100 Greatest Fantasy Films

(NEW August 2018) Fantasy films are one of cinema's oldest genres. Georges Méliès made magic in the 19th Century. But while filmmakers created indelible classics and unforgettable worlds through the 1900s, fantasy didn't become a reliable blockbuster bet until the 21st Century. This list explores the evolution and milestones of fantasy films. You can see a list of sources used to compile the list here.

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#1) The Wizard of Oz

(1939 - dir. Victor Fleming, King Vidor, George Cukor, Richard Thorpe, Norman Taurog

More legends and folklore have grown around The Wizard of Oz than any of film in Hollywood history. (Have you heard about the munchkin suicide? Or L. Frank Baum's coat?) The beloved movie is a key part not just of cinema culture, but of American heritage.
READ: 'The Wizard of Oz' in the LGBT Community

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#2) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

(2001 - dir. Peter Jackson)

Tolkein's books were supposed to be unfilmable in live action. But Peter Jackson convinced New Line to help him create his masterpiece trilogy that broke box office records and changed the way audiences and studio execs thought about the fantasy genre forever. Even with the lengthly running time, all three films are a joy to watch and rewatch.
READ: Looking back on what made the Lord of the Rings trilogy special, 15 years later

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#3) Ugetsu monogatari

(1953 - dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)

Mizoguchi's adaptation of traditional Japanese tales of the supernatural is haunting and beautiful. It is often near the top of critics' lists of greatest movies - of any genre - ever made.
READ: Great Movies: Ugetsu by Roger Ebert

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#4) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

(2003 - dir. Peter Jackson)

The Return of the King cemented The Lord of the Rings's place as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, trilogy in cinematic history. The film nailed the triumphant, yet melancholy tone of the end of Tolkein's classics. It is also, sadly, the last blockbuster to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
READ: 11 Oscars to Rule Them All: An Oral History of The Return of the King’s Best-Picture Win


#5) Ordet

(1955 - dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer)

I debated a lot about whether Ordet could be classified as a fantasy or not. But Dreyer's achievement deserves to be viewed by all film-lovers, Christian or not.
READ: The end of The Word

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#6) Spirited Away

(2001 - dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

Less than two decades old, Miyazaki's film is widely regarded as the greatest animated Japanese film ever made. The story of a 10-year-old girl moving between worlds resonates deeply, reminding one of Alice in Wonderland alongside older Western and Japanese myths.
READ: The Little Things: An Appreciation of Spirited Away at Tor.com

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#7) Pan's Labyrinth

(2006 - dir. Guillermo del Toro)

Pan's Labyrinth is one of those films you immediately know is great upon a first viewing. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it echoes some of the themes in Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive (#29 on this list), while expanding the girl's journey into a fantastic and horrifying new realm.
READ: 14 Fantastical Facts About Pan's Labyrinth

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#8) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

(2002 - dir. Peter Jackson)

The Two Towers would likely also belong near the top of a list of the greatest war movies ever made. The Battle of Helm's Deep is breathtaking in its scope and ability to tell personal stories while simultaneously letting you feel the truly epic stakes. Only HBO's Game of Thrones has even approached The Two Towers's masterful portrayal of medieval battle.
READ: 15 Years Later, No One’s Matched ‘LOTR’s Battle at Helm’s Deep

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#9) La belle et la bête

(1946 - dir. Jean Cocteau)

Cocteau's classic is perhaps the most beautifully photographed film on this list. His dreamlike, surreal take on the well-known fairy tale has enchanted audiences for decades. It also intimidated Walt Disney from making his version; his studio's 1992 take on the tale is #76 on this list.
READ: The Beauty of Jean Cocteau’s ‘La Belle et la Bête’

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#10) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

(2004 - dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

No doubt Harry Potter fans will have more quibbles with the ranking of the 8 films on this list than Xenophilius Lovegood had on Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. Critics loved the dark whimsy Cuarón brought to the series, as well as the wonderful human (and hippogriff) story it told.
READ: The Best 'Harry Potter' Film In The Entire Franchise Doesn't Even Involve Voldemort

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#11) The Princess Bride

(1987 - dir. Rob Reiner)

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#12) King Kong

(1933 - dir. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack)

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#13) The Dark Crystal

(1982 - dir. Frank Oz, Jim Henson)


#14) Labyrinth

(1986 - dir. Jim Henson

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#15) Edward Scissorhands

(1990 - dir. Tim Burton)

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#16) It's a Wonderful Life

(1946 - dir. Frank Capra)

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#17) Jason and the Argonauts

(1963 - dir. Don Chaffey)


#18) Excalibur

(1981 - dir. John Boorman)

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#19) Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

(1971 - dir. Mel Stuart)

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#20) Mary Poppins

(1964 - dir. Robert Stevenson)


#21) Big

(1988 - dir. Penny Marshall)

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#22) The NeverEnding Story

(1984 - dir. Wolfgang Petersen)

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#23) Groundhog Day

(1993 - dir. Harold Ramis)


#24) Orpheus

(1950 - dir. Jean Cocteau)

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#25) Wings of Desire

(1987 - dir. Wim Wenders)

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#26) The Fall

(2006 - dir. Tarsem Singh)

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#27) Time Bandits

(1981 - dir. Terry Gilliam)

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#28) Princess Mononoke

(1997 - dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

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#29) The Spirit of the Beehive

(1973 - dir. Victor Erice)

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#30) The Thief of Bagdad

(1940 - dir. Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger)

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#31) A Matter of Life and Death

(1946 - dir. Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell)

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#32) My Neighbor Totoro

(1988 - dir. Hayao Miyazaki)


#33) Orlando

(1992 - dir. Sally Potter)

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#34) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

(1937 - dir. David Hand, William Cottrell)

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#35) How to Train Your Dragon

(2010 - dir. Chris Sanders, Dean Debloid)

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#36) Monty Python and the Holy Grail

(1975 - dir. Terry Gilliam)

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#37) Conan the Barbarian

(1982 - dir. John Milius)

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#38) The Seventh Seal

(1957 - dir. Ingmar Bergman)

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#39) Hellboy II: The Golden Army

(2008 - dir. Guillermo del Toro)

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#40) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

(2010 - dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

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#41) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

(2011 - dir. David Yates)

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#42) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

(2001 - dir. Chris Columbus)

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#43) The Witches

(1990 - dir. Nicolas Roeg)

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#44) Being John Malkovich

(1999 - dir. Spike Jonze

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#45) The Red Shoes

(1948 - dir. Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell)


#46) Pleasantville

(1998 - dir. Gary Ross)

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#47) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

(2005 - dir. Mike Newell)

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#48) Donkey Skin

(1970 - dir. Jacques Demy)


#49) Stardust

(2007 - dir. Matthew Vaughn)

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#50) Toy Story 3

(2010 - dir. Lee Unkrich)

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#51) Where the Wild Things Are

(2009 - dir. Spike Jonze)


#52) Legend

(1985 - dir. Ridley Scott)


#53) Mirrormask

(2005 - dir. Dave McKean)

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#54) Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

(1924 - dir. Fritz Lang)

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#55) The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

(1972 - dir. Luis Buñuel)


#56) Coraline

(2009 - dir. Henry Selick)

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#57) Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache

(1924 - dir. Fritz Lang)

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#58) Sleeping Beauty

(1959 - dir. Clyde Geronimi)

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#59) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

(2000 - dir. Ang Lee)

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#60) The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T

(1953 - dir. Roy Rowland)


#61) Harvey

(1950 - dir. Henry Koster)

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#62) The Thief of Bagdad

(1924 - dir. Raoul Walsh)

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#63) The Holy Mountain

(1973 - dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky)

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#64) Lost Horizon

(1937 - dir. Frank Capra)

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#65) The Troll Hunter

(2010 - dir. Andre Ovredal)

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#66) Wolf Children

(2012 - dir. Mamoru Hosoda)

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#67) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I

(2010 - dir. David Yates)

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#68) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

(2009 - dir. David Yates)

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#69) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

(2007 - dir. David Yates)

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#70) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

(2002 - dir. Chris Columbus)

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#71) The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

(1958 - dir. Nathan Juran)


#72) Pinocchio

(1940 - dir. Norman Ferguson)

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#73) Field of Dreams

(1989 - dir. Phil Alden Robinson)


#74) Ratatouille

(2007 - dir. Brad Bird)

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#75) The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

(1988 - dir. Terry Gilliam)

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#76) Beauty and the Beast

(1991 - dir. Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise)

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#77) Celine and Julie Go Boating

(1974 - dir. Jacques Rivette)


#78) Fantasia

(1940 - dir. James Algar, Norman Ferguson)


#79) Willow

(1988 - dir. Ron Howard)


#80) Splash

(1984 - dir. Ron Howard)

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#81) The Blood of Jesus

(1941 - dir. Spencer Williams)

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#82) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

(2003 - dir. Gore Verbinski)

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#83) Miracle of 34th Street

(1947 - dir. George Seaton)


#84) Dragonslayer

(1981 - dir. Matthew Robbins)

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#85) Howl's Moving Castle

(2004 - dir. Hayao Miyazaki)

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#86) Bridge to Terabithia

(2007 - dir. Gábor Csupó)

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#87) The Secret of NIMH

(1982 - dir. Don Bluth)

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#88) Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

(1970 - dir. Jaromil Jireš)

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#89) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

(2005 - dir. Andrew Adamson)

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#90) The Purple Rose of Cairo

(1985 - dir. Woody Allen)


#91) Highlander

(1986 - dir. Russell Mulcahy)

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#92) Portrait of Jennie

(1941 - dir. William Dieterle)

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#93) The Exterminating Angel

(1962 - dir. dir. Luis Buñuel)

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#94) Who Framed Roger Rabbit

(1988 - dir. Robert Zemeckis)


#95) Delicatessen

(1991 - dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

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#96) Toy Story 2

(1999 - dir. Ash Brannon, John Lasseter)

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#97) The Green Mile

(1999 - dir. Frank Darabont)


#98) Aladdin

(1992 - dir. John Musker, Ron Clements)

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#99) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

(1920 - dir. Robert Wiene)


#100) Shrek

(2001 - dir. Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson)

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Films from Each Decade:
1960s - 1
1970s - 1
1980s - 5
1990s - 15
2000s - 30
2010s - 48

Oldest Film: 1966, Batman: The Movie
Newest Film: 2018, The Avengers: Infinity War

Year with the most represented films:
2017 with 10 (Logan, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Lego Batman Movie, Captain Underpants, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Power Rangers)

Directors with Multiple Films Listed:
5, Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men, Superman Returns, X-Men: Apocalypse)
4, Sam Raimi (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man, Darkman, Spider-Man 3)
4, Zack Snyder (Watchmen, Justice League, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice)
3, Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Blade II)
3, James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Super)
3, Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises)
3, Joe & Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers: Infinity War)
2, Tim Burton (Batman, Batman Returns)
2, Richard Donner (Spiderman, Spiderman II)
2, Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2)
2, Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Ghost Rider)
2, Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Rocketeer)
2, James Mangold (Logan, The Wolverine)
2, Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass)
2, Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
2, Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron)