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The Best Fantasy Movies Of 2019 That Nobody Is Talking About

The 2019 fantasy movie slate is filled to the brim with studio flicks and big budget sci-fi films. Disney has brought more than a few options to the table, including Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, and the Sony co-production Spider-Man: Far From Home (you know, back when Sony and Disney were still friends). Warner Bros. made an impressive showing with DC's Shazam! and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Fantasy is in, but (like so many things) it's also being dominated by companies with a lot of industry clout.

There are some gems, though, that haven't had the benefit of a huge marketing budget, and have flown under the radar instead. When audiences are so inundated with billboards, trailers, and Comic-Con panels, it's easy to forget that there's an entire world of original and creative cinema out there that maybe doesn't have a big name attached to it. So, for all you fantasy lovers out there, we've put together a list of all the films you need to know about that you probably don't.


Aniara tells the story of a group of passengers aboard a giant spaceship — the Aniara — on a three-week voyage from Earth to Mars. After colliding with space debris, it's knocked off course, and hope for reaching its destination dwindles. The film focuses primarily on Mimaroben (Emelie Jonsson), a custodian at an A.I. spa that allows passengers to experience memories of Earth prior to its destruction. The further Aniara's story progresses, the harder it becomes for the ship's passengers to maintain their sanity.

Based on Harry Martinson's science fiction poem from 1956, Aniara's main focus is less on humanity's survival, and more on humanity's ability to destroy everything around it. The film's co-writer/director, Pella Kågerman, told Inverse that the film was her version of the Apocalypse. "I believe that this is actually what the Apocalypse looks like," she said. "We are risking Earth to become uninhabitable for us and lots of other species." And while the film may not stay completely in line with the poem it's based on, Martinson's potent ending remains intact. For Kågerman, Aniara calls its audience not just to address the threat of climate change, but to make the most of our time on Earth.

Fast Color

Fast Color is not your typical superhero film. There's the world-ending threat of a government agency hellbent on finding and capturing those with powers, yes, but all that takes a backseat to the story of a woman forced to face her own demons and mend lost relationships. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Ruth, a woman who has spent much of her life running from her abilities, and who must reconnect with her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter (Saniyya Sidney), who also have powers, in order to save them. 

It's a family drama that's focused on women of color, which is not something you see in typical superhero movies. Mbatha-Raw told /Film that she was immediately drawn to the project for that reason. "It takes the layers of what it means to be a woman and doesn't simplify any of that," she said. "I thought it was really grounded and I responded to this authenticity of the world; it's a recognizable world — no one is wearing a cape or a suit." 

Fast Color winds up as a more tangible film than something even like Wonder Woman, another female-focused superhero movie. Maybe it's because Ruth is a flawed character, and it's easy to see our own mistakes in her. Or maybe it's just because Mbatha-Raw is such an incredible performer. Whatever you might find in it, Fast Color should be at the top of your must-watch list.

I Am Mother

There have been plenty of films that have explored the relationship between human and machine throughout the years — 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1984's The Terminator, even the Star Wars films. Many of them focus on the dangers of artificial intelligence. I Am Mother takes something of a different approach, and then turns it on its head.

Daughter (played for most of the film by Clara Rugaard) has spent her entire life in the care of Mother (Rose Byrne), a robot designed to repopulate the Earth after a war has wiped out humanity. Unexpectedly, Daughter comes into contact with Woman (Hilary Swank), an outsider who claims to know details of the war that puts Mother in a much different light. 

I Am Mother draws from several types of stories, something its director, Grant Sputore, told Bloody Disgusting is intentional — mostly. "If you were examining the DNA of this film, I think you'd find strands of Alien, Terminator, and Moon, for sure," he said. "Some of that is conscious, some of it isn't." Regardless, the film keeps you guessing up until the very end, making you wonder who we can trust when we're the ones responsible for our own destruction.

The Kid Who Would Be King

In an updated take on the King Arthur legend, The Kid Who Would Be King follows a young boy named Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), who stumbles upon the famed Excalibur and discovers he is destined to lead a teenage army against the evil sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) and her undead minions. A little like Percy Jackson meets Hellboy, it's written and directed by Joe Cornish, the guy responsible for 2011's Attack the Block, if that's any indication of the sort of action and humor you can expect to see here.

The Kid Who Would Be King may be a reboot of sorts, but it's one of those that hits in all the right places. It's funny, charming, and engaging for everyone in the family, even if its target audience is the under-18 crowd. There's also Patrick Stewart in the role of Adult Merlin, so if you're having trouble finding a reason to take yourself to a "kid's movie," he might be it.

The Head Hunter

If there's one film on this list that really screams fantasy, The Head Hunter is it. The premise is simple: a man (Christopher Rygh) who hunts monsters and takes their heads as trophies sets out to kill the one that took his daughter's life. The Head Hunter has all the typical elements required of a fantasy film — for starters, there's a great quest on horseback in medieval armor. Plus, actual orc-like monsters abound. And whatever the film lacks in unique story elements, it more than makes up for with its visuals.

The Head Hunter is one of those movies you go to watch just to get caught up in its world. Co-writers Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey (who also directed) told Horror Geek Life that they were inspired by films like 1981's Quest for Fire and 2015's The Witch in terms of visual style. Stewart called Quest for Fire "an incredible movie that takes visual storytelling to the extreme," which the duo turned to on account of its "similar pace and mood with little to no dialogue."

The Changeover

Half-horror, half-fantasy, The Changeover tells the story of Laura Chant (Erana James), a young woman forced to make a choice that will affect the very core of her identity, in order to save her four-year-old brother Jacko (Benji Purchase) from an evil spirit in the guise of a friendly neighborhood man named Carmody (Timothy Spall). For the most part, The Changeover plays out like a coming-of-age tale with an underlying witchy theme. Laura is hesitant to develop her powers, but she's forced to, on account of the fact that Carmody has attached himself to her brother in a supernatural sort of way, making it possible to control his body on a whim.

The Changeover isn't perfect when it comes to its horror elements — they're there, but they're nothing really new. Where the film finds the most success is in the way it handles the simple terrors of growing up. Spall's Carmody is the kind of "harmless" man we're trained to be nice to, but the film makes it clear that those are the least harmless sort of men we should be allowing our kids around.


It's hard to believe the same man who made Trainspotting, Sunshine, and 28 Days Later would direct a film with so fanciful a premise as a world that's forgotten the Beatles, but here we are. Director Danny Boyle's Yesterday takes place in an alternate sort of reality, where after a global blackout, a struggling musician named Jack (Himesh Patel) wakes up to discover that the Fab Four never existed. He still knows their whole songbook by heart, but no one else remembers a single tune. His immediate course of action? Make their music his own.

Yesterday is something of a departure for Boyle — it's a little more polished than the rest of his often-gritty filmography, and the situation isn't quite so dire. But the combination of Boyle's direction and a screenplay by Richard Curtis (Love Actually) proves charming for anyone willing to go along for the ride, and Patel is an incredible choice as the lead. Boyle told Variety that it was one of those casting moments "where you just go, 'Oh my god, that's him.'" He's charming, even while he's stealing someone else's musical career. Which brings us to the most important part of Yesterday — it has one killer soundtrack.

High Life

Like Aniara and I Am Mother, High Life is an exploration of a post-Earth era and the people tasked with surviving it. It centers on Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his infant daughter, the only two left aboard a prison ship once used to conduct human reproduction experiments. It all might sound very familiar to anyone versed in post-apocalyptic sci-fi... but then there's "the f**kbox." It is, to put it mildly, not an idea you've probably seen on screen before. High Life co-writer and director, Claire Denis, told The Playlist that the film is as much about "horny people" as it is about prison. "Sexuality, when we're in prison, is an immensely important thing," she said.

So High Life, while a sci-fi/fantasy story at its core, is also an erotic thriller with a dark and twisted bent. The critics' consensus on Rotten Tomatoe calls the movie "as visually arresting as it is challenging, confounding, and ultimately rewarding." You'll be asking questions, that's for sure, but the film is an experience, one you won't soon forget.


Starfish takes the end of the world and sets it to music. Aubrey Parker (Virginia Gardner) is left alone, in her dead best friend's apartment, with nothing but a mix tape that might save her. The film is a little like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, if Charlie Kaufman had dealt in apocalyptic monsters instead of lost loves. 

Starfish's writer and director, A.T. White, is a musician as well, so it's little wonder music plays such a large role in the film. White and his cinematographer, Alberto Bañares, have crafted a world so interesting and unique with Starfish that it's hard to classify it as just a single genre. Part horror, part science fiction/fantasy, and part drama, Starfish's many elements come together to create something truly beautiful. 

But the most surprising thing about the film is that it's based on a true story. White told Dread Central that he wrote it at a point in his life where he was deeply depressed, isolating himself in an effort to turn out a screenplay while mourning the death of a friend — an experience that became the foundation for Aubrey's story. Starfish is really more of a cinematic exploration into human emotion, just with a fantasy twist. 

Oh, and White is donating 100% of his profits from the film to cancer research, giving you yet another reason to check it out.