Of Tim Burton’s 30 directorial credits, only a handful are worth taking seriously. Burton’s hit-and-miss track record, sometimes tainted with an unremitting reliance on his neo-gothic style, holds him back from greatness. But his career has shown the occasional glimmer of visual and dramatic excellence. Biopic of painter, Margaret Keane, Big Eyes, seems to be a return to form for Burton, or at least a break away from the likes of Frankenweenie and Dark Shadows. With Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz (and no Johnny Depp in sight), this may be one of his glimmers of greatness. To celebrate the film’s Boxing Day release, we’re running down the director’s four best films. Here they are, in order:
When it comes to Tim Burton films, it doesn’t get more Tim Burton than this. A legend brought alive with lurid, monochrome visuals that stars Johnny Depp. However, this particular Burton archetype pays off incredibly well. Depp plays Sweeney Todd, a vengeful barber who teams up with failing pie shop owner, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter). To save the business, Todd starts to butcher his customers to put in Lovett’s pies. A grisly hit amongst the punters. The Demon Barber uses the situation to get at Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), the corrupt lawman who exiled him and destroyed his family. This adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical delivers the plot with expert poise and balance, and the music numbers crack the cocktail of drama and humour. This violent, emphatic musical drama is Burton’s calling card for the ages.
This odd fairytale fantasy tells a heart-warming story that matches the likes of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Johnny Depp plays Edward, a sweet artificial boy whose inventor died before he could finish him, leaving him with scissors for hands. When a kind lady welcomes him into her home, things start to take a turn for the worst. Burton made a legend of his own with this immensely creative concept. A concept that gave him a cult following, and proved to be a launching pad for Depp’s career. This story of a misunderstood monstrosity blends the paradigm of Frankenstein with the spirit of Disney – a stylish, white-washed Christmas treat.
Johnny Depp plays cinema’s ultimate anti-hero, Ed Wood, the B-Movie director often dubbed the worst filmmaker of all time. It tracks his efforts to reignite Bela Lugosi’s career, who’s brilliantly played by Martin Landau. This vivid biopic plays out like a dark tragicomedy, lampooning the life of the inept filmmaker and also empathising with his passion and ambition. In terms of plot, Ed Wood lacks some rhythm and purpose, but Burton showed here that he can balance his visual flair with good storytelling. A balance we hope to see in Big Eyes!
Anyone who says they don’t enjoy the campy pre-Nolan Batman are lying, pure and simple. In this ludicrously entertaining superhero flick, Jack Nicholson plays the Joker with signature menace, as he squares off with Michael Keaton’s Batman. The toe-curling quips and one-liners are a joy, and it’s a welcome relief from Marvel and DC’s modern attempts to over-dramatise the comic book heroes. This may not be a traditional choice for a list like this, but for pure entertainment value, Burton produced a winner.
Tickets for Big Eyes are now available! Book up here to avoid disappointment.