The Best Movies Set in One Day

What a difference a day makes…

THE CALL is released in Irish cinemas this week; a tense thriller about a day in the life of a 911 call centre operator, and the kidnap victim she vows to save. With this in mind, takes a look back at some of the greatest movies that were set over the course of one day. And no, ONE DAY doesn’t count…


Paul Thomas Anderson weaves strands of stories together in MAGNOLIA, as the narrator asks the audience to ponder the role of fate in our lives. As the day passes, and life moves on for the characters, they are drawn together in search of love, forgiveness and meaning in their lives.
Aimee Mann provided a beautiful and poignant soundtrack for MAGNOLIA, a film which proved that Tom Cruise has more to his repertoire than overachievers and earned him an Oscar nomination. The film was praised for its ensemble performance, and currently holds an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


Antoine Fuqua’s film follows LAPD officer Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) as he goes through a day’s evaluation by Detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Hoyt is desperate to join the elite narcotics division, but as his ride along day with Harris wears on, he begins to realise that his mentor can no longer distinguish a clear divide between right and wrong. As he struggles with his conscience, Hoyt begins to fear that he is being set up to take the fall by his esteemed colleague.
TRAINING DAY earned Washington an Oscar win, and Hawke a nomination, even if some found the final act a little implausible.


“I’m not even supposed to be here today!” is the frequent cry of convenience store clerk Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) as he suffers through the worst day of his working life in CLERKS. Dante has to put up with mischievous colleagues, broken security shutters, an angry girlfriend and a dead body, all while trying to make his minimum wage job work for him.
Kevin Smith’s first film was famously made from money raised on various credit cards, and filmed in the store where Smith worked during the day. CLERKS also introduced Jay and Silent Bob to the world something, for which, we are incredibly grateful.


Ferris Bueller is determined to have a day off school and spend the day in Chicago with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck). Ferris must use all of his cunning and ingenuity to avoid the school’s Dean of Students, his parents and his uptight sister.
John Hughes brought us some of the best teen movies of the 80s, and FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF is no exception. The film is not only a coming of age story, but it is Hughes’ love letter to the city he grew up in. The film is a warm-hearted comedy and, for those interested, Cameron’s house is a real house on Beech Street, Illinois.


New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) takes on German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) to save his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), who has been taken hostage during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
Not only one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, but DIE HARD is also one of the great examples of a movie that takes place over the course of less than a day. As well as this, DIE HARD is one of the most influential action movies ever – spawning 4 sequels of varying greatness – and is Alan Rickman’s first movie role. Yipee-Ki-Yay!