When I started to come up with this list, I started to argue with myself about what actually consistutes a time travel film. There were 2 major categories in the ones I deemed the best. First, there are those where we know something about both time periods. We meet people who are literally out of their own time. The first 5 represent those. In particular, you must know about BOTH time periods. Looper wouldn't qualify much for this list because we see almost nothing of the future. Terminator is a bit of a cheat because we NEVER actually see the future, but everything that happens in the past is tied to what will happen in the future. The other category involves repeating time, as opposed to being part of two times. As these are fairly iconic movies, I'm only giving a single line to describe the time travel.
2. Twelve Monkeys - A convict tries to gather information about a virus that devestated humanity.
3. Midnight in Paris - A writer is transported back to his favorite time period, the 1920s in Paris, and interacts with his literary and artistic heroes. * Bonus because this goes back in time twice to the 1890s too.
4. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - Two high school students use a magic telephone booth to travel throughout history and steal icons and bring them to a high school presentation before returning them.
5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day - John Connor sends a Terminator back in time to protect his younger self to ensure that Skynet never gets built.
The second category of time travel involves repeating a sequence of time in an effort to have time come out differently.
2. Groundhog Day - Best movie that should be sappy but isn't as Phil Connors learns to be a good person by reliving Groundhog Day (Feb 2) about 10,000 times.
3. Run Lola Run - 3 parallel universes where Lola runs to try to stop bad things happening to her boyfriend and by her boyfriend.
4. Sliding Doors - What happens when you miss the subway and your day has the chance to go in 2 directions, but ultimately if you look far enough into the future, you might end up at the same point anyway.
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - The time turner allows Harry and Hermione to go back in time and save 2 different lives, but still lets Wormtail get away.
What other genres of time travel should I consider? Also, I haven't seen MANY of the most famous time travel flicks, so forgive anything lacking, but definitely make an argument for why I should see it.