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55 Best Fantasy Movies Of All Time Ranked

The definition of what makes a fantasy film, well, a fantasy film is an ever-changing target. Fantasy films can draw upon fairy tales and age-old fables, or they can be completely new inventions that ground their fantastical subject matter in real-life events. They can take place in the modern day and in the mythic past, or they can be told from the perspective of children and adults alike. It is a genre without bounds, it would seem — with the only rule being that no rules exist.

Fantasy films thrive on movie magic, on the special effects and phantasmagoric visuals that can often make cinema feel like a waking dream. In truth, one of the great things about fantasy, as a genre, is that there's always something for everyone. Whether you're in the mood for an involving love story, edge-of-your-seat action, or blood and guts, fantasy has got you covered.

Want to dive in? Say no more. Below you'll find 55 of the best fantasy films out there, from stylish black-and-white classics to indie darlings to magical blockbusters. So get your watchlists (and your sense of wonder) ready, and buckle in.

55. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Benh Zeitlin's moving — if problematically romantic — film takes place in "The Bathtub," an off-grid community where the impoverished residents live in ignorance of the impending levee break that threatens to literally wash their home away. Told from the perspective of a 6-year-old named Hushpuppy, the young girl's reliable day to day begins to spiral out of control when her stern father falls ill and the icecaps release a herd of prehistoric boars. Leaning hard into a childlike merger of fantasy and reality (for better and for worse), "Beasts of the Southern Wild" boasts a magical realism rooted in Quvenzhané Wallis' precocious lead performance.

  • Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
  • Director: Benh Zeitlin
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

54. Dragonslayer

When it comes to sword-and-sorcery coming-of-age movies — a staple of the fantasy genre — you have to talk about 1981's "Dragonslayer." The product of a 1980s romantic comedy getting in a violent fender bender with Arthurian myth, "Dragonslayer" delivers on its title with a handful of notable, cheeky twists. The film follows Galen, a young, spunky sorcerer's apprentice who finds himself on the career fast track when he's charged with slaying a 400-year-old dragon named (brace yourselves) Vermithrax Pejorative. Tasked with juggling local diplomacy, teenage lust, and the harrowing realities of killing what is basically a god, Galen is tossed into the deep end of a fantastical tale with a genuine sense of peril, whimsy, and horror (the golden trifecta of fantasy).

  • Starring: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson
  • Director: Matthew Robbins
  • Year: 109 minutes
  • Runtime: 1981
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

53. Jason and the Argonauts

If you've ever been intrigued by the stop-motion wizardry of Ray Harryhausen but weren't quite sure where to start, look no further than "Jason and the Argonauts." Bringing ancient Greek mythology to life with charmingly tactile visual effects that still capture the imaginations of viewers to this day, Don Chaffey's film follows its fearless titular hero as he sails home to claim his throne in Thessaly. A chance encounter with his father's killer bolsters Jason to seek out the Golden Fleece, which is said to have magical healing properties. While our hero is under the protection of the goddess Hera, numerous obstacles lie between Jason and his wooly objective, including hulking bronze statues, skeleton armies, harpies, and clashing rocks! An epic in the true sense of the word (with a thrilling Bernard Herrmann score no less), "Jason and the Argonauts" is movie magic through and through.

  • Starring: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond
  • Director: Don Chaffey
  • Year: 1963
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

52. Being John Malkovich

A schlubby, unsuccessful puppeteer named Craig takes a job as a file clerk to make ends meet. While sorting paperwork, Craig uncovers a mysterious doorway behind a filing cabinet that transports whoever enters it into the mind of John Horatio Malkovich (played by John Gavin Malkovich). Able to experience the world as Malkovich for 15 minutes before being hurled into a ditch by the side of the New Jersey Turnpike, Craig decides that this is the perfect way to supplement his income and starts charging people to crawl their way into Malkovich's head. Infamously surreal and high-concept, "Being John Malkovich" is a real head trip, to put it lightly. But with "Alice in Wonderland" vibes and a sizeable pinch of identity horror, those with a taste for the darkly fantastical would do well to seek this gem out.

51. Edward Scissorhands

When an eccentric mad scientist dies before he can complete his life's work — an artificial man — his scissor-handed creation is left to fend for himself in the crumbling ruins of his inventor's hilltop mansion. Then, one day, a tenacious Avon saleswoman comes calling and whisks the pointy lad to the pastel-colored suburbs. After struggling to fit in, Edward soon finds that his unique pair of mitts make him a valued member of the community. But is it enough to keep the neighborhood bullies and difference-fearing squares off his leather-strapped back? Distilling many of director Tim Burton's thematic and aesthetic peccadillos, "Edward Scissorhands" is a modern-day Frankenstein fairytale about the bittersweet horrors of being an outsider.

50. The NeverEnding Story

The incredibly named and endlessly tormented Bastian Balthazar Bux flees from his bullies into a dusty bookshop where he finds himself magnetically drawn towards an enormous leather-bound tome. Dismissing the shop owner's warnings that the book has a tendency to suck its readers in, Bastian borrows it and promptly falls into the magical (if doomed) land of Fantasia, where a courageous boy named Atreyu has been chosen to put an end to the horrifying, inexplicable destruction that ravages the land. Tactile and bonkers in the way that only 1980s fantasy films tend to be, "The NeverEnding Story" is a bold adventure that isn't afraid to offer its younger audience a genuine sense of stakes and danger.

  • Starring: Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronach
  • Director: Wolfgang Petersen
  • Year: 1984
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

49. Donkey Skin

Adapting a fairy tale from the iconic French author Charles Perrault (a pioneer of the fairy tale genre and the man responsible for "Little Red Riding Hood," "Cinderella," "Puss in Boots," and "Sleeping Beauty"), "Donkey Skin" begins with a skin-crawling inciting incident. The queen has died, and the king has sworn to only re-marry a woman more beautiful than his beloved wife — namely, his daughter. In an attempt to escape her horrid fate, the princess seeks the aid of her fairy godmother. Cloaked in the rotting skin of the kingdom's prize donkey, the princess vanishes into the boonies ... only to cross paths with a handsome prince. Did you know that color didn't exist before this film? It's true! Dreamy, vibrant, loopy, and winsomely intelligent, "Donkey Skin" is a surrealistic pastiche with some of the most gorgeous production design to ever grace the silver screen.

  • Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin
  • Director: Jacques Demy
  • Year: 1970
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

48. Blancanieves

Four words — Spanish, bull-fighting Snow White. In Andalusia in the 1920s, a celebrated matador re-marries his scheming nurse after his wife dies in childbirth. Fleeing from her unhappy home, the matador's now-teenage daughter joins a wandering troupe of bullfighters and begins competing under the stage name "Blancanieves." A love letter to silent cinema that still manages to tell a thoroughly modern story, Pablo Berger's dark fairy tale is an immensely imaginative take on the Brothers Grimm story, one that is much more than an exercise in style (though it has plenty of that in spades).

  • Starring: Maribel Verdú, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Ángela Molina
  • Director: Pablo Berger
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

47. Paprika

Set in the not too distant future, Satoshi Kon's "Paprika" tells the tale of a research team armed with a fantastical piece of technology that allows them to enter other people's dreams. Our hero, the reserved Dr. Atsuko Chima hopes to use the device to help psychiatric patients by entering their subconscious as her peppy, problem-solving alter ego, Paprika. However, when the machine is stolen and the team realizes that somebody, a total stranger, has the ability to invade people's dreams, they rightfully begin to fear for the safety of reality itself. Leaning heavily, and explicitly, on dream logic, "Paprika" tackles genuinely disturbing anxieties and desires while remaining persistently and enchantingly playful.

  • Original Voice Cast: Megumi Hayashibara, Toru Furuya, Toru Emori
  • English Dub Cast: Cindy Robinson, Yuri Lowenthal, Michael Forest
  • Director: Satoshi Kon
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

46. The Lure

Mermaids are one of those fantasy creatures that lost a lot of their edge when they were Disney-fied into the popular consciousness. Luckily for fans of the more morbid interpretations of sirens, "The Lure" — a Polish, body horror, mermaid, Euro-punk musical — exists. The film follows two teenage sisters who venture out on land, like a merfolk Rumspringa, and wind up as the main attraction at a glitter-coated nightclub. When one sister makes the fatal mistake of falling in love with a man rather than eating him, the duo must make some tough decisions about their future. Leaning hard into the more horrific elements of Hans Christian Andersen's 19th-century fairy tale (seafoam and all), "The Lure" is a bittersweet genre mishmash that truly must be seen to be believed.

  • Starring: Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszańska, Kinga Preis
  • Director: Agnieszka Smoczyńska
  • Year: 2015
  • Runtime: 92 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

45. The City of Lost Children

One of the more accomplished, and bizarre, films of the French directorial duo Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, "The City of Lost Children" is what you get when you put Terry Gilliam and the video game "BioShock" in a blender. If you followed that reference and have yet to watch this surreal terror trip, run (don't walk!) to your streaming service of choice. 

In a mist-filled oil rig deep at sea, below a clattering, aging minefield, a madman who cannot dream kidnaps children in an attempt to reverse his premature aging. When the little brother of a former whale hunter is captured, the strongman joins up with a young girl named Miette in an attempt to put an end to the madman's dastardly attempts to dream. A dark-as-pitch adult fairy tale that spares no expense with its gripping world-building, "The City of Lost Children" oozes creativity just as all good fantasy should.

  • Starring: Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon, Judith Vittet
  • Director: Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Year: 1995
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

44. Labyrinth

The first but certainly not the last film on this list directed by Muppet magician Jim Henson, "Labyrinth" tells the tale of a teenage girl named Sarah, who pulls a very uncool big sister move by wishing that her infant stepbrother would disappear so that she doesn't have to babysit. When the glamorous, silver ball-twirling goblin king Jareth does arrive to do just that, Sarah learns that her selfish wish had serious consequences. With only 13 hours to solve the fiendish labyrinth that surrounds Goblin City, Sarah sets off to retrieve her baby brother. Juggling multiple classic fantasy themes (not taking what you have for granted, being responsible for your decisions, etc.), "Labyrinth" is built on the bones of many a hero's journey. It's the kind of film you feel nostalgic for even if you're watching it for the first time.

  • Starring: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud
  • Director: Jim Henson
  • Year: 1986
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

43. Highlander

As this list testifies, fantasy films come in all sorts of flavors. Some lean harder into the gothic and gripping. Others embody a more ephemeral, dainty elegance — like shimmering gossamer or refined china. Others boldly ask the question, what if a prog rock album cover became a movie? 

Combining 1980s excess with sword and sorcery, "Highlander" tells the story of Connor MacLeod, a Scotsman born in the 16th century who cannot die. After being exiled from his village for witchcraft (you know, on account of the whole "not dying" thing), MacLeod crosses paths with an eccentric immortal swordsman who reveals the truth of MacLeod's condition: He is a part of an ancient race who can only be killed through decapitation. When one immortal defeats another, the deceased's power passes on to the victor, incentivizing the immortal race to murder one another until only one of their number remains. Cheesier than a fondue buffet and featuring a truly unforgettable performance from Clancy Brown as the blood-hungry, leather-loving, immortal barbarian Kurgan, "Highlander" is an unmissable watch for anyone who likes every scene transition to be accompanied by a guitar riff.

42. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Superficially, "Uncle Boonmee" tells the tale of the final days of its terminally ill title character, who's dying of kidney failure and has relocated to the countryside to return to the cave where his first life began. As his life force dims, Boonmee is visited by shades and apparitions of loved ones who have already passed away. Drenched in surreal imagery and lyrical themes of reincarnation, "Uncle Boonmee" offers us a world where everything — from a bull to a fish — is much more than it seems. Boasting a dream-like allure and a hypnotic approach to metaphysical storytelling, "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" will reward the patient viewer.

  • Starring: Sakda Kaewbuadee, Jenjira Pongpas, Thanapat Saisaymar
  • Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

41. Coraline

Adapting Neil Gaiman's dark fantasy children's novella, "Coraline" follows its titular 11-year-old protagonist as she deals with the growing pains of moving to a new home. Feeling ignored by her workaholic parents, Coraline is delighted to discover a hidden door in her new house that leads to a parallel dimension where everything is the same only ... better. Or at least, that's how it seems. As Coraline explores more and more of the alternate world, she begins to suspect that the love bombing of her doting "other" parents may have a sinister, ulterior purpose. Though, to be fair, the fact that everyone in this dimension has buttons for eyes should have been an obvious hint that something creepy was afoot. Clever, heartwarming, and genuinely terrifying, "Coraline" is a modern-day fairy tale brought to life by the stop-motion geniuses over at Laika.

  • Starring: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders
  • Director: Henry Selick
  • Year: 2009
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

40. The Spirit of the Beehive

Right on the cusp of the Franco dictatorship, a roadshow presenting James Whale's 1931 masterpiece "Frankenstein" rolls into an austere Castillian village. When two young sisters see the film for the first time, the eldest, Isabelle, informs her sister, Ana, that the monster is real and that she's seen him before in an abandoned barn. Disturbed but curious, Ana believes her sister and becomes obsessed with catching a glimpse of the creature. While the barn is usually abandoned, one day Ana finds a solemn figure — a Loyalist fugitive. As Ana's active imagination and her grim reality begin to blend, she forms an unlikely bond with the "monster" in the barn. Innocent and unnerving, Víctor Erice's masterpiece boasts intoxicating visuals and a contagiously open-minded, childlike sensibility.

  • Starring: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent
  • Director: Víctor Erice
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

39. The Holy Mountain

Is there something sacrilegious about including a film as spiritually inclined as "The Holy Mountain" on a list of fantasy movies? Perhaps. But as far as the cinematic output of the Mexican madman Alejandro Jodorowsky is concerned, the sanctified and the fantastic go hand in hand. In "The Holy Mountain," a man wanders through a gauntlet of corrupt, bizarre, and surreal episodes with the help of a mystical alchemist (played by Jodorowsky himself). Their goal? To find and climb the Holy Mountain, displace the powers that be, and live forever. Certainly not a film for the faint of heart, "The Holy Mountain" profanely pits illusion against reality in a challenging satire that has lost none of its provocative power in the years since its release.

  • Starring: Alexandro Jodorowsky, Horacio Salinas, Zamira Saunders
  • Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
  • Year: 1973
  • Runtime: 126 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

38. Mary Poppins

Two extremely bored and rambunctious Edwardian children have their lives invaded by a whimsical nanny/trickster god who bombards the troublesome youngsters with enchanting musical numbers, hybrid animation sequences, and flight-granting umbrellas. Undeniably charming and interminably colorful and sweet, "Mary Poppins" is a cheerful ray of sunshine on a rainy day. It may not be the only Technicolor film starring Julie Andrews as a life-changing nanny (thanks, "Sound of Music"), but it's undeniably the most magical.

  • Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Glynis Johns
  • Director: Robert Stevenson
  • Year: 1964
  • Runtime: 140 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

37. Kung Fu Hustle

It's the 1940s, and the streets of Canton are absolutely crawling with gangsters. One of the few safe havens spared from the wrath of the nefarious Axe Gang is Pig Sty Alley, a slum so poor it isn't even worth the attention of the criminal underbelly. Then, some silly would-be criminals impersonate them, and the real Axe Gang rolls into town. But unbeknownst to the fearsome felons, Pig Sty Alley is home to a ridiculous number of kung fu masters. A glee-filled fantasy-action flick with an embarrassment of physical comedy, "Kung Fu Hustle" boasts an extremely laissez-faire attitude towards boring things like "gravity" and "internal organs." Fun, frantic, and boundlessly funny, you can do no wrong with this fist-flying romp.

  • Starring: Stephen Chow, Yuen Wah, Yuen Qiu
  • Director: Stephen Chow
  • Year: 2004
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

36. The Company of Wolves

Bringing the dark, horrific heartbeat of fairytales to the forefront, "The Company of Wolves" adapts Angela Carter's short story of the same name — dream logic, body horror, morality tales, and all. Framed within a Red Riding Hood-like tale of a young girl's uncanny encounter with a voracious wolf who might not be as bad as he seems, we are treated to a series of episodic tales that punctuate the main narrative. From cautionary stories of men with wolfish spirits to revenge-tinged fables of witches turning bridal parties into beasts, "The Company of Wolves" blends fantasy and horror with a keen visual flair and a winking approach to its original source material.

  • Starring: Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Sarah Patterson
  • Director: Neil Jordan
  • Year: 1984
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

35. Black Orpheus

Set against the celebratory backdrop of Rio's carnival, a wide-eyed country girl on the run named Eurydice falls madly in love with Orfeo, a gifted guitarist who's engaged to the possessive Mira. Pursued by the morbid specter of death itself, Eurydice is convinced that she is not long for this world. While Orfeo stares down the barrel of his looming unhappy marriage, the undeniable attraction between the crooner and Eurydice only grows. Borrowing from the ancient Greek myth of a balladeer who journeys through the underworld to revive the woman he loves, "Black Orpheus" is a joyous and unforgettably tender tale, as well as a stunning bossa nova-scored cinematic anomaly.

  • Starring: Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Lourdes de Oliveira
  • Director: Marcel Camus
  • Year: 1959
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

34. The Lighthouse

Part horror comedy, part retelling of the Greek myth of Prometheus, the Titan who dared steal fire from Mount Olympus, Robert Eggers' seaside descent into madness is well worth the terror trip. "The Lighthouse" tells of two men named Thomas working as lighthouse keepers on a wave-blasted rock off the New England coast. As violent storms extend their tenure, the duo progressively lose their minds, chugging lighter fluid, dancing and farting the night away, and letting their deepest darkest secrets slip. Surreal, morbidly hilarious, and grounded by the manic intensity of its two central performances, "The Lighthouse" is a port of call you should definitely visit.

33. The Dark Crystal

A dark fable from the boundless imaginations of director-puppeteer duo Frank Oz and Jim Henson, "The Dark Crystal" takes place on Thra, a fantastical planet that orbits three suns, ruled under the tyrannical, scaly fist of the cruel Skeksis race. As the conjunction of the three suns nears, giving what good remains in this world a thin window of opportunity to heal the titular Dark Crystal and bring goodness to the land, two Geflings — the last of their species — embark on a perilous quest to retrieve the Crystal's lost shard so that order can be restored. Imaginative, dark, and unlike any film under the "family-friendly" genre umbrella, "The Dark Crystal" is lighting in a bottle — nightmare-inducing and spiritually galvanizing in equal measure.

  • Starring: John Baddeley, Stephen Garlick, Barry Dennen
  • Director: Jim Henson and Frank Oz
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

32. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka — an eccentric maniac, loner, and owner of one of the world's most profitable candy empires — releases a scant number of hidden golden tickets out into the world. The lucky children who find them smuggled away in candy bars are treated to a grand tour of Wonka's factory, plenty of sweets, and a surprising amount of OSHA violations. Wait, what was that last part? Yes, it turns out that Wonka's scheme is actually an attempt to find a worthy successor. The best job interviews are the one's you don't expect, right? Right? Luckily, our good-hearted hero Charlie Bucket is there to ensure that some degree of decency is maintained. Carried by an all-timer performance by Gene Wilder as the titular confectioner, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is the perfect fantasy balance of whimsy and unexpected darkness (if we were on the tour we would have bailed after that tunnel/portal to hell, just saying!).

  • Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum
  • Director: Mel Stuart
  • Year: 1964
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

31. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

In the more well-known cinematic adaptation of the infamously spectacular, multi-talented fictional aristocrat, mad surrealist director Terry Gilliam brings the titular Baron's ridiculously eccentric adventures to life with a nesting doll of tales within tales that take the Baron to the moon and back. Quite literally. With an enthusiastically shaky understanding of the line between reality and fiction, Gilliam embraces the boundless possibility of his subject matter to weave a tale that is equally hammy, cartoonish, and tactile as it is bawdy, perilous, and creepy.

  • Starring: John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Year: 1988
  • Runtime: 126 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

30. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

After being kidnapped in a pirate raid, hot-blooded governor's daughter Elizabeth Swann gets a taste of the adventure she's always wanted. These aren't just regular pirates, you see, but a crew of skeletal baddies damned to eternal life for stealing cursed gold. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, giving the swashbucklers her childhood crush's last name instead of her own was a bad move. Now, the sinewy crew is off to use her special lineage (or so they think) to lift the curse. Luckily, the aforementioned crush, Will Turner, and a savvy if perpetually wobbly pirate named Jack Sparrow are hot on their heels. Maybe the best film ever based on an amusement park ride, this inaugural entry in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise single-handedly proved that there was life in the big-budget pirate genre yet.

  • Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom
  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Year: 2003
  • Runtime: 143 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

29. Legend

As its less-than-stellar Rotten Tomatoes score testifies, Ridley Scott's high fantasy epic doesn't have, uh, the best critical reputation. But sometimes critics don't know greatness when it stares them in the face. Maybe they were blinded by all the glitter, who's to say? "Legend" tells the story of a young rapscallion named Jack (a very young, unibrowed Tom Cruise) who must set off on an epic quest to save his woodland home from a cursed winter brought upon by the evil machinations of Darkness/Satan. Hard proof that sometimes style is substance, "Legend" is one of the most visually extravagant films ever made, with especially notable creature effects courtesy of makeup wiz kid Rob Bottin (the man behind John Carpenter's "The Thing"). Dark, sensual, and over the top in the best way possible, we really can't recommend "Legend" enough.

28. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Imbued with a palpable heap of cinematic magic, the first entry in the "Harry Potter" franchise is the movie equivalent of a warm cup of hot chocolate. A young, abused orphan named Harry discovers that he is actually a wizard. Not only that, he's actually infamous in the wizarding world for defeating the Dark Lord Voldermort when he was just an infant. It's a lot to take in, but before he can say "wait a minute, magic is real?" Harry is off to supernatural boarding school. And wouldn't you know it, amongst the new friends, enemies, and fantasy hijinks, the magical kid soon finds himself at the center of a conspiracy pointing to the return of He Who Shall Not Be Named.

27. Kwaidan

An anthology fantasy-horror film that brings various Japanese tales vividly to life, "Kwaidan" is a feast for the senses and the imagination alike. Don't let that enormous runtime scare you, this gorgeous series of tales will quickly whisk you away with four masterful tales of demonic comeuppance, doomed romance, and ghostly hauntings. The standout story for our money is the penultimate tale, "Hoichi the Earless," which tells of a young blind priest who is tricked into singing the chant of "The Tale of the Heike" to a court full of sinister spirits. In order to protect his body from the vengeful ghosts, Hoichi's fellow priests must cover his body in protective scriptures from head to toe ... hopefully they remembered everything.

  • Starring: Rentarô Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Tetsuro Tamba
  • Director: Masaki Kobayashi
  • Year: 1965
  • Runtime: 183 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

26. Beauty and the Beast

Arguably the most well-known cinematic adaptation of the traditional fairy tale of the same name, this 1991 feature film cemented the arrival of the Disney Renaissance, the so-called period of artistic (and financial) prosperity of the studio's animation division. The film tells of Belle, a woman with the audacity to love reading, who takes her father's place after he is captured by the tempestuous Beast who lives in an enchanted castle at the center of a wolf-filled forest. After growing to know the Beast better (and vice versa), the pair begin to develop feelings for one another, which doesn't sit well with Belle's strong-jawed admirer Gaston.

  • Starring: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White
  • Director: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
  • Year: 1991
  • Runtime: 84 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

25. Kubo and the Two Strings

A fantastical epic from the stop-motion geniuses over at Laika, "Kubo and the Two Strings" follows who else but Kubo, a boy with an extraordinary talent for bringing stories to life (rather literally). However, when Kubo inadvertently summons a malicious spirit, Kubo must embark on a quest (accompanied by a talking monkey and pugnacious beetle) to uncover the many mysteries surrounding his fallen warrior father and his own magical abilities. An epic, beautifully told tale about the power of storytelling itself, "Kubo and the Two Strings" is movie magic through and through, with stunning set pieces and an infectious sense of adventure.

  • Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes
  • Director: Travis Knight
  • Year: 2016
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

24. The Thief of Bagdad

Yet another Technicolor phantasmagoria graces this list. A loose remake of the 1924 film of the same name (itself a freeform adaptation of selections from the Middle Eastern folk tale anthology "One Thousand and One Nights"), "The Thief of Bagdad" tells the story of Ahmad, a naive prince who's tricked by his evil grand vizir. His throne lost, Ahmad finds himself in jail where he meets a streetwise thief named Abu, and the dynamic duo set off on a wild adventure involving mechanical horses, magic carpets, and towering genies. A massive influence on Disney's "Aladdin" and a captivating example of early blue-screen special effects, "The Thief of Bagdad" continues to enchant audiences 80 years after it originally hit theaters.

  • Starring: Sabu, John Justin, Conrad Veidt
  • Director: Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan
  • Year: 1940
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

23. Excalibur

Recounting several of the legends surrounding the mythical medieval King Arthur, John Boorman's glitter-flecked epic is the high watermark of the sword-and-sorcery subgenre and a spectacle that must be seen to be believed. Following the heroic king from birth to death, Boorman weaves a tale of magical swords, woodland trysts, and epic duels that marries fantasy and ferocity in equal measure. Amidst all the genuinely brutal swordplay and undulating sorcery, "Excalibur" is interested in the give and take of changing regimes, as well as the fantastical and fearsome ways that humanity tells stories about its own history. Come for early performances from Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson. Stay for one of the best representations of how genuinely terrible it would be to try and kill someone wearing a suit of armor.

22. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

A cross-cultural smash hit, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" begins with the loss of the legendary sword known as Green Destiny, a blade that has accompanied heroes for 400 years. With his attempt to leave his life of violence behind thwarted, the blood-flecked warrior Li Mu Bai must track down his stolen sword. With his confidant (and love interest) Yu Shu Lien in tow, the pair set off to retrieve the weapon, a quest that forces them to confront their complicated past. One of the most exquisitely choreographed wuxia films out there (a genre that blends fantasy, martial arts, and plenty of wire-based swordfights), "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is both a technical marvel and a love story for the ages.

  • Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi
  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Year: 2000
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating:
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

21. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a young moisture farmer named Luke Skywalker is plucked from the desert planet of Tattooine and launched at hyperspeed into a whirlwind of space magic and star-charting adventure. Teaming up with a ragtag group — including a wise hermit who's much more than he seems and a trigger-happy smuggler — Luke learns to channel the cosmic power known as "the Force" in order to take on the evil Galactic Empire. A thrilling mishmash of adventure serial, Western, and fantasy tropes, the first entry in what would go on to become the "Star Wars" franchise is a powerhouse of movie magic — a singular viewing experience that every film lover should witness.

20. Ratatouille

Discontent with his un-inspiring, pastoral, garbage-sniffing life in the French countryside, an ambitious rat named Remy decides to follow his dreams (and his superior sense of smell) to become a chef. Teaming up with an entry-level line cook at a prestigious Parisian restaurant, Remy finds himself at the center of a greedy conspiracy that aims to defile the good name of his culinary hero. While leaving your humble beginnings to dream big may not seem like a fantastical premise on paper, the exaggerated scale and enormous heart of "Ratatouille" make for one heck of a magical (and inspirational) watch.

  • Starring: Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm, Lou Romano
  • Director: Brad Bird
  • Year: 2007
  • Runtime: 111 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

19. Pan's Labyrinth

In the background of the early years of the Franco regime, a young girl named Ofelia accompanies her pregnant mother to a rural hideout where her stepfather, the violent captain Vidal, awaits. But Ofelia's harsh reality begins to fade into the background after she's approached by a gnarled woodland creature, a fawn who informs her that she is the reincarnation of a long-lost princess who must pass a series of tests to return to her kingdom. A dark fairy tale that introduced an international audience to the twisted imagination of director Guillermo del Toro, "Pan's Labyrinth" balances intoxicating childlike wonder with the brutal realities of growing up in the shadow of war.

  • Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú
  • Director: Guillermo del Toro
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

18. Angel's Egg

In a dying land where gargantuan skeletons slump quietly in bell towers and enormous fishy shadows swirl throughout the lamplight, an unnamed girl shepherds an enormous egg ... somewhere. Not long into her mysterious journey, the pale-haired girl joins up with a cold-faced young soldier who takes an interest both in her and her precious cargo. Ripe with metaphor and light on any concrete answers, "Angel's Egg" is a collaboration between legendary animation director Mamoru Oshii and Yoshitaka Amano, best known for his illustrative work on the "Final Fantasy" video games. A bold and undeniably potent artistic achievement, "Angel's Egg" is the kind of film you can sit with and return to indefinitely.

17. La Belle et la Bête

With the family fortune down the drain and drowning in debt, a bumbling merchant takes shelter in what appears to be a vacant castle. However, after unthinkingly plucking a rose from the garden for his daughter Belle, the horrifying Beast appears and informs the merchant that he can either die or bring back one of his three daughters. When Belle arrives at the creature's estate, the Beast asks her to marry him, promising to provide her with a life of comfort and luxury if she says yes. While Belle continues to refuse the Beast's daily proposal, their relationship begins to deepen ... even as her money-hungry family sees dollar signs in the Beast's immense fortune. Cinematic magic in its purest form, "Beauty and the Beast" is transfixing and spectacular in the truest sense of the word.

  • Starring: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély
  • Director: Jean Cocteau
  • Year: 1946
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

16. Fantasia

One of the most ambitious and strangest feature-length animation experiments ever conceived, 1940's "Fantasia" eschews a linear narrative for seven non-verbal sequences set to classical music. Framed by intercut scenes of conductor Leopold Stokowski, "Fantasia" whisks audiences away from the gel-lit concert hall to operatic visions of impressionistic miasma, animal ballets, the mythic past, and a terrifying struggle between good and evil. Like a vivid dream somehow captured on celluloid, the wordless phantasmagoria of "Fantasia" endures to this day as one of the studio's most free-form and adventurous efforts.

  • Starring: Deems Taylor, Leopold Stokowski, Walt Disney
  • Director: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Wilfred Jackson
  • Year: 1940
  • Runtime: 126 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

15. A Matter of Life and Death

This may be the first film on this list from the fantastic directorial duo Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell, but it's certainly not the last! Released in 1946, this heartwarming fantasy romance follows Peter Carter, a World War II pilot who somehow manages to miraculously survive falling from his airplane without a parachute. However, when heaven double-checks their paperwork (because, as everyone knows, the celestial plane is a bureaucracy), they realize that Peter's survival was a mistake, so they dispatch a heavenly agent to retrieve him. While Peter believes that June — an American radio operator who he's now madly in love with — saved his life, a tribunal assembles to assess whether Peter is to be "called up" or not. Incredibly charming, fantastical, and unexpectedly philosophical, "A Matter of Life and Death" is a profoundly affecting classic about (what else?) the power of love.

  • Starring: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Raymond Massey
  • Director: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
  • Year: 1946
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

14. Kuroneko

Set in Japan's Heian period, "Kuroneko" tells the tale of Yone and her daughter-in-law, Shige, who've been transformed through their violent deaths into demonic cat-women. Stalking the woods in search of roving samurai, the women's post-mortem quest for vengeance is tempered by the arrival of Gintoki, a kind-hearted warrior who's been hired by the petulant governor to murder the monstrous presence killing off his men. Haunting, romantic, and eerily dreamlike, "Kuroneko" is a must-watch for fans of international cinema (and Western viewers who want to dip their toes out of their comfort zones).

  • Starring: Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi
  • Director: Kaneto Shindo
  • Year: 1968
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

13. Paddington 2

Sequels are rarely as good as their predecessors. And it's even rarer for them to be even better. Such is the case with "Paddington 2," which reunites us with the contagiously kind-hearted and polite bear. While attempting to buy the perfect gift for his Aunt Lucy's birthday, Paddington finds himself the target of a mad thespian who wants to steal Paddington's gift for his own nefarious means. Powered by a good heart and a foolproof marmalade recipe, Paddington's adventure takes the little bear all around London and even to jail (!). One of the most joyful and good-natured films of the 21st century, "Paddington 2" is an instant classic that more than deserves its spot on watchlists the world over.

12. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Written and directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" takes place in a dying world coated in forests of mold, fungus, and insect-like creatures. What's left of humanity has retreated into protected settlements, many of which war against one another with bubbling ancient grudges. 

Meanwhile, the idyllic isolation of the valley, where the constant breeze keeps the encroaching mold at bay, is compromised by the arrival of a massive, flaming airship. In the aftermath of the crash, the titular princess, the courageous Nausicaä, finds herself in the middle of two warring nations, one of which has set about awakening one of the catastrophic weapons responsible for the decimation of this rotting world. Visceral, visually stunning, and imaginatively apocalyptic, "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" is an early indicator of the unflinching genius that would come to define Studio Ghibli.

  • Original Voice Cast: Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoji Matsuda
  • English Dub Cast: Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Shia LaBeouf
  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Year: 1984
  • Runtime: 117 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

11. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Set in a world where humans and cartoon characters live alongside one another, an alcoholic detective (and vocal 'toon-hater) named Eddie Valliant is tapped to defend Roger Rabbit, a goofy star player who finds himself in one heck of a big pickle. His wife's alleged john (and Roger's boss) has turned up dead. While unhappy about defending a 'toon, Valliant agrees to help Roger prove his innocence, stumbling across a larger conspiracy to destroy the 'toon community along the way. A rock-solid murder mystery with a heaping spoonful of silliness and whimsy, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is both a technological marvel and an incredibly sweet tale about a grump learning to have fun again.

10. The Red Shoes

One of the most evocative products of the creative alliance between Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, "The Red Shoes" is one of the dreamiest — and most terrifying — films about obsessive artists. Our protagonist is Vicky Page, an aspiring ballerina torn between an impossible choice — her unflinching dedication to her craft and her genuine desire for real, meaningful love. As the pressure puts her fragile psyche through its paces, Vicky's world begins to crumble into a Technicolor terror trip.

  • Starring: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring
  • Director: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
  • Year: 1948
  • Runtime: 133 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

While J.R.R. Tolkien's high fantasy trilogy was thought to be un-filmable, Peter Jackson proved the world wrong in 2001 with the release of the first instalment in his cinematic opus. When the long dormant One Ring, once belonging to the Dark Lord Sauron, begins to stir, there's only one thing to do: Destroy the cursed jewelry in the volcanic fires from whence it came. "The Fellowship of the Ring" follows adventure-seeking Frodo Baggins, the soon-to-be Ring-bearer, as he allies with other races of Middle-earth to purge the evil from their world for good. With enormous scale, jaw-dropping cinematography by the late Andrew Lesnie, and production design that makes Jackson's tale feel tactile and full of life, "The Fellowship of the Ring" is a must-watch for any and all film fans with a love for high fantasy.

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

King Arthur and his loyal servant ride (coconuts aloft) through the medieval English countryside in search of brave knights to join their cause at Camelot. After scooping up a handful of worthy heroes (and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot), the armor-clad gang is approached by none other than God Himself, who sends our heroes on a grand quest to find the Holy Grail. Punctuated with absurd vignettes, each one sillier and more unhinged than the last, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is an incredibly special and lawless piece of filmmaking and easily one of the greatest fantasy-comedies ever made. 

7. Orpheus

Adapting the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Jean Cocteau's masterpiece sees our protagonist, a poet named Orphée, in the middle of a scuffle that leaves his rival dead. Before you can say, "Huh, I didn't know poets were so violent," Orphée is whisked away in the Rolls-Royce of none other than Death herself, who our hero promptly falls in love with. Then, when Orphée's wife, Eurydice, dies, the poet must descend into Hell to rescue her. Appropriately poetic, dreamy, and beguiling, Cocteau's "Orpheus" is an enrapturing merger of myth and cinematic magic.

  • Starring: Jean Marais, María Casares, François Périer
  • Director: Jean Cocteau
  • Year: 1950
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

6. Ugetsu

Set in the 16th century during a period of civil war, two go-getter peasants attempt to make a buck off the desperation that's resulted from all the carnage. Entranced by their quick profits, potter Genjurô and his brother, samurai wannabe Tobei, push their luck and venture back into the city, leaving their families behind. As they are soon to learn, their avarice has a great and terrible price. A romantic fantasy drama based on Ueda Akinari's 18th-century ghost story of the same name, "Ugetsu" is a cautionary tale tinged in tragedy and a bona fide masterwork of Japanese cinema. 

  • Starring: Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori, Kinuyo Tanaka
  • Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
  • Year: 1953
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

5. The Seventh Seal

Existentially tormented knight Antonius Block and his squire, Jöns, arrive home from the Crusades to find their country in the throes of the Black Death. During their travels, Antonius encounters Death himself, striking a tenuous agreement to delay his demise with a protracted game of chess. While Antonius and Jöns journey home, seeking a safe place to ride out the pestilence, the knight seeks answers to his unwieldy questions about the nature of sin and life itself. A haunting meditation on faith, death, and the apparent cruelty of the world, "The Seventh Seal" is a potent piece of filmmaking that makes full-use of medieval allegory and stark black-and-white photography to tell its tale.

  • Starring: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Nils Poppe
  • Director: Ingmar Bergman
  • Year: 1957
  • Runtime: 96 minutes
  • Rating: 1957
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

4. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Based on "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter," one of Japan's oldest surviving fables, "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" tells of an elderly couple who happen upon a teeny-tiny princess sleeping inside a stalk of bamboo. Adopting the miraculous child as their own daughter, the strange but loving family begins an idyllic life together. Then, one day, the bamboo grove provides once more, showering the family with a small fortune. Taking their new wealth as a sign that they need to provide a "better" life for their daughter, the couple ingratiate themselves in high society and attempt to find the tomboyish Kaguya a husband. Strange, heart-wrenching, and a truly wild ride if you're unfamiliar with the original tale, Isao Takahata's final film is a mesmerizing piece of art that we love to the moon and back.

  • Original Voice Cast: Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii,
  • English Dub Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Darren Criss, James Caan
  • Director: Isao Takahata
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 137 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

3. The Wizard of Oz

Young farm girl Dorothy Gale dreams of world a little more vibrant than her humble Kansas dust bowl. A rogue twister grants her wish, dropping her and her loyal terrier in the Technicolor land of Oz. After an accidentally murderous crash landing and a raucous welcome, Glinda the Good Witch sends Dorothy skipping down a yellow brick road to seek out the titular wizard, who may be the one man capable of sending her back home. The "favorite movie of the 20th century" according to People magazine (via Library of Congress), MGM's monumental cinematic achievement is the definitive adaptation of L. Frank Baum's novel and one of the most wonder-filled Hollywood films ever made.

  • Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
  • Director: Victor Fleming
  • Year: 1939
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: G
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

2. The Princess Bride

While his snarky grandson lies sick in bed, a kindly grandfather goes above and beyond and reads aloud from a very special book: "The Princess Bride." While the grandson initially protests the indignity of being read "a love story," he's soon swept up in this swashbuckling tale of a humble farm girl who becomes a reluctant princess, the enduring courage of her long-lost love, and the maniacal cruelty of the villainous prince who aims to make her his wife. Hilarious, endearing, and arguably perfect, "The Princess Bride" somehow manages the magic trick of spoofing fantasy conventions without slipping into cynicism.   

  • Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin
  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Year: 1987
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

1. Spirited Away

Pouting in the backseat of her parent's station wagon, 10-year-old Chihiro finds herself reluctantly yanked out of her old life and hurtling towards the unknown — new friends, new school, new adventures. Then, when her parents take a pit stop at a mysterious village, Chihiro tumbles down the proverbial rabbit hole into the spirit world. Taking a job at a bathhouse run by the scrupulous witch Yubaba, Chihiro must grow up if she wants to save her parents and return to her own world. The first foreign-language film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Hayao Miyazaki's masterwork isn't just the best fantasy film of all time but perhaps one of the best films, period.

  • Original Voice Cast: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki
  • English Dub Cast: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette
  • Director: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Year: 2001
  • Runtime: 125 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%