List Picker’s Top 10 favorite Fantasy Movies of All Time
Need an escape? Grab your cloak, we have just what you need.
Few film genres provide such an acute sense of escapism as fantasy movies. Whether you’re entering a mythological land like Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, a spiritual realm like Kami of Spirited Away, a surrealist labyrinth-like Alice in Wonderland and Pan’s Labyrinth, or a universe all its own … we seem to gravitate to the ways in which fantasy films can transport us to worlds that seem light-years away, with stories that lie close to our hearts. And the best part is? You don’t need to ride a flying dragon or to answer any bridge troll’s riddle in order to get to your destination. (Although, you might need to pay a toll for your travels if you’re catching it in theatres.)
From timeless classics like The Wizard of Oz to tales of today like The Shape of Water, the fantasy genre has become one of the greatest litmus tests for the caliber of our film industry’s technical and storytelling capabilities. Put reality on hold for a while and let yourself get lost in some of the most imaginative films of all time.
Fantasy Movies Ranked From 10 To 1.
10. Howl’s moving castle (2004)
Director Hayao Miyazaki’s incredible talent for transporting audiences into fantastical realms is in full display in Howl’s Moving Castle. Its warring kingdoms and gripping magical story are seen through the eyes of its compelling female protagonist, Sophie, who is unexpectedly turned into an old woman by a bitter witch.
The Ghibli film masterfully weaves together its fairytale elements to tackle thought-provoking themes like war, youth, and beauty. When viewers aren’t marveling at its breathtaking landscapes and distinctive technology, they’ll likely find themselves rooting for its delightfully complex cast of characters.
9. The Holy Mountains (1973)
A rambling stream-of-consciousness quest that – in its final, self-conscious act – celebrates the primacy of the filmed image.
The Holy Mountain stands as the most bizarre film I’ve ever seen, Jodorowsky’s surrealistic piece is best described as a blitzkrieg of imagery. I soon found out it was pointless to analyze what was being shown, so instead, I sat back and just acknowledged the religious symbols I spotted. I probably missed a vast majority of the allusions but the spiritual message stands strong. Incorporating such philosophies as “Money is the Root of All Evil”, Jodorowsky takes a stand against THE church but shows the importance of spirituality.
The Holy Mountain explores many spiritual, sexual, sociological, and psychedelic concepts to understand in one viewing. But with a wicked score, the film is grasping even without any search for meaning. The Holy Mountain is hallucinatory to watch and thought-provoking to reflect upon.
8. The Princess Bride (1987)
While the film was only a modest hit when it was released in 1987, it’s become a beloved classic in the interim, charming audiences with its indelible storytelling and quotable lines (“aaaas youuuuu wiiiiiishhhh” became just one of the dozens), genuinely sweet romance, and a generous dash of all the tropes that might the genre so much fun.
The fantasy bonafides of Rob Reiner’s cult classic are established from the jump: this romance is literally straight out of a storybook. Unexpectedly dynamic duo Peter Falk and Fred Savage frame the story through a charming if the wholly relatable device that sees a grandfather (Falk, obviously) sharing a beloved story about beasts and princesses and kingdoms and drama with his ill grandson (Savage), who doesn’t quite understand what fairy tales have to do with them. Oh, but he’ll learn.
7. Spirited Away (2001)
It is a mix of the real and the surreal, enough to captivate the younger audiences and haunt the older ones. It’s an amazing work, filled with a visual intelligence that’s meticulously composed and obscenely clever.
Arguably director Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular movie, Spirited Away has everything that fans love about Studio Ghibli. From the whimsical premise to its sometimes terrifying creatures, the animated film regales viewers with Chihiro’s breathtaking tale. The 10-year-old is faced with the impossible task of finding a way to rescue her parents from the world of the Kami.
One part wild kiddie dream (a board game comes to life!), one part deep exploration of what it means to be human (what a film to consider in the era of social distancing), Joe Johnston’s wonderfully wild 1995 fantasy offers the full breadth of the genre in an entertaining and emotional package. Loosely based on the 1981 children’s book of the same name — and later to inspire a robust and modernized franchise that’s a heartening example of remakes done right — the film spins off a relatively simple idea into fascinating spaces.
It’s a fun movie with almost great pacing and entertaining scenes. The first few scenes where the kids were introduced are the scenes that took up some time for me. Despite the outdated CGI, some of the effects it stills hold up today, like the stampede animals for example. Great movie overall and highly recommend it and it has replay value for me
5. Harry Potter Franchise(2001-2011)
Although this movie fails to live up to the source material, it succeeds in creating a movie full of heart, and passion. This movie may have its flaws, but there’s something about the vibe of this movie that makes it magical (pun intended). The performances from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson are great and fit the movie perfectly. Their chemistry really makes them feel like actual people. Not to mention Snape’s actor, brilliant!
The plot is good, but it’s ripped straight from the book, so that’s really a given. There are certain gripes I have with the movie, though. The CGI in certain segments feels really dated, and sequences in the film can be corny. However, this is to be expected from an early 2000s movie based on a YA novel. It’s also very faithful to the original (as implied above), which is a plus but ends up feeling unpolished, due to the fact that it has to leave out lots of things from the book. What the movie lacks in technical skill, it makes up for in warmth. Which, really, is all fans were asking for.
4. Edwards Scissorhands (1990)
Burton’s sweet Gothic fairy tale has lost none of its charms.
Johnny Depp and Tim Burton in magical collaboration.
Oh my, what a film! Edward Scissorhands is Tim Burton’s finest, by a long shot. The cinematography, acting, costuming, makeup, EVERYTHING was done to perfection. The colors in this film were spectacular… houses, outfits, cars, so much more. I am seriously in love with this film visually but also emotionally. Edward Scissorhands grips at your heartstrings and tugs on them. It is such a perfect movie I’m so in love with it Also Johnny Depp.
3. Big Fish(2003)
Another masterpiece from Tim Burton.
A charming father-and-son tale filled with typical Tim Burton flourishes, Big Fish is an impressive catch.
There are several things of which I am sure when it comes to a Tim Burton movie. It will be imaginative, unique, technically impressive, fantastical, you should always expect the unexpected and one viewing is never enough (there’s always something that you miss that requires a second showing). “Big Fish” is no exception to the rule. Being a big Tim Burton fan, I am ashamed to admit that it took me as long as it did to see this latest masterpiece, but after a rave review from one of my favorite attorneys, I knew this was just the film to see over the long holiday weekend. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
2. Pirates of Caribbean(2003-2017)
It May leave you exhausted like the theme park ride that inspired it; however, you’ll have a good time when it’s over.
Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most loved fictional characters of all time.
There are five movies in the franchise, though the latter addition suffered from bad writing Johnny Depp’s character carries the movie with some help from other awesome characters. The movie has deep and intriguing lore.
1. The Lord Of The Rings(2001-2003)
It is “THE” fantasy movie of all time. Almost every fantasy novel, film, stories are somewhat inspired by this great epic written by J.R.R. Tolkien and adapted into a Trilogy by Peter Jackson.
That set piece defines why Jackson’s approach to “The Lord of the Rings” is so unforgettable: He takes fantasy and grounds it on such a human level and from such a human perspective that, suddenly, magical creatures and beasts feel tangible to the viewer.
The fantasy horror of Helm’s Deep matches the real-world horror of “Saving Private Ryan” and allows Jackson and “The Two Towers” to transcend the genre. The Helm’s Deep battle is strong enough to warrant “Two Towers” a spot on any best fantasy list, but there’s also the full introduction of Andy Serkis’ Gollum, one of the first and most fully-realized CGI characters in film history.