The Best Movies That Lasted in 24 Hours

Watching a film that takes place within 24 hours can be a refreshing change of pace. Let’s look at the best ones. When it comes to creating stories, the timeline from start to finish is one of the most important aspects. It shows us how long we will see our characters develop. Some films take place over the course of decades, while others are confined to a matter of hours. Although films that take place over several years can show an immense amount of growth and change within the characters, films with shorter timelines can be just as effective. Films that take place over the course of one day give the audience a chance to hone in on the characters and see a slice of their life.

We have seen films that take place within one day in several genres. Movies like Before Sunrise, Richard Linklater’s romantic trilogy, showed two people connecting and reconnecting within 24-hour periods. Comedy is also a great genre for this idea, and we have seen several comedic filmmakers take advantage of the one-day storyline. It is refreshing to watch movie characters within this timeframe, and it makes for tight plot lines that are easy to follow. While stories that take place over the course of years might be more epic in a sense, smaller plot lines can be just as thought-provoking when it comes to storytelling. Let’s look at the greatest films that take place within 24 hours, ranked

Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon tells the incredible story of a botched bank robbery over the course of one day in Brooklyn, New York. Al Pacino gives one of the finest performances of his career as a desperate bank robber faced with a life and death situation. At the same time, John Cazale is legendary with his subtle performance as the simple-minded Sal. Through their performances, the tension and stress of the situation is shown through every frame. It is certainly one of the greatest bank robbery films in history.


Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia features an ensemble cast of characters over the course of one fateful day in Los Angeles. Each character’s story is intertwined with one another creating an epic story. The film focuses on family, heartbreak, and confronting one’s past. The film features fantastic performances from Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and more.

Do The Right Thing

Spike Lee’s legendary film Do the Right Thing takes place over the course of one hot summer day in Brooklyn, New York. The story follows a group of characters navigating family, racial tensions, and cultural conflicts. As the story progresses, tensions rise until the film reaches its violent and chaotic climax. It is an extremely thought-provoking film that should be seen more than once. The story has comedy, drama, conflict, and several memorable characters.

Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino’s debut film, Reservoir Dogs, tells the story of a group of gangsters after a botched robbery. Besides a few flashbacks, the film basically takes place in a single room. Through Tarantino’s masterful dialogue, we learn much about each character and the tension grows. The film has comedy, drama, and a good amount of bloodshed. It is a great example of how to make an effective film on a tight budget.

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