Film Industry

Best Fantasy Movies Of All Time: 10 Of Our Favourites

Photograph of the blog post author, Sam Jones

Sam Jones

18.6.2021

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From magical sea worlds to post-apocalyptic grunge, we’re bringing you 10 of the best fantasy movies of all time. 

fantasy artwork

Fantasy films allow us to dissociate from the sometimes harsh reality of, well… reality! They remove us from the drooling narrative we live in and allow us to escape to worlds of magic, mystery, love, adventure, and often, danger.

Sometimes dark, sometimes romantic, but always with a fictional aspect that we desire for ourselves. 

In this article, we will discuss 10 of the best fantasy movies of all time! Some won awards, some are nostalgic, others we just love! We wanted to cover some hidden gems, fan favorites, and of course, the classics. All of which are good fantasy movies to watch if you’re looking for a bit of wonder.

Be sure to stay until the very end of our list so you don’t miss out on our top spot! 

10 Of The Best Fantasy Movies

So, what are the best fantasy movies? Lord of the Rings may come to mind but we wanted to discuss some of the more alternative and influential movies. From creepy kids films to romantic tragedies, we’ve got them all covered!  

Time to get into it! Here are 10 of the best fantasy movies to watch.

10. Coraline (2009)

coraline fantasy movie artwork

Director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Henry Selick brought us this beautifully dark and twister kids film. The somewhat depressing story of Coraline and her attempt to escape to a fantasy world is what makes her so relatable.

Despite not being received well by parents, the movie stands today as one of the most loved dark fantasies. 

The story follows Caroline as she and her parents move to a new secluded flat. The quirky and strange neighbors Coraline comes across during her adventures are what tops off the film. We will always adore Mr. B and his jumping mice and Miss Forcible and Miss Spink’s Taffy! 

Caroline discovered a world mirroring hers that seemed endlessly better. As the film continues the world slowly becomes darker and the characters within become fearful. This is all the doing of the ‘Other Mother’ of course. 

The way she slowly turns people into dolls with those very famous button eyes makes her even more terrifying than just her final form in the film.

Once Coraline has escaped back into the real world she realises everything she could ever want she already has. A heartwarming ending to a dark film where Coraline seemingly lives happily ever after in reality. 

9. Big Fish (2003)

big fish flowers

Tim Burton, what else do we need to say? Anything directed by Tim Burton is going to be fantastical in one way or another.

The story of big fish follows the sobering life of Will Bloom and his wife as they travel from Paris to Alabama to visit Will’s dying father. Will had become estranged from his father Edward, following countless ridiculous stories from him. 

In one scene Edward recalls seeing his own death in the glass eye of a witch! This event ultimately led to the wondrous adventures of romance and mystery that followed for Will’s father. The end of the story is a tearful one with Will realising his father’s stories were not too ridiculous after all. 

Despite not winning any awards big fish was nominated multiple times and was received well by many. With actors like Ewan McGregor and Helena Bonham Carter, it’s hard not to fall in love with the characters.

And of course, with so many hardcore Tim Burton fans this film is known as one of the best fantasy adventure movies.

8. Avatar (2009) 

avatar james cameron fantasy movie

James Cameron’s Avatar is known as one of the most watched fantasy movies of all time and rightfully so. Simply the visuals can draw your breath away and bring a tear to your eye.

Undoubtedly being one of the best sci-fi fantasy movies to ever grace our screens, Avatar takes us to a beautiful distant planet full of equally beautiful flora and fauna. 

From the floating mountains of pandora to the tree of souls, every shot brings us something visually stunning. The connection with nature and spirituality of the film resonates with many fans. 

The list of awards this film received is long, really long! Most notably Avatar received the best achievement in cinematography and for visual effects at the Oscars.  

7. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) 

pan's labyrinth monster eyes

We imagine you were already imagining this guy right here. This singular scene from this Spanish masterpiece is often referenced in modern film culture, iconic in itself. 

The film centers around Ofelia as she is shown a fantasy world by magical creatures. Despite the sometimes scary moments within the film, this is a welcomed alternative to the mundane reality of war Ofelia is living through.

Groundbreaking upon release, Pan’s Labyrinth received three Academy Awards, three BAFTAs, and many more. To many this Guillermo del Toro film is one of the best fantasy movies ever. 

6. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

edward scissorhands cutting hair

What is it with Johnny Depp playing outcast, but loveable characters? Sweeney Todd, Captain Jack Sparrow, the Mad Hatter, Edward is no exception.

Firmly ranking as one of the best fantasy romance movies of all time, Edward Scissorhands won the 1992 BAFTA film award for best production design followed by numerous wins and nominations. 

Despite the film having a dark tone to it with messages of judgment and coldness within society, the film has such a beautiful but tragic story. 

Rather than the main character Kim, played by Winona Ryder in this case, finding an alternative fantasy world, Edward brings the fantasy world to her.

As Edward slowly becomes accepted and his talents recognised, his creations and attention form a fantasy situation for Kim and her family. The slow decline in positivity in the film as Edward is eventually forced back into his secluded home is a big reality check. 

Of course, Tim Burton made it onto this list twice, he encapsulates fantasy in all its glory. The loveable awkwardness of Edward makes him one of the most loved movie characters ever.  

5. Ponyo (2008)

ponyo fantasy anime

Studio Ghibli never disappoints when it comes to fantasy. The list of outstanding films that have been released by Studio Ghibli is huge with the likes of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

Ponyo however has a very different feel to other Studio Ghiblis and offers us a different take on fantasy worlds.   

Early in the film, we see the beautiful underwater world that Ponyo, a fish, lives with her human father in. Unlike other fantasies though, Ponyo desires to leave this world behind and discover the human world against her father’s wishes. 

This is an interesting alternative to the usual fantasy plot where the desire is to escape the fantasy world into our world. It’s a reminder that what our boring reality is to us might be some else’s fantasy. 

In our opinion, this is one of the best fantasy movies on Netflix. If you haven’t seen Ponyo already, we strongly encourage you to do so. From tsunamis of giant fish to goddess-like seasbeings, Ponyo is a visual fantasy of friendship and love that anyone can enjoy.

This is a highly regarded film by its fans and an essential out of all the good fantasy movies! 

The film was received extremely well at the box office and became a much-loved film for people globally. Winning the 2009 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, Ponyo got the attention it deserved. 

4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

tom hardy in mad max fury road

The most recent on our list, Mad Max: Fury Road was a well-received addition to the iconic mad max franchise. Based in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, this is any grunge fan’s visual dream. The story follows the harrowing life of Max, played by Tom Hardy, and Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. 

The world itself is a dark fantasy with 3 main habitable locations, The Citadel providing water, Gas Town providing fuel, and the Bullet Farm providing weapons and ammunition. Water and guns become a large focus of the film and outrageous cars of course. 

We vividly remember a car chase where a mutant guitarist is strung from a tower of speakers mounted on a truck as fire shoots from his guitar’s head. Now that is fantasy! 

The amazing visual action of the film can be attributed to the fact that 80% of all effects are practical. Director George Miller spared no expenses making this one of the most popular fantasy movies and his efforts paid off. 

The list of awards this film received is extensive, Critics’ choice best movie award for the best action movie, Academy Award for best film, BAFTA for best costume, to mention a few.

The response and success of this recent film makes it one of the best action fantasy movies of all time. 

3. Labyrinth (1986)

david bowie in labyrinth

Maybe the most iconic on this list, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. David Bowe of course makes this film bringing his camp, edgy style, and character as the antagonist.

Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams, a beautiful young woman navigates the labyrinth in search of her baby brother who was kidnapped by the goblin king played by Bowie. 

Full of strange looking and sounding creatures, this dreamy teen classic is one of the best fantasy films on Netflix. Despite the cheesy, almost cringy side to this film, it has become a lifelong favorite for those who enjoy it for nostalgia. 

While nominated for a BAFTA and other awards, it failed to receive any. Despite this film not reaching critical affirmation, it is a much loved classic that deserves to be on this list as much as any. 

2. The Wizard Of Oz (1936)

wizard of oz characters and tornado

Of course, this made it to the list. Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz is a much loved, timeless classic. Being the first film in colour is enough to make this list alone! 

The yellow brick road, ruby shoes, the wicked witch of the west, emerald city, this story is overwhelmed with fantasy in every direction. 

Deservingly winning of the Oscar for Best Music, and original story. The film has even received awards 85 years after its release, winning the online film and television association award this year for both songs and characters. 

It’s hard to imagine the impact this film had on people when they first watched it. Having never see colour on television before, to seeing an overly colourful fantasy world as Dorothy finds herself in Oz. 

1. The Dark Crystal (1982)

dark crystal fantasy movie

A slightly lesser-known, but well-deserving number 1. On the surface, The Dark Crystal is as fantasy as it gets; magical beings, vast lands, strange animals, and of course, the dark crystal itself. The narrative follows humanoid-like creatures, Gelflings Jen and Kira who are the last of their kind. 

The plot centers around the battle between good and evil represented by the Skeksis and Mystics. This beautiful narrative makes this film the most prominent out of the best fantasy movies on amazon prime. 

Despite the actual story itself, the production of the film is what makes it ever so more fantastical. Producer and creator Jim Henson went to extreme lengths to make the world of the dark crystal a true representation of fantasy.

He spent 5 years visiting locations globally to get inspired by the most fantastical and magical places on earth. Once the inspiration was there, the production began. 

Famously known for strictly using animatronics, Henson took puppetry to new, groundbreaking levels. Furthermore, every plant, stick, rock was carefully designed to recreate Henson’s idea of fantasy. 

The admirable effort that Henson devoted to the Dark Crystal to create the perfect fantasy world makes it one of the best fantasy movies of all time.  

Those Were The Top 10 Best Fantasy Movies Of All Time

avatar lights james cameron fantasy movie

So there we have it! We’ve been through our best fantasy movies of all time. Fantasy movies give us an escape from reality, and these films are no exception.

Whether you want to be flown away to strange distant planets or the futuristic wastelands of our own, the genre of fantasy is enjoyed by everyone. Whether your thing is romance or horror, action or sci-fi, fantasy is here to fill your mind with wondrous stories and stunning scenery. 

When we can all get tied up in the confusion of life, fantasy can relieve us from the day-to-day mundane tasks. Despite knowing these places are not real, we can’t help but love them and desire to be part of them. 

Do you agree with our list? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to share this article on social media to spark conversation with your friends. Tag us @musicgateway!

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out another on our blog? Here are our articles on the Best Cyberpunk Movies, the Best End Of The World Movies, and the Best Gangster Movies to get you started!

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