Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fantasy Films - 20 Favorites

Fantasy is not Science Fiction, and shouldn't be confused as, far as I'm concerned. It's a separate category - don't you think? They shouldn't just be jumbled together. Although Fantasy can and often does have elements of science run amok, the following list of films are not what I think of when I think Sci-Fi. So here's my separate categorization.

Something else: Fantasy is not always fairies and elves and flying naked women, although one wouldn't know that from checking google.

  • The Wizard of Oz - well, of course. What else would you call Emerald City, horses that change color and those flying, uniformed monkeys? Not to mention the wicked witch of the West. Great music score too.

  • King Kong - Hate the ending, always did, even as a kid. Otherwise a great film. I much preferred Mighty Joe Young - the original version. Though this film starred the worst actress ever in the history of film: Terry Moore. (Though Paulette Goddard gave her a good run for her money.)

  • Harry and the Hendersons - I can't help it. I LOVED the Big Foot creature's oh-so-touchingly sad and bewildered face. David Suchet is strangely miscast as the bad-guy hunter who wants to kill him.

  • Amelie - Because of the travelling gnomes, the little pig lamp, and the attitude of the film in general. Delightful doesn't quite cover it.

  • Jean Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete (Beauty and the Beast) - This also goes on my list of Favorite Romantic films, Favorite Love Stories, Favorite Films in general. Not many films can be described as 'splendid' - this one can. Filmed in b/w, remembered in color.

  • Narnia - The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - Tilda Swinton as the evil ice queen is so hate-able in this. But it's the Lion figure that steals the show - so beautifully created. The kids are pretty good too. But then, as I've always said, I'm fond of precocious British children. Loved too, the beginning set in wartime London.

  • Deja Vu - My favorite Denzel Washington film. Strong violence but I just covered my eyes, and moved on. Terrific film about, I think, a kind of rupture in time more than time travel itself. Though I question the conclusion, I still was willing to suspend disbelief.

  • House of Flying Daggers - Because of the unbelievably beautiful and stylistic aspects of the dazzling special effects in a story that is, supposedly, based in some sort of nonsensical historic reality. The setting seems to be a kind of alternate China. The incredible camera work is mind boggling. A gorgeous film by director Yimou Zhang.

  • Toy Story 2 - Better than the first one which was quite good enough. I was completely caught up in it. The scenes at the airport are nerve wracking and just as suspenseful as those in a non-computerized animated movie might be. Terrific film.

  • Shrek - The first one. Brilliant vocalizations. Great 'fractured fairy tale' story with a very satisfying outcome.

  • Babe - Just a lovely, lovely movie with all the proper sentiments in place. So beautifully done, too. Every animal's personality right on the money. The humans are wonderful too.

  • Babe - Pig in the City - An overlooked classic sequel. Siskel and Ebert picked this as one of their top ten in the year of its release AND either Siskel or Ebert (can't remember which) chose it as their favorite film of the year. There is such a touching sadness about this second Babe film. The loss of dignity of the orangutan character - a creature pretending to be something he isn't - makes me cry every time.

  • Lost in Austen - Originally, I think, done as a tv series (not sure) but works quite well as a film about a modern young woman's fall into the world of Pride and Prejudice. This was a wonderful surprise for me as I'd never heard of it before I chanced on it on Netflix. Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy gives Colin Firth a run for his money.

  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in the original film version. He plays the ghost, she is the Mrs. Muir who falls in love with him. A bit strange and touching love story with a FABULOUS ending - sad and happy all at the same time.

  • Hellboy II - The Golden Army - I am crazy about this film by Guillermo Del Toro. Ron Perlman is superb as usual, as the heart-wounded, world-weary, wisecracking Hellboy. The monsters in this film are much better conceptualized than in the first. I say: Skip the first film, see this one.

  • Superman - Christopher Reeve episomizes the Superman of our dreams. The casting down at the Daily Planet is wonderful. And of course, Phyllis Calvert as the mother and Glenn Ford as the father were superb. Gene Hackman, Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty are hilarious. Even Marlon Brando is strangely compelling. Though the special effects seem very creaky, looking backwards from today. (Except for the flying.) I loved the first half of the film more than the second, actually. The scenes on the farm are memorable. As is the rousing soundtrack by John Williams.

  • Fantasia - Walt Disney's experiment in music and animation still works for me. Stokowski and the mouse in silhouette - what a hoot. The 'Night on Bald Mountain' sequence is my favorite. Love the Mussorgsky music and brilliant animation.

  • Groundhog Day - I am SO NOT a Bill Murray fan. But this film is genius. I never get tired of seeing it. The 'gimmick' just keeps working.

  • Big - Tom Hanks is wonderful in this. Great film. Also love Robert Loggia as the toy company boss. This film feels like a Christmas movie even though it isn't.

  • Topper - Roland Young as Cosmo Topper. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett as the two meddling ghosts who don't, for whatever reason, seem to be too upset that they're dead. Very funny film.


  1. You've got some good ones on this list! I have yet to see Amelie!!

  2. Well, you simply have to see AMELIE.:)

  3. Hi Yvette,
    Each time I look at your blog, and all of these different book covers and designs, I want to sit down for a week on a reading marathon.
    After that I fed the goldfish. lol.

  4. Ha! Yeah, I do like to razzle-dazzle. I've been feeling overwhelmed too by all the books out there waiting to be read. Some days I just throw my hands up in the air and say out loud: I CAN'T READ EVERYTHING!!! :)

  5. Some good movies on your list....I would have to add "The Neverending Story", "Ladyhawke", "The Dark Cyrstlak", "Labyrinth", and tons of others.

  6. I'm not sure I've seen a couple of your choices, Ryan. Will have to investigate. ;)


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