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Tim Burton: the top 10 of his best films

What are the ten best films of the unmistakable director Tim Burton? We tell you our opinion in this ranking

From the moving “Edward Scissorhands” to the delirious “Dark Shadows”, Tim Burton is one of Hollywood’s most iconic and unmistakable directors, able to transport the viewer into the deep abyss of his imagination. To describe his style, a real neologism has even been coined “burtonesque”, which can be defined as an “imaginative world for its gothic, darkly humorous tales of solitary outsiders”

Burton rose to prominence in the mid-80s, thanks to his captivating, inspired aesthetic to German Expressionism and the history of horror cinema. Over time he has then overlooked perspectives that are not always so characteristic, even if his style remains a trademark. Lastly, he became very popular with the TV series Wednesday dedicated to the family Addams, but going back to his filmography, let’s see what are his ten best films. Here is the ranking of the 10 best films of Tim Burton.

10. The Chocolate Factory | Tim Burton’s best movies

The Chocolate Factory is a film that has left its mark on popular culture. The famous novel has received a transposition on the big screen with a fantastic Gene Wilder as Willy Wonkaand Tim Burton has tried to give his own reading of the great classic.

Charlie Bucket grows up in poverty in a house very close to the Wonka Candy Company, the best pastry shop in the world. For years the factory was closed to the outside world due to industrial espionage, but Willy Wonka decided to go into hiding 5 golden tickets inside his chocolate bars. The lucky 5, in addition to a lifetime supply of chocolate, will be able to visit the factory.

The film received mixed reviews. Certainly Depp’s interpretation, albeit original, is not at the level of Gene Wilder. Depp’s Wonka, desperate for a spiritual heir who understands his worldview, finds what he’s looking for in Charlie. In the end it is the bourgeois morality of the family that wins: Charlie and his family are “incorporated” by the factory, giving it back a humanity it initially lacked.

9. Batman | Tim Burton’s best movies

While Christopher Nolan is widely celebrated as director of the best Batman movie, Burton more accurately understands and captures the spirit of the original comics, presenting a highly stylized version of Gotham City that becomes a distinctive and atmospheric place. Obviously Jack Nicholson he is absolutely iconic as the Joker.

Tim Burton’s Batman is a triumph of design over story, style over substance – a good-looking movie with a plot you don’t care much about. Released in the summer of 1989, it became an instant phenomenon, the highest-grossing film of the year: $251 million domestically and another $160 million globally. A cinematic feat that not many others have matched.

8. Frankenweenie | Tim Burton’s best movies

Victor with an experiment tries to bring his beloved companion, the dog Sparky, back to life, but the consequences of this gesture are unpredictable. What contributed most to the glory of the film is the personal component inserted by Burton. It’s a tribute to the guy to the cinema and techniques that originally inspired the director, to his childhood as an outsider in suburban California in the 60s and 70s, to the comfort he was able to find, as a boy, in the films of animation and monsters.

Shot in full length black and white stop motion, the characters elicit genuine empathy, and the bond between Victor and Sparky is touching. The film more than a remake, it appears as an expansion of the live action short film of the same name that Burton made in 1984. Frankenweenie works as a nice distillation of Burton’s whole thesis: sometimes there is more heart in what it is seen as grotesque than in what is normally glorified as “good”.

7. Sweeney Todd | Tim Burton’s best movies

Barber Sweeney Todd is charged and jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. Once out, he decides to take revenge with the help of an accomplice. It is a dark musical, thoroughly exploring the idea that evil is inextricably linked with the human condition. From the very beginning of the story it is evident the way the past obscures the presentleaving the characters in permanent obscurity.

Cinematically, Burton shapes his musical in an “intimate” way. There are no platoons of dancers in London squares, this is a London of narrow alleyways, dark and labyrinthine streets. Johnny Depp and Sarah Bonham Carter sing alone. At the same time, contrary to much of his filmography, the story is downright pessimistic: there is no room for salvation in the quest for vengeance.

6. Big eyes | Tim Burton’s best movies

Towards the end of the 50s, the artist Walter Keane gets a incredible success thanks to portraits of children with big eyes. But no one knows that the true author of the paintings is his wife, Margaret, already “victim” of a previous marriage, who is too insecure and shy to rebel. Only after their marriage ends does the truth come out.

Burton tells the story of a seemingly perfect family and the facets of an unpredictable art. From the outside, the couple looks like a symbol of the American dream, but in reality they are complex, multifaceted, eccentric figures and not easy to label. In the same way, the relationship between art and popularity becomes almost exclusive: one can say that one is an artist only if successful. Big Eyes is a serious, demanding film, but certainly a little gem in Tim Burton’s filmography.

5. Nightmare Before Christmas | Tim Burton’s best movies

Jack Skeletron, king of the decadent world of Halloween, is tired of screaming and fear. So while the monsters emerge from the coffins to terrorize the world, Jack sinks into a Hamletic existential crisis. Addicted to terror and dissatisfied with a reality that is always the same, he gets lost in a forest looking for inspiration. He finds it in a magical door that catapults him into the world of Christmas. Warmth, color, joy. Finally the amazement she was looking for. And then a mission: to replace Santa Claus and manage the preparations for the party most awaited by all the children.

Among Tim Burton’s most paradigmatic films for the gothic imprint of the tones and above all for the clash between opposite realities, in which the non-formal stands out over the banal for courage and ingenuity, in Nightmare Before Christmas he delicately plays with opposite planes of perception, with The stubborn attempt to give shape and substance to something abstract and impalpable like happiness. A rare sensitivity outlines a necessary moral for a Christmas story (we are at Disney), without ever falling into the banal and exceeding moralism.

4. Beetlejuice | Tim Burton’s best movies

A couple of happy ghostly spouses suddenly find themselves grappling with a family of loud and petulant snobs who have taken over their home. The film’s explosive opening makes the entire film an anticlimax. Beetlejuice is a horror comedy, but also an existential contemplation of the afterlife, a gothic fashion showcase, a reflection on social alienation.

For a film that is sassy and juvenile at times, Beetlejuice somehow spans several genres and succeeds well in all of them. Each set is absolutely breathtaking in detail and style, each outfit is perfectly curated, each note in the score of Danny Elfman strikes the perfect balance between silly and menacing. It’s no wonder that the film has essentially spawned an entire subculture of goth aficionados, who seem to celebrate the film’s Halloween spirit year-round.

3. Edward Scissorhands | Tim Burton’s best movies

Edward is a young man who has scissors for hands. The boy is the unfinished business of a scientist, Vincent Pricewho died before concluding his Frankenstein experiment. The influence Mary Shelley’s book had on the director is evident and is a more mature continuation of Frankenweenie, a canine adaptation of the literary classic.

Edward Scissorhands does more justice to the literary work as Tim Burton delves deeper into the themes that characterize the book’s Frankenstein. The “creature” is the example of the sublime, of the different, which only as such causes terror but which in reality should not nor deserve it. This film not only solidified Burton’s status as a singular talent in Hollywood, but also launched the career of Johnny Depp allowing the actor to move further and further away from mainstream cinema – the one that had turned him into a heartthrob in 21 Jump Street – to rise to more complex projects.

2. Big Fish | Tim Burton’s best movies

In the world there are some people capable of extraordinary feats, incredible feats and then there are those who love facts, even if they are simple, boring and repetitive. This is Big Fish: a father who, with his imaginative stories, is able to entertain a crowd, and his son, Will, disillusioned by his father’s extravagant nature, his stories, his lies. What in everyone’s eyes are fairy tales about giants, witches and werewolves, for Will are lies, a painful fairy tale that leads him to a tireless search for the truth.

The fish is the leitmotif of the film, present from beginning to end. It is the metaphor of Edward himself: in captivity to grow he is subject to the size of his aquarium, but in the open sea it can triple its size. So, as the fish must run away and face the uncertain, Edward must do the same to achieve his goals. The film is rich in learned symbolism, but it is also more concretely about how to leave our comfort zone in search of personal fulfillment, no matter the difficulties.

1. Ed Wood | Tim Burton’s best movies

Driven by the desire to restore dignity to the least, Burton decides to make a biopic on the “worst director in the history of cinema”. Johnny Depp at the same time offers the most captivating and moving performance of his career. A contagious optimism that never appears false, fictitious. There is honesty in every scene, a sincere passion, an irrepressible desire to “make a film his way” ….