It’s ‘Back to the Future’ Day! These Are the Best Time Travel Movies, from ‘Donnie Darko’ to ‘Looper’ to ‘Interstellar’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film It’s ‘Back to the Future’ Day! These Are the Best Time Travel Movies, from ‘Donnie Darko’ to ‘Looper’ to ‘Interstellar’

It’s ‘Back to the Future’ Day! These Are the Best Time Travel Movies, from ‘Donnie Darko’ to ‘Looper’ to ‘Interstellar’



It’s ‘Back to the Future’ Day! These Are the Best Time Travel Movies, from ‘Donnie Darko’ to ‘Looper’ to ‘Interstellar’

On October 21, 2015, ’80s high-schooler Marty McFly arrived from the past in his slick silver DeLorean time machine, finding a world filled with hoverboards and self-lacing sneakers. At least, that’s what happened in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II,” the sequel to one of the ’80s most beloved movies.

But since real-life has caught up to fictional time-hopping shenanigans (minus those rad hoverboards), October 21 has been Back to the Future Day: a time to celebrate both the sequel and its far superior 1985 predecessor. More generally, it’s a time to celebrate all time travel films, whether they’re comedies like “Back to the Future” or darker, more serious dramas that head from B.C. to A.D. and back again.

Time travel has its roots in ancient myths and folk tales, but in terms of modern fiction, the concept can be traced to Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” An 1889 novel that used its premise of a normal American man bonking his head and ending up in Camelot to satirize feudalism and the monarchy, “Connecticut Yankee” made its way to cinemas in 1949 as a considerably more chipper Bing Crosby jukebox musical romance.

From that film, time travel started showing up earnestly in all kinds of different movies, mainly sci-fi adaptations like influential H.G. Wells flick “The Time Machine.” The concept practically exploded onscreen in the ’80s, being used for comedies like “Back to the Future” and “Peggy Sue Got Married” and more intense action films like “The Terminator.” The appeal of the concept is obvious; adding an everyman from our time is an easy way to make an exotic and unfamiliar landscape suddenly familiar. Furthermore, time travel at its core explores the very human anxiety of change and the passage of time. It forces heroes to confront who they were and what they’ll become, and whether their fates are pre-determined or can be rewritten. Sure, we love time travel because it’s cool, but not just because it’s cool.

For the purposes of this list, we defined time travel movies as films where characters are transported years or decades into the past and/or future. So time loop films — including “Groundhog Day,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Palm Springs,” and “Happy Death Day” — don’t quite cut the criteria for inclusion on this list. That still left us with a surplus of films worthy of an honorable mention, including: “Army of Darkness,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Safety Not Guaranteed,” “Timecrimes,” “Totally Killer,” “Somewhere in Time,” “Kate & Leopold,” “About Time,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Tenet,” “See You Yesterday,” “The Final Countdown,” and “Where Do We Go From Here.”

With that said, read on for IndieWire’s list of the 13 best time travel movies of all time. And meet back up with us in the future where you’ve read the list.

With editorial contributions by Alison Foreman.

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