A good fantasy movie will transport you to a whole other world; whether it’s a universe where knights battle giant wood creatures or one where gods of mythology walk among us. A great fantasy movie, however, will vividly color the place it creates by contrasting it with a world more similar to our own, thereby highlighting issues in our own society. After all, if we lived on a perfect planet, there would be no need to curl up in bed and watch movies in order to escape, right? All movies are a form of escapism, and therefore make-believe in and of themselves, but not all movies are pure fantasy movies. For this list, we are focused on the movies that rely on enchanted forests, epic quests, or unexplained, unnatural events to provide that escape.
You’ll notice that a lot of the fantasy movies released in the '80s or '90s take advantage of that era’s fascination with technology that was just out of their reach, creating elaborate creatures and set designs that tend to fall flat for modern viewers used to 3D and HD (think: the original Star Wars). Even though the special effects are sometimes laughable, all of the older films on this list are carried by their original, meaningful plots, and performances.
Fantasy is a genre that is often dominated by foreign films. There isn’t a clear-cut explanation for this, except perhaps that being away from Hollywood and all the glamor that comes with it might open up filmmakers and directors to new ways of telling stories. Finally, although fantasy is often associated with talking creatures or something to that effect, there are many movies that don’t rely on that kind of magic, and focus instead on something seemingly impossible to magnify the constraints or limitations of our measly human lives on Earth. Here are the best fantasy movies to watch right now.