Magic is one of the biggest plot devices in film. It can serve as a McGuffin if the characters are chasing a magical object, or a deus ex machina that gets characters out of impossible situations. However, magic always makes for an interesting story. Whether it is actually about witches and wizards, or about magicians pulling off amazing feats, magical movies have kept us entranced for many years. Here are 10 of the best movies that revolve around magic.
10. Bewitched (2005)
- Director: Nora Ephron
- Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine
While this film has been panned by critics and fans alike, the movie had its own guilty pleasure sort of charm. Kidman stars as Isabel, a witch trying out living as a mortal and then gets cast as Samantha in a remake of the TV show Bewitched. She ends up falling for her co-star Jack, played by Ferrell, but things go charmingly awry as she finds out that mortal life isn't all it is cracked up to be. A fun film, and something worth watching at least once.
9. Stardust (2007)
- Director: Matthew Vaughn
- Starring: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ian McKellen (narrator)
Three witches trying to hang on to their youth sounds a lot like Hocus Pocus; however, this film based on #NeilGaiman's novel of the same name has a unique, off-beat take on a story of youth and beauty. The witches want to eat the heart of a fallen star (Danes), which took the form of a girl, to retain their youth and gain immortality. Meanwhile, their plan is thwarted when the young Tristan (Cox in a pre-Daredevil role) captures the fallen star so she can grant his wish to marry the girl he thinks he loves. Typical of Gaiman, it's a complex and dark story, with some images you'll never be able to get out of your head, but also full of whimsy and wonder.
8. The Illusionist (2006)
- Director: Neil Burger
- Starring: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell
Magic isn't always about whimsy. A mystery-thriller, this film is full of intrigue and dark twists. Eisenheim (Norton) is arrested during the middle of a performance of his show, one which features him summoning the dead. Among the dead are Sophie (Biel), a woman he has loved his entire life but who had been murdered. The story is an incredible mystery with many turns, and the ending will leave you shocked. Definitely worth a watch.
7. Practical Magic (1998)
- Director: Griffin Dunne
- Starring: Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Goran Visnjic, Aidan Quinn
This movie may be one of the most endearing on this list and one of the few that has a great family dynamic. Two witches are cursed that every man they love will die young — definitely is not a curse one wants on their life. One sister, Gillian (Kidman), lives her life to the fullest, leaving their small town to see the world while the other, Sally (Bullock), stays put, vowing never to fall in love or use her magic for fun. The one thing you can count on, though, is family and these two sisters really show that in this film. Must watch for a girls night or when you just want to feel good.
6. Hocus Pocus (1993)
- Director: Kenny Ortega
- Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Doug Jones, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw
The Sanderson sisters are three witches who were killed thanks to their murdering of Emily Binx (Amanda Shepherd) and the alleged murder of her big brother, Thackary (Sean Murray). Years later on Halloween night, teenager Max (Katz) accidentally resurrects the witches while trying to impress Allison (Shaw) and the trio returns with a plan to suck the lives out of all the children in Salem. Bette Midler has the time of her life as eldest sister Winifred, even saying in the past that it's her favorite movie she's ever done — so much so that she reprised her character for her Halloween costume this year. With an amazing musical number by her, and a fun cast, this movie will put a spell on any fan.
5. Now You See Me (2013)
- Director: Louis Leterrier
- Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Melanie Laurent, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
This movie was a head scratcher from start to finish as you tried to figure out whether or not the magic feats the troupe of magicians pulled off were actually things that could be done or if they were just hoaxes — and just who the heck was behind it all. With an all-star ensemble cast, it was easy to get drawn into the tale of intrigue and suspense, where nothing was as it seemed. While at the end it did get a bit predictable and the ending left wide open for a sequel, it kept you on the edge of your seat while setting up the world of the con artist magicians.
4. Mary Poppins (1964)
- Director: Robert Stevenson
- Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke
She was the nanny that we all wanted to have, bringing a little magic into the ordinary lives of two young children. From her ability to fly without a broom, to cleaning up a room with a snap of her fingers, to a bag that seems to be bottomless, Mary Poppins is a film brimming with magic. She tales us to a whimsical new world with a simple hop, skip, and a jump, and makes even menial tasks and household chores seem like the most fun thing in the world. If that isn't pure witchcraft, I don't know what is.
3. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor (uncredited)
- Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton
While the Wizard wasn't a true wizard, just a man behind a curtain, the movie has taken audiences on a magical journey for generations, with memorable songs, characters, and breathtaking visuals. It shows the magic of believing in yourself, as well as appreciating what you have in your life, which is a lesson that we can still learn today. The transition from black and white to color is still breathtaking, and the movie will leave you on the edge of your seat, hoping that Dorothy and her friends are able to win out in the end.
2. The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)
- Directors: Various
- Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Bonnie Wright, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, James & Oliver Phelps... you get it.
It is impossible to narrow the series based on #JKRowling's books down to one film as the entirety of the series really showcases magic in the best possible way. It creates an entire fictional world that fits seamlessly into ours, with characters that grow and change in a realistic way. We see both the good and the bad in magic, and how one has to make the choice as to which side they'll stand with. With amazing visuals, an incredible cast, and memorable characters, the Harry Potter franchise will always be remembered.
1. The Prestige (2006)
- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Starring: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Michael Caine (for the third time on this list), Rebecca Hall, Piper Perabo, Andy Serkis
This film will honestly leave you speechless with how many twists and turns it takes, with two great magicians (Bale and Jackman) battling each other over the secrets of the trade. With an unbelievable cast, the acting is incredibly intense as the two rivals go to more and more dangerous lengths in their attempts to one-up each other. You find yourself questioning everything, and whether or not magic can possibly be real. The obsession between the two magicians grows alarming as it escalates, but leaves you breathless in anticipation of each act, with an ending you will never see coming.