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Looking for the best films that feature magic and magicians? We've got you covered. If you're a professional spy or a hopeless romantic, you'd be in luck because you're well-represented in modern movies. But if you're a magician…not so much. But there are still a few modern classics that most people should see, and we've compiled a list of recommendations.
Movies with Magicians
Here are the best movies about magic:
The best magic movie of all time, brought to us by Christopher Nolan. Nolan is an expert filmmaker (The Dark Knight, Inception, Interstellar, Oppenheimer, etc.), and he brings his love of twists and layered storytelling to The Prestige. While on the surface, this is a battle of two magicians, it's ultimately a testament to the lengths magicians will go to hide their secrets. Set in 1890s London and featuring David Bowie, this film is a tour de force of true stakes. It's also a compelling film whether or not you like magic because the storytelling and twists are superb. This is the best magic movie ever made, and it should be first on your list.
Now You See Me
If Nolan's movie was made for the true magic fan, Now You See Me was made to be a blockbuster, and it was. With an all-star cast like Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Morgan Freeman, Now You See Me was more of a parody or tribute to magic than any accurate representation. But, because the public sees so little magic, magicians frequently get asked, "Is what you do like Now You See Me?" No. We don't hypnotize our entire audience. However, as a vehicle for putting magic in the public eye, it did a great job and certainly didn't do any harm (anyone who thinks so is severely overestimating the impact of magic movies).
Now You See Me 2
Clearly worse than the first and riding the coattails of the first movie, NYSM2 is…fine. But, in terms of the cinematic history of magic, an important movie and clearly one of the most popular ones ever made. Not much to say here besides that if you want to complete your catalogue, you might as well crack a few beers and give it a watch. How was this sequel not titled "Now You Don't!"?
The Prestige was released on October 20th, 2006. But The Illusionist, a strikingly similar film also about an 1890s European magician, was released on September 1st, 2006. After some research, it appears that this is an example of "twin films," where movie studios race to put out a movie on similar topics. This is funny, considering how rare it is for a feature film to be made about a Victorian magician. The IMDb description says that "In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing." Which sounds…bleh. Cheesy. Far less nuanced than Nolan's version. But still, it has an all-star cast (Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti).
This British comedy film is actually directed by Andrew O'Connor, a long-time collaborator of mind reader Derren Brown. O'Connor usually co-directs and co-writes all of Derren's live theatre shows. This film is a little bit of a pivot and features the Peep Show sitcom duo, Mitchell & Webb. Strap in for quite a brutally honest and comedic take on the life of amateur magicians competing with each other.
In and Of Itself
Let's finish this with one that's not technically a movie, but is on Hulu, so it counts. Derek DelGaudio broke magic with this genre-defining show, and it's a genuine gift to magicians that it's now on Hulu to watch and re-watch. We won't give anything away here, so know that it's not hyperbole to say that DelGaudio changed magic with this show. Directed by Frank Oz, you get a visual masterpiece as well as a phenomenal show. Check it out.
Did we miss any great magic movies? Comment with your suggestions.