[Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with DIRECTV and the comedy "The Longest Week"- available exclusively on DIRECTV and in theaters 9/5.]
"All is Lost" Dir. J.C. Chandor (2013)
Time is both the most crucial factor and of no concern whatsoever in J.C. Chandor's oceanic tale of survival. "Our Man," as the character played by Robert Redford is labeled, becomes stranded at sea after a random accident and failed repair attempts leave him floating adrift against a harsh storm. He must find the means to last however long it takes for someone to find him, an obvious and ever-present thought that becomes secondary as we watch Redford go through the motions of keeping himself alive. Each instant is what matters rather than the overall time he's at sea in this story of hope. Our Man gains and loses it from minute to minute until a metaphor-heavy finale provides a defining message. It's hard to forget the time you spend with Redford on that boat, and time well spent for everyone there.
"Ringu" Dir. Hideo Nakata (1998)
The only thing more terrifying than the keen awareness that death is inevitable is the idea of knowing exactly when it's going to happen. And that's why the horror of "Ringu" strikes so deep -- when the potential victims of a cursed video tape figure out that they have seven days left before death comes for them, you can't help but imagine what it would be like to receive news like that about your own death. A week can seem like a long time when you're waiting for a new episode of "Game of Thrones." But when it's all that you've got left? It can pass in moments.
"Sideways" Dir. Alexander Payne (2004)
We get it, Alexander Payne movies aren't for everyone. Some can't stand the dry humor and unlikeable characters. But the film that put Payne on the map was his 2004 ode to mid-life crises. Adapted from Rex Pickett's novel of the same name, "Sideways" follows two middle aged male friends (Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) who take a week-long trip into California wine country before one of them gets married. Roger Ebert said of the film, "what happens during the seven days adds up to the best human comedy of the year – comedy, because it is funny, and human, because it is surprisingly moving." Make sure you grab a bottle of wine before tuning into this film. Just make sure it's NOT merlot.
"Spring Breakers" Dir. Harmony Korine (2013)
Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" begins with an ideal break-from-college trip, set up by a bunch of crazy girls who want to have a good time in Florida. If you've seen the movie, you know there's nothing traditional or expected about this vacation. While we aren't 100% the film takes place over a week, we can assume that, with classes and all (if these girls even care), a week is all the gals (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) could afford. The film is a must-watch, with bizarre sequences involving James Franco, guns, drugs, masks and, well, James Franco. It's a week vacation most wouldn't be able to forget.
"Stand By Me" Dir. Rob Reiner (1986)
Based on Stephen King's novella "The Body," "Stand By Me" chronicles the journey of four best friends as they set out to search for the body of a dead classmate. The film starred a conglomerate of 1980s teenage heartthrobs including River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton and a lovably plump Jerry O'Connell with Richard Dreyfuss narrating as the adult version of Wheaton's character. Despite King's penchant for horror, "Stand By Me" avoids any morbidity and instead focuses on the real trauma inflicting these boys lives: their impending adolescence. Over the course of their adventure, the boys comes to terms with past traumas and look toward future relationship. As Dreyfuss concludes, "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"
"Stranger by the Lake" (2013)
We know we're cheating a bit here -- "Stranger" takes place over a 10-day period -- but this film is too good not to include. A hit at Cannes where it screened in the Un Certain Regard section, Alain Guiraudie's French-language thriller is, yes, sexually explicit, but that's not why it was one of the most talked about indies in 2013. Centered on a man who frequents a nude gay beach where he encounters a mysterious and alluring stranger, "Stranger by the Lake" is slow burn that simmers in such a way that when it's over, it won't leave your head.
"Tsotsi" Dir. Gavin Hood (2005)
Gavin Hood's "Tsotsi," which won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is based on playwright and novelist Athol Fugard's novel of the same name. The film centers on a violent young man named Tsotsi, who is the leader of an informal street gang. While attempting to steal a car on his own, Tsotsi shoots and presumably kills the driver -- only to realize that an infant is lying in the back seat. Suddenly overwhelmed by what he has just done, Tsotsi takes the infant and flees the scene. The remainder of the film focuses on Tsotsi's attempt to care for the baby while also trying to evade the authorities. Although the events of the film take place over the course of a few days, the exact number of days is never explicitly made clear, thus affording Hood with a certain degree of flexibility in determining how to lay out each scene. Hood makes time feel, at once, like an instant and an eternity. The extreme stakes of the story generates a franticness that makes it seem as if time is flying by. Yet at the same time, time also seems to stop in Tsotsi's story as soon as he takes possession of the baby. He no longer steals or commits acts of violence at random. He only commits a crime when he must do so in order to protect the child.
"My Week With Marilyn" (2011)
Told over the course of one very eventful week during the shooting of Sir Laurence Olivier's "The Prince and the Showgirl," Simon Curtis' entertaining drama centers on a young and wildly ambitious film buff (Eddie Redmayne) who manages to land an on-set job, and in doing so, befriends the film's star, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams, in an Oscar-nominated performance). Williams is totally beguiling as Monroe, and Redmayne is a joy to watch. Because the film is by no means a biopic, given its short time span, it's never made clear why Monroe is so troubled. Her alluring mystery is kept intact, and in our books that's a good thing.
[Casey Cipriani, Nigel M. Smith, Ben Travers, Liz Shannon Miller, Eric Eidelstein and Shipra Gupta contributed to this list.]