Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)Set in post-Civil War Spain in 1944, Pan's Labyrinth is a magic realist tale told through the eyes of a little girl named Ofelia, whose imaginary and real world is inhabited by nightmarish creatures. Ofelia moves with her pregnant mother to their new home in an abandoned mill to stay with her cruel stepfather, Captain Vidal, who has been sent to this remote area to rid it of a small Republican militia. Disliked and maltreated by Vidal, the bookish Ofelia escapes into a fantastical world inhabited by fairies and strange creatures. Though it is promoted as a "fairy tale", it is not for kids and certainly not for the squeamish due to the unflinching violence highlighting the everyday horrors of Franco's Spain. It is, however, a beautiful elegy for childhood and should be put at the top of any film aficionados list. The acting is great, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the creatures don't rely heavily on CGI - one of my main complaints with recent fantasy films - but rather makeup, masks, and puppetry. It is one of the best reviewed films of the year, earning 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been universally acclaimed on Metacritic, with a score of 98.
Visit the Official website for Pan's Labyrinth.