Alex White’s All-Time Fantastic Fest Top 10 (or his best attempt at it)

By Alex White

With 2014 marking the tenth anniversary of Fantastic Fest, the time has come for some of us cinephiles to have a little fun and produce a top ten list of our favorite films from Fantastic Fests of the past.

While I have only attended the full festival for the last four years, I have taken it upon myself to catch up on many of the fantastic films that played the festival prior to my attendance. With an unavoidable bias towards more recent years, here is my all-time Fantastic Fest top 10.

Alex White's All-Time Fantastic Fest Top 10

  1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – An oldie by Fantastic Fest standards, Guillermo Del Toro’s fantastical Spanish civil war epic is not only my favorite Fantastic Fest film but my favorite film of my lifetime. This cinematic wonder of Del Toro’s excels thanks to an engrossing story, impeccable performances and one of the most memorable film scores in years. Simply put, “Pan’s Labyrinth” is flawless.
  2. Cloud Atlas (2012) – Thanks to a wonderful secret screening experience in 2012, I was able to witness this cult classic with the Wachowskis in attendance. As a cinephile, that is an experience I won’t soon forget. It feels weird calling a film starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry a cult classic but that is essentially what this multiple storyline epic has become. A dazzling achievement that didn’t get its fair shake in the mainstream awards race.
  3. Never Let Me Go (2010) – The best film starring Carey Mulligan to date, this entry fits in to the Fantastic Fest lineup in a much more subtle way than most films in the genre film filled program. As much a romantic drama as it is an unsettling dystopic examination of humanity in the future, “Never Let Me Go” will work its way deep into your thoughts well before the credits roll.
  4. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2011) – Perhaps my greatest “EHRMAHGERD” moment of my Fantastic Fest years, this trippy sci-fi debut feature from Panos Cosmatos won my heart completely.  With its hypnotic electronic score and use of colors, “Beyond the Black Rainbow” will wash over you.  Let me be the first to welcome you to the Arboria Institute. Enjoy your stay.
  5. The Congress (2013) – A blend of trippy animation and heartfelt family drama, “The Congress” tells a story of struggle while projecting a possible future for entertainment and mankind. My favorite film of the 2013 festival, this live-action drama and animation blend is in theaters nationwide now.  
  6. Vanishing Waves (2012) – This Lithuanian sci-fi romance nearly swept the Fantastic Fest awards in 2012 and deservedly so. Stunning cinematography and a love story that shatters scientific and emotional boundaries makes “Vanishing Waves” a can’t miss for any international cinephile.
  7. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) – The film that introduced many to Andrew Garfield, this dazzling and almost nonsensical spectacle transforms itself into what is perhaps director Terry Gilliam’s finest film.  With an abundance of color, magic, laughs and wonder “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” soars.
  8. A Serious Man (2009) – My favorite Coen Brothers film, “A Serious Man” starts with all of the crazy and doesn’t let that crazy go at all from beginning to end.  A tragic and darkly comedic fable, “A Serious Man” is one of the Coens weirdest films but also one of their finest.
  9. Our Heroes Died Tonight (2013) – Playing much like the classic black & white noir films of the past, “Our Heroes Died Tonight” tells a striking story of a war veteran entering professional wresting post-World War II. Nearly every frame is pristine, every character major or minor memorable, every scene gripping and important. This isn’t a film pretending to be a classic. It’s the real thing.
  10. Klown (2011) – A foreign comedy so funny I had to see it twice within a week, this is the feature length version of the Danish TV series of the same name. Not the comedy to show your Grandma, “Klown” is full of crude humor, drunkenness and sexual exploitation in the most hilarious of ways


Honorable Mention (in no particular order)

I Declare War, Combat Girls, LFO, Coherence, There will be Blood, Holy Motors, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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