Remember Val Kilmer’s absolutely ridiculous but spot-on role in this movie about a simple, sweet farmer who is put in charge of protecting a baby from evil? I haven’t seen it in ages but I remember absolutely being in love with it. I’m also going to mention the Harry Potter films here, but recommend that you read the books instead. And while we are on the subject of movies that did not make the list, you can also check out Legend, which is another epic fantasy.)
9. The 10th Kingdom
The 10th Kingdom was a miniseries that aired while I was in junior high (or maybe it was high school) about a young waitress (the adorable Kimberly Williams) who is thrown into a magical world of fairy tales, finding herself the unwitting heroine in a mess of betrayal, horror, and of course, magic! Both the heroine and the villain are female, making this a pretty groundbreaking film in its genre—and though we never did get that sequel we desperately anticipated, I can’t help but watch my DVD of the film over and over again.
Despite (or perhaps because of, depending who you are) David Bowie’s tight pants, Labyrinth is a cult classic fantasy film, featuring yet another brave heroine (Jennifer Connelly) who must solve a labyrinth and best the Goblin King and many other creatures to save her little brother.
7. Where the Wild Things Are
If you haven’t seen this Spike Jonze movie yet, you absolutely must do it this year. It’s more than a fantasy film. I have never seen anything like it. It’s dramatic, moving, funny, and lovely.
6. The Wizard of Oz
No list of fantasy films would be complete without this Judy Garland classic, which could easily be called the one that started it all. Talking trees and scarecrows? Good and bad witches? Magic shoes? Yep, it’s my kind of movie.
5. The Dark Crystal
Another Jim Henson studio film, this one is entirely done with puppets—though brilliantly so, and features such wonderful creations (gelflings, skeksis, and so many more) that we’ve never seen in any other film. It’s sheer magic.
My heart catches in my throat when I even think about this amazing miniseries starring Sam Neil as the titular wizard. It’s magical, dramatic, romantic, heartbreaking, and visually breathtaking.
Stardust is my absolute favorite fantasy adaptation from a book, as well as my favorite modern fantasy film. Neil Gaiman’s amazing fantasy features a few magical elements that we are familiar with (witches, unicorns, and so forth) but is ultimately a surprising new fantasy twist featuring a love story between a small town boy and a fallen star.
2. The Neverending Story
Prior to number one on my list, this was my all-time favorite fantasy film; perhaps it still is. A rock biter? A night hog, a giant talking tortoise, and The Nothing? That’s just the tip of the iceburg in this incredible fantasy film starring Noah Hathaway.
1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
I know you were probably expecting this one, but I simply can’t help it; this trilogy is one of the biggest cinematic achievements of all time, as well as one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had at the movies.