Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is an entry that might not seem like a time travel movie at first impression, but in fact, it is embedded into the film from its very first scene. The film follows a linguistics professor (Amy Adams) who is asked to attempt deciphering the language of the new life form that has landed on Earth. While it may not come across as a time travel movie in the conventional sense, it will leave viewers with much to think about long after the credits roll.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Never underestimate the power of a good Anime film—The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is one of them. A schoolgirl named Makoto discovers a device that gives her the ability to physically leap through time. At first, she uses her newfound ability to do things like arriving on time and ace tests, but she soon realizes her time traveling has an effect on those around her. Sweet and charming, this film reminds us of who and what is important to value most in life.
Star Trek (2009)
Yes, there’s more Star Trek. Technically the first film in the reboot series and eleventh in the franchise overall, J.J. Abrams has upended most limitations by having the new films exist in the same Star Trek universe. In other words, the same characters are living in an alternate timeline, thanks to the possibilities set up by time travel. While the film may not center on time travel directly, this element is what allowed this film to be a success.
13 Going on 30 (2004)
I must say: perhaps this is the best time travel movie of all. 13-year-old Jenna gets her greatest wishes fulfilled when, after some enchanted dust falls on her head in a closet at her birthday party, she wakes up in an apartment as a 30-year-old woman (Jennifer Garner). Jenna has no choice but to quickly learn the ropes of her adult life. Not only is the concept original and fun, but it sheds light on the beauty of savoring childhood innocence and optimism in an overly pessimistic world.
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
This seems like a good time to mention that Rachel McAdams has actually been in 4 movies about time travel (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Doctor Strange, About Time, Midnight in Paris), but is never the one doing the actual time traveling! In this film, McAdams plays the titular role, and her husband (Eric Bana) is stuck in a state where he involuntarily jumps through time, appearing at various moments in the life of his lover. While it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, the film’s ambition for taking this concept and running with it should be applauded.