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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Best Fantasy Movies of All Time - Based on 40 Sources

Scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) ranked number one fantasy movie.
Welcome to our Reel Fives pre-launch movie rankings for the best fantasy movies of all time. After an extensive online search, we found 40 published rankings for fantasy. Reel Fives has taken all of those rankings and aggregated them into definitive rankings for the top 72 fantasy movies of all time. For each ranked list of top movies for the fantasy genre we found online, we have taken the top five ranked films. The original sources of rankings on top fantasy movies are included at the bottom of this post and include rankings of the best fantasy movies created by movie experts as well as fantasy movie rankings from polling sites.

Fantasy films imagine different worlds and explore the possibilities within those worlds. Not all the worlds are that different from the present day world. Some take place in a parallel universe. Fantasy can be divided between high and low fantasy. High fantasy differs from low fantasy in that high fantasy created new worlds with new rules. World building is popular in high fantasy as well as telling the story from the hero’s perspective. Series are also popular in high fantasy. In comparison, low fantasy remains in the same world, with elements of magic throughout the story. Low fantasy may take place in a different world, but it remains rational (anything goes in high fantasy). The difference between the subgenres of fantasy says nothing on the quality of the work, merely on the use of fantasy elements in the work.

The rankings show that whether or not a fantasy film is high or low does not make a difference, as long as the plotline includes some fantasy elements. The Wizard of Oz (1939), ranked second, is a sweet story of a lost young girl who encounters some friends and a witch. They must all overcome their fears to find their way home. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), ranked tenth, follows George Bailey as he contemplates ending his life. An angel shows him what life would have been like without him and Bailey finds his will to live again. The Princess Bride (1987), ranked fourth, explores a world filled with princes and kings. The film is a comedic tale of the pursuit of love in a medieval world. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), ranked fifth, is the first of eight films devoted the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Harry and his wizard friends live among humans, but they are also part of the wizard world. These different worlds all have something to offer and allow the imagination to soar.

The fantasy genre cannot be talked about without an extensive conversation on the world building seen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (as well as The Hobbit Trilogy). Roughly, the books follow different groups of humans, elves, and dwarves who are pursuing a powerful ring created by an evil wizard. The ring corrupts those who wear it and poses a danger to the world. Director Peter Jackson crafted all three movies to perfection. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), the all-time best fantasy film, was the first in the series that explored J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Ring novel. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), ranked third and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), ranked seventh, were both well received by audiences and critics. No two pieces of armor looked alike and the actors learned how to sword fight to tell an authentic story. All together, the trilogy won 17 Oscars, making it one of the most successful film series to date. This included an unprecedented ‘Oscars sweep’ by the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), during the 76th Academy Awards, where it won all 11 awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture. The series is just one example of high fantasy and when done well, high fantasy films will get the well-deserved accreditation.

We love this genre and the worlds it creates. It is one of the most creative genres and we enjoy the endless possibilities. The rankings showed that audiences and critics do not just like one particular world. The worlds do not even have to be all that different from the current world, which broadens the genre in ways other genres lack depth. The rankings do not show an outright preference for high or low fantasy films. However, high fantasy films do leave more room for film series. When high fantasy films are well made, they do well and that does reflect in the rankings. World building is no easy task, which is why so many films lean towards low fantasy (more on this in future articles). The stories are endless and film makers can bring anything to life. The fantasy genre can afford to have film series because of the world building it does. Books provide great inspiration for fantasy movies and that is not a bad place for producers to start. The fantasy genre continues to excite us and we look forward to promising upcoming titles including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Jungle Book, The Little Prince, and Alice through the Looking Glass.

Top 72 Fantasy Movies
Percent of online top fives movies appear in shown
1 . The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001): 70%
2 . The Wizard of Oz (1939): 50%
3 . The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): 40%
4 . The Princess Bride (1987): 32.5%
5 . Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001): 30.0%
6 . Pan's Labyrinth (2006): 27.5%
7 . The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002): 22.5%
8 . Beauty And The Beast (1946): 15.0%
9 . Willow (1988): 12.5%
10 . It's a Wonderful Life (1946): 10%
11 . Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977): 10%
12 . Labyrinth (1986): 10%
13 . Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003): 10%
14 . Excalibur (1981): 7.50%
15 (tied). Spirited Away (2001): 7.50%
15 (tied). The Seventh Seal (1957): 7.50%
15 (tied). The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): 7.50%
18 . Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011): 7.50%
19 . Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004): 7.50%
20 . How to Train Your Dragon (2010): 5%
21 . Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006): 5%
22 (tied). King Kong (1933): 5%
22 (tied). Splash (1984): 5%
24 . Edward Scissorhands (1990): 5%
25 (tied). Time Bandits (1981): 5%
25 (tied). The NeverEnding Story (1984): 5%
27 . Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): 5%
28 (tied). Ghostbusters (1984): 2.5%
28 (tied). Big Fish (2003): 2.5%
28 (tied). The Green Mile (1999): 2.5%
28 (tied). The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): 2.5%
28 (tied). The Fifth Element (1997): 2.5%
28 (tied). Jumanji (1995): 2.5%
28 (tied). Shrek (2001): 2.5%
28 (tied). Millions (2004): 2.5%
28 (tied). The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): 2.5%
28 (tied). Beetlejuice (1988): 2.5%
28 (tied). Men in Black (1997): 2.5%
28 (tied). Hook (1991): 2.5%
28 (tied). Mirrormask (2005): 2.5%
28 (tied). The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): 2.5%
28 (tied). Avatar (2009): 2.5%
43 (tied). Beauty and the Beast (1991): 2.5%
43 (tied). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): 2.5%
43 (tied). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): 2.5%
43 (tied). Jason and the Argonauts (1963): 2.5%
43 (tied). Finding Nemo (2003): 2.5%
43 (tied). Being John Malkovich (1999): 2.5%
43 (tied). Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971): 2.5%
50 (tied). Shrek 2 (2004): 2.5%
50 (tied). Toy Story (1995): 2.5%
50 (tied). Alice in Wonderland (1951): 2.5%
50 (tied). The Beastmaster (1982): 2.5%
50 (tied). Pinocchio (1940): 2.5%
50 (tied). King Kong (2005): 2.5%
50 (tied). Ugetsu (1953): 2.5%
57 (tied). Aladdin (1992): 2.5%
57 (tied). Hellboy (2004): 2.5%
57 (tied). The Mummy (1999): 2.5%
57 (tied). Legend (1985): 2.5%
57 (tied). Conan the Destroyer (1984): 2.5%
57 (tied). Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980): 2.5%
63 (tied). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): 2.5%
63 (tied). Conan the Barbarian (2011): 2.5%
63 (tied). Groundhog Day (1993): 2.5%
63 (tied). Miracle on 34th Street (1947): 2.5%
63 (tied). The Dark Crystal (1982): 2.5%
63 (tied). Scrooge (1970): 2.5%
63 (tied). Lost Horizon (1937): 2.5%
63 (tied). Red Sonja (1985): 2.5%
63 (tied). Wings Of Desire (1987): 2.5%
63 (tied). The Last Unicorn (1982): 2.5%

Fantasy Movie Ranking Sources
Games Radar List of top 50 (link)
Time Out List of top 50 (link)
Good Movies List List of top 50 (link)
Film School WTF List of top 100 (link)
List Challenges List of top 50 (link)
Watch Mojo List of top 10 (link)
The Top Tens List of top 10 (link)
Fantasy 100 List of top 100 (link)
Ranker List of top 388 (link)
Arrowstorm Entertainment List of top 5 (link)
Flickchart List of top 2889 (link)
Rotten Tomatoes List of top 50 (link)
Metacritic List of top 575 (link)
American Film Institute List of top 10 (link)
What Culture List of top 20 (link)
Film Crave List of top 500 (link)
Hub Pages List of top 10 (link)
Thoughts on Fantasy List of top 25 (link)
AZCentral List of top 10 (link)
Wired List of top 10 (link)
Wired List of top 10 (link)
The Daily Beast List of top 10 (link)
Reelz List of top 10 (link)
Digital Dream Door List of top 100 (link)
IGN List of top 25 (link)
Funny or Die List of top 5 (link)
Cinema Blend List of top 5 (link)
Movies Online List of top 5 (link)
Top 5 Goodies List of top 5 (link)
eBay List of top 10 (link)
Bibliognome List of top 5 (link)
411 Mania List of top 5 (link)
Movie Film Review List of top 100 (link)
List Surge List of top 10 (link)
Movie Guide List of top 10 (link)
Black Gate List of top 10 (link)
Escape Club List of top 5 (link)
Rinn Reads List of top 5 (link)
Man, I Love Films List of top 10 (link)
These Fantastic Worlds List of top 10 (link)

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