Fairies are magical and mysterious creatures that exist in fantastical tales of all kinds. They've been around in folklore for centuries, but fairies have become popularized in cinema over the past few decades.
From animated Studio Ghibli movies to indie horror flicks, fairy movies come in all styles and shapes. If you have a fascination with fairies, I can recommend a bunch of films worth watching!
Here are the best movies featuring fairies and other magical fairy-like creatures across all kinds of genres and styles.
14. The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Starring Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett
Animation, Adventure, Drama (1h 34m)
The Secret World of Arrietty is a fantastic film, but the reason why it ranks this low on my list is that Arrietty and her family are never explicitly said to be "fairies." They're simply "tiny people."
How tiny? Well, they're all four inches tall, and they all live in the walls and floors of another family's big household. They "borrow" items from around the house—sugar cubes, crumbs, and other small items—to make them their own.
They don't have magical powers like fairies often do, yet they're definitely part of a world that blends reality and fantasy.
The Secret World of Arrietty is a sweet film where Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler) establishes a friendship with a sick child living in that house. It's a heartwarming story that engages with magic in a unique way.
13. Pinocchio (1940)
Directed by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske
Starring Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc
Animation, Adventure, Comedy (1h 28m)
There have been many different cinematic takes on the Pinocchio story, with the most recent being the one by Guillermo del Toro.
I'm picking the original Disney version of Pinocchio because it was the first one to come out after the book (published in 1883).
Pinocchio is a living puppet who embarks on a cautionary tale of good and evil. Guiding him through many dangers are a cricket and a fairy godmother, who look over him and help him make the best choices.
12. Cinderella (1950)
Directed by Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, and Clyde Geronimi
Starring Ilene Woods, James MacDonald, Eleanor Audley
Animation, Family, Fantasy (1h 14m)
Here's another example of literature transformed into a film by Disney. In this classical tale (based on a folktale that's been around for millenia), a misunderstood young girl is abused and mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters.
To help her situation, a fairy godmother appears and transforms her—even if temporarily—into a princess for the upcoming royal ball. There, she meets a prince and her life changes forever.
11. Peter Pan (1953)
Directed by Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, and Wilfred Jackson
Starring Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried
Animation, Adventure, Family (1h 17m)
Let's continue with yet another Disney adaptation of a literary work: Peter Pan. While this story isn't focused entirely on fairies, they do feature prominently in this universe.
In Peter Pan, the belief in the existence of fairies is portrayed as a crucial condition for the continued survival of said fairies. Every time a child stops believing in fairies, one fairy dies.
Peter is a boy who doesn't want to grow old. Wendy and her brothers meet him one night and follow him to a magical place called Neverland. There, they fight against pirates and—helped by the fairy Tinker Bell—discover the importance of friendship and courage.
The most important lesson here? Never stop believing in fairies! Belief in magic is what keeps our inner child alive and well.
10. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wolfgang Reitherman, Eric Larson, and Les Clark
Starring Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley
Animation, Adventure, Family (1h 15m)
I promise this list isn't entirely made of Disney movies! But by this point, it's obvious that fairies featured prominently during Disney's Silver Age.
In Sleeping Beauty, a malevolent fairy curses the royal family into an eternal sleep. Furthermore, the daughter of the royal family, Aurora, is cursed to die before her 16th birthday.
To save her from her fate, three fairies take her away from the kingdom to care for her and alter the curse so that she can be awoken from her eternal sleep by true love's kiss.
Sleeping Beauty was a kind of milestone for Disney because this classical fairy tale is the first time we see an evil fairy.
9. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
Directed by Bill Kroyer
Starring Samantha Mathis, Christian Slater, Robin Williams
Animation, Adventure, Family (1h 16m)
FernGully is a fictional rainforest that has never been touched by humans. This forest is populated by magical fairy creatures, who live peaceful lives in harmony with nature.
But everything changes when a logging company starts destroying their precious forest and threatening their future.
Crysta, one of the fairies, must stop them! Helped by a human (who was accidentally shrunk down to fairy size), she makes a plan to stop the evil entity Hexxus, who thrives in polluted environments.
8. A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Directed by Michael Hoffman
Starring Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett
Comedy, Fantasy, Romance (1h 56m)
Inspired by the famous play by William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a movie that explores the intersections between the human realm and the magical realm.
Hermia is in love with Lysander but is betrothed to wed Demetrius. To make matters worse, Hermia's friend Helena is in love with Demetrius. Nothing good can come of a love square like this.
All of their lives change one night when Oberon and Titania—the King and Queen of Fairies—decide to have some fun with their romantic situation, which just makes it that much worse for them.
7. Shrek 2 (2004)
Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon
Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
Animation, Adventure, Comedy (1h 33m)
In Shrek 2, Shrek and Fiona are back from their honeymoon. Now, it's time to meet Fiona's parents. Of course, things won't go so smoothly, especially when an ill-intentioned fairy godmother is there to "help."
An absolute classic of the beloved Shrek saga, this animated film is easy to watch, funny, and enjoyable. It may not be as well-regarded or memorable as the first, but it's still a fantastic film!
6. The Black Cauldron (1985)
Directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich
Starring Grant Bardsley, Freddie Jones, Susan Sheridan
Animation, Action, Adventure (1h 20m)
Ask any kid who grew up during the 80s and 90s about The Black Cauldron and they'll all say the same thing: it's an absolute gem!
In The Black Cauldron, Taran is a pig herder who dreams of becoming a knight. Soon enough, an opportunity shows itself—he must save the magical pet pig Hen Wen who was kidnapped by the evil Horned King.
The Black Cauldron is a wondrously fantastical tale where fairies and other magical creatures can help Taran succeed.
5. Hook (1991)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts
Adventure, Comedy, Family (2h 22m)
I know, Peter Pan already featured earlier on this list and the overall story is basically the same in Hook. But the format and mood are completely different, plus Hook's stellar cast makes it its own movie.
Starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Julia Roberts, the story of Hook centers on an adult Peter Pan who has forgotten his childhood. As an adult, he's a bland and empty workaholic.
But when Captain Hook kidnaps his two kids, Peter returns to Neverland to rescue them—and in the process, he may even reclaim his lost childhood and grow into a better person.
4. The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Directed by Mark Waters
Starring Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, David Strathairn
Action, Adventure, Drama (1h 36m)
Every large family has at least one kid who's considered the troublemaker—and that's certainly the case for Jared and his family in The Spiderwick Chronicles.
After they move into an old family estate, weird things start happening... and, of course, Jared is immediately blamed by all.
What they don't know is that magical creatures are responsible for the shenanigans, and they're all after a special book that Jared found. That book happens to be a mysterious field guide to fantastic creatures.
3. The Secret of Kells (2009)
Directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey
Starring Evan McGuire, Brendan Gleeson, Mick Lally
Animation, Adventure, Family (1h 15m)
Set in the remote Irish woods, The Secret of Kells is about a fortress in danger of being attacked by a Viking war party. However, not everyone is eager to fight—some prefer to study.
Brendan, the young nephew of the safety-obsessed Abbot Cellach, works secretly as an apprentice in the scriptorium of the local monastery, learning all about the ancient art of calligraphy.
When the time comes, his love for knowledge soon turns into magic—and he even meets a fairy named Aisling, who's initially suspicious of him but eventually aids him in his endeavors.
2. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López
Drama, Fantasy, War (1h 58m)
It's 1944 and the Allies have invaded Europe, which is currently occupied and ruled over by Nazis. In Spain, the evil Capitan Vidal has just moved to the woods with his new wife and his step-child Ofelia.
Stuck in a world of brutal cruelty, Ofelia soon finds out that there's a different reality that looks much more fascinating. Through a series of magical encounters, she soon learns where she really belongs.
Pan's Labyrinth is a darkly mature movie that blends fantasy with reality to create a rich narrative that carries far more weight than your usual cinematic fairy tales, but demands your full engagement.
1. Song of the Sea (2014)
Directed by Tomm Moore
Starring David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannigan
Animation, Adventure, Drama (1h 33m)
In Song of the Sea, two siblings live with their father in a lighthouse. The younger one, Saoirse, is mute. The older one, Ben, doesn't care about her very much. As for their mother? She simply disappeared.
When taken away from their home by their granny, the two decide to head back for their dog, Cu—and soon find out that their family is much more magical than they thought.
Song of the Sea incorporates the idea of selkies, which are fairy-like creatures from Celtic mythology. It's a unique take on the genre, elevated by gorgeous animation and complex characters.