Best Fantasy Movies

The last time I did one of these lists was the Best Movies Based on True Stories thing from a few months ago. It did decently well, so I’m back with The Best of the Best: Fantasy Movies. Letterboxd does a marvelous job of categorizing movies based on genres, so I sorted through my diary and figured out which movies are my highest rated in the genre. 

10 – The Green Knight

David Lowry’s 2021 movie about the fabled Green Knight is a low-fantasy epic. It is an ancient story with lots of history surrounding it, inspiring many modern myths. J. R. R. Tolkien actually wrote a modern translation (which currently sits on my bookshelf unread nearly a year after I bought it). 

The Green Knight is available for purchase on Prime Video.

the green knight
the northman

9 – The Northman

Robert Eggers brings another ancient story to the modern screen. A precursor to Shakespeare’s HamletThe Northman is a low-fantasy epic that contrasts nicely with The Green Knight. It is considerably more hack-and-slash, but everybody needs some raw, animalistic violence every now and then. 

The Northman is available to stream on Prime Video.

8 – Beetlejuice

Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice was a movie I never would have considered Fantasy on my own, but Letterboxd doesn’t lie. Taking a step back and looking at it holistically, it is definitely one of the more fantastical movies on this list. A ghost who helps haunt the living? That’s fantasy for sure. 

Available to stream on Prime Video ($).

Edward Scissorhands

7 – Edward Scissorhands

Two Tim Burton movies, back to back. Who would have thought? My fiance definitely would have. You can blame her or thank her for these landing on my list. She’s a fantastic woman that knows her fantasy movies. Burton and frequent collaborators Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder weave Edward Scissorhands into a magical and whimsical love story that belongs in the fantasy genre. There are definitely two sides to the fantasy genre – hyper-violent and dark vs. whimsical and bright. 

Available to stream on Disney+.

6 – Coraline

While not 100% a Tim Burton movie, it definitely shares his affinity for the fantastical. Developed by the incredible Laika Studios, Coraline is a great example of what fantasy movies can be. It’s got texture and grit, without being violent or gory, and can still scare the shit out of some kids.

Available to stream on Prime Video ($).

the lighthouse

5 – The Lighthouse

Tim Burton isn’t the only fantasy director to get two movies on this list. Robert Eggers’ masterpiece The Lighthouse earns a place on my humble list. Starring the iconic pairing of Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse is a dark, dreary, and thrilling fantasy movie. 

Available to stream on Prime Video ($).

4 – Harry Potter

You can’t make a fantasy list without including some of the heavy hitters. Harry Potter is one that I grew up on and love to this day, books and movies alike. Yes, what’s-her-face is an awful human, moving on. The stories evolved and matured at the same rate as the audience and it’s what makes these movies a rare generational treat. 

HBO Max is running itself into the ground so these are no longer streaming for free, but you can rent them all on Prime Video ($).

harry potter

3 – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The grandfather of high fantasy, Tolkien’s masterpiece. I’ve talked enough about how I love this trilogy of books and movies, so it’s no wonder they made my list. The epic scale and incredible stakes in this magical world make it a fantasy series of the ages. 

Currently available to stream on both HBO Max and Netflix.

2 – Spirited Away

I was lucky enough to go see it on the big screen at a local theater a few months ago. The magic of Studio Ghibli knows no bounds and this movie has transcended cultural boundaries to become one of the greatest movies of all time. 

Available to stream on HBO Max.

1 – The Princess Bride

And finally, number 1. The Princess Bride is Rob Reiner’s greatest gift to the world. I got the Criterion Collection edition for Christmas last year and watched it with the director commentary the other day. The amount of passion and care that went into every scene and everything that happened during filming captured lightning in a bottle. This is one of the most perfect movies in the world and represents what true fantasy is all about. 

Available to stream on Disney+.

That’s my list. Fantasy is a genre that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My tastes are quite varied and while I wouldn’t have qualified some movies as fantasy before I made this list, there are definitely more aspects to consider now that I’ve made one. What did I miss? What are your favorite fantasy movies? 

Dylan M.
Dylan M.

Dylan created Movies Not Films as a fun project to stay occupied during the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He started with a simple movie diary on a spreadsheet and eventually transformed it into with a robust catalog of reviews, suggestions, and ranking lists. Currently living with his now-fiancé and two dogs, Dylan has a full-time career but still makes time to watch all the latest movies and most of the new TV shows.

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