Top 10 Tim Burton Films

Burton with his main stars Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton on the set of the game changing Batman

Burton with his main stars Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton on the set of the game changing Batman

List compiled by Eddie on 01/04/2016

It’s funny to contemplate that Tim Burton, the wild haired director whose first feature film was a Pee Wee Herman adventure is also responsible for the first serious and perhaps first utterly successful comic book film in the form of the original Michael Keaton starring Batman and therefore must be considered the granddaddy of what we now see as the Marvel and DC domination of feature films.

Whilst nowdays his arguably most known for this working relationship with the equally ‘artistic” Johnny Depp and his now defunct 13 year marriage to fellow wild haired actress Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton has had one of the most eclectic and varied careers of modern directors and made the not easy switch from critical arthouse darling to director of billion dollar movies like Alice in Wonderland and high profile retellings of beloved properties like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Recent years haven’t exactly been kind to Burton, but with a few exciting projects on the cards for the coming years including the much hyped Beetlejuice 2, here’s hoping the unique and often fantastic talents of Burton can come through once more and deliver the goods just like these below 10 films do in their own rights.

Happy reading and happy watching!

With some of his creations from Corpse Bride, one of Burton's forays into animation

With some of his creations from Corpse Bride, one of Burton’s forays into animation

10. Corpse Bride (2005)

A long term fan of animation and in particular Stop-motion animation, Burton struck the ride chord between strange and whimsical in this mid 2000’s flick that dealt with the macabre in an oddly touching manner. Handsome animation, a winning score and some nice A-list voice talent made Corpse Bride an easy if not an overly specular watch.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – Yes (voice).

9. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Heads are loped off, blood is free flowing and dark humour abounds in Burton’s reimaging of the famed Sleepy Hollow tale. For the purists who count Washington Irving’s long standing story as one of their favourites, Sleepy Hollow might not nail the source material but for Burton fans and those that like their horror tinged with the weird, Sleepy Hollow is a true blast.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – Yes.

8. Mars Attacks! (1996)

Perhaps one of the most oft-played movies on TV from my childhood, Mars Attacks! is Burton’s very own version of an Ed Wood film and a hearkening back to the golden age of Sci-Fi that ran rampant in Hollywood through the 50’s and 60’s. Using country music as a weapon to defeat alien invaders is just one of Mars Attacks! memorable scenarios and this is a film that is a whole lot of fun without once taking itself at all seriously.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – No.

7. Batman Returns (1992)

A somewhat troubled and misunderstood follow up to Burton’s original smash hit, Batman Returns is notable for a rampaging Penguin in the form of Danny DeVito and a snarling Catwomen in the guise of Michelle Pfeiffer. In many ways a bold vision for a comic book movie, Batman Returns was sadly Burton’s last film in the comic book world, although a shot at Superman was at times within his sights.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – No.

6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Having a crack at his first musical it was only apt that Burton choose to adapt Stephen Sondheim and English playwright Hugh Wheeler’s much loved stage play Sweeney Todd. It almost seems as if this story of a deranged barber and his quest for vengeance was designed entirely to suit the styles of Burton the filmmaker and the results of this critically liked film suggest Sweeney Todd was one of Burton’s most readily accessible films despite its anything but crowd pleasing throat slitting narrative.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – Yes.

Beetlejuice saw Burton achieve success like he'd never yet achieved

Beetlejuice saw Burton achieve success like he’d never yet achieved

5. Big Fish (2003)

Touching, magical and wholly unique, Big Fish is Burton at his most crowd pleasing. A lovingly crafted tale of family, love and of course storytelling, Big Fish is beautifully shot, scored and acted (Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor shine in particular) tale that appeals to anyone with a beating heart no matter their age. Big Fish is movie magic at its very best.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – No.

4. Beetlejuice (1988)

“Let’s turn on the juice and see what shakes loose”. Ah Beetlejuice. What really needs to be said about this much loved and soon to be followed up 80’s classic? With more than its fair share of dark humour and a whole lot of imagination, Beetlejuice deserves its status as one of the most liked cult films of the last 30 years.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – No.

3. Ed Wood (1994)

It’s not often we get to see a Tim Burton film that is based around real life history but the story of Ed Wood, one of the world’s most famous directors for all the wrong reasons is wonderfully bought to life in this handsomely crafted biopic. With Johnny Depp delivering one of his best ever performances and with material that’s perfectly suited to Burton’s ideology, Ed Wood is an all-round winner.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – Yes.

2. Batman (1989)

Turning a much loved comic book character and a name perhaps most well-known for a camp 60’s TV show into a huge box office hit, Burton wittingly or unwittingly created what we know as the tent pole summer blockbuster that just so happens to be a comic booked fuelled adventure. While Christopher Nolan eventually created an all new and outstanding universe in the city of Gotham, much thanks need to be given to Burton who delivered the goods with this inventive and memorable big budget event film that to this day remains satisfying watchable.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – No.

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

The film that’s evidence of Burton’s true power as a filmmaker, to make the unbelievable both believable and real, Edward Scissorhands, the story of a man made entirely from scratch and just so happens to be missing digits on his hands is a poetic, fantastically realised and wondrous adventure that has heart to spare. Featuring all the trademarks of Burton’s most loved works, Johnny Depp, a Danny Elfman score, OTT costumes and abstract yet familiar sets, Edward Scissorhands is a classic of modern cinema and a film that continues to wow audiences to this day over 25 years on since it first saw the light of day.

Does it star Johnny Depp? – Yes.

With a veteran screen legend and up and comer (guess whose who?), Burton no doubt had a blast making Edward Scissorhands

With a veteran screen legend and up and comer (guess whose who?), Burton no doubt had a blast making Edward Scissorhands

We’d love to know what your favourite Tim Burton films are so please leave a comment below!

For our other Director Top 10’s check out –

Steven Spielberg

Dario Argento

Terrence Malik

Ridley Scott

The Coen Brothers

Martin Scorsese

John Carpenter

David Fincher

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19 responses to “Top 10 Tim Burton Films

  1. Great list! I did a top five once but really should do ten. I had to leave some great ones out. It sucks that his films have gone downhill – I LOVED his older stuff. Edward Scissorhands is also my number one by a million miles. 🙂 My next two favorites are probably Ed Wood & Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. You’re breaking my heart leaving Pee-Wee out! 😉

  2. i would easily swap “Batman” out with “Sweeny Todd” or “Sleepy Hollow” as Burton’s achievements in tone and atmosphere is ruined by his disinterest in Batman (regulating him to a supporting role) and his complete failure in being able to craft a decent action scene at that point in his career.

    otherwise its neck and neck between “Ed Wood” and “Edward Scissorhands”. As the latter is a distilling of all of Burton’s strengths and quirks and the former manages to feel like a Burton movie without really even looking like one (along with great performances, score, cinematography, etc, etc, etc)

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