Tim Burton, known for his distinctive style, has created a portfolio of memorable films that captivate audiences with their whimsical and darkly imaginative worlds. Among his best works are “Edward Scissorhands,” a poignant tale of an unusual outsider, and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” a beloved stop-motion masterpiece. “Beetlejuice” also ranks high, with its quirky characters and macabre humor, solidifying Tim Burton’s status as a visionary director in the world of cinema.
Before we dive in, let’s look back at the beginnings of Tim Burton’s career. Many people don’t realize that Burton started out as an animation apprentice at Walt Disney Productions in the ‘80s. Working on films such as “The Fox and the Hound,” “Tron,” and “The Back Cauldron,” his talent was evident, but his artistic flair wasn’t being used to its full potential. It wasn’t until he directed the short “Frankenweenie,” which would later be turned into a feature film that he would grab the attention of Paul Reubens, and his talents would be used to their full extent.
Paul Reubens would go on to ask Tim Burton to direct his first full-length film, “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” The film would be a spinoff of the successful show, and Reubens specifically wanted Burton’s now signature tone for the film. The movie was a hit, making back its budget 30 times over and putting Burton’s name on the map as a director. What would follow would be smash hits such as “Batman” and “Beetlejuice,” with Burton forever putting his aesthetic stamp on the world of cinema.
His iconic directorial style lives on through his many incredibly creative movies. We at StudyFinds have researched across multiple platforms to bring you the top five best Tim Burton movies of all time. Disagree with our list? Don’t fret; we would love to hear from you in the comments below! Now without further ado, let’s get to that list.
The List: Best Tim Burton Movies, According to Experts
“Who would’ve guessed that a biopic about the worst director of all time would be the highlight of another filmmaker’s career? Yet ‘Ed Wood’ remains the most entertaining and moving entry in Burton’s filmography. Although all the ingredients are in place for a campy romp, Burton instead creates a loving tribute to Wood’s passion and enthusiasm and to the oddball group of misfits who populated his films. Wood may have been a hack, but at least he was a gleeful hack,” explains GoldDerby.
“This biopic of the notoriously talentless filmmaker — written by the screenwriting team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, of ‘The People Vs. Larry Flynt’ and ‘Man on the Moon’ — are hilarious and deeply affecting, in both the portrait of the filmmaker himself (played with irrepressible cheer by Depp) and, especially, his friend Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau, in the role that would win him an Oscar). This might be the Burton movie the fewest people have seen, but it remains, nearly 25 years later, his best,” writes Vulture.
“Burton is able to inject the film with a sense of unbridled wonder where it could easily feel like an exploitative mess of finger-pointing and laughing. Behind the camera, Burton never takes the piss out of his subjects, as he sees a lot of himself in characters and people like Ed Wood. The film was a critical success, won two Academy Awards, and remains Burton’s most acclaimed film,” says MovieWeb.
Have you ever wondered where snow comes from? “One of the most unique dramas of the 90s, ‘Edward Scissorhands’ is a story that could’ve only been told by someone like Burton. Depicting suburban life as one of turmoil, misunderstood intention, and heartbreaking sincerity, Burton’s film was a beautiful and haunting recognition of the weirdos of everyday life. It’s another Burton/Depp collaboration and among one of the best they have ever worked on together. The film itself follows Edward, a young man whose creator never finished working with him, leaving him with sharp scissors for hands, going against the boy’s uncommonly gentle nature. He ends up being taken in by a well-meaning stranger and falling in love with her daughter. It’s a heartwarming if not a bit dark, story about never judging a book by its cover and always keeping kindness in your heart,” describes MovieWeb.
“This is how Burton chose to spend his ‘Batman’ spoils, this dark suburban fantasy about a poor teenager so distanced from the world that he has scissors for hands: a monster who can never let anyone near. Depp’s otherworldliness is perfect here, and Winona Ryder is exactly right as the girl who sees herself in this ‘freak’,” says Vulture.
“Edward is an identifiable character, showcasing the sad truth of being an unusual person with underappreciated talents. Sadly, the world is too afraid of the unordinary to recognize that special uniqueness. Burton has called ‘Edward Scissorhands’ his most personal film, and with so many fans finding a kindred spirit in Edward, we see what Burton means,” explains Nerd Stash.
Okay, we’ve already said it once, so we can only say it two more times before there is trouble! “With those iconic black-and-white stripes, the most Danny Elfman soundtrack ever, and Winona Ryder as the ultimate Goth girl, ‘Beetlejuice’ (Tim Burton’s second feature-length movie) is THE quintessential movie from the eccentric director. It’s largely plotless, instead moving from one ghoulish set piece to another. From the title character (in a stellar performance from Michael Keaton) bursting out of a cardboard grave to a possessed family dancing around a table to the song Day-O! by Harry Belafonte, Beetlejuice is unpredictable and hilarious. Imperfect it may be, but that’s what makes it all the better,” raves GameRant.
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“On the basis of its set design and practical effects alone, ‘Beetlejuice’ is one of Burton’s very best. After a couple dies in a tragic car accident, they find themselves haunting the home they lived in when they were alive. There’s only one problem: their house has been sold, and the only way to make the new owners leave is by scaring them away, a feat made difficult by the fact that these two are probably the most vanilla ghosts ever. Enter ‘Beetlejuice,’ a poltergeist who guarantees that he can scare — or just annoy — anyone into moving. All of this hits Burton’s sweet spot. It’s playfully morbid, and the production design is incredibly imaginative,” writes SlashFilm.
“Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!” summons Seventeen. “Since its release in the 80s, this family film has become a cult classic thanks to its hilarious punchlines, campy sets, and costumes, and of course, Winona Ryder’s iconic dance sequence.” The film is such a cult classic that it’s getting a sequel with most of its original cast over two decades after the original!
Let us tell you something, if we had eight lives like Catwoman, we’d spend every single one of those lives watching “Batman Returns” over and over again. “Riding high off the success of ‘Batman,’ Burton upped the weirdness and made a solid sequel. He introduced Catwoman, played brilliantly by Michelle Pfeiffer, whose scenes with ‘Batman’ are extraordinary. Danny DeVito is also a delight as Penguin, and his run for mayor is still a magnificent piece of political satire. The film exudes personality. It’s a film with a confident director who knows precisely what he wants to do and a studio letting him get incredibly strange with it. Darker superhero movies would come later, but there still has never been a beast like ‘Batman Returns’,” says StudioBinder.
“What makes ‘Batman Returns’ so good is the fact that it’s Tim Burton let-loose. He didn’t enjoy his time making the original, but for this sequel, he was given free rein, crafting a macabre fairytale version of the ‘Batman’ universe. It’s grotesque, twisted, perverse…and still one of the best ‘Batman’ movies ever made,” explains GameRant.
“The laws of Hollywood dictate that every successful film be given a sequel, and thus ‘Batman Returns’ was born. Yet rather than producing a standard retread of the original, Burton opted to go weirder and darker with the follow-up. Part two finds the caped crusader (Michael Keaton) doing battle with a pair of deeply deranged weirdos — the Penguin (a gleefully repugnant Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (a scene-stealing Michelle Pfeiffer) — who threaten to terrorize Gotham City at Christmastime. Filled with grisly violence, bizarre fetishism, and kinky erotica that pushes the PG-13 rating to its very limits, ‘Batman Returns’ is one of the oddest blockbusters ever produced. It’s also a true Burton masterpiece,” raves GoldDerby.
“Although he’d made some short movies previously, ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ was Tim Burton’s feature film debut. Although Paul Reubens originated the character of Pee-Wee Herman — a strange man-child nestled somewhere between the 80s new wave and Mr. Rogers — in a stage production called ‘The Pee-Wee Herman Show’ five years earlier, Burton’s big-screen take on the character made Pee-Wee a household name,” writes SlashFilm.
34 years ago today on 26 July 1985 ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ starring Pee Wee Herman was first released in cinemas. pic.twitter.com/TszsVhEVSn
— I❤️80s𝕏 (@IL0VEthe80s) July 26, 2019
“One of the great picaresque road movies in cinema history, this tale of Pee-wee Herman and his quest to recover his stolen bike marked Burton’s feature debut, yet it established so much of what he would do best in film, from spotlighting an outsider hero who lives by his own rules to the director’s singular mix of kitsch, horror, animation, and jubilant weirdness,” remarks The Wrap.
“The demented, childishly innocent world of Pee-wee Herman had captured the imagination of youngsters (and adults!) for years before he set out from his fanciful home and onto stranger adventures. Burton’s exaggerated interpretation of reality matched Reubens’ manic energy perfectly. Despite its various eccentricities, there’s a real, sincere sweetness to this movie missing from a lot of media meant for kids or grown-ups. Reubens is at the height of his powers here as well, never breaking character for even a moment,” adds The Manual. Plus, who can ever forget the first time they saw Large Marge? That’s a memory that is scarred into all ‘80s and ’90s children’s heads.
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