With his latest movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in cinemas now, I thought it as good a time as any to look back on the previous movies directed by the wizard of weird, Mr. Tim Burton! Please note carefully: This is just the movies directed by Tim Burton, and will be focusing on his feature-length movies only. This is all my opinion, so I would love to know your favorites at the end of the article. With all that out the way, here are the eight, great Tim Burton movies to get you in the mood for Miss Peregrine.
8. Mars Attacks! (1996)
Despite the fact I was traumatized by this film as a child, it still remains one of Burton’s best, and certainly most memorable movies. With an A-list cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox (I really could go on and on!), this zany sci-fi comedy might not have been able to compete with alien-busting blockbuster Independence Day at the box office (they were both released in the same summer), but it certainly demonstrated all of Burton’s madcap qualities and unique take on filmmaking. The effects might look incredibly dated today, but I think that is part of its charm, and it still makes for a very entertaining watch.
7. Frankenweenie (2012)
I’d be tempted to refer to this movie as “quintessential Tim Burton,” as it contains so many of the elements that we have come to know him best for. It’s stop motion, contains horror elements, is very aesthetically “Burton-esque,” and features the voice talents of some frequent Burton collaborators (Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau). In fact, it’s really only missing Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp!
Burton aficionados will probably already know that it is in fact a feature-length version of a 1984 Burton-directed short film of the same name (which is well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it), and it’s rather on the dark side despite being a “kids” film. With a plot that revolves around reanimating some beloved deceased pets, it has a wonderful off-beat charm, and looks absolutely stunning in black and white as well. Maybe not as well known as some of Burton’s other animated films (both directed and ones he is associated with), but Frankenweenie is really rather wonderful, and well worth checking out.
6. Ed Wood (1994)
I discovered Ed Wood at the height of my Burton-Depp obsession, circa 2006–07, and it still ranks pretty high in both my favorite Tim Burton films, and my favorite Johnny Depp performances. Bringing to life the infamously bad real-life director in a way that is both touching and funny makes this a really entertaining watch, and additionally the wonderful performance from Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, is truly excellent. It’s a great movie about some really, really bad movies, and easily finds its place among my favorite Burton films.
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2007)
Understandably, this film isn’t for everyone, particularly those who have an aversion to films where pretty much every word is sung, but this film adaptation of the popular stage musical proved that Burton could turn his hand to the musical genre as well; albeit one that seems tailor-made for him to tackle when you consider its subject matter. Once again we have Depp and Bonham-Carter in the leading roles, but while some nay-say the fact Burton will always cast these two, I think they’re both great in their roles, and carry off the singing as well as the acting. Aesthetically, it’s great once again, and I love the over the top Tarantino-esque blood splatters. The late, great Alan Rickman also crops up as the especially nasty Judge Turpin, and seeing him get his comeuppance in this movie is immensely satisfying.
4. Beetlejuice (1988)
No one does wacky quite like Tim Burton, and this is him at his absolute wackiest! Expertly mixing zany comedy with a dash of horror makes this another quintessential Burton film. With a standout performance from Michael Keaton, I imagine this would rank high on a lot of people’s favorite Tim Burton films. I would say that it hasn’t aged particularly well, especially when compared to some of his other films, but it’s still immensely entertaining, and worth watching for Keaton alone.
3. Batman (1989)
Speaking of Keaton, here we have him again in a Batman movie straight from the imagination of Tim Burton. While The Dark Knight trilogy is easily the best film incarnation of Batman, this 1989 version is arguably the most “comic-booky,” and Burton’s garish vision of Gotham really fits in with this comic book aesthetic. Add to this a peak crazy Jack Nicholson performance as The Joker, a particularly gravelly Michael Keaton as Batman, some good action and a whole load of fun, and this film proved Burton could work his magic to create something truly unique instead of formulaic. I would still consider this film to be one of the better Batman movies, and it’s still a great watch.
2. Corpse Bride (2005)
Some might be surprised to see this film so high up the list, but for me, Corpse Bride is the only Tim Burton-directed movie that has come close to recreating the magic of The Nightmare Before Christmas — a film conceived and produced by Burton. Of course, nothing can beat Nightmare Before Christmas, but I adore Corpse Bride nonetheless, and it is undoubtedly the Burton film I will watch the most often.
Visually, it is very similar to Nightmare Before Christmas, and once again in trademark stop-motion style. The songs in it are understated and beautiful, and I love the idea that the real world is grey and bland, and the world of the dead is bright and colorful. The voice cast are great, with Depp almost unrecognizable with his flawless stuttering British accent. As I am completely adverse to horror movies (I’m a big wuss!), this has become one of the staples that I watch every Halloween, which is testament to how good it is.
1. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
What else could it be? Easily my favorite Burton-Depp movie, this has a tremendous amount of nostalgia for me, and while it has the trademark quirkiness and oddness, it’s actually quite a touching story, and Depp manages to pull off a great performance behind an awful lot of makeup. There’s wonderful humanity to this performance, and a character is created that is so likable the audience is immediately on his side from the start, which is essential for the story to come together. I love Burton’s garishly exaggerated vision of stereotypical suburbia, and there’s some surprisingly sharp (pun definitely intended) social commentary as well, particularly around conformity in these types of neighborhoods. There’s a nice underlying message about acceptance and not judging on first appearances as well, meaning there’s a lot more to this movie than first meets the eye.
Check out Movie Pilot's interview with director Tim Burton in the video below:
What is your favorite Tim Burton film?