anime original, and I think the best moments outweigh the pacing and plot issues by the end.

Zipang anime screenshot

I don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Zipang.

Despite being released two full years later than Naruto, Zipang somehow sports a more old-school design.

Then again, it’s a fitting choice given the military and historical setting.

Simply put, it’s about a Japanese missile destroyer (a navy warship) called Mirai that gets itself into a storm, but it was no ordinary storm.

Once Mirai gets away from the storm, its crew realizes that they’ve all time-traveled to 1942 — back to the Second World War.

Exciting, right?

Here’s the more interesting part: They must try their best not to change history. But can the crew keep themselves in the background when people are dying left and right?

11. Natsu no Arashi (Summer Storm!)

Natsu no Arashi anime screenshot

Interestingly enough, I didn’t catch this until last year — a full decade since its release.

But hey, this is an excellent example of “better late than never” because this is a fine mix of time travel and comedy.

Natsu no Arashi is about, again, a male teenager who meets a beautiful girl.

But Sayoko Arashiyama is far from an ordinary teenager.

She may not even be a teenager as Hajime Yasaka finds a photo of her in her 60s.

What’s going on? And why does Sayoko still look young?

Check out Natsu no Arashi. It’s made by Shaft so expect some visual delights.

10. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry)

When They Cry anime screenshot

We’re getting closer to the highest ranking so let’s be really careful now. I did warn about spoilers, so be prepared.

When They Cry deceives its audience by portraying itself as another generic anime with a guy OP and a bunch of cute girls.

Only for it to actually be a murder mystery with a time loop to boot.

Also, it may even be the only horror and time travel anime out there.

One minute you’re seeing kids playing together, all smiles. The next, they’re splattered with blood and having edgy expressions.

Orange anime screenshot

Admittedly I hate what happened to the anime adaptation here (although the movie Orange: Future was way better in terms of animation quality and consistency).

I read the manga, and it had moments that could’ve catapulted the anime as a classic.

But the anime did not meet or exceed expectations.

Orange was just above average. But still good enough to warrant a spot here.

If you think the anime was good and made you cry and laugh, consider the gorgeous and much more emotional manga too.

8. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World)

ReZERO Starting Life in Another World

I think Re:Zero is a fine isekai and time travel anime.

It could’ve been like any typical isekai after all the hype for Sword Art Online. But it etched its own place in history.

Re:Zero makes you think that it’s just another guy getting transported to a fantasy world. But the time loop aspect elevates the series to new heights of dread and sheer desperation for Subaru.

It’s not just an escape to a better world with waifu material like Emilia and Rem, it’s overall a really engaging show. And I’m definitely excited for season 2 .

7. Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)

Kimi no Na wa. anime

Yup, this is big spoiler territory.

I sure hope that you’ve already watched the critically acclaimed movie, which also broke records around the world — or that you’ve read the novel of the same name.

Because time travel is what made audiences gasp in the middle of the movie. Kimi no Na wa is seemingly just about two people living in different regions… but what viewers didn’t know was that they also lived in different periods.

I still remember the shock everyone had in the cinemas (because I saw this twice in theaters).

There is nothing quite like the audiovisual spectacle of a Makoto Shinkai film on the big screen. And the ending is so rewarding if you’ve watched Five Centimeters Per Second.

6. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)

Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei anime

Masaaki Yuasa needs no introduction after Devilman Crybaby garnered rave reviews from fans and critics all over the world, in part because it was available on Netflix.

But even before that, I was a huge fan of Yuasa’s directorial prowess.

He’s a man with impeccable skill, ensuring that both substance and style are way above the competition.

The Tatami Galaxy features rapid conversations (so you have to read fast if you prefer subtitles like me) and there’s so much going on when this is all about a young man’s life (and love life).

Watch him go through some sort of Groundhog Day, but in a much more artistic, magical manner.

It’s a rewarding experience across space and time (and tatami), I promise you that.

5. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime screenshot

At this point, I’m not sure which of my top picks have time travel as one of its biggest turning points.

This one has a certain episode in the latter half that completely turns it from an impressive series to arguably one of the best anime of all time.

You may not agree that it’s a “deconstruction” of the magical girl genre . But it’s clear evidence that Gen Urobuchi could change the game if he had the right team.

Also, this original anime looks breathtaking.

It’s dark, it’s exciting, it’s inspirational.

Shaft had a classic in their hands and they didn’t waste the opportunity.

4. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime screenshot

As one of Kyoto Animation’s first big hits, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya took the relatively small 2006 global anime community by storm.

It was hilarious, had a stellar set of characters, had a viral opening song, and had episodes that didn’t line up chronologically.

And yet the order of events didn’t ruin the story at all.

The nonlinear structure enabled a new way of looking at the character dynamics. And it made rewatches (in the chronological order) more rewarding.

Once you’ve watched the series (and bless you if you’ve seen the Endless Eight arc) go ahead and enjoy The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya .

3. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)

Girl Who Leapt Through Time anime screenshot

Like Masaaki Yuasa and Makoto Shinkai, Mamoru Hosoda is one of the best anime directors today.

And he’s done many more amazing films besides this one: Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast, just to name a few.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time works as well as it does because of how it didn’t just use time travel as a gimmick.

It thought of how to shape the character and the story as a whole, creating tension and developing emotional impact in the latter half.

Plus I think many of us can relate to Makoto Shonno. Spending the last year of high school knowing that life is about to change, and yet you’re unsure of your own future.

It’s thrilling, hilarious, and has a heart at its core.

2. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

Boku dake ga Inai Machi anime screenshot

Am I making a controversial choice by putting this so high on my list?

Not really.

Sure, not everyone was a fan of the adaptation. And I admit that the suspense thriller aspect to it was a bit heavy-handed.

But like with how I feel about Zankyou no Terror, ERASED has highs that are so high, they easily make up for the lows.

It’s an imperfect masterpiece in my eyes.

The first episode was a 10/10 with how it easily grabbed my attention by the end with the change in aspect ratio, signifying the drastic change in time… it’s really interesting.

ERASED has a killer OP from none other than Asian Kung-Fu Generation, and I still think that the birthday scene of Kayo is one of the most heart-wrenching yet simultaneously heartwarming moments in anime.

Also, (big spoiler ahead) I dislike that some fans think the show was bad just because the guy didn’t end up with the girl he saved(and attempted to save again and again) in the past.

Look, you don’t just get to marry someone because you saved their life. You save someone because it’s the right thing to do, not because you expect something in return.

1. Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate anime screenshot

Is there even any other anime that could be at the No. 1 spot?

It’s the first show that comes to mind if you ask most anime fans what the best time travel anime is. And for good reason.

Furthermore, Steins;Gate isn’t just lauded as the top time travel series ever.

It’s also in the running as possible the best anime in general, usually in competition with FMA: Brotherhood.

Steins;Gate is both an outstanding gateway show to anime and one that becomes rewarding once you’ve consumed a ton of anime.

Some claim that it’s overrated, but one thing’s for sure: It set the standard for what a time travel anime could achieve in terms of sheer brilliance and entertainment.

best animated time travel movies

Millennial introvert on the lookout for slice-of-life anime, world cinema, and European music. Follow on Twitter @notspencer08

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The Best Time Travel Movies of the 2000s, Ranked

Some of these movies are among the greatest of the 2000s, and they're all essential projects that revolve around time travel.

Off the bat, it's worth noting that these movies about time travel run a surprising gamut of genre. There's the typical sci-fi fare one might expect, but there are some surprising left-field inclusions as well. While the list's upper echelon can be hit or miss here and there, every film featured herein will be of some quality worth writing home about. The top picks are some of the best time travel movies you'll ever see, with inventive visions seen into specific fruition by all of the names attached to the respective project.

With talented directors at the helm and star-studded casts to boot, you're likely to recognize the majority of films on the list. But along the way, some may appear unfamiliar. All that said, these are the twenty greatest time travel movies of the 2000s, ranked.

20 The Jacket

From Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley to Daniel Craig and Jennifer Jason Leigh, perhaps the most notable element of The Jacket (2005) would be the performances of its stars. Brody plays Jack Starks, an amnesiac veteran of the Gulf War who finds himself at the scene of a murder with no memory of how he got there. He's then sent to a mental hospital, where he discovers his penchant for time travel and interacts with Jackie Price, who's played by Knightley.

A psychological thriller, tangible elements of romance are implemented around most corners of the plot, with the movie of course fitting the science fiction bill, as well. And though this isn't the best film you'll read about today, don't let its numbers of success fool you — The Jacket could easily be deemed underrated. It's well worth a watch overall.

Though few can be cited as high-quality pieces of cinema, Adam Sandler comedies always boast their fair share of fans. However, they're rarely acclaimed by critics. And while Click (2006) by Frank Coraci does hold a 34% approval rating on critical consensus website Rotten Tomatoes, there's plenty of quality to be found herein. There are poignant moments, firstly. Rare for a Sandler comedy.

But this was also Sandler's third collaboration with director Frank Coraci following The Waterboy (1998) and The Wedding Singer (1998) from the prior decade. The former is their funniest film together, while the latter is perhaps their best overall. But Click nonetheless deserves respect for seeing such an off-the-wall premise into fruition as Sandler's protagonist is given a remote that controls time. It's a famous plot, and with good reason.

18 Kate & Leopold

Directed by James Mangold, it's off the bat worth noting the two performers in the titular roles of this entry: Meg Ryan as Kate, and Hugh Jackman as Leopold. But as for the plot of Kate & Leopold (2001): things kick into gear when a physicist named Stuart Besser ( played by Liev Schreiber ) pulls his great-great-grandfather through a time portal by accident.

That's where Jackman's character, His Grace the 3rd Duke of Albany, comes into play. He falls in love with Meg Ryan's character Kate, who used to be Stuart's girlfriend. Talk about a comedy of errors. And while this isn't the highest-quality movie you'll read about today, just about every romantic comedy featuring Meg Ryan is worth the watch to one degree or another. And considering Hugh Jackman also pulls out all the stops, Kate & Leopold does deserve its credit in the end.

17 A Christmas Carol

Disney's a christmas carol.

With enticing visuals and charismatic performances, A Christmas Carol (2009) is among the greatest adaptations of the famous Charles Dickens novel. In fact, even with several competitors, this is the best animated movie to ever tell the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge. That's one of literature's most famous characters, and he's portrayed to perfection by Jim Carey via motion capture animation.

Other names among its cast includes Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn, and Cary Elwes. And of course, also noteworthy is Robert Zemeckis, who wrote the adapted script and directed the final product. While it may not hold up as well as other animated stints from this era, you can rest assured that it's of the utmost quality. Even if some critics failed to see light in its quality, A Christmas Carol did receive a perfect, four-out-of-four-star rating from Roger Ebert . Not much else should be said.

16 13 Going on 30

13 going on 30.

A geeky thirteen-year-old, Jenna Rink wants to win the affection of a clique called "The Six Chicks". But upon being humiliated by her prospective friends, Jenna wishes herself as an adult. Magically, her wish comes true thanks to her neighbor (who's secretly in love with her), with the thirty-year-old version of Jenna being played by Jennifer Garner.

She received great praise for her performance, with 13 Going on 30 (2004) putting Garner on the Hollywood map. And there are plenty of other performers worth noting among the cast, such as Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, and Jim Gaffigan. There's even a young Brie Larson as one of the Six Chicks. In the end, 13 Going on 30 features an intriguing premise regarding time travel, and the product holds up well thanks to the efforts of its cast.

15 The Forbidden Kingdom

Obsessed with martial arts movies, a teenager named Jason rummages through bootleg DVDs in a pawn shop when he stumbles upon a golden staff. It transports him to ancient China, where he aligns with a kung fu master and a misfit warrior to save a fabled figure called The Monkey King. It's a silly plot. Thankfully, The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) works fluidly thanks not just to solid screenwriting efforts, but also the performances of its cast.

Joining two legends of the subgenre , this wuxia title features Jackie Chan and Jet Li as the lead martial artists. Michael Angarano plays Jason, while Liu Yifei plays another ally called Golden Sparrow. It's an imaginative title through and through, with compelling action sequences bolstering the intrigue of the plot itself. Well worth a watch, The Forbidden Kingdom is an essential piece about time travel.

14 Mr. Nobody

Written and directed by Jaco Van Dormael, this entry focuses on the titular character Nemo Nobody, the last mortal on earth at 118 years of age. The rest of humanity has achieved quasi-immortality, with the plot from there playing out in non-linear fashion. Starring Jared Leto, Sarah Polley, and Diane Kruger, this time traveling spectacle is perhaps best analyzed through a more technical lens of filmmaking.

It's a smart script, with enticing visuals and brilliant sound design. But its cast also performs brilliantly, with Mr. Nobody (2009) going down among the most underrated from everyone involved. On top of the aforementioned actors, others include Linh Dan Pham, Rhys Ifans, and Juno Temple. Quite the talented cast, with the brilliance of Mr. Nobody partly attributed to their efforts. But mainly, it's an engrossing journey through time that deserves a spot on the list.

13 Happy Accidents

Written and directed by Brad Anderson, this is one of several time-travel titles from the 2000s that blends genres with the realm of romantic comedies. Marisa Tomei stars as Ruby Weaver, a resident of New York City who can't seem to hold onto a relationship. She then meets Sam, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, who she falls in love with only to find out he's traveled back from the year 2470. An enticing premise, however silly.

The leads share a great rapport, and they see the project into fairly convincing fruition. Though not the most acclaimed project of the bunch, Happy Accidents (2000) did receive decent reviews from industry pundits. And while not many waves were made at the worldwide box office, credit should nonetheless be doled out to this entry as a decent film about time travel.

12 Déjà Vu

The fourth of five collaborations between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington, this is among the most fan-favorite films from the 2000s to revolve around the concept at hand. The aforementioned performer stars as a time-traveling ATF agent who arrives in the past to stop a terrorist attack. But in tandem, as Déjà Vu (2006) plays out in New Orleans, protagonist Douglas Carlin also attempts to save a woman for whom he falls.

While it made great money in ticket sales, Déjà Vu did come up short in the eyes of critics. It holds a middling approval rating of 55% on consensus website Rotten Tomatoes , with particular criticism being attributed to Scott's attempts to blend multiple genres. But for as many well-warranted points as they made, Déjà Vu should nonetheless be held in high regard. As far as science-fiction action-thriller romance movies go, this may be the greatest ever.

11 Meet the Robinsons

Meet the robinsons.

A somewhat forgotten outing from Walt Disney Animation, this entry was well-regarded upon release. Following a young inventor named Lewis, who's struggling to find fitting adoption parents due to his haphazard scientific experiments. The plot kicks off when a time traveler (around the same age) arrives at the orphanage and takes Lewis to a high-tech future setting.

The plot expands in thrills, intrigue, and emotion from there, with Meet the Robinsons (2007) going down among the best animated films of its decade. The pacing, the dialogue, the well-written character dynamics — every element of storytelling pieces together into a wonderful overall package that holds up well today. If it's been some time since you've revisited Meet the Robinsons , rest assured that it deserves a spot on the list.

10 Idiocracy

Directed by Mike Judge, this is among the funniest features to ever revolve around time travel. In the case of Idiocracy (2006), the protagonist (played by Luke Wilson) takes part in a hibernation experiment — alongside Maya Rudolph's character — run by the government. But when the two awaken, they find themselves in a dystopian society where humanity has become too stupid to operate on their own without technology.

An enticing premise that paves the way for some truly hilarious jokes and indelible one-liners. The cast performs well across the board, at least, as far as comedies go. This is an absurd plot, with others like Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, and Justin Long helping see the product into convincing fruition. If it's been some time since you revisited Idiocracy , rest assured that it holds up as one of the funniest movies of the decade.

9 Frequency

A science fiction thriller from director Gregory Hoblit, the script for Frequency (2000) was penned by Toby Emmerich. Though he's typically a composer and producer, the latter creative has two screenwriting credits to his name: the one at hand, along with a lesser-known movie called The Last Mimzy (2007). Both revolve around time travel, showcasing Emmerich's aptitude for storytelling in that regard.

The cast features well-known stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel as father and son , respectively. The latter character (named John) seizes the opportunity to reverse the events of the past and save his father from a fire that transpired thirty years prior. It's a gripping tale, tense and fascinating until its final frame. It's fallen a bit by the wayside of popularity in recent years. Nonetheless, Frequency goes down among the most memorable movies of its kind — especially when it comes to the 2000s.

Mysterious weather conditions send five friends on a yacht onto another vessel. But this new ship isn't as it seems, with the plot of Triangle (2009) expanding in thrills from there. A psychological horror film, this entry saw direction under Christopher Smith, who also wrote the script. He received great reverence for his work, with Triangle being held in high regard upon release despite waning in name value ever since.

You may not be familiar with this entry, but it's without a doubt worth a watch. Thanks to charismatic performances from his actors and great shot value re: camerawork, Smith created a definitive 2000s movie when it comes to the horror genre in general. Time loops are among the most prototypical story motifs with regard to the topic at hand. And although Triangle is far from the most popular films on the list, its team deserves credit today for their work.

7 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Terminator 3: rise of the machines (2003).

One of the greatest science-fiction franchises is also among the best action series, as Terminator (originally by James Cameron) consists of high-quality projects with name value to boot. And while Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) showcased a notable decline in quality compared to the previous entries, it's nonetheless of a caliber worth writing home about. And of course, each film under this banner does revolve around time travel.

In this case, it's known as Chrono Displacement. And in Rise of the Machines , the artificial intelligence Skynet sends a T-X (played by Kristanna Loken) back to stop the future lieutenant's of the franchise's resistance forces. It works well, particularly as a sequel that picks up after the events of its predecessor. If it's been a while since you revisited T3 , rest assured that it holds up well today.

6 The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Among the more common tropes or story elements regarding this variety of cinema would be the existence of a time loop. It's featured in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) as protagonist Makoto Konno relives the same day on repeat. She uses these newfound powers to her advantage as she traverses Kuranose High School , reversing time to make better grades and arrive on time to events for which she was late.

But soon, Makoto realizes these occurrences also affect the lives of those around her, creating tangible conflict in an imaginative world with alluring visuals. It's a well-written project through and through, receiving widespread acclaim upon release and being likened to the films of Hayo Miyazaki. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, this entry may not be as popular in the States as its Studio Ghibli counterparts. But The Girl Who Leapt Through Time nonetheless deserves a spot on the list.

5 Star Trek

Directed by J.J. Abrams, this essential time travel movie of the 2000s successfully rebooted one of the greatest science-fiction properties to ever exist. Star Trek (2009) accrued great money at the worldwide box office, showcasing its status among the more popular films on the list. But this stint also holds a 96% approval rating on critical consensus website Rotten Tomatoes, going down among the more revered films to ever revolve around time travel.

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For those unfamiliar: it chronicles Captain Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and Spock (portrayed by Zachary Quinto) as they and their crew of the SS Enterprise battle against a villain named Nero. The antagonist is played by Eric Bana, and frankly, those famous names hardly scratch the surface of this star-studded cast . There's also John Cho, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, and Anton Yelchin, with everyone performing in convincing fashion. Frequently cited among the best films of its franchise, Star Trek also goes down among the best science fiction films of the decade.

4 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban.

With more name value than just about any film on the list, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) is also a high-quality film with a talented cast and crew. Of course, the titular boy who lived is played by Daniel Radcliffe, while Rupert Grint and Emma Watson show up as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively. The trio fight against the dastardly dementors while also unfurling the secrets regarding a mysterious figure called Sirius Black.

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An intriguing premise with magic at its core. And in this entry, Hermione is also in possession of a time turner. Her ability to reverse events becomes a staple plot point of the movie, with everyone seeing the overall product into brilliant fruition. It's worth noting that Alfonso Cuarón is among the finest talents of his generation, and his directing Prisoner of Azkaban bolstered its quality in the end.

Entrepreneurial engineers, two friends named Aaron and Abe make their living by building error-checking technology. You may know where this is headed. To kick off the plot of Primer (2005), the two friends inadvertently concoct a time machine that proves just as dangerous in its use as it is intriguing in its essence.

Primer: Arguably the Most Realistic Movie About Time Travel

A sci-fi stint with psychological undertones, Primer was written and directed by Shane Currath in his feature film debut. Currath also edited and scored the film, stamping his creative vision across the board of production. He even stars in Primer as Aaron, with this going down among the most monumental works from a single creative throughout the 2000s. Though far from the most famous film of the bunch, Primer is among the most critically acclaimed. And with good reason.

2 Timecrimes

Timecrimes (2007).

Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, who also appears in the lead role, Timecrimes (2007) features one of the more intriguing premises from any film on the list. Even for a time travel film . A man named Héctor finds himself tracked down by a menacing figure wrapped in bandages, and receives tips from a scientist to hide in a large mechanical device.

The 21 Best International Films of the 2000s

Of course, it turns out to be a time machine, with Héctor from there finding himself stuck within a casual loop. And even with the widespread acclaim from critics received upon release, Timecrimes might even go down among the most fan-favorite time travel movies ever, regardless of decade. But when it comes to the 2000s, there's no doubt: Nacho Vigalondo's magnum opus remains among the finest films of its kind. It deserves a spot on the list.

1 Donnie Darko

Donnie darko.

Directed by Richard Kelly, this entry features Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular character, a teenager who experiences bouts of sleepwalking before seeing visions of a giant rabbit. His name is Frank, and he asks Gyllanhaal's protagonist if the latter believes in time travel. Donnie then asks his science teacher, who gives him an in-universe book titled The Philoosophy of Time Travel . It's a common motif throughout the film.

Donnie Darko (2001) saw great acclaim upon release, and with good reason. It's an intriguing premise with one of the highest acclaimed performances from the aforementioned actor. This is the film that put Gyllenhaal on the map — he's since become the greatest thriller actor to ever live — and Donnie Darko remains among the best of the bunch all these years down the line. It's also an essential piece of Hollywood history that involves the concept of time travel.

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Top 100 Time Travel Movies

Best Films about time travel.

  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • Release Year

1. Back to the Future (1985)

PG | 116 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Michael J. Fox , Christopher Lloyd , Lea Thompson , Crispin Glover

Votes: 1,304,289 | Gross: $210.61M

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

R | 137 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her ten year old son John from an even more advanced and powerful cyborg.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger , Linda Hamilton , Edward Furlong , Robert Patrick

Votes: 1,172,112 | Gross: $204.84M

3. The Terminator (1984)

R | 107 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A human soldier is sent from 2029 to 1984 to stop an almost indestructible cyborg killing machine, sent from the same year, which has been programmed to execute a young woman whose unborn son is the key to humanity's future salvation.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger , Linda Hamilton , Michael Biehn , Paul Winfield

Votes: 922,605 | Gross: $38.40M

4. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Evan Treborn suffers blackouts during significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life by reading his journal.

Directors: Eric Bress , J. Mackye Gruber | Stars: Ashton Kutcher , Amy Smart , Melora Walters , Elden Henson

Votes: 520,474 | Gross: $57.94M

5. Back to the Future Part II (1989)

PG | 108 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

After visiting 2015, Marty McFly must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disastrous changes to 1985...without interfering with his first trip.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Michael J. Fox , Christopher Lloyd , Lea Thompson , Tom Wilson

Votes: 571,604 | Gross: $118.50M

6. 12 Monkeys (1995)

R | 129 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Bruce Willis , Madeleine Stowe , Brad Pitt , Joseph Melito

Votes: 645,958 | Gross: $57.14M

7. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

A narcissistic, self-centered weatherman finds himself in a time loop on Groundhog Day.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray , Andie MacDowell , Chris Elliott , Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 683,878 | Gross: $70.91M

8. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

PG-13 | 181 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos' actions and restore balance to the universe.

Directors: Anthony Russo , Joe Russo | Stars: Robert Downey Jr. , Chris Evans , Mark Ruffalo , Chris Hemsworth

Votes: 1,262,385 | Gross: $858.37M

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Director: Bryan Singer | Stars: Patrick Stewart , Ian McKellen , Hugh Jackman , James McAvoy

Votes: 744,294 | Gross: $233.92M

10. Interstellar (2014)

PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

When Earth becomes uninhabitable in the future, a farmer and ex-NASA pilot, Joseph Cooper, is tasked to pilot a spacecraft, along with a team of researchers, to find a new planet for humans.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Matthew McConaughey , Anne Hathaway , Jessica Chastain , Mackenzie Foy

Votes: 2,092,660 | Gross: $188.02M

11. Predestination (I) (2014)

R | 97 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

As his last assignment, a temporal agent is tasked to travel back in time and prevent a bomb attack in New York in 1975. The hunt, however, turns out to be beyond the bounds of possibility.

Directors: Michael Spierig , Peter Spierig | Stars: Ethan Hawke , Sarah Snook , Noah Taylor , Madeleine West

Votes: 304,212 | Gross: $0.07M

12. Mirage (2018)

TV-MA | 128 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

Two storms separated by 25 years. A woman murdered. A daughter missed. Only 72 hours to discover the truth.

Director: Oriol Paulo | Stars: Adriana Ugarte , Chino Darín , Javier Gutiérrez , Álvaro Morte

Votes: 64,083

13. Palm Springs (2020)

R | 90 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery

Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over again.

Director: Max Barbakow | Stars: Andy Samberg , Cristin Milioti , J.K. Simmons , Peter Gallagher

Votes: 182,154

14. Midnight in Paris (2011)

PG-13 | 94 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

While on a trip to Paris with his fiancée's family, a nostalgic screenwriter finds himself mysteriously going back to the 1920s every day at midnight.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Owen Wilson , Rachel McAdams , Kathy Bates , Kurt Fuller

Votes: 449,399 | Gross: $56.82M

15. Timecrimes (2007)

R | 92 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.

Director: Nacho Vigalondo | Stars: Karra Elejalde , Candela Fernández , Bárbara Goenaga , Nacho Vigalondo

Votes: 68,680 | Gross: $0.04M

16. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

PG-13 | 113 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.

Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise , Emily Blunt , Bill Paxton , Brendan Gleeson

Votes: 735,406 | Gross: $100.21M

17. About Time (I) (2013)

R | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

Director: Richard Curtis | Stars: Domhnall Gleeson , Rachel McAdams , Bill Nighy , Lydia Wilson

Votes: 385,105 | Gross: $15.32M

18. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

PG-13 | 107 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Henry DeTamble, a librarian, possesses a unique gene that lets him involuntarily travel through time. His wife, Claire Abshire, finds it difficult to cope with it.

Director: Robert Schwentke | Stars: Eric Bana , Rachel McAdams , Ron Livingston , Michelle Nolden

Votes: 157,775 | Gross: $63.41M

19. Back to the Future Part III (1990)

PG | 118 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Stranded in 1955, Marty McFly learns about the death of Doc Brown in 1885 and must travel back in time to save him. With no fuel readily available for the DeLorean, the two must figure how to escape the Old West before Emmett is murdered.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Michael J. Fox , Christopher Lloyd , Mary Steenburgen , Tom Wilson

Votes: 480,047 | Gross: $87.73M

20. Time Sweep (2016)

Not Rated | 103 min | Drama

Franco loses his investigative journalist girlfriend Julia in a traffic accident and he'll do anything to get her back...

Director: Victor Postiglione | Stars: Luis Luque , Guillermo Pfening , María Nela Sinisterra

21. Star Trek (2009)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.

Director: J.J. Abrams | Stars: Chris Pine , Zachary Quinto , Simon Pegg , Leonard Nimoy

Votes: 619,859 | Gross: $257.73M

22. Flight of the Navigator (1986)

PG | 90 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

In 1978, a boy travels eight years into the future and has an adventure with an intelligent, wisecracking alien ship.

Director: Randal Kleiser | Stars: Joey Cramer , Paul Reubens , Cliff De Young , Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 51,619 | Gross: $18.56M

23. Rewind (1999)

94 min | Comedy

A single guy has a video recorder that when re-winded it rewinds his life too. One night He invites to dinner some friends and records the party and keeps rewinding the camera every time something goes wrong with unpredictable results.

Director: Nicolás Muñoz Avia | Stars: Daniel Guzmán , María Adánez , Enrique Simón , Paz Gómez

24. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

PG-13 | 127 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

When Jacob (Asa Butterfield) discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Eva Green , Asa Butterfield , Samuel L. Jackson , Judi Dench

Votes: 187,953 | Gross: $87.24M

25. Men in Black³ (2012)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.'s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld | Stars: Will Smith , Tommy Lee Jones , Josh Brolin , Jemaine Clement

Votes: 386,457 | Gross: $179.02M

26. Source Code (2011)

PG-13 | 93 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

A soldier wakes up in someone else's body and discovers he's part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train within 8 minutes.

Director: Duncan Jones | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal , Michelle Monaghan , Vera Farmiga , Jeffrey Wright

Votes: 549,052 | Gross: $54.71M

27. The Time Machine (1960)

G | 103 min | Adventure, Romance, Sci-Fi

A man's vision for a utopian society is disillusioned when travelling forward into time reveals a dark and dangerous society.

Director: George Pal | Stars: Rod Taylor , Alan Young , Yvette Mimieux , Sebastian Cabot

Votes: 44,767

28. Idiocracy (2006)

R | 84 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Corporal Joe Bauers, a decisively average American, is selected as a guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. He is forgotten and left to awaken to a future so incredibly moronic that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.

Director: Mike Judge | Stars: Luke Wilson , Maya Rudolph , Dax Shepard , Terry Crews

Votes: 181,561 | Gross: $0.44M

29. 12 Dates of Christmas (2011 TV Movie)

PG | 90 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

A story that follows Kate, a young woman who after a horrible blind date on Christmas Eve, wakes up to find she is re-living that same day and date all over again.

Director: James Hayman | Stars: Laura Miyata , Vijay Mehta , Amy Smart , Audrey Dwyer

Votes: 8,312

30. 12:01 (1993 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 92 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A man likes a woman at work. He sees her get murdered. He gets drunk and zapped at 12:01AM. Next morning she's back and everything is exactly like the day before. The time loops gives him chances to save her.

Director: Jack Sholder | Stars: Helen Slater , Jonathan Silverman , Nicolas Surovy , Robin Bartlett

Votes: 5,506

31. Time Lapse (2014)

Not Rated | 104 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Three friends discover a mysterious machine that takes pictures twenty-four hours into the future, and conspire to use it for personal gain, until disturbing and dangerous images begin to develop.

Director: Bradley King | Stars: Danielle Panabaker , Matt O'Leary , George Finn , John Rhys-Davies

Votes: 49,066

32. Looper (2012)

R | 119 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits - someone like Joe - who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by sending back Joe's future self for assassination.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt , Bruce Willis , Emily Blunt , Paul Dano

Votes: 602,344 | Gross: $66.49M

33. The Lake House (2006)

PG | 99 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

A lonely doctor who once occupied an unusual lakeside house begins to exchange love letters with its former resident, a frustrated architect. They must try to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance before it's too late.

Director: Alejandro Agresti | Stars: Keanu Reeves , Sandra Bullock , Christopher Plummer , Ebon Moss-Bachrach

Votes: 157,496 | Gross: $52.33M

34. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)

PG-13 | 83 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

While drinking at their local pub, three social outcasts attempt to navigate a time-travel conundrum.

Director: Gareth Carrivick | Stars: Chris O'Dowd , Marc Wootton , Dean Lennox Kelly , Anna Faris

Votes: 36,528

35. Frequency (2000)

PG-13 | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An accidental cross-time radio link connects father and son across 30 years. The son tries to save his father's life, but then must fix the consequences.

Director: Gregory Hoblit | Stars: Dennis Quaid , Jim Caviezel , Shawn Doyle , Elizabeth Mitchell

Votes: 115,604 | Gross: $45.01M

36. Kate & Leopold (2001)

PG-13 | 118 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

An English Duke from 1876 is inadvertently dragged to modern day New York where he falls for a plucky advertising executive.

Director: James Mangold | Stars: Meg Ryan , Hugh Jackman , Liev Schreiber , Breckin Meyer

Votes: 89,001 | Gross: $47.12M

37. Project Almanac (2015)

PG-13 | 106 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A group of teens discovers secret plans for a time machine, and construct one. However, things start to get out of control.

Director: Dean Israelite | Stars: Amy Landecker , Sofia Black-D'Elia , Virginia Gardner , Jonny Weston

Votes: 84,157 | Gross: $22.35M

38. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

R | 86 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel.

Director: Colin Trevorrow | Stars: Aubrey Plaza , Mark Duplass , Jake Johnson , Karan Soni

Votes: 130,787 | Gross: $4.01M

39. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

R | 109 min | Action, Sci-Fi

A machine from a post-apocalyptic future travels back in time to protect a man and a woman from an advanced robotic assassin to ensure they both survive a nuclear attack.

Director: Jonathan Mostow | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger , Nick Stahl , Kristanna Loken , Claire Danes

Votes: 418,149 | Gross: $150.37M

40. Terminator Salvation (2009)

PG-13 | 115 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In 2018, a mysterious new weapon in the war against the machines, half-human and half-machine, comes to John Connor on the eve of a resistance attack on Skynet. But whose side is he on, and can he be trusted?

Director: McG | Stars: Christian Bale , Sam Worthington , Anton Yelchin , Moon Bloodgood

Votes: 376,964 | Gross: $125.32M

41. Primer (2004)

PG-13 | 77 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention.

Director: Shane Carruth | Stars: Shane Carruth , David Sullivan , Casey Gooden , Anand Upadhyaya

Votes: 113,984 | Gross: $0.42M

42. Synchronicity (IV) (2015)

R | 101 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

A physicist who invents a time machine must travel back to the past to uncover the truth about his creation and the woman who is trying to steal it.

Director: Jacob Gentry | Stars: Chad McKnight , Brianne Davis , AJ Bowen , Scott Poythress

Votes: 11,320 | Gross: $0.00M

43. Donnie Darko (2001)

R | 113 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.

Director: Richard Kelly | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal , Jena Malone , Mary McDonnell , Holmes Osborne

Votes: 848,875 | Gross: $1.48M

44. Time Trap (2017)

Not Rated | 87 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

A professor enters a cave and goes missing. Some of his students come looking for him and get trapped in the cave as well.

Directors: Mark Dennis , Ben Foster | Stars: Reiley McClendon , Cassidy Gifford , Brianne Howey , Olivia Draguicevich

Votes: 43,354

45. Time Lapse (2014)

46. before i fall (2017).

PG-13 | 98 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

February 12 is just another day in Sam's charmed life, until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over and over, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she's losing.

Director: Ry Russo-Young | Stars: Zoey Deutch , Halston Sage , Cynthy Wu , Medalion Rahimi

Votes: 56,742 | Gross: $12.24M

47. Time Trap (2017)

48. arq (2016).

TV-MA | 88 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Trapped in a lab and stuck in a time loop, a disoriented couple fends off masked raiders while harboring a new energy source that could save humanity.

Director: Tony Elliott | Stars: Robbie Amell , Rachael Taylor , Shaun Benson , Gray Powell

Votes: 41,826

49. Time Bandits (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Sean Connery , Shelley Duvall , John Cleese , Katherine Helmond

Votes: 68,215 | Gross: $42.37M

50. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

PG | 92 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Sherman, a young boy, misuses a time machine made by his scientist father Mr. Peabody and causes the world history to go haywire. It is now up to Mr. Peabody to rescue his son and the world.

Director: Rob Minkoff | Stars: Ty Burrell , Max Charles , Stephen Colbert , Leslie Mann

Votes: 77,642 | Gross: $111.51M

51. Shrek Forever After (2010)

PG | 93 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Rumpelstiltskin tricks a mid-life crisis burdened Shrek into allowing himself to be erased from existence and cast in a dark alternate timeline where Rumpelstiltskin rules supreme.

Director: Mike Mitchell | Stars: Mike Myers , Cameron Diaz , Eddie Murphy , Antonio Banderas

Votes: 224,169 | Gross: $238.37M

52. Happy Death Day (2017)

PG-13 | 96 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

A college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again, in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer's identity.

Director: Christopher Landon | Stars: Jessica Rothe , Israel Broussard , Ruby Modine , Charles Aitken

Votes: 162,341 | Gross: $55.68M

53. Timecop (1994)

R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

Max Walker, an officer for a security agency that regulates time travel, must fend for his life against a shady politician who's intent on changing the past to control the future.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme , Mia Sara , Ron Silver , Bruce McGill

Votes: 64,082 | Gross: $44.85M

54. I'll Follow You Down (2013)

Not Rated | 89 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

After the disappearance of a young scientist on a business trip, his son and wife struggle to cope, only to make a bizarre discovery years later - one that may bring him home.

Director: Richie Mehta | Stars: John Paul Ruttan , Rufus Sewell , Gillian Anderson , Kiara Glasco

Votes: 8,062

55. Click (2006)

A workaholic architect finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices.

Director: Frank Coraci | Stars: Adam Sandler , Kate Beckinsale , Christopher Walken , David Hasselhoff

Votes: 356,173 | Gross: $137.36M

56. When We First Met (2018)

TV-14 | 97 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Noah meets Avery at a Halloween party and falls in love but gets friend-zoned. 3 years later, she's engaged to someone else. Noah returns in a time machine to fix things.

Director: Ari Sandel | Stars: Adam Devine , Alexandra Daddario , Shelley Hennig , Andrew Bachelor

Votes: 53,850

57. The Time Machine (2002)

PG-13 | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Hoping to alter the events of the past, a 19th century inventor instead travels 800,000 years into the future, where he finds humankind divided into two warring races.

Director: Simon Wells | Stars: Guy Pearce , Yancey Arias , Mark Addy , Phyllida Law

Votes: 130,276 | Gross: $56.68M

58. The Jacket (2005)

R | 103 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

A Gulf war veteran is wrongly sent to a mental institution for insane criminals, where he becomes the object of a doctor's experiments, and his life is completely affected by them.

Director: John Maybury | Stars: Adrien Brody , Keira Knightley , Daniel Craig , Kris Kristofferson

Votes: 119,190 | Gross: $6.30M

59. Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

PG | 113 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Alice is appointed to save her beloved Mad Hatter from deadly grief by travelling back to the past, but this means fatally harming Time himself, the noble clockwork man with the device needed to save the Hatter's family from the Red Queen.

Director: James Bobin | Stars: Mia Wasikowska , Johnny Depp , Helena Bonham Carter , Anne Hathaway

Votes: 121,968 | Gross: $77.04M

60. Triangle (2009)

R | 99 min | Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Five friends set sail and their yacht is overturned by a strange and sudden storm. A mysterious ship arrives to rescue them, and what happens next cannot be explained.

Director: Christopher Smith | Stars: Melissa George , Joshua McIvor , Jack Taylor , Michael Dorman

Votes: 129,510

61. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

PG-13 | 95 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

Dr. Evil is back and has invented a new time machine that allows him to go back to the 1960s and steal Austin Powers' mojo, inadvertently leaving him "shagless".

Director: Jay Roach | Stars: Mike Myers , Heather Graham , Michael York , Robert Wagner

Votes: 248,500 | Gross: $206.04M

62. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

A malfunctioning time machine at a ski resort takes a man back to 1986 with his two friends and nephew, where they must relive a fateful night and not change anything to make sure the nephew is born.

Director: Steve Pink | Stars: John Cusack , Rob Corddry , Craig Robinson , Clark Duke

Votes: 186,217 | Gross: $50.29M

63. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

PG-13 | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Peggy Sue faints at a high school reunion. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own past, just before she finished school.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Kathleen Turner , Nicolas Cage , Barry Miller , Catherine Hicks

Votes: 40,740 | Gross: $41.38M

64. Grand Tour: Disaster in Time (1991)

PG-13 | 99 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi

Before they can complete renovations on their new inn, Widower (Ben Wilson) and daughter (Hillary) are visited by a woman seeking immediate lodging for her strange group of travellers. Why ... See full summary  »

Director: David Twohy | Stars: Jeff Daniels , Ariana Richards , Emilia Crow , Jim Haynie

Votes: 3,089

65. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

PG | 90 min | Adventure, Comedy, Music

Two rock-'n-rolling teens, on the verge of failing their class, set out on a quest to make the ultimate school history report after being presented with a time machine.

Director: Stephen Herek | Stars: Keanu Reeves , Alex Winter , George Carlin , Terry Camilleri

Votes: 141,461 | Gross: $40.49M

66. Time Freak (2018)

PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A genius teenage boy is in love with a girl who breaks up with him after a year. He invents a time machine and tries to fix the breakup repeatedly. He finally goes a year back with his friend to fix the bad days.

Director: Andrew Bowler | Stars: Asa Butterfield , Sophie Turner , Skyler Gisondo , Will Peltz

Votes: 9,809 | Gross: $0.01M

67. Naked (I) (2017)

TV-14 | 96 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Nervous about finally getting married, a guy is forced to relive the same nerve-wracking hours over and over again until he gets things right on his wedding day.

Director: Michael Tiddes | Stars: Marlon Wayans , Regina Hall , Dennis Haysbert , J.T. Jackson

Votes: 21,572

68. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

PG | 93 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

A tyrant from the future creates evil android doubles of Bill and Ted and sends them back to eliminate the originals.

Director: Peter Hewitt | Stars: Keanu Reeves , Alex Winter , William Sadler , Joss Ackland

Votes: 80,961 | Gross: $38.04M

69. The Man from the Future (2011)

106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Zero is a brilliant scientist. However, 20 years ago, he was publicly humiliated when he lost Helena, the love of his life. One day, an accidental experience with one of his inventions ... See full summary  »

Director: Cláudio Torres | Stars: Wagner Moura , Alinne Moraes , Maria Luísa Mendonça , Fernando Ceylão

Votes: 6,929

70. Somewhere in Time (1980)

PG | 103 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to travel back in time and meet the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel.

Director: Jeannot Szwarc | Stars: Christopher Reeve , Jane Seymour , Christopher Plummer , Teresa Wright

Votes: 32,449 | Gross: $9.71M

71. Deja Vu (2006)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

After a ferry is bombed in New Orleans, an A.T.F. agent joins a unique investigation using experimental surveillance technology to find the bomber, but soon finds himself becoming obsessed with one of the victims.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington , Paula Patton , Jim Caviezel , Val Kilmer

Votes: 327,205 | Gross: $64.04M

72. Time Jumpers (2018)

Not Rated | 79 min | Sci-Fi

When a young man finds a time machine device, his life spins out of control.

Directors: Svend Ploug Johansen , Dominic Smith , April Wright | Stars: Samuel D. Evans , Taylor Gerard Hart , Kelli Vonshay Henderson , Mathilde Norholt

73. Time Changer (2002)

PG | 95 min | Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

A Bible professor from 1890 comes forward in time to the present via a time machine and cannot believe the things that he sees!

Director: Rich Christiano | Stars: D. David Morin , Gavin MacLeod , Hal Linden , Jennifer O'Neill

Votes: 2,914 | Gross: $1.28M

74. Altered Hours (2016)

TV-MA | 101 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

A young insomniac's black-market sleep aid sends his mind time-travelling one day into the future, where he's the suspect in the disappearance of a girl he hasn't met -- yet.

Director: Bruce Wemple | Stars: Ryan Munzert , Briana Pozner , Rick Montgomery Jr. , Thea McCartan

75. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Mystery, Sci-Fi

When Lou's shot in the groin, Nick and Jacob drag him in the Hot Tub Time Machine to go back in time and save Lou. The three end up 10 years in the future, where they need to go to find the shooter.

Director: Steve Pink | Stars: Rob Corddry , Craig Robinson , Clark Duke , Adam Scott

Votes: 41,590 | Gross: $12.28M

76. The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations (2009)

R | 90 min | Crime, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Sam Reide uses his power to time travel to solve the mystery of his girlfriend's death.

Director: Seth Grossman | Stars: Chris Carmack , Rachel Miner , Melissa Jones , Kevin Yon

Votes: 20,683

77. Freejack (1992)

R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

Bounty hunters from the future transport a doomed race car driver to New York City in 2009, where his mind will be replaced with that of a dead billionaire.

Director: Geoff Murphy | Stars: Emilio Estevez , Mick Jagger , Rene Russo , Anthony Hopkins

Votes: 17,432 | Gross: $17.13M

78. Another Time (2018)

TV-MA | 89 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance

Just because a journey leads you somewhere you didn't expect, doesn't mean you ended up in the wrong place.

Director: Thomas Hennessy | Stars: Justin Hartley , Chrishell Stause , James Kyson , Alan Pietruszewski

Votes: 1,121

79. The Butterfly Effect 2 (2006)

R | 92 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Nick Larson discovers a supernatural way to alter his life and travel back in time to key moments in his life by looking at photographs.

Director: John R. Leonetti | Stars: Eric Lively , Erica Durance , Dustin Milligan , Gina Holden

Votes: 37,303

80. See You Yesterday (2019)

TV-MA | 84 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

Two Brooklyn teenage prodigies, C.J. Walker and Sebastian Thomas, build makeshift time machines to save C.J.'s brother, Calvin, from being wrongfully killed by a police officer.

Director: Stefon Bristol | Stars: Eden Duncan-Smith , Dante Crichlow , Astro , Marsha Stephanie Blake

Votes: 11,601

81. Curvature (2017)

90 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

An engineer travels back in time to stop herself from committing a murder.

Director: Diego Hallivis | Stars: Lyndsy Fonseca , Glenn Morshower , Alex Lanipekun , Noah Bean

Votes: 3,077

82. Paradox (III) (2016)

TV-MA | 90 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

A time machine's tested first time by a man in the team traveling 1 hour into the future. He returns to warn them against killings in the next hour. Is it possible to change things in the "past"? Twist after twist follow.

Director: Michael Hurst | Stars: Zoë Bell , Malik Yoba , Adam Huss , Bjørn Alexander

Votes: 3,332

83. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

PG | 109 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him.

Director: Ava DuVernay | Stars: Storm Reid , Oprah Winfrey , Reese Witherspoon , Mindy Kaling

Votes: 47,749 | Gross: $100.48M

84. Counter Clockwise (I) (2016)

Unrated | 91 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

A scientist invents a time machine that transports him six months into the future.

Director: George Moïse | Stars: Michael Kopelow , Frank Simms , Kerry Knuppe , Alice Rietveld

85. S. Darko (2009)

R | 103 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Donnie Darko's little sister Samantha and her best friend Corey are on a cross-country road trip, but soon find themselves entangled in a dangerous glitch in the time-space continuum.

Director: Chris Fisher | Stars: Daveigh Chase , Briana Evigan , James Lafferty , Ed Westwick

Votes: 14,463

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10 Best Animated Western Movies Of All Time

  • The Western genre and animation have rarely intersected, with few feature films attempting to bring it to the animated form.
  • Animated films that blend the Western genre with another genre, such as comedy or mystery, have been more common than fully embracing the spirit of the Western.
  • Some standout animated Western films include "Scooby Doo: Shaggy's Showdown," "Lucky Luke: Ballad of The Daltons," and "Rango," which demonstrate a fun blend of Western themes with mystery, slapstick comedy, and introspection, respectively.

Some truly great films have come out of the rare intersection of animation and the Western genre. Despite the Western genre being one of the oldest in cinema, a shockingly small number of feature films have attempted to bring it to the animated form. It may be that the Western simply came around too early for such a union to be viable. There are plenty of examples of animated shorts which embrace a Western setting, but by the time animated features had gained dominance over shorts, the Western genre had faded in popularity.

Despite the genre’s fall from prominence, it never disappeared entirely. Since the rise in feature-length animation, a handful of 2D and 3D animated films have tried on the dressing of a western. From major studios such as Dreamworks and Disney, to boutique animation houses of varying nationalities, the Western has proven a promising (but often unrewarding) prospect for the animated format. Such filmmakers generally shy away from wholeheartedly embracing the spirit and ethos of the Western, choosing instead to blend it with another genre, such as comedy, animal picture, or mystery.

Scooby Doo: Shaggy’s Showdown (2017)

The Scooby Doo gang has seen numerous incarnations across dozens of series and movies of wildly varying quality. The robust charm of the Scooby gang’s central formula allows the franchise to place its characters into a wide variety of genres and settings. Such is the case in Scooby Doo: Shaggy’s Showdown , which manages to deliver an extremely fun blend of Western and mystery. The film boasts an abandoned goldmine, an old west legend, and one of the franchise’s better monster designs in its spectral cowboy.

Lucky Luke: Ballad Of The Daltons (1978)

The French comic book series Lucky Luke never reached the same level of international success as other European series Tintin and Asterix , but it nevertheless proved big enough in France to warrant several animated films. The second film, Lucky Luke: Ballad of The Daltons , was dubbed over in English and distributed in the US by Disney. The film’s quintessential western plot of four outlaw brothers seeking revenge on a judge and jury is transformed into rollicking cartoon farce by the slapstick world and the interventions of the titular gunslinging lawman. The film is a foreign culture’s fond and funny homage to American Westerns rendered with an outsider’s insight.

RELATED: 10 Upcoming Western Movies You Need To Watch

Bravestarr: The Movie (1988)

The film adaptation of the 1980s series Bravestarr boasts all the charm of the original cartoon. Bravestarr is a deeply fun, heavily stylized space-western that follows Bravestarr, a Native American marshal with magical powers who enforces the law on the planet of New Texas in the 23rd Century. The film serves as Bravestarr’s origin story, centering on his arrival to New Texas and his conflict with the zombie cowboy Tex Hex. While the writing is often stale and predictable, the world is wonderfully imaginative, and the animation itself is a true highlight.

Home On The Range (2004)

Home on The Range may not be among Disney’s best animated movies , but the film is a lovingly animated take on the frontier Western. Its plot of a group of farm animals who seek to save their home by claiming the bounty on the head of a cattle rustler feels true to the spirit of a Western. The story never materializes into anything substantial, but the film certainly has its charms. As one of Disney’s last works of 2D hand-drawn animation, the film is a visual delight, representing the result of nearly seven decades of artistic development. The film also boasts some great songs, courtesy of Disney hitmaker Alan Menken.

RELATED: 20 Greatest Western Movie Endings Of All Time

Calamity, A Childhood Of Martha Jane Cannary (2020)

One of the more critically-lauded entries in the animated-western genre is Calamity, A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary . Another French film fascinated with the American Wild West, Calamity gives a fictionalized account of the adolescent years of Martha Jane Cannary, who would one day become the legendary frontierswoman Calamity Jane. The narrative is adventurous and, despite its rollicking pace, maintains thematic focus on restrictive social expectations and the bravery of Jane’s defiance. However, the highest praise must be reserved for the film’s beautiful, fluid animation. By doing away with outlines for characters and objects, Calamity 's visual language meaningfully speaks to the beauty and the freedom of the frontier.

Spirit Untamed (2021)

This stand-alone sequel to the beloved 2001 film Spirit likewise tells the story of an untamable horse’s bond with a young human in the American West. In Spirit Untamed , a girl moves to a frontier town where she befriends a young mustang and seeks to aid him in his escape from abusive horse wranglers. While it doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of the first film, it revisits and reinforces the original’s themes of the free and untamable spirit of the West. Spirit Untamed also benefits from beautiful 3D animation and some of the animated medium’s best riding sequences.

Daisy Town (1971)

The original Lucky Luke film, Daisy Town , is widely considered the best of the series. The film centers on the formation of an Old West town in the desert upon the only sign of life within miles, a single daisy. The criminal element in the town soon calls for the services of Lucky Luke, the lawman who can shoot faster than his shadow. Like Ballad of The Daltons , Daisy Town poses an extremely likable pastiche of the American western, complete with the genre’s essential trappings: saloons, outlaws, and showdowns. It’s a funny film with dynamic action and colorful characters, all tied together by an obvious and earnest love for the Western genre.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is the sequel to 1988’s An American Tail . The film sees Fievel, the titular mouse, stranded in an American frontier town, where he must outwit gunslingers and an evil capitalist cat. Under the supervision of producer Steven Spielberg, Fievel Goes West incorporated dynamic “camera” movement and creative lighting to give the hand drawn animation an impressive cinematic quality. The plot honors the tropes of the Western , but speeds by at the pace of a classic Warner Bros. cartoon, making for a loving and euphoric genre cocktail.

Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron (2002)

Spirit: Stallion of The Cimarron follows a wild mustang of the American frontier who fights for freedom after being captured by frontiersfolk bent on taming the region. It’s a stirring fable of the untamable nature of the American West, even amid the encroachment of civilization. The plot lacks sophistication, and the powerful visual storytelling is undermined by the last-minute studio decision to include a redundant inner monologue voiced by Matt Damon, but the film sings with reverence for the majesty of the free West. Its cinematic beauty and enduring resonance make Spirit one of Dreamworks' best films .

Rango (2011)

Rango is an unexpected delight of a film. The story follows a chameleon who stumbles into a position as sheriff of an animal frontier town desperately in need of water. With Rango , director Gore Verbinski demonstrates the same profound understanding of the western genre which his Pirate of The Caribbean films express of the pirate genre. The film not only benefits from beautiful animation and a top-notch voice cast, but also from a mature execution which blends thrilling cinematic action with unexpectedly profound introspection. Rango is not only the best animated western, but also belongs in conversations of the best animated films and best westerns ever made.

10 Best Animated Western Movies Of All Time

'X-Men '97' Just Changed Everything With Its Latest Episode

The animated series' mature storytelling continues to impress with a shocking tragedy based on multiple comics storylines.

Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for X=Men '97 Episode 5.

The Big Picture

  • X-Men '97 returns to the central mutant struggle in a tragic Episode 5.
  • Episode 5 blends dark X-Men comic book arcs, creating a heartbreaking story.
  • Time travel and mutant massacres tie the story to iconic X-Men tales.

After two episodes that delved into more wildly unusual fantasy, the latest installment of X-Men ’97 returns to the franchise’s central allegorical story of mutants’ struggle for acceptance in the most dramatic possible way. “Remember It” initially seemed like another episode heavily focused on the tangled web of romantic drama among the X-Men before its final moments transformed it into a brutal tragedy that could fundamentally alter the future of the series . Here is a look at how the series masterfully blended four of the darkest and most iconic X-Men comic book arcs to create one heartbreaking, eerily relevant story.

X-Men '97

A band of mutants use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they're challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

'X-Men '97' Brings Tragedy Back to Genosha

In “Remember It”, internal problems threaten to tank the X-Men’s public image while a television news feature on the team is being shot. Meanwhile, Remy LeBeau/Gambit ( A.J. LoCascio ), Rogue ( Lenore Zann ), and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto ( Matthew Waterson ) travel to the mutant nation of Genosha , which was recently admitted into the United Nations. When the Genoshan council tells Magneto they want him to serve as the nation’s leader, he says he will do it if Rogue joins him as his queen , exacerbating the jealousy that Gambit’s been feeling since Rogue has been getting closer to the Master of Magnetism. Although Rogue initially accepts, with Gambit honorably agreeing to just be friends with her, she changes her mind after sharing a floating dance and kiss with Erik .

But before she can presumably reignite her fan-favorite romance with Gambit, the island is attacked by an enormous, three-headed Sentinel, which deploys dozens more of the mutant-hunting robots, which go on a killing spree. Although they fight valiantly, many mutants are killed, including Erik himself , who appears to be vaporized by a Sentinel energy blast while protecting Gambit and Rogue and telling Leech ( David Errigo Jr. ), a mutant boy who idolizes him, not to be afraid. After stopping Rogue from going on a suicidal attack against the main Sentinel, Gambit instead sacrifices himself, destroying it but sustaining a mortal stab wound in the process . The rest of the team watches news footage of the attack’s aftermath in horror, with Scott Summers/Cyclops ( Ray Chase ) demanding to know how many mutants were killed.

"Remember It" Is Inspired by Grant Morrison's First X-Men Story

The attack on Genosha and the design of the wild Sentinel are directly adapted from “E is For Extinction”, the first story arc in Grant Morrison ’s groundbreaking run on New X-Men that started in 2001. In that arc, the attack is masterminded by Cassandra Nova , the alien being believed to be Professor Charles Xavier’s evil twin, who seeks to destroy all mutants to spite Charles. Magneto is presumed dead in that version of the attack as well, although he is later revealed to have survived. Nova succeeds in wiping out the rest of Genosha’s population, including more than sixteen million mutants , in an event that continues to influence the Marvel Universe more than two decades later. Although the frequent references to Genosha’s new status as a mutant haven throughout the previous episodes led fans to expect some sort of adaptation of the story, it is still surprising that the animated series, which is produced by the usually family friendly Marvel Studios, was free to follow the canon so closely, with such graphically disturbing violence and images .

The Episode Also Recalls the Mutant Massacre

But while “E is For Extinction” remains arguably the worst, there are plenty more tragedies in the X-Men’s history and the series includes aspects of some of these other stories in “Remember It” as well. “Mutant Massacre” was a 1986 Marvel crossover encompassing the X-Men franchise and other comics. In it, Mister Sinister 's Marauders launch a horrific attack on the Morlocks , a group of mutants who live in the sewers beneath New York City to avoid persecution. Although the X-Men and other superheroes such as Thor and Daredevil stand against them, the Marauders successfully kill many of the Morlocks and seriously injure several of the crime fighters. In “Remember It”, many of the Morlocks have taken up residence in Genosha and their neighborhood becomes a focal point for the attack , with Leech and several other members of the group among the casualties.

'X-Men '97' Pays Tribute to the Krakoan Hellfire Galas

Genosha was the most well-known mutant nation in the comics, but it has not been the last. In 2019, Jonathan Hickman ’s House of X and Powers of X started a new era for the X-Men franchise in which most of Earth’s mutants united as the nation of Krakoa, living on the sentient island of the same name . This was a time of previously unknown prosperity for the mutants, which was emphasized by the Hellfire Gala, a lavish annual celebration in which Krakoa welcomed guests from around the world, with both Marvel characters and real-world celebrities making guest appearances in the comics depicting the Galas. The celebration for Erik’s planned coronation in “Remember It” comes across as a tribute to these popular recent stories. And the Hellfire Galas themselves often end in disaster, with the latest one in 2023 signaling the beginning of the end of the Krakoa era, so the bloody conclusion of the episode does not conflict with the homage .

This X-Men Villain Is a Parody of TV Executives

Time travel could tie the story to days of future past.

Immediately before the attack begins, Madelyne Pryor ( Jennifer Hale ), the clone of Jean Grey (Hale) who had recently started working on the Genoshan council after leaving the X-Men, encounters time-traveling mutant warrior and X-Men ally Cable (Chris Potter) . Madelyne realizes that Cable is an adult version of her and Scott’s son, Nathan . He urges her to evacuate the island, frantically warning “he’s coming,” but his computer teleports him away before he can fully explain. This makes it seem like Cable knew about the impending attack. Before his involuntary teleportation, he says, “Not again,” suggesting that he may have already gone back in time to try to prevent the tragedy at least once , indirectly recalling yet another famous X-Men tale.

“Days of Future Past” was a two-issue arc in The Uncanny X-Men published in 1981 in which an older version of Katherine “Kitty” Pryde travels back in time into the body of her younger self to change history and prevent the birth of the post-apocalyptic timeline she comes from, in which the Sentinels have conquered America and wiped out most of the mutant race. The story was adapted into a 2014 film, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed of the live-action X-Men franchise , with Logan/Wolverine ( Hugh Jackman ) taking the central time-traveling role. The second issue in the comic arc is famous for its cover which declared “This issue: everybody dies,” alluding to a sequence in which most of the surviving mutants in the post-apocalyptic future, including famous X-Men like Logan, Storm, and Colossus, are killed in their last, desperate battle against the Sentinels . The film followed suit, with all the characters in the future timeline shown dying or about to die before Logan’s mission successfully alters the past.

X-Men: The Animated Series , which X-Men ’97 serves as a continuation of, already featured a rather faithful adaptation of "Days of Future Past". And despite his habit of time traveling, Cable isn’t involved in either the original comic or the film, having not even been created at the time of the former’s publication. But the combination of time travel and a mutant genocide still recalls the famous story and suggests that some of the events of “Remember It” may be changed, with the X-Men presumably helping Cable succeed in his mission in the upcoming episodes. However, while this would certainly make for a more uplifting viewing experience, undoing all the events of “Remember It” may not result in the most powerful possible story . Like most great X-Men tales, “Remember It” is extremely relevant to current events in the real world and the creators deserve credit for making such an effectively frightening depiction of the horrors that can be caused by bigotry. Completely erasing the consequences of the terrifying episode could be a big mistake , as it would make the series feel less realistic and honest.

X-Men '97 is Available to Stream on Disney+


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