Top Time Travel Movies, Part 1

Back to the Future (1985) / Director: Robert Zemeckis / Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

Marty McFly (Fox) is a teenager who travels back 30 years in a time-machine invented by his mad scientist friend Dr. Emmett Brown (Lloyd) in order to make sure his parents get together (and thus produce him). But his very presence in the past complicates a possible relationship between his future parents… Easily the most beloved time travel movie of all time, and probably the best too. Will we ever be able to look again at that hopeful relic from the 70s, the DeLorean, and not think of time travel? (Of course, we’d still need plutonium stolen from terrorists to make the thing work.)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) / Director: James Cameron / Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

The ground-breaking original Terminator made Schwarzenegger a force to be reckoned with, for better or worse. But T2 is even better. Now the machine from the future (Schwarzenegger) who had tried to kill Sarah Connor (Hamilton) has been replaced by a far more advanced and deadlier cyborg (Patrick), who is sent back in time to finish the job. But the old-school T-101 (Arnold) is still in the picture: but this time he has been sent back (by her future grown up son) to protect mother and child.

The Terminator (1984) / Director: James Cameron / Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn

Two soldiers — one a robotic assassin (Schwarzenegger) the other a heroic human (Biehn) — travel back in time (naked, for some reason) from the year 2029 to the year 1984 to find a waitress named Sarah Connor (Hamilton), whose son will grow up to lead a rebellion against the machines that will rule humanity. The cyborg is programmed to eliminate the future threat by killing her; the human is intent on protecting her precious womb.

Midnight in Paris (2011) / Director: Woody Allen / Writer: Woody Allen / Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard

Successful Hollywood screenwriter Gil (Wilson, Allen’s goy doppelganger) finds himself in Paris with his entitled, superficial fiancée (McAdams) and her equally horrid parents. Not surprisingly, he would like to escape… and he does by means of a mysterious limousine that drives him back to the Paris of his dreams, the 1920s moveable feast of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and Gertrude Stein. (And you thought only DeLoreans could travel back in time…) There he finds a new love (Cotillard) who, unsatisfied with her time, yearns for the 1890s. Back in contemporary Paris, Gil is finally able to see his way clear to finding bliss. Best Original Screenplay Oscar to Allen.

A Christmas Carol

In Charles Dickens’ famous story, Ebenezer Scrooge travels backward and forward through the time at the stern insistence of ghosts who visit him in his sleep to show him the causes and consequences of his cruel stinginess and coldness. He awakens on Christmas morn a new man. A classic tale remade numerous times, including a Muppet version and one with Bill Murray (Scrooged).