15 fantastic time-bending movies and shows to watch while you wait for Tenet

Christopher Nolan, one of many biggest blockbuster administrators of all time, has a brand new film referred to as Tenet, which appears to focus largely on time-bending of some type. Tenet is getting an international release on Aug. 26 earlier than coming to the US on Sept. 3. However due to the coronavirus pandemic, your mileage concerning whether or not movie theaters are open and protected to go to will differ.

Is that this some monstrous marshmallow test being carried out by the movie gods? Who’s to say? I do realize it makes the denied gratification of the auctioned off 2015 Wu-Tang album really feel like small potatoes by comparability.

Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Photos

We’d not get Tenet for another week (or extra, if last-minute delays sustain), however that does not imply you may’t scratch that time-bending itch you’ve got been feeling since the trailers dropped. Listed here are 15 terrific time-bending films and TV exhibits price seeing for the primary time or revisiting in lieu of Tenet’s massive debut (gentle spoilers to comply with). 

For films that are not out there on Netflix or their unique distributor (corresponding to Palm Springs on Hulu), we have included hyperlinks to Amazon, the place you may lease or purchase.

The time-loop subgenre

The time-loop story, wherein characters get locked right into a repeating day (or thereabouts) and should work out escape it, has virtually turn into its personal style by 2020. Even after many years of those films and TV exhibits, although, writers are nonetheless discovering methods to make them really feel recent. Listed here are the very best ones to look at again and again and over and … nicely, you get the thought.


Palm Springs is only a few weeks previous, and it is very on the nostril about its time-loop influences (lead Andy Samberg mentions he is caught in “a kind of infinite time loops you would possibly’ve heard about” halfway by). Though the film would not boast the story-telling creativity or thematic depth of a few of the different entries on this checklist, it does present some genuinely good laughs and a strong supporting function for the inimitable JK Simmons.

Columbia Photos

This Invoice Murray and Harold Ramis basic birthed an entire style, and for good cause. Groundhog Day’s characters are compelling, Murray’s depressive efficiency is flawless and the honest ending lands nicely — and that is coming from somebody who typically hates moralistic endings. If you have not seen this film, do your self a favor and watch it. You will by no means hear “Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we won’t climb” the identical approach once more.


A intelligent mini-series tackle the time-loop format, Natasha Lyonne’s Russian Doll stands out for its sharp wit and surprisingly deep themes like psychological sickness and childhood trauma. Lyonne is tragically humorous within the lead function, and you’ll inform by the best way she dominates the display screen that nobody else may’ve informed this story.


An excellent low funds sci-fi thriller from Spain, Timecrimes would not share the time-travel mechanisms of different films within the time-loop subgenre, however I am together with it as a result of it follows a personality reliving a brief time period again and again. It turns into extra attention-grabbing when he encounters different iterations of himself, re-experiencing the day, and altering how he and the viewers perceive all of the unusual occurrences which have come earlier than (sure, it is a little bit complicated).

Summit Leisure

Stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Vera Farmiga joined sci-fi director Duncan Jones (recent off the quietly sensible Moon) for this time journey thriller wherein a person tries to cease a terrorist assault (and anticipate the subsequent) by reliving the eight minutes previous to the practice bombing again and again. Briefly, Source Code a brilliant enjoyable, well-cast thrill trip that retains you riveted from begin to end.

Warner Bros. Photos

One other nice sci-fi flick, this Tom Cruise automobile sees a futuristic soldier unintentionally get thrown right into a time loop throughout an alien invasion, and he not solely should relive the identical battle again and again, but additionally strive to determine win the bigger struggle. Edge of Tomorrow is a superb summer time film for a 12 months of unreleased summer time movies.

Common Photos

For those who’re extra for enjoyable horror flicks than summer time blockbusters, Happy Death Day and its sequel supply a enjoyable style remix the place the protagonist will get the satisfaction of delivering good comebacks to unsuspecting sorority ladies and in addition should examine her personal homicide, which occurs repeatedly. It finally ends up being smarter than it sounds, largely due to the principle character’s growth and lead actress Jessica Rothe’s succesful efficiency.

The time journey subgenre

OK, time-loop films begin to really feel a little bit repetitive after some time — and extra repetition is not all the time the very best prescription while you’re caught in quarantine. Fortunately, extra easy time-travel films and exhibits are plentiful, and sometimes give enjoyable doses of nostalgia in addition.

Janus Movies

Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys typically will get love as a time-travel basic, however I am really a fan of the a lot sillier Time Bandits, wherein an 11-year-old boy goes gallivanting by the millennia with a crew of bumbling dwarves. They make stops to fulfill Napoleon, Agamemnon and passengers on the Titanic — all performed by a beautiful solid together with John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall and the late, nice Ian Holm. 

It is a unusual, great movie — and one of many few on this checklist that gives compelling looking ahead to a barely youthful viewers (although children introduced up on Disney would possibly discover it too bizarre for his or her style).


The fourth Star Trek film’s brilliant air and brisk tempo make it stand out as one of the pleasurable entries within the franchise’s lengthy historical past. Directed by Leonard Nimoy himself, the film settles right into a a lot lighter tone than earlier (additionally glorious) entries like The Wrath of Khan. The Enterprise’s crew finds themselves stranded in San Francisco in 1986, the 12 months the film was launched, making an attempt to seize a pair of whales to carry to the longer term. It is popcorn drama with a charismatic crew, and if you happen to love Star Trek, it is top-of-the-line incarnations of it you’ll find. Watch without cost with adverts on Amazon’s IMDb TV. Also available on CBS All Access (which is owned by CNET’s father or mother firm, ViacomCBS).

Twentieth Century Fox

A private favourite on this checklist, Days of Future Past is maybe the very best X-Males film to be launched — a feat in a collection that each jump-started modern superhero movies and produced the wonderful X2 and Logan films. 

On this one, Wolverine should journey again from a dystopian future to change the course of humankind (and mutant-kind) by stopping the event of Sentinel expertise. What makes this film nice is its impeccable solid (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian MacGregor, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender — the checklist goes on), a intelligent and character-driven story, and a enjoyable dose of ’70s nostalgia. It is a banger. Also available on Amazon.


On this underrated Stephen King adaptation, an English instructor, performed by James Franco, endeavors to journey again in time and cease the assassination of JFK — therefore the title, 11.22.63. After arriving he turns into connected to the brand new life he creates, which complicates his central mission. The miniseries is a fast eight-episode arc, and it really works nicely as a period-piece and sci-fi thriller.


HBO’s 2019 enlargement to the Watchmen mythos, which just got 26 Emmy nominations, was very important and creative. Watchmen’s showrunner Damon Lindelof has dipped way over his toes into numerous sci-fi franchises through the years. He co-created Lost and HBO’s glorious The Leftovers, and wrote blockbuster sci-fi films like Prometheus and Star Trek: Into Darkness

Watchmen is healthier than all of these, establishing itself as top-of-the-line TV exhibits in latest reminiscence in its all-too-brief nine-episode run. However one episode specifically sends the principle character spiraling again by the recollections of a mysterious determine to expertise his life as a Black police officer in New York in the course of the early ’40s. The episode makes use of colour and digital camera trickery so as to add layers of surreality to the historical past, and creates one of the engrossing 60 minutes of tv of the previous decade.

The mind-bending subgenre

Time-loops and time journey present up throughout loads of films and exhibits, however some tales implement these mechanisms as greater than a handy framing system: They use time to construct thematic complexity, to maintain viewers second-guessing their assumptions about causality. These are sometimes the very best — and in addition essentially the most difficult — of time-related tales, and it seems Tenet goes to make use of time in an equally inventive approach. Listed here are some favorites.

20th Century Studios

In relation to such mind-bending fare, Donnie Darko is without doubt one of the greatest. Jake Gyllenhaal performs the titular depressive teen as he spirals by highschool mundanity following a near-death expertise. What follows is a typically trippy, typically scary, typically humorous, all the time entertaining flick that’ll hold you guessing about what’s to come back (and what’s already handed) till the enduring finish. Watch free with adverts on Amazon’s IMDb TV.

Sony Photos Leisure

Rian Johnson is an attention-grabbing director who delivered a improbable debut with Brick, a muddled second movie nobody remembers, and one of the divisive Star Wars films ever (which is saying rather a lot). Alongside the best way, he additionally dropped Looper, a enjoyable little bit of time-travel motion starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as variations of the identical man in a cat and mouse chase by … nicely, cornfields. 

The film’s not good, and focuses much less on the time-travel mechanisms than most of the films on this checklist, but it surely has a couple of moments of pure inspiration — together with watching a younger man being tortured as his older self positive aspects scars and begins to lose limbs years later. Oh, and the film could be a little darkish, if you happen to did not guess.


Talking of Dark, the German TV present simply dropped its third and ultimate season on Netflix, and it stands as top-of-the-line mind-bending time tales in latest reminiscence. The disappearance of youngsters plagues a small city, and time journey appears to be the very best rationalization. 

What follows is a gradual multiplication of timelines, characters and motivations — together with continuous ruminations on determinism, humanity, Freud and God. It is a sensible present, though characters appear ever-willing to make poorly knowledgeable selections for the higher good of the plot — however you will not even discover due to the snappy writing, fixed revelations and an strategy that treats your viewing paradigm like a whirligig on a windy day.

A number of bonus flicks

OK, that is a variety of exhibits and flicks. Possibly it is even sufficient to carry you over till Tenet actually does arrive. Although, on this timeline, who is aware of when that could be? However if you happen to want a couple of bonus suggestions, try the enjoyable Ethan Hawke thriller, Predestination; the grand-daddy of all nostalgic time-travel flicks, Back to the Future; the James Cameron basic, The Terminator; the Keanu Reeves  comedy with an imminent sequel, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure; Tarkovsky’s philosophical Stalker; the much-beloved (by individuals apart from me) Dr. Who; Avengers: Endgame, if you happen to one way or the other did not see it prior to now; and at last, Christopher Nolan’s different time-bending films, Interstellar and (although time is de facto solely used as a story-telling trick in it) Memento.

Any I missed? Let me know within the feedback.

Learn extra: 15 best movies to watch on Amazon Prime Video  


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David Priest