With the recent home video release of Tim Burton’s sixteenth feature film Frankenweenie, it’s about time we compile a best of list for the mercurial filmmaker. The director who took the macabre and put a modernist spin on it – a Gothic Frank Tashlin if you will – has made some pretty interesting films, both visually and story-wise, and I have collected the ten best right here.
Now since there are ten films on this list, and Burton has made just sixteen, that obviously means there are six films that did not make it. But since both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dark Shadows are nothing more than average at best, and the director’s version of Alice in Wonderland and his Planet of the Apes remake are somewhere in the realm of the atrocious, I am left with just two films to include in a runners-up list: 1989′s Batman and 2012′s Frankenweenie.
Anyway, enough of this introductory hoopla, let’s get on with the show.
10. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Burton’s debut feature and the movie that made, for better or for worse, Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Rubens a star. This is an extremely fun and extremely silly screwballesque comedy adventure thingamajig that may stand somewhere well beyond proper identification or categorization.
9. Corpse Bride (2005)
Take your wife and make a ghoulish undead cartoon version of her, have her voice said ghoulish cartoon version and of course throw in an animated Johnny Depp (your other “wife”) and put it all up on the big screen with hilariously macabre musical numbers. Sounds good to me.
8. Big Fish (2003)
A strange and unusual bear of a movie, but probably, next to Ed Wood, the closest thing Burton has ever done to a sentimental, grown-up movie. This is not meant as a dig on his other work – I actually prefer the less grown-up stuff – but just an observation.
7. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Dripping with even more Gothic ooze than the normal (relative term) Burton film, this Washington Irving tale is spot on gruesome. Plus, how can a film not be great fun when you have Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman of legend and lore.
6. Batman Returns (1992)
The superior of the Burton era Dark Knight films, it is highlighted by Michelle Pfeiffer as the best damn Catwoman this side of Julie Newmar and a great turn by Danny Devito as Oswald Cobblepot himself. Granted, it can’t hold up against Nolan, but c’mon.
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