My Top 30 Fantasy Films

Fantasy is my second-favourite film and book genre, not far behind horror. While anything that’s “not real” can be considered fantasy, I’ve kept this list down to the films that are “classic fantasy”, which is to say films that contain elements that people automatically think of when they think fantasy: magic, fairies, elves, witches and wizards, that sort of thing. So no horror, sci-fi, or anything else “fantastical” that’s not straight fantasy. There are a few that have some horror elements, but are very far from being horror films, so they’re allowed here. I also won’t be including films who’s only fantastical element is talking animals, otherwise we’d be here all day. If there are films on the list with talking animals, it’s because there are other fantasy elements as well. And finally, I haven’t included any animated Disney or Pixar films, they’ll have their own list.

The films will be in approximate order only. As I did with My Top 50 Horror Films, I will separate them into groups, then put those groups in order. They will be numbered from 5 to 1, with each number having 6 films that will be “tied”, if you will, for that place on the list.

So, without any further ado, here are my top 30 fantasy films. Enjoy! 🙂

 

NUMBERS 5

5 The Wizard of Oz

Title: The Wizard of Oz
Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Terry the Dog
Released in: 1939
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf
Based On: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Despite the bright technicolour, this is actually a pretty dark story. One of the very few films to actually scare me as a child (Freddy Krueger, no problem! Wicked Witch of the West? Flee crying. *shrug*)
Fantastical Elements: Witches, wizards, fantastical creatures (man-lion, flying monkeys, etc), magic.
5 Second Synopsis: Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.
Why I Love It: One of the very first fantasy films I saw as a kid, I didn’t love it as much as the others (which are mostly in my number 2s and 1s), but it’s nevertheless undeniable that this is a classic. That it’s still enjoyable today is a testament to how good it really was.

 

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Title: The Witches
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Jasen Fisher, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Paterson, Brenda Blethyn, Charlie Potter, Jane Horrocks, Anne Lambton
Released in: 1990
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Written by: Allan Scott
Based On: The Witches by Roald Dahl
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Surprisingly dark. The book is even darker (and better).
Fantastical Elements: Witches, magic, transmogrification.
5 Second Synopsis: A young boy stumbles onto a witch convention and vows to stop them, even after he has been turned into a mouse.
Why I Love It: From the moment I could read properly, I loved Roald Dahl. Unfortunately, most of the films based on his work are turds. Not so this one. It’s bat-shit crazy, and I love it. No other reason needed.

 

5 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Starring: Sean Connery, Stuart Townsend, Peta Wilson, Tony Curran, Shane West, Jason Flemyng, Richard Roxburgh, Naseeruddin Shah, Max Ryan
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Stephen Norrington
Written by: James Robinson
Based On: The comic books by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Immortality, vampirism, invisibility, transmogrification.
5 Second Synopsis: Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as The Fantom.
Why I Love It: This film gets a lot of flack from critics and audiences alike, but I quite enjoyed. Yes, it has it’s problems, but really, what film doesn’t. It’s a fun watch, just grab your popcorn, and don’t think too hard!

 

5 Return to Oz

Title: Return to Oz
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh, Piper Laurie, Sean Barrett, Denise Bryer, Brian Henson, Lyle Conway, Justin Case, John Alexander, Deep Roy, Emma Ridley, Tansy the Dog
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Walter Murch
Written by: Gill Dennis, Walter Murch
Based On: Ozma of Oz and The Land of Oz by L Frank Baum
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark. Kid’s film, my ass!
Fantastical Elements: Witches, wizards, fantastical creatures (wheelers, tin-man, man made of rocks, etc), magic.
5 Second Synopsis: Dorothy Gale (who’s somehow much younger now :-p ), saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful.
Why I Love It: It’s not often a sequel is better than the first film, and I’ll probably get yelled at for thinking so, but this one definitely is. It’s crazy on so many levels, and shit-your-pants terrifying in others, they simply don’t make them like this anymore. What a shame.

 

5 FernGully

Title: FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Starring: Samantha Mathis, Jonathan Ward, Robin Williams, Tim Curry, Christian Slater, Grace Zabriskie, Geoffrey Blake, Robert Pastorelli, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Tone Loc
Released in: 1992
Directed by: Bill Kroyer
Written by: Jim Cox
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Fairies, magic, fantastical creature (Hexxus)
5 Second Synopsis: When human Zak stumbles into the fairy world, he realizes that he needs to help them preserve their rainforest home before it’s all destroyed.
Why I Love It: Heavy-handed environmental message aside, this was another of my faves as a kid. It’s got nice animation, good voice acting, catchy songs, not to mention one of the scariest villains in a cartoon made for kids, voiced, of course, by Tim Curry.

 

5 Dungeons & Dragons

Title: Dungeons & Dragons
Starring: Justin Whalin, Jeremy Irons, Zoe McLellan, Marlon Wayans, Bruce Payne, Thora Birch, Kristen Wilson, Robert Miano, Lee Arenberg, Richard O’Brien
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Courtney Solomon
Written by: Topper Lilien, Carroll Cartwright
Based On: The role-playing game created by TSR (Gary Gygax)
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark-ish
Fantastical Elements: Way too many to list all of them, but the basics are magic, dragons, elves, witches and wizards, and many other fantastical creatures, such as the Beholder.
5 Second Synopsis: Profion, a tyrant wizard, attempts to overthrow a peaceful kingdom ruled by a tough empress. A group of fighters, led by a cunning thief, try to stop him.
Why I Love It: This movie is awful. The effects are cartoony, the acting atrocious, and the D&D lore seriously messed up. And yet I loved it. I guess it falls into the so bad it’s good category for me.

 

NUMBERS 4

4 What Dreams May Come

Title: What Dreams May Come
Starring: Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, Max von Sydow, Jessica Brooks Grant, Josh Paddock, Rosalind Chao, Cuba Gooding Jr
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Vincent Ward
Written by: Ronald Bass
Based On: What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Afterlife, heaven, hell, reincarnation
5 Second Synopsis: After dying in a car crash, a man searches the afterlife for his wife, who committed suicide afterwards, her grief being too great.
Why I Love It: Such a beautiful story about love and loss, there’s no way not to love this film. All the acting is amazing, the depiction of heaven stunning. On the flip side, hell is terrifying, but unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The idea of people ending up in a hell of their own making is at once heart-breaking and frightening. If you somehow haven’t seen this film, I highly reccomend you go see it, right now!

 

4 The Secret of NIMH

Title: The Secret of NIMH
Starring: Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Malet, Peter Strauss, John Carradine, Paul Shenar, Shannen Doherty, Wil Wheaton, Jodi Hicks, Hermione Baddeley
Released in: 1982
Directed by: Don Bluth
Written by: Don Bluth, John Pomeroy, Gary Goldman, Will Finn
Based On: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Surprisingly dark
Fantastical Elements: Super-intelligent rats and mice, magic, telekinesis through a jewel
5 Second Synopsis: A field mouse named Mrs Brisby must move her family to a safe location before the farmer plows the field where they live, but her son Timmy cannot go outside due to his pneumonia. She enlists the aid of some highly intelligent escaped lab rats that have built a subterranean society inside a rose bush near the farmer’s garden.
Why I Love It: Such a great story with beautiful animation. I never realized how creepy some parts of it were until I’d rewatched it as an adult. How on earth did that owl not give me nightmares?? hehe Definitely one of the very best non-Disney animated films.

 

4 The Ghost and Mrs Muir

Title: The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Starring: Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Edna Best, Vanessa Brown, Natalie Wood, Anna Lee
Released in: 1947
Directed by: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Written by: Philip Dunne
Based On: The Ghost and Mrs Muir by RA Dick (pseudonym of Josephine Leslie)
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Ghosts, afterlife
5 Second Synopsis: In 1900, a young, head-strong widow finds her seaside cottage is haunted, but rather than being scared off, she forms a unique relationship with the ghost.
Why I Love It: Old timey movies have to be really, really good for me to love them, and this one definitely is. Wonderfully charming and superbly acted, this unconventional love story was one of the first of the genre, and is still endlessly enjoyable, even today.

 

4 Shrek

Title: Shrek
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Jim Cummings, Vincent Cassel, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Frank Welker
Released in: 2001
Directed by: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger SH Schulman
Based On: Shrek! by William Steig
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Transmogrification, dragons, curses, fantastical storybook characters (ogres, big bad wolf, gingerbread man, etc)
5 Second Synopsis: An evil Lord banishes all fairytale creatures into the swamp, which much angers the resident ogre, Shrek. In order to regain his swamp, he agrees to go rescue the princess that the Lord wants to wed. But something is very different about this princess, and Shrek finds himself falling for her, despite himself.
Why I Love It: Tongue firmly planted in cheek, this film is hilarious and touching at the same time. The characters go through a rather astounding transformation during the film, and I’m not only referring to the obvious. I guess everyone really does have layers. Like onions, of course, not cake 😉

 

4 Edward Scissorhands

Title: Edward Scissorhands
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Conchata Ferrell, Alan Arkin, Caroline Aaron, Vincent Price
Released in: 1990
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Tim Burton
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Frankenstien-ish creature with scissors for hands
5 Second Synopsis: A kind inventor is almost finished piecing together his latest creation when fate prevents him from completing this most important project. Edward may seem dangerous, with scissors instead of hands, but when a compassionate Avon lady comes calling, she sees his pure heart, and decides to bring him home.
Why I Love It: One of Burton’s best, and his first collaboration with Johnny Depp (which should have ended with Sleepy Hollow, but maybe that’s just me). I didn’t like this film all that much the first time I saw it (I was only 9 when it came out), but once I got older, I was able to appreciate it’s quirky story, and now I love it. Classic Burton, right here.

 

4 Dragonheart

Title: DragonHeart
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery, Dina Meyer, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Jason Isaacs, Brian Thompson, Peter Hric
Released in: 1996
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Charles Edward Pogue
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Dragons, magic
5 Second Synopsis: A dragon slayer teams up with the last dragon to take down an evil king.
Why I Love It: A perfect blend of funny and tense, this is one of the very best dragon films ever made. And the CGI holds up surprisingly well, despite the film being almost 20 years old. David Thewlis was so perfectly evil in this film, that I found him disgusting until his brilliant turn as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films.

 

NUMBERS 3

3 Wizards

Title: Wizards
Starring: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Steve Gravers, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Jim Connell, Mark Hamill
Released in: 1977
Directed by: Ralph Bakshi
Written by: Ralph Bakshi
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, fairies, elves, mutated talking animals
5 Second Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic future, a wizard and his fairy folk comrades fight his evil brother, who’s using technology in his bid for conquest.
Why I Love It: Definitely not for kids, this is one cartoon with a lot of bite. Tense, bloody, and violent, it’s one of the very best of the genre.

 

3 Pirates of the Caribbean

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Jack Davenport, Zoe Saldana, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Damian O’Hare
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Based On: The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at DisneyLand
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, curses, undead
5 Second Synopsis: When his love is kidnapped by pirates, a young blacksmith teams up with perpetually drunk pirate Jack Sparrow in the attempt to get her back. Little do they realize that the evil pirates are undead, and need Elizabeth to break the curse.
Why I Love It: A fun ride (pun intended) from start to finish, this is undoubtedly the best film in the franchise. Johnny Depp is brilliant as Jack Sparrow, and the rest of the cast also shine, especially Geoffrey Rush as the evil Captain Barbossa. The perfect blend of action and thriller that’s more than a little funny, this is one of Depp’s best. It’s really too bad that he’s fallen into the rut of always playing this same kind of character over and over now.

 

3 Merlin

Title: Merlin
Starring: Sam Neill, Helena Bonham Carter, Miranda Richardson, Martin Short, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Curran, Lena Headey, Jeremy Sheffield, Jason Done, John Gielgud, Rutger Hauer, James Earl Jones
Released in: 1998
Directed by: Steve Barron
Written by: Peter Barnes, Edward Khmara, David Stevens
Based On: The legends of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, elves, curses, spells, gnomes, fairy folk
5 Second Synopsis: The legendary wizard tells his story of his war against Queen Mab of the Sidhe, and his creation of Camelot.
Why I Love It: This has to be one of the very best made-for-TV movies ever. The actors they got to do it were all top notch, the writing was great, and even the effects, which are usually pretty pathetic for TV films, were quite good. And I never thought I’d say so, but Martin Short looked… hot!! hehe

 

3 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Title: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix
Released in: 1989
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Jeffrey Boam
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, the holy grail, magical booby traps, immortality
5 Second Synopsis: Indiana Jones acquires a diary that holds clues and a map to find the mysterious Holy Grail, which was sent from his father. Learning that his father went missing while searching, Indy hops a plane to Italy to save him.
Why I Love It: The best of the three Indiana Jones films, this is the only one that I still rewatch from time to time. Fun and sometimes tense, this is a wonderful conclusion to the story. (Yes, I’m fully aware there’s a fourth, I just don’t acknowledge it.)

 

3 Hook

Title: Hook
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Charlie Korsmo, Dante Basco, Amber Scott, Caroline Goodall, Maggie Smith
Released in: 1991
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: James V Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo
Based On: Peter Pan books and play by JM Barrie
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical world, fairies, power of imagination, flying, immortality, magic
5 Second Synopsis: When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.
Why I Love It: Saw this film when it first came out (I was 10), and I’ve loved it ever since. Robin Williams gives a great performance as the aged Peter Pan, while Dustin Hoffman eats up every inch of the screen when he’s on it as the (slightly insane) Captain Hook. A definite childhood favourite, a total gem of a film.

 

3 HellBoy

Title: HellBoy
Starring: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Brian Steele, Bridget Hodson, Ladislav Beran
Released in: 2004
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro
Based On: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, demons, immortality, humanoid creatures with special abilities, pyrokinesis, wizards, portals to hell
5 Second Synopsis: A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.
Why I Love It: Such a fun film, it also has surprisingly good acting, and an awesome story. The effects are absolutely stunning as well, and Ron Perlman embodies HellBoy perfectly, head to toe. One of the first in the modern superhero/comic book films, and still one of the best.

 

NUMBERS 2

2 Willow

Title: Willow
Starring: Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Kevin Pollak, Rick Overton, Pat Roach, Gavan O’Herlihy, David Steinberg, Phil Fondacaro
Released in: 1988
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Bob Dolman
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, fairy folk, witches, spells, curses
5 Second Synopsis: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.
Why I Love It: Such a wonderful, beautiful story. Good acting and surprisingly good effects for it’s time, it still holds up very well today. Plus Val Kilmer is smokin’ hot as Madmartigan, who was perhaps my very first adult crush. *swoon*

 

2 The Princess Bride

Title: The Princess Bride
Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, André the Giant, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Peter Cook, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal, Carol Kane
Released in: 1987
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: William Goldman
Based On: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Magic, fantastical creatures (RoUS’s), miracles, fantastical machines
5 Second Synopsis: While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride, about a young princess, believing her true love to be dead, who settles with marrying a wicked prince.
Why I Love It: Pretty much every film in the rest of this list is a true classic, so I’ll stop saying it, hehe. This film is both schmoopy and full of adventures, perfect for kids and adults alive. And one more thing: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

 

2 The Crow

Title: The Crow
Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis, Ernie Hudson, Bai Ling, Anna Thomson, David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Michael Massee, Tony Todd, Jon Polito, Sofia Shinas
Released in: 1994
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by: David J Schow, John Shirley
Based On: The Crow graphic novel by James O’Barr
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Re-incarnation, invulnerability, superhero-like prowess
5 Second Synopsis: Musician Eric Draven is brought back to life by a crow a year after he and his fiancée are murdered. The crow guides him, and leads him to his killers, whom he kills in revenge.
Why I Love It: This film would likely be found in the action section of your video store rather than fantasy, but this definitely is indeed a fantasy film. Dark and violent, this is my very favourite revenge film, by far. But with this great film came a great loss, for actor Brandon Lee was accidentally killed while filming. What a shame.

 

2 Ladyhawke

Title: Ladyhawke
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo McKern, John Wood, Ken Hutchison, Giancarlo Prete, Alfred Molina
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Richard Donner
Written by: Edward Khmara, Michael Thomas, Tom Mankiewicz, David Webb Peoples
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, curses, transmogrification
5 Second Synopsis: An evil Bishop curses a woman and her lover when she rejects him. With the help of a sly thief, they will travel back to the Bishop and try break the curse.
Why I Love It: Such a beautiful film. Nauseatingly romantic, this film has a bit for everyone. Schmoop, laughter, action, and drama, this is simply a wonderful, wonderful film.

 

2 Harry Potter

Title: Harry Potter Octology
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, John Hurt, David Thewlis, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Brendan Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Julie Walters, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Matthew Lewis, Timothy Spall, Mark Williams, David Bradley, Imelda Staunton, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Clémence Poésy, Shirley Henderson, Natalia Tena, Emma Thompson, Warwick Davis, Richard Harris
Released in: 2001 – 2011
Directed by: Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, David Yates
Written by: Steve Kloves, Michael Goldenberg
Based On: Harry Potter Septology by JK Rowling
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Magic, magic, and more magic! Plus fantastical creatures, flying broomsticks, curses, prophecies, transmogrification, and much more.
5 Second Synopsis: Young Harry Potter finds out he’s a wizard, and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he finds out that there is a very evil wizard who wants him dead.
Why I Love It: I’m cheating a little by putting all 8 films here, but it would have taken a huge chunk out of my Top 30, or I would have had to add 7 more slots, and I really didn’t feel like doing basically the same entry 8 times. So there. These films are fun, whimsical, and at the same time, tense and even frightening (dementors, anyone?). They did such a great job of translating these books into films. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t seen these, I very highly reccomend you crawl out from under your rock and see them.

 

2 Dogma

Title: Dogma
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Bud Cort, Alanis Morissette
Released in: 1999
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Angels, demons, God, heaven, hell
5 Second Synopsis: A woman with special ancestry is enlisted to prevent two angels from reentering Heaven and thus undoing the fabric of the universe.
Why I Love It: I’m not the hugest fan of comedies, not because I don’t like laughing, but because I have a slightly peculiar sense of humour, and a lot comedies are just dumb to me. This one, though, this is my very favourite comedy, the whole thing is perfect (save one scene), beginning to end. It had me literally rolling on the floor, laughing.

 

NUMBERS 1

1 The NeverEnding Story

Title: The NeverEnding Story
Starring: Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Alan Oppenheimer, Tami Stronach, Sydney Bromley, Patricia Hayes, Deep Roy, Tilo Prückner, Moses Gunn, Thomas Hill, Gerald McRaney, The Horse (Googled my heart out to find his real name, but could find it, unfortunately 😦 )
Released in: 1984
Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
Written by: Wolfgang Petersen, Herman Weigel
Based On: Die Unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical world, magic, wishes, fantastical machines
5 Second Synopsis: A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book.
Why I Love It: This was one of my favourites as a kid, and it’s still now. Despite some of the acting being rather shaky (especially the Child-like Empress, yikes), this film is simply marvelous. Fantasia is beautiful, most of the practical effects are cool, and while it’s quite different from the book, the story is still amazing, even today. Noah Hathaway as Atreyu was my very first movie crush, and remained so until I passed him in age, about 8 years later.

 

1 The Dark Crystal

Title: The Dark Crystal
Starring: Stephen Garlick, Lisa Maxwell, Percy Edwards, Billie Whitelaw, Barry Dennen, Jerry Nelson, Joseph O’Conor
Released in: 1982
Directed by: Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Written by: David Odell
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Both
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical world, magic, flight, fairy folk
5 Second Synopsis: On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.
Why I Love It: Another of my childhood favourites, they simply don’t make them like this anymore. So many of the films I loved as a child are like this one, “too weird and scary” for today’s wimpy children. Well, not my child. I’ve introduced him to Labyrinth, and he loved it. Up next, the rest of my number 1’s, starting with this one.

 

1 Rock & Rule

Title: Rock & Rule
Starring: Don Francks, Susan Roman, Gregory Salata, Chris Wiggins, Brent Titcomb, Dan Hennessey, Greg Duffell, Catherine Gallant, Samantha Langevin, Catherine O’Hara
Released in: 1983
Directed by: Clive A Smith
Written by: Peter Sauder, John Halfpenny
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Fantastical creatures, fantastical technology, demons, mutants
5 Second Synopsis: A malevolent rock star kidnaps a female singer to force her to participate in the summoning of a demon, and her band must help her stop him.
Why I Love It: This little, mostly forgotten Canadian film is, in my opinion, the very best in the genre. Forget the much over-rated Heavy Metal, this adult cartoon is where it’s at. Awesome animation, kick ass soundtrack, and great story, this is a must-see for anyone who likes adult animation.

 

1 Lord of the Rings

Title: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, John Rhys-Davies, Liv Tyler, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis, Craig Parker, Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Ian Holm, John Noble, Sala Baker
Released in: 2001, 2002, 2003
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based On: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Magic, wizards, hobbits, elves, dwarves, visions, immortality, fantastical creatures, and more
5 Second Synopsis: A young hobbit must get to the gates of the enemy to destroy a ring that, if in the hands of the monster, would end the world as they know it.
Why I Love It: I don’t think there’s a geek on the planet that didn’t love this one. It was so beautifully done, acted, written and shot that it’s hard not to fall in love at first sight. It has the perfect blend of practical makeup and effects, and CGI, something that was sorely lacking in the Hobbit films.

 

1 Legend

Title: Legend
Starring: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Annabelle Lanyon, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Robert Picardo
Released in: 1985
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: William Hjortsberg
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Dark
Fantastical Elements: Demons, goblins, fairy folk, unicorns, magic, curses
5 Second Synopsis: A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves.
Why I Love It: Probably one of the very first fantasy films I’ve seen, and still one of the very best. It’s so beautifully done that it would be impressive even coming out today. Even all the acting is good, and that’s saying something for a film of the 80’s. So sad that they don’t make them like this anymore.

 

1 Labyrinth

Title: Labyrinth
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Brian Henson, Ron Mueck, Dave Goelz, David Shaughnessy, Michael Hordern, Denise Bryer, David Healy, Robert Beatty, Toby Froud
Released in: 1986
Directed by: Jim Henson
Written by: Terry Jones
Based On: N/A
Light or Dark Fantasy?: Light
Fantastical Elements: Magic, goblins, fairy folk, fantastical creatures
5 Second Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Sarah accidentally wishes her baby half-brother, Toby, away to the Goblin King Jareth, who will keep him if Sarah does not complete his Labyrinth in thirteen hours.
Why I Love It: If I had to absolutely choose a favourite fantasy film of all time, this would be it. I saw it at 5 years old, when it came out, and I’ve seen it well over 100 times. I learned all the words, songs and talked, in a very short time, and I still know most of them now. I’ll be sounding like a broken record, but they don’t make them like this any more. It’s an absolutely perfect piece of film. And David Bowie is so beautiful in this, I can’t help but swoon every time, hehe.

 

Finally done! It’s only been 2 months in the making… This is what happens when I get lazy. Shit just doesn’t get done, hehe. Here’s hoping at least a few people will enjoy the fruits of my labour! 😀

M.

My Top 10 Biopics

I thought I was going to have trouble choosing only 10 films to put on this list, and actually, the opposite turned out to be true. Looks like I haven’t seen as many biopics as I thought, and liked even fewer of them. But, I guess you could say that’s a good thing, since I enjoyed so few of them, that this list will end up being just the very best. No mediocrity here! hehe

I’m also going to try do a wee bit of research to see just how true the film really is. But I’m not a historian, or a time traveler, nor do I have an all-seeing eye, so please don’t be a jerk if I get something wrong. Google knows a lot, but what it doesn’t know is which articles are the actual truth, and with so much info out there, it’s almost impossible to separate the real truth from the rumours. But I’ll do my best.

I also won’t be including any horror or supernatural “true stories”. Since I already did both top horror and top serial killer films lists, I won’t include any of those in this list, to avoid repetition. And on that note, we’re off!

NUMBER 10

10 The Runaways

Title: The Runaways
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat, Riley Keough, Johnny Lewis, and Tatum O’Neal
Released in: 2010
Directed by: Floria Sigismondi
Written by: Floria Sigismondi
Based On a Book?: Yes; Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story by Cherie Currie
Who is the Story About?: Cherie Currie, Joan Jett and their short-lived band The Runaways
How Close to the Truth Is It?: What Joan has said about the friction between Cherie, Kim Fowley, and herself: “There was more friendship than was shown. I never really had a falling-out with him, even after the band broke up. Disharmony is natural in any band. But there were times when we were on the same page. Kim and Cherie and I still have an extremely intimate bond.” What Cherie has said about the film depicting them as always being miserable: “And that’s not true at all. How do you shove two-and-a-half years into an hour and a half? That was tough because we had a lot of fun.”
Why I Love It: Such a fun film with great music and really strong acting. Think Kristen Stewart is a bad actress? Then you’ve only seen her in Twilight. Joan Jett herself has said that she was absolutely blown away by her performance. She was recorded as saying “It was like looking in a mirror”.

NUMBER 9

9 The Basketball Diaries

Title: The Basketball Diaries
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, Patrick McGaw, Juliette Lewis, Bruno Kirby, and Ernie Hudson
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Scott Kalvert
Written by: Bryan Goluboff
Based On a Book?: Yes; The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll
Who/What is the Story About?: The drug-hazed teenage years of writer/musician Jim Carroll.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: What Jim Carroll has said about the film: “I thought it was well made. I thought the performances were fantastic. I thought Leonardo was wonderful; I couldn’t have asked for a better actor. I thought the whole cast was great. Unfortunately, the director had no idea what my book was about. And then the ending was much more ambiguous [originally]. They changed it and re-shot it in LA, so I didn’t know about that until I saw the final version of the film. And so I said, “You’re not gonna like make it fucked up and preachy and stuff??” and they said, “No, no!” But that’s what they did!”
Why I Love It: Despite the fact that it’s pretty far from the truth, it’s still a wonderful, albeit hard to watch, film. Leo turns his performance up to 11, and he really shines.

NUMBER 8

8 Cleopatra

Title: Cleopatra
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Hume Cronyn, Martin Landau, Roddy McDowall, Robert Stephens, Francesca Annis, George Cole, and Kenneth Haigh
Released in: 1963
Directed by: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Written by: Joseph L Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall, Sidney Buchman
Based On a Book?: Yes; The Life and Times of Cleopatra by CM Franzero, plus historical texts by Plutarch, Appian, and Suetonius
Who/What is the Story About?: The life, rule and eventual death of Ancient Egypt’s last Pharaoh, Queen Cleopatra, and the two men in her life, Julius Caeser and Mark Antony.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: Wikipedia says: “On the whole, the film followed the history of the period fairly closely, and took fewer liberties with historical accuracy than several other epics. However, there are a few minor inaccuracies:” Click here for the list.
Why I Love It: I don’t think I need to explain. I love everything Ancient Egyptian, and this film is beautiful, lush, and actually quite historically accurate, which is sadly rare in Hollywood. Elizabeth Taylor is breath-taking in the lead role, oozing sexuality and power, much as I assume the real Cleopatra would have.

NUMBER 7

7 Braveheart

Title: Braveheart
Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox, Peter Hanly, Stephen Billington, Barry McGovern, and Tommy Flanagan
Released in: 1995
Directed by: Mel Gibson
Written by: Randall Wallace
Based On a Book?: Yes; The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace by “Blind Harry”
Who/What is the Story About?: The life and death of William Wallace, a 13th century Scot who led the First War of Scottish Independence against Edward I of England.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: This is one of the most famously inaccurate films in Hollywood history. I won’t even try to list it all. Click here to see what Wikipedia has to say on the subject. Give yourself some time, there’s a lot there :-p
Why I Love It: Despite it’s glaring inaccuracies, one can’t deny this is a beautiful, powerful film. Shows just what Mel Gibson could accomplish before he went bat-shit crazy.

NUMBER 6

6 Remember the Titans

Title: Remember the Titans
Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ryan Gosling, Hayden Panettiere, Kip Pardue, Ethan Suplee, Nicole Ari Parker, and Kate Bosworth
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Boaz Yakin
Written by: Gregory Allen Howard
Based On a Book?: No
Who/What is the Story About?: Black football coach Herman Boone is assigned to TC Williams High School’s team the Titans, and the first inter-racial school in the United States.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: The core of the story (integration of the races, most of the players and games) seems to be all there, but a lot of the smaller details (or most of them, rather) are fictionalized. Click here to see what Chasing the Frog (a website devoted to uncovering the real truth behind Hollywood’s “true stories”) has to say about it.
Why I Love It: I’m not the biggest fan of sports films, or sports in general for that matter (except hockey, I am Canadian, after all 😉 ), but every so often one comes along that I really love. The story is good, the acting all on point, and it’s so fun to see a bunch of actors who are big now getting their start here, like hunky Ryan Gosling.

NUMBER 5

5 Immortal Beloved

Title: Immortal Beloved
Starring: Gary Oldman, Jeroen Krabbé, Isabella Rossellini, Johanna ter Steege, Marco Hofschneider, Miriam Margolyes, Barry Humphries, and Valeria Golino
Released in: 1994
Directed by: Bernard Rose
Written by: Bernard Rose
Based On a Book?: No
Who/What is the Story About?: The life (and loves) of great composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: I actually didn’t know a whole lot (that means nothing) about Beethoven’s life before writing this except for what I’d seen in the film. Doing my Googling now, I can see that I may as well have been watching fiction. In the words of movie critic Lewis Butler: “About the only things they got right were that Beethoven wrote the 9th Symphony and that he died.” Ouch. You can read the rest of his review here.
Why I Love It: Having not known how historically inaccurate it was before now will be my excuse for loving this as much as I did. Bah, who am I kidding? I’d have loved it anyways. It’s beautiful, schmoopy, and Gary Oldman gives a tour de force performance, as usual.

NUMBER 4

4 Party Monster

Title: Party Monster
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloë Sevigny, Dylan McDermott, Wilmer Valderrama, Wilson Cruz, Mia Kirshner, and Marilyn Manson
Released in: 2003
Directed by: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Written by: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Based On a Book?: Yes; Disco Bloodbath by James St James
Who/What is the Story About?: The rise and fall of legendary 90’s “club kid” Michael Alig.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: When asked if the film retained “the true vibe of it all”, James St James had this to say: “Well, was Cleopatra really like Elizabeth Taylor? Was Erin Brockovich anything like Julia Roberts? Movies are movies. They are meant to entertain. Was it a moment-by-moment depiction of our lives and our relationship? Oh my god no. But it captured the spirit of the times and that’s all you can hope for.” He has also expressed pure love for Seth Green and his performance.
Why I Love It: It’s fun, colourful, with great music and great performances, especially, as James has said, Seth Green’s. He ate up every inch of the screen while he was on it, and it was wonderful.

NUMBER 3

3 Gladiator

Title: Gladiator
Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Spencer Treat Clark, Richard Harris, David Schofield, and John Shrapnel
Released in: 2000
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson
Based On a Book?: No
Who/What is the Story About?: An enslaved soldier determined to see the Emperor who murdered his family pay for his crimes.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: Well… Commodus was real, as were all the other members of his family. And that’s about it. Heroic Maximus is fiction. Commodus wasn’t the swellest dude around, but he was nowhere near as gross as he’s played on screen. Here’s a more detailed account of the historical untruths told by the film, on a cool blog called Historical Histrionics. Looks like he only did a few posts, though, which is a shame, because they’re well written.
Why I Love It: It’s actually thanks to this film, historical inaccuracies and all, that I got so interested in ancient history. I mean, I’d always been interested, especially in ancient Egypt, but seeing this really made me want to know more about ancient Rome. I was a little disappointed to find out how inaccurate this film actually is, but it didn’t make me love it any less.

NUMBER 2

2 Chaplin

Title: Chaplin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, Moira Kelly, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Kline, Maria Pitillo, and Milla Jovovich
Released in: 1992
Directed by: Richard Attenborough
Written by: William Boyd, Bryan Forbes, William Goldman
Based On a Book?: Yes; My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin, and Chaplin His Life and Art by David Robinson
Who/What is the Story About?: The life and work of legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: I’m actually having some trouble looking stuff up. There’s lots of reviews of the film, but even Wikipedia doesn’t have much on whether or not it’s very accurate. As far as I can tell, it seems to pretty accurate, although there’s a lot cut out (the man lived to 88, you couldn’t get all that into one film), and they seem to gloss over some rather important stuff, while focusing on some more minor things. Gotta highlight the dramatic, I guess. This movie review was the one I found with the most historical information.
Why I Love It: This is the film that made me fall in love with Robert Downey Jr. He was ridiculously perfect for the role, and the rest of the film just falls perfectly into place around him. He should have won the Oscar that year. I’ve no idea who won, but I can tell you that he wasn’t as good as Robert.

NUMBER 1

1 Amadeus

Title: Amadeus
Starring: Tom Hulce, F Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice, Simon Callow, Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones, and Charles Kay
Released in: 1984
Directed by: Milos Forman
Written by: Peter Shaffer
Based On a Book?: No, a play :-p Amadeus by Peter Shaffer
Who/What is the Story About?: The life, music, and death of musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
How Close to the Truth Is It?: Well… not very actually. In the words of movie critic Alex von Tunzelmann: “A deadly rivalry that never was, a dried-up bachelor who was actually a father of eight, and flops that were hits in reality … even getting Mozart’s toilet humour right cannot redeem it.” She definitely didn’t like the film. You can read the rest of her scathing review here.
Why I Love It: I knew going into it that it wasn’t historically accurate. And do I care? Not a lick. I know a biopic is supposed to tell a true story, and I am sorry that so many people think that this is the way things actually went down, but I’ll be damned if I don’t just love this film to pieces. Fart jokes and all.

 

What are your favourite biopics? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more!

M.