10 Best Movies That Play Out In Real Time

Cinema at its most urgent.

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Prokino Filmverleih

The sheer nature of conventional cinematic storytelling dictates that scenes skip forward in time as much as the narrative requires, cutting from one relevant dramatic scenario to the next no matter how far in the future it might be.

Yet there is a small sub-genre of films which have dared to buck that logical trend, opting instead to unfold in something approaching real time.

It goes without saying that confining a film's story to the run-time of the movie itself is extremely restrictive, hence why so few filmmakers opt to actually do it.

But on the flip side, it can serve as a remarkable storytelling device, to focus the story on a specific character, environment, or event, and in due course ratchet up the tension.

Though the real time "gimmick" is no guarantee of a great movie, the results can be spectacular when approached by talented and innovative artists who dare to think outside the box.

If you're a fan of movies that transpire in some semblance of real time, you absolutely, positively need to see these films..

10. Dog Day Afternoon

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Warner Bros.

Sidney Lumet's searing crime drama isn't just one of the best ever movies to play out in real time, it's also one of the best movies of the entire 1970s.

Dog Day Afternoon follows a hostage situation in the fallout of a bank robbery committed by two desperate men, Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale).

Though the film technically compresses the transition from afternoon to evening over the course of its 125-minute run-time, we never leave the focal characters, lending it a chaotically dreamlike quality as both the media circus and police presence steadily intensifies.

Just as it has in other real time siege pictures like Phone Booth, the technique massively enhances the overall sense of urgency, rather than continually cutting away to B-plots and blatantly skipping over time.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.