A definitive ranking of Tim Burton's best movies
This week we got some sad Tim Burton news: He announced his split with Helena Bonham-Carter. But, but, but we also got some happy Tim Burton news: His new movie Big Eyes comes out today and it looks awesome.
Big Eyes, based on a true story, tells the tale of painter Margaret Keane’s success creating wide-eyed portraits, and the struggles that ensued when her husband took all the credit. If Tim Burton isn’t enough of a draw, maybe Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Jason Schwartzman and Krysten Ritter will pique your interest. Eh?
In honor of another soon-to-be classic—and just in time for holiday movie marathoning days—let’s rank our favorite Tim Burton movies. Disclaimer: They’re all equally amazing, but a few are particularly near and dear to our hearts.
10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sweeney Todd is an adaptation of a 1979 musical with the same name. It’s one of the few things that can be classified as a musical horror film, including Jason Segel’s Dracula Musical from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which absolutely counts. You might get Sweeney Todd confused with Edward Scissorhands, but I promise the two are different—Edward is a glorified science experiment, and, you know, wields scissors over razor blades.
9. Alice in Wonderland
Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is so fantastically imaginative and over-the-top. Every detail of every character and scene is deliberate and carefully thought through. It’s such a visual trip from start to finish, you’ll forget if you’re supposed to be outraged at the idea of another remake.
8. Sleepy Hollow
I’ve been to Sleepy Hollow, NY and not once did I see Johnny Depp. Whatever. What I love most about this movie is its delicious use of the pun “heads will roll” on its theatrical poster.
7. Big Fish
Speaking of wonderful, and of people named Edward, Big Fish is the beautifully stunning collection of stories a father passes down to his son. It’s full of metaphors and wisdom and Burton shines through every bit of it.
6. James and the Giant Peach
Everyone has a favorite Roald Dahl book, and James and the Giant Peach is mine. (Okay, it’s tied with Matilda.) Seeing one of your favorite books come to life with characters and voices AND A GINORMOUS PEACH is truly magical, especially when Burton is involved.
5. Edward Scissorhands
What do you do when you have scissors for hands? Cut hair. Pick locks. Carve ice sculptures. These are just a few of the wild things Johnny Depp’s character does in Edward Scissorhands. Only Burton could come up with a character so wonderfully weird, and we’re better for it. Extra points for the romance between Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp, which was just as dreamy to watch onscreen as it was in IRL.
The casting of Batman movies has always come under much scrutiny, but in Burton’s mind (and ours), Michael Keaton is the Dark Knight. As Seth Rogen’s character plainly puts it in Neighbors, “Michael Keaton is Batman to me. Michael Keaton’s Batman is like, ‘. . . hey. . . I’m Batman.’”
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas
With both writer and producer creds, it’s easy to see Burton’s influence in this half-Halloween, half-Christmas movie. What began as his 30-minute TV special pet project tuned into one of the most beloved movies of my childhood. I have to say, as much as I love Christmas Town, I’d really like to see what Thanksgiving Town has to offer.
2. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
One of Burton’s earliest hits and, obviously, one of his best. The story is simple. Kind of. Pee-wee loves bike. Pee-wee loses bike. Pee-wee embarks on a long and winding journey to recover his bike, making a lot of friends along the way. If this movie taught me anything, it’s that there’s no basement at the Alamo. It also taught me that the combination of Paul Reubens’ and Tim Burton’s brains is a magical thing.
Come on, does it get any better than this movie? Beetlejuice was a genre-busting masterpiece that addressed everything from being an outsider (weren’t we all Lydia Deetz?) to theories on the afterlife. And what an afterlife it was. The visuals are assaulting and distinct, the premise is haunting, the performances are hilarious. The dinner scene alone is perfection. And joy of joys: Burton is planning on making a follow-up to his 1988 ghost flick, with Winona Ryder set to reprise her role of Lydia Deetz—now all grown up. This HAS to happen. In the meantime, we’ll be watching this clip on repeat.