Sometimes movies and the fantasy genre seems like a wasteland. For every standout there several duds. The same for mages, sorcerers, and wizards. These are my five favorites.
#5 Michael Gambon as Albrus Dumbledore
(Honorable Mention to Richard Harris)
As headmaster of Hogwarts, He molded several generations of Wizards including the most famous Harry Potter. J.K. Rowlings writes a convincing character that is brought to life by Richard Harris followed by Michael Gambon.
#4 Ralph Richardson as Ulrich of Craggenmoor
Ailing Ulrich tricks his apprentice into transporting him to Urland for the final showdown with the dragon Vermithrax Pejorative. Craggenmoor is only exceeded by Hogwarts as a cool place for a wizard to live.
#3 Bruce Spencer as Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander
The newest entry in the bunch. Legend of the Seeker may be a series that just OK but the actors really give it there all and Bruce Spencer as Zed tops them all. Unlike the other four wizards Zeddicus comes off more human. He definitely got the "I know the secrets, you don't" vibe but he also knows when to take a break and just be a person.
#2 Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey/White
Ian McKellan does a standout job as Tolkien's Gandalf the Grey. Buoyed by excellent directing, a good script,and a standout cast for many he THE wizard.
#1 Nicol Williamson as Merlin
Despite Ian McKellan acting and the quality of the film version of the Lord of the Rings, the best wizard of all time for me is Williamson's Merlin. Excalibur is a great film and the cast is as well. But is it is Williamson's Merlin that steals the show. Probably helped that Nicol Williamson and Helen Mirren disliked each other.
Do you dare look into the eyes of the Dragon?!