Written by Patti Pauley
For close to 30 years now, Tim Burton has been one of Hollywood’s most successful directors in the industry today, and one of horror’s most beloved. With the exception of a few misses in the blockbuster circuit, the imaginative maestro’s movies are widely recognized as some of the most colorful in the film-world and will not be soon forgotten. Burton has become a voice for that little gothic rebellious teen inside some of us saying, “It’s ok to be strange and unusual.” It’s without uncertain doubt that his tales of wonder and his unique sense of style you see in every film, can’t help but make you smile when you see it.
In the wake of this year’s big announcement on the confirmation of Beetlejuice 2 filming this year, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate the madness of the mind of one of my favorite directors. The macabre way he throws his creative genius on film is brilliant and needs to be celebrated.
That being said, let’s rank the top 10 Tim Burton films of all time!
10. Batman Returns
Im betting Burton’s reluctance to do a sequel to his massive achievement of the original in 1989, was eating those words after the box office smash of the sequel. The dream cast was put together in what I think, is undoubtedly the best sequel in the series. With Michael Keaton returning as the dark knight, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny Devito as the demented Penguin; The movie comes full circle with superior acting and storytelling when Batman rises again to defend Gotham. Oh, and it has Christopher Walken playing the asshole antagonist in the film. What more could we ask for?
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9. Big Fish
Burton’s adaptation of Daniel Wallace’s novel about a father whose love affair for tall tales has driven a wedge between himself and his son turned into one long gorgeous scene of imagery on the big screen. The focus of the strain on the father/ son relationship in the film, hit home personally for the director as he had just recently lost both parents before signing on. The strong performances from Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor magnificently glow throughout the movie and it’s one to pop in soon if you’ve yet to see it.
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8. Ed Wood
Ahh here we go- You’re going to start seeing a LOT of Johnny Depp this point forward, not that this a bad thing- meow. Anywho, although receiving praise from critics this was one of his big flops in theaters. Depp portrays the colorful misunderstood B movie director Ed Wood of Plan 9 Of Outer Space- among others. The film also portrays Bela Lugosi’s pivotal role in the life of the late director. The queer and quirky personality of Ed Wood may have drawn Burton to direct the biopic as he could easily relate to being misunderstood in the same aspect.
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7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Both riveting and unsettling, Depp’s performance of the wrongfully imprisoned barber hell bent on revenge with a razor is filled with love, madness and a shit ton of gore. Burton was blown away upon seeing it on the theater stage in his younger years and took a fascination with the story, carrying it with him for years until he had the chance in the 2006 to help pen the screenplay for the theatrical adaptation.
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6. Sleepy Hollow
Burton takes the classic Washington Irving tale of Ichabod and headless horseman to another level with a new spin to the beloved spooky story all while keeping true to the roots of the story. Burton brings his visions to the town of Sleepy Hollow and delivers with that ominous vibe of gothic texture. It’s overall extremely beautiful to look at.
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5. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Yes sir. It was the worst accident I’ve ever seen. I never thought a scene from a Pee Wee film could scare the crap out of me as a kid, but congratulations Mr. Tim Burton. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was Tim Burton’s feature length directorial debut with the premise of Pee Wee scouring the country for his stolen bicycle. The movie is ridiculously goofy and just fucken fun to watch. Burton also brought in Danny Elfman to write the musical score for the film and thus started a beautiful relationship between the two.
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With the director of Pee Wee and Mr. Mom in the role of the Dark Knight, fans were more than skeptic about the tone of the film and how it would play out, fearing another campy retelling version for audiences- referring to the Adam West era. Holy shit, we’re fans ever wrong about this gem. Michael Keaton IS both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Jack Nicholson as the joker is pretty goddamn superb as well. Just another reason why we should never pre-judge a film prior to release.
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What can I say about the bio-exorcist other than this was a massive achievement on the part of the up and coming director. Keaton nails the role as the off the wall ghost with the most in what was one of the biggest hits of 1988. Which in turn actually greenlit the go ahead for the production of Batman in the wake of its overwhelming success. The pairing of Winona Ryder as Lydia Deitz and Keaton was brilliant in the casting department. The combination of comedy and morbid tone to this film remain one of my personal favorites. I’ve seen it about 167 times, and it keeps getting funnier. Every single time I see it. Actually, that’s probably pretty damn close to the amount of viewings I’ve had with this gem.
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2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Even though technically The Nightmare Before Christmas was NOT directed by Tim Burton, it did stem from his creative noggin with a poem he had written back in 1982. Burton produced the groundbreaking visionary stop motion fantasy directed by Henry Selick, and became a smash hit with critics and fans alike. The strange and beautiful graphics of the film absolutely scream the essence of Tim Burton and had to be included regardless of whether he directed or not. Fun fact: Burton intended to adapt the poem into a television special with the narrated by his favorite actor, Vincent Price.
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After the huge successes of Batman and Beetlejuice, Burton pretty much got what he wanted; and what he wanted was to make a story he had been contemplating in his early years as a lonely adolescent living in southern California. In the film, the sharp handed abomination that was crafted by the master of horror himself, Vincent Price, who suddenly passes away before he finishes his creation of a man. Edward alone and scared, he is discovered by a door to door saleslady who takes pity on him and brings him down from the cold rafters of his abandoned castle to the real world. The film is as beautiful and mysterious as it sounds, and purely a joy to just look at. This is what I think, is Burton’s greatest story of love and lost as reality is never that kind to what they do not understand.
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What is your favorite Burton masterpiece? Let us know!