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The Best Magical Realism Films Of All-Time

“What are the best Magical Realism movies ever made?” We looked at 144 of the top Magical Realism films and ranked them so we could answer that very question!

The top 32 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Magic Realism” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 100+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 32 Magic Realism Movies



32 .) A Little Princess (1995) directed by Alfonso Cuarón

A Little Princess (1995)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

When her father enlists to fight for the British in WWI, young Sara Crewe goes to New York to attend the same boarding school her late mother attended. She soon clashes with the severe headmistress, Miss Minchin, who attempts to stifle Sara’s creativity and sense of self- worth.



31 .) Adaptation (2002) directed by Spike Jonze

Adaptation (2002)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Prezi

A love-lorn script writer grows increasingly desperate in his quest to adapt the book ‘The Orchid Thief’.



30 .) Being John Malkovich (1999) directed by Spike Jonze

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx

One day at work, unsuccessful puppeteer Craig finds a portal into the head of actor John Malkovich. The portal soon becomes a passion for anybody who enters it’s mad and controlling world of overtaking another human body.



29 .) Cinema Paradiso (1988) directed by Giuseppe Tornatore

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village’s theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater’s projectionist.



28 .) Field of Dreams (1989) directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Field of Dreams (1989)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx

Ray Kinsella is an Iowa farmer who hears a mysterious voice telling him to turn his cornfield into a baseball diamond. He does, but the voice’s directions don’t stop — even after the spirits of deceased ballplayers turn up to play.



27 .) Groundhog Day (1993) directed by Harold Ramis

Groundhog Day (1993)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic

A narcissistic TV weatherman, along with his attractive-but-distant producer and mawkish cameraman, is sent to report on Groundhog Day in the small town of Punxsutawney, where he finds himself repeating the same day over and over.



26 .) Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) directed by Jay Duplass

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx

Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.



25 .) Midnight’s Children (2012) directed by Deepa Mehta

Midnight's Children (2012)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

The story of a pair of children born within moments of India gaining independence from England, growing up in the country that is nothing like their parent’s generation. A Canadian-British film adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel of the same name.



24 .) Moulin Rouge! (2001) directed by Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Prezi

A celebration of love and creative inspiration takes place in the infamous, gaudy and glamorous Parisian nightclub, at the cusp of the 20th century. A young poet, who is plunged into the heady world of Moulin Rouge, begins a passionate affair with the club’s most notorious and beautiful star.



23 .) Prelude to a Kiss (1992) directed by Norman René

Prelude to a Kiss (1992)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

A couple fall in love despite the girl’s pessimistic outlook. As they struggle to come to terms with their relationship, something supernatural happens that tests it.



22 .) Synecdoche, New York (2008) directed by Charlie Kaufman

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic

A theater director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse as part of his new play.



21 .) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) directed by David Fincher

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx

Tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences.



20 .) The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) directed by Robert Redford

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

In Milagro, a small town in the American Southwest, Ladd Devine plans to build a major new resort development. While activist Ruby Archuleta and lawyer/newspaper editor Charlie Bloom realize that this will result in the eventual displacement of the local Hispanic farmers, they cannot arouse much opposition because of the short term opportunities offered by construction jobs.



19 .) The Shape of Water directed by Guillermo del Toro

The Shape of Water

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film School Rejects
  • Wikipedia

An other-worldly story, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962, where a mute janitor working at a lab falls in love with an amphibious man being held captive there and devises a plan to help him escape.



18 .) The Tin Drum (1979) directed by Volker Schlöndorff

The Tin Drum (1979)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

Oskar is born in Germany in 1924 with an advanced intellect. Repulsed by the hypocrisy of adults and the irresponsibility of society, he refuses to grow older after his third birthday.



17 .) Time of the Gypsies (1988) directed by Emir Kusturica

Time of the Gypsies (1988)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Wikipedia

In this luminous tale set in the former Yugoslavia, Perhan, an engaging young Romany with telekinetic powers, is seduced by the quick-cash world of petty crime that threatens to destroy him and those he loves.



16 .) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Dissolve
  • Wikipedia

Suffering from acute kidney failure, Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave—the birthplace of his first life.



15 .) Wings of Desire (1987) directed by Wim Wenders

Wings of Desire (1987)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx

Two angels, Damiel and Cassiel, glide through the streets of Berlin, observing the bustling population, providing invisible rays of hope to the distressed but never interacting with them. When Damiel falls in love with lonely trapeze artist Marion, the angel longs to experience life in the physical world, and finds — with some words of wisdom from actor Peter Falk — that it might be possible for him to take human form.



14 .) Big Fish (2003) directed by Tim Burton

Big Fish (2003)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • The Dissolve
  • Wikipedia

Throughout his life Edward Bloom has always been a man of big appetites, enormous passions and tall tales. In his later years, he remains a huge mystery to his son, William. Now, to get to know the real man, Will begins piecing together a true picture of his father from flashbacks of his amazing adventures.



13 .) Birdman (2014) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Birdman (2014)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book My Show
  • Film School Rejects
  • Wikipedia

A fading actor best known for his portrayal of a popular superhero attempts to mount a comeback by appearing in a Broadway play. As opening night approaches, his attempts to become more altruistic, rebuild his career, and reconnect with friends and family prove more difficult than expected.



12 .) Donnie Darko (2001) directed by Richard Kelly

Donnie Darko (2001)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film School Rejects
  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic

After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.



11 .) Life of Pi (2012) directed by Ang Lee

Life of Pi (2012)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book My Show
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

The story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper’s son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean.



10 .) Pleasantville (1998) directed by Gary Ross

Pleasantville (1998)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book My Show
  • IMDB
  • Uproxx

Geeky teenager David and his popular twin sister, Jennifer, get sucked into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV sitcom called “Pleasantville,” and find a world where everything is peachy keen all the time. But when Jennifer’s modern attitude disrupts Pleasantville’s peaceful but boring routine, she literally brings color into its life.



9 .) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World directed by Edgar Wright

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book My Show
  • Film School Rejects
  • Prezi

Scott Pilgrim is a 23 year old radical Canadian gamer and wannabe rockstar who falls in love with an American delivery girl, Ramona Flowers, and must defeat her seven evil exes to be able to date her.



8 .) The Fall (2006) directed by Tarsem Singh

The Fall (2006)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastic story about 5 mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality starts to blur as the tale advances.



7 .) The Green Mile (1999) directed by Frank Darabont

The Green Mile (1999)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic
  • Wikipedia

A supernatural tale set on death row in a Southern prison, where gentle giant John Coffey possesses the mysterious power to heal people’s ailments. When the cell block’s head guard, Paul Edgecomb, recognizes Coffey’s miraculous gift, he tries desperately to help stave off the condemned man’s execution.



6 .) The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) directed by Woody Allen

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

Cecilia is a waitress in New Jersey, living a dreary life during the Great Depression. Her only escape from her mundane reality is the movie theatre. After losing her job, Cecilia goes to see ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ in hopes of raising her spirits, where she watches dashing archaeologist Tom Baxter time and again.



5 .) Midnight in Paris (2011) directed by Woody Allen

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Book My Show
  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.



4 .) Like Water For Chocolate (1992) directed by Alfonso Arau

Like Water For Chocolate (1992)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film School Rejects
  • IMDB
  • Prezi
  • The Dissolve
  • Wikipedia

Tita is passionately in love with Pedro, but her controlling mother forbids her from marrying him. When Pedro marries her sister, Tita throws herself into her cooking and discovers she can transfer her emotions through the food she prepares, infecting all who eat it with her intense heartbreak.



3 .) Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012) directed by Benh Zeitlin

Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Dissolve
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink in ‘the Bathtub’, a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe – for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack – temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.



2 .) Amélie (2001) directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Amélie (2001)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film School Rejects
  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

At a tiny Parisian café, the adorable yet painfully shy Amélie (Audrey Tautou) accidentally discovers a gift for helping others. Soon Amelie is spending her days as a matchmaker, guardian angel, and all-around do-gooder. But when she bumps into a handsome stranger, will she find the courage to become the star of her very own love story?



1 .) Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) directed by Guillermo del Toro

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Film School Rejects
  • IMDB
  • The Cinemaholic
  • Uproxx
  • Wikipedia

Living with her tyrannical stepfather in a new home with her pregnant mother, 10-year-old Ofelia feels alone until she explores a decaying labyrinth guarded by a mysterious faun who claims to know her destiny. If she wishes to return to her real father, Ofelia must complete three terrifying tasks.



 


The 100+ Additional Best Magical Realism Movies



 

# Movies Directors Lists
33 A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (1988) Fernando Birri IMDB
34 A Walk in the Clouds (1995) Alfonso Arau IMDB
35 About Time (I) (2013) Richard Curtis IMDB
36 Alice (1990 film)   Wikipedia
37 Always,   Uproxx
38
An Ambiguous Report About the End of the World
  Wikipedia
39 And Then Came Lola (2009) Ellen Seidler IMDB
40 Anti-Christ   Uproxx
41 Antonia’s Line (1995) Marleen Gorris IMDB
42 Arizona Dream   Wikipedia
43 Asleep in the Sun (2010) Alejandro Chomski IMDB
44 Babette’s Feast (1987) Gabriel Axel IMDB
45 Bagdad Cafe (1987) Percy Adlon IMDB
46 Big (film)   Wikipedia
47 Black Cat, White Cat (1998) Emir Kusturica IMDB
48 Blue Velvet   Uproxx
49 Breaking The Waves,   Uproxx
50 Buy Now, Die Later   Wikipedia
51 Charlie Countryman   Wikipedia
52 Chocolat (2000) Lasse Hallström IMDB
53 Christopher Robin (film)   Wikipedia
54 Cows (1992) Julio Medem IMDB
55 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon   Uproxx
56 Defending Your Life   Uproxx
57 Delicatessen,   Uproxx
58 Don’t Look Now (1973) Nicolas Roeg IMDB
59 Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976) Bruno Barreto IMDB
60 Donovan’s Echo (2011) Jim Cliffe IMDB
61 Dreams (1990 film)   Wikipedia
62 Edward Scissorhands   Uproxx
63 El bosc (2012) Óscar Aibar IMDB
64 El bosque animado (1987) José Luis Cuerda IMDB
65 El lado oscuro del corazón 2 (2001) Eliseo Subiela IMDB
66 El Norte (film)   Wikipedia
67 Electrick Children   Wikipedia
68 Eréndira (1983) Ruy Guerra IMDB
69 Eve’s Bayou (1997) Kasi Lemmons IMDB
70 Everyone Says I Love You,   Uproxx
71 Everything Is Illuminated (film)   Wikipedia
72 Fly Me To Polaris   Uproxx
73 Forget Paris (2011) Christopher Presswell IMDB
74 Frida (2002) Julie Taymor IMDB
75 Ghost   Uproxx
76 Happy Accidents (2000) Brad Anderson IMDB
77 Heaven Can Wait.   Uproxx
78 Intacto   Wikipedia
79 Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road (2002) Bob Gale IMDB
80 It’s A Wonderful Life,   Uproxx
81 Jacob’s Ladder (I) (1990) Adrian Lyne IMDB
82 Jane the Virgin  
Film School Rejects
83 Kiki’s Delivery Service   Uproxx
84 L.A. Story,   Uproxx
85 La tigra (1990) Camilo Luzuriaga IMDB
86 Leap of Faith (1992) Richard Pearce IMDB
87 Liar Liar   Wikipedia
88 Little Buddha (1993) Bernardo Bertolucci IMDB
89 Lost Highway   Uproxx
90 Love in the Time of Cholera (2007) Mike Newell IMDB
91 Ma Vie en Rose (1997) Alain Berliner IMDB
92 Magnolia,   Uproxx
93 Mararía (1998) Antonio José Betancor IMDB
94 Mars (2004 film)   Wikipedia
95 Mood Indigo (2013) Michel Gondry IMDB
96 My Neighbor Totoro   Uproxx
97 Narcos  
Film School Rejects
98 No One Writes to the Colonel (1999) Arturo Ripstein IMDB
99 Odiyan   Wikipedia
100 One Day (2010 film)   Wikipedia
101 Orfeu (1999) Carlos Diegues IMDB
102 Oviedo Express (2007) Gonzalo Suárez IMDB
103 Paddington  
Film School Rejects
104 Pedro Páramo (1978) José Bolaños IMDB
105 Penelope (2006) Mark Palansky IMDB
106 Ponyo   Uproxx
107 Porco Rosso (1992) Hayao Miyazaki IMDB
108 Prospero’s Books   Wikipedia
109 Repentance (1987 film)   Wikipedia
110 Return to Me   Wikipedia
111 Ruby Sparks  
Film School Rejects
112 Sliding Doors (1998) Peter Howitt IMDB
113 Sohra Bridge   Wikipedia
114 Spirited Away   Uproxx
115 Sucker Punch (2011 film)   Wikipedia
116 The Brothers Bloom (2008) Rian Johnson IMDB
117 The Butcher Boy   Uproxx
118 The City of Lost Children   Wikipedia
119 The Cobbler (2014 film)   Wikipedia
120 The Dark Side of the Heart (1992) Eliseo Subiela IMDB
121 The Dark Tower (2017 film)   Wikipedia
122 The Fisher King (1991) Terry Gilliam IMDB
123 The House of the Spirits (1993) Bille August IMDB
124 The Last Judgment (1961 film)   Wikipedia
125 The Legend of Bagger Vance   Wikipedia
126 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Wes Anderson IMDB
127 The Mighty   Uproxx
128 The Miracle of Father Malachia   Wikipedia
129 The Mistress of Spices   Wikipedia
130 The Path of Zarathustra   Wikipedia
131 The Princess Bride (1987)  
The Cinemaholic
132 The Red Violin (1998) François Girard IMDB
133 The Secret Of Roan Inish.   Uproxx
134 The Summer of Miss Forbes (1989 TV Movie) Jaime Humberto Hermosillo IMDB
135 The Sun Also Rises (2007 film)   Wikipedia
136 The Wizard Of Oz.   Uproxx
137 The World According to Garp (1982) George Roy Hill IMDB
138 To Rome with Love (film)   Wikipedia
139 Un secreto de Esperanza   Wikipedia
140 Underground (1995) Emir Kusturica IMDB
141 Undertow (2009 film)   Wikipedia
142 Whale Rider (2002) Niki Caro IMDB
143 Winter’s Tale   Uproxx
144 Zelig,   Uproxx

 


8 Best Films Featuring Magical Realism Sources/Lists



Source Article
Book My Show Best Movies That Have Magical Realism
Film School Rejects A Guide to Magical Realism in Film
IMDB Magic Realism in the Top Movies, films, Cinema.
Prezi Magical Realism In Books/Movies
The Cinemaholic 10 Best Magic Realism Movies of All Time
The Dissolve Five magical-realism movies in the spirit of the late Gabriel García
Uproxx 40 films that manage to get magical realism right where
Wikipedia Category:Magic realism films

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