I'm accustomed to think of drama as the art form which most significantly predates cinema. After all, when you put on a play, you get a bunch of actors, have them recite a bunch of lines from a script, tell them where to stand on the stage while reciting those lines, and then invite an audience to occupy rows of chairs and watch them do it. This is an awful lot like movies, in which an audience occupies rows of chairs and watches a screen on which there are (usually) actors reciting a bunch of lines from a script.
Such a perspective, however, necessarily undervalues the pictorial component of cinema, in favor of its dramatic and literary dimensions. When we consider cinema as spectacle -- as the specifically visual recreation of events or places or historical eras that the average person could never actually witness -- painting begins to seem like a closer ancestor. I'm particularly thinking of the large-scale, sensationalistic (and at times deliberately tittilating) historical artworks that were popular in the 19th century.
Above, Antonio Ciseri's 1871 painting Ecce Homo recreates a New Testament scene in a way that seems directly to prefigure Hollywood's biblical epics of eighty years later. Of course, the painterly recreation of Biblical scenes is a staple of Western art going back to the Renaissance and beyond; but the priorities in this composition are subtly different. If the composition, carefully framing Christ and Pilate against a window, adheres to the traditional goal of visually encapsulating a central dramatic moment of Biblical narrative, other aspects of the painting are subtly placing the emphasis elsewhere. Consider the naturalistic lighting, the massive architecture, the meticulous detail in the clothing and props, the thousands of 'extras' placed on the street below and ramparts above.
These are elements that could not exist onstage. And their artistic effect, taken together, seems to me to have less to do with an illustration of Christ's passion, than with a desire to create a window onto another world. Ciseri seems fascinated most of all with the problem of how to recreate a lost era, a time and place inaccessible to himself or his audience, and he applies his painterly technique in an effort to make us feel, however briefly, that we are inside the painting with those characters. Ciseri recreates the 'You Are There' sensation in a way that drama could never do. We have here, in a two-dimensional image hanging on a wall, a portal into a vanished world: one frozen moment in time called back to us from the lost centuries. Once the images begin to move, you have D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. De Mille, William Wyler, Joseph Mankiewicz -- the authors of grand and vulgar period spectacles.