The Best Time Travel Movies You Probably Haven't Seen

This week's column comes from the future. As such, I already know what comments you are going to make. (Three of you will be scandalized that Time After Time wasn't included and four of you will agree with one joker who feels that anyone who hasn't seen Primer yet has no business reading this site.)

Nevertheless, I've come back to my original spot along the timeline. Not so much because I want to maintain an semblance of "the correct outcome of events," but because I can't seem to find my keys.

With that, charge up your flux capacitors (or soak in your hot tub) it's time to look at time travel.

Sound of My Voice (2012); Zal Batmanglij, director.

I know not many people have seen this one because it doesn't come out until today! But I was lucky enough to catch this at film festivals and, as such, you can watch the above trailer to see me throw impressive adjectives around in blurb form. (To the one person who always asks, no, we don't get paid for that – and half the time we don't even know we've been quoted til it's already in there.)

Sound of My Voice is co-written and stars Brit Marling, a charismatic cult leader who may or may not be a traveller from fifty years in the future. It's been a while since a movie leaves the right amount of ellipses in its plot, making it ambiguous, but not frustrating. (To hear the filmmakers talk, however, there is a definite answer to the film's central questions.)

More importantly, SOMV uses the hook of time travel to get inside the heads of its lead characters, investigative journalists worried about the future of our civilization and the ways in which we cling to groups for survival.

The Philadelphia Experiment (1984); Stuart Raffill, director.

If only we could go back in time to when I first saw this movie on Cinemax. (I don't know why I remember that it was Cinemax, but it definitely was.)

I was gripped by the drama and blown away by the special effects. Here was the TRUE STORY of what really happened to the mysterious naval experiment I saw on "In Search Of. . ."

According to the film, during the secret "cloaking" experiments on the USS Eldridge that may or may not have happened, two American sailors were sent from the deck of the WWII-era ship to our current day, and now the government has to cover it up!

Perhaps the strangest thing for me was, when I started to get into "serious film" I kept reading about the landmark George Cukor comedy The Philadelphia Story and would always picture this movie instead.

Primer(2004); Shane Carruth, director.

Perhaps right beside Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi never has the budget of a film been so lauded as with Shane Carruth's Primer.

This complex (and maybe even a little aggravating) time-looping drama was, yes, made in a garage for the cost of a Happy Meal, but what truly impresses is its pretzel logic script. I'm not 100% convinced that the movie actually makes sense (though I wish I had access to this infographic when I first saw it) but I'm willing to go easy on anything that scratches my hard SF itch this well.

Carruth has allegedly been toiling on a massive follow-up project ever since. . .we're all assuming it is a movie and not an actual time machine.

Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982); William Dear, director.

So I allowed myself 2 of the 8 picks to be a film that, thanks to the mists of time, has retained a place of prominence in my mind.

I'm sure Timerider is pure cheese, but, hey, it's got Fred Ward on a motorcycle in the old west and sinks its teeth into the grandfather paradox. Whether or not it is as good as George Romero's Knightriders (which features Medieval jousters on motorbikes) remains open to discussion.

Los Cronocrimenes (2007); Nacho Vigalondo, director.

Order up a side of bacon, 'cause your mind is about to get scrambled. This one is a little less difficult to follow than Primer, and perhaps, ultimately, a little more fun.

Nacho Vigalondo's film (also knows as Timecrimes for los gringos) isn't just a fun soak in a science-fiction tub, it is a wonderful exercise in dramatic tension – knowing what is about to happen, yet being powerless to stop it. Or to want to stop it. It is also further evidence that if you ever see odd, industrial-looking buildings tucked away in a wooded area, you should automatically assume that dangerous experiments are going on within them.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949); Tay Garnett, director.

Some day I'll go back to the days of knights and squires and croon my way into the heart of a fair maiden.

You wanna talk about traveling to the past, I first saw this movie at home – in the evening, with my father, on broadcast television. We didn't even have a VHS player yet. I mean, if someone popped up and showed us the magic of a match we'd follow him anywhere.

I surely felt like a fool later in middle school when, studying Mark Twain, I discovered this movie was actually based on a famous book.

This would make good double feature with the Martin Lawrence vehicle Black Knight, which I'm nearly positive I thoroughly enjoyed watching after three grande margaritas.

Les Maitres du Temps (1982); Rene Laloux, director.

From the director of the cult masterpiece Fantastic Planet and designed by the recently deceased Jean "Moebius" Giraud, this whacked-out animated sci-fi feature (translated to mean Time Masters is one you really need to hunt down.

Like Fantastic Planet the animation style is deceivingly subversive – mixing childlike imagery with dark sequences and some truly frightening visions of extra-terrestrial lifeforms. There are amorphous shapeshifters, creepy angelic creatures, space stations and clever solutions to interstellar travel. Also, the coolest name for a starship you'll hear in a while: Double Triangle 22.

The Trilogy: On the Run, An Amazing Couple, After The Life(2003); Lucas Belvaux, director.

Imagine a film not where the characters are time travelers but YOU are the time traveller. That's what'll happen if you sink your teeth into Belgian director Lucas Belvaux's clever puzzle film project simply called The Trilogy.

First, know this: each of these three feature-length films works completely on its own. Each is its own experiment in style: a moody thriller, a romantic comedy and a drama. You can watch just one and be fine. Or you can watch all three – in any order – and you'll discover that they overlap in completely unexpected ways. The side characters in one film are the stars of the other, and no one has much of an idea of the conflict happening in the other person's story, or, even more fascinating, how their behavior is effecting the others. In fact, sometimes the same scene is shown in each of the films, but given the story and genre context of each one they come off completely different.

It stuns me just how little play these films got in the US. Don't feel bad if you didn't see 'em – nobody did. In fact, I couldn't even find an embeddable video to represent these films that are less than ten years old. They are, however, available on Netflix (that's how I saw 'em) and I strongly recommend you do, too.

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