What makes the perfect fantasy for you? Is it princes and princesses, or witches and wizards? Is it swords and dirt, or sweeping romance? Is it a bunch of quirky characters that become a little found family, or an epic fight against the forces of evil? All you really need is a world that's not like our own.
There are some people that even claim Star Wars is a fantasy film, not science fiction... but while that's kind of true, I still think that "hot take" gets annoying in a "Die Hard is a Christmas movie" and "Logan is secretly a Western" kind of way. That said, the best fantasy movies can have just one spark of magic or a little bit of everything. Pirates and vampires can be fantasy even if they don't drink any potions or slay any dragons. Rant aside, and without further ado, here are the best fantasy movies of the bunch that you can't debate — not even a little bit.
Labyrinth (1986) Come for the muppets, stay for the sexual awakening that is David Bowie's hypnotizing performance.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) The classic film holds up as one of the best fantasy adventures and one of the most enduring fantasy worlds.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Why this one, and not Fellowship of the Ring or Return of the King? Simple! It plops you right in the middle of the adventure and doesn't have ten endings. There's magic, swords, AND horses!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Why this one, and not... any of the other seven movies? Because at the end of the day Harry Potter is about kids fighting evil, and what better encompasses that than Dumbledore's Army vs. the bigoted Dolores Umbridge? This is when Harry really becomes a hero IMO.
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) There are so many perfect animated fantasy films from Studio Ghibli, and this adorable story about a young witch making her way in the world is a good entry point. It's also essentially a film about side hustles, and I respect that.
The Princess Bride (1987) In this house, we love kissing books. Few fantasies are this funny and this romantic, too, it's such a triple threat.
Mary Poppins (1964) The number one thing a fantasy needs is magic, and a few fictional characters are more magical than Mary Poppins.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) As far as post-apocalyptic fantasy goes, the second entry in The Hunger Games series really expands the world-building. Unlike Oz, Neverland, and Narnia, Panem is not a fantasy world I'd like to escape to (it's a little too real) but it's still easy to get swept away.
Twilight (2008) None of the Twilight Saga sequels have what the sleepy original has: baseball. If you love these movies, you don't need convincing. If you're a hater, I highly recommend revisiting them. They're extremely funny, and not in a "so bad it's good" kind of way.
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) Ava DuVernay's adaptation of your favorite book from middle school is super weird and severely underrated. Not to make this feminist coming of age fantasy about the boys, but Chris Pine DOES play a very sad dad, FYI.
Thor (2011) If you're going to call any of the Marvel films "fantasy," the best one is definitely Thor, with its Shakespeare-meets-Game-of-Thrones vibes. Superheroes are so busy these days, it makes you appreciate the simple origin stories.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) Not only is this one of the best fantasies ever made, it makes you appreciate how much seriously disturbing sh*t kids can handle. This movie is so messed up, yet it somehow works.
Jupiter Ascending (2015) Potentially controversial opinion: this movie is a campy delight. It's a little bit science fiction as well as fantasy because they go to space, but it is low-key about princes and princesses and a youth-stealing witch. There aren't, like, space ships and laser swords, I swear.
Coco (2017) I'd tell you about this more recent, beautiful Disney animated fantasy but I'm too busy crying.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) We do not discuss the live-action remake. Classics only.
Matilda (1996) It's like Carrie if everything worked out okay.
Stardust (2007) Does anyone else remember this movie???? It's such a good romantic adventure, and magical as hell.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006) Guillermo del Toro is so good at making fantasy, and this is his masterpiece.