Tim Burton celebrates his 59th birthday today, so we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane with some of his best films. Considering his extensive back catalogue and the majority of his films divide audiences, it’s hard to pick just a handful of his best. But we never shirk a challenge here at Average Joes, so without haste here’s our top 5 favourite Tim Burton films.
5) Big Fish (2003)
Given 2001’s Planet of the Apes didn’t go down too well with the critics to put it mildly, Burton needed a rebound and he needed it quickly. While it may have had some detractors, he got it with Big Fish. Yes, it had Burton’s signature visual style but unlike some of his other works, his adaptation of Daniel Wallace’s novel also packed spadesful of heart with Big Fish following a father whose partiality for exaggerated stories about his life has driven a wedge between himself and his son. The cast is superb with Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, and Marion Cotillard all on form, while comparisons to Forrest Gump aren’t too far off the mark.
4) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Looking back, it’s almost incredible Burton didn’t take on the tale about vengeance, madness, and copious amounts of blood courtesy of a murderous barber sooner. Having said that, his adaptation of Sweeney Todd could have gone either way with a cast of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen lacking any recognised musical actors. But while Burton’s Sweeney may not have featured the most virtuoso of singing performances, it did offer up the bloody spectacle you’d want from the story and director. It’s twisted, unsettling and still visually stunning.
3) Ed Wood (1994)
Burton may have taken more commercial success and critical acclaim than the vast majorly of directors working today, but it seems fair to say that he’s also had to clock his fair share of bashing with many simple not ‘getting’ what he’s all about. Which is almost certainly what drew Burton to Ed Wood, the biopic of the much derided cult film director. Burton had full creative control and the result was a strange two hours plus black and white epic which flopped at the box office but resonated with many. A true love letter from one Hollywood oddball to another.
2) Beetlejuice (1988)
Arguably the one that started it all, Beetlejuice was a breakthrough critical and commercial hit for Burton. It actually started life as a much darker drama about a dead newlywed couple, but Burton reworked the story in his true off-beat style into an absurd ghost comedy farce starring Michael Keaton as the ‘bio-exorcist’ that’s hired by a pair of ghosts (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) to get rid of residents living in their New England home. Beetlejuice helped the director to define his signature style and much of its success is down to Keaton’s scene-stealing performance which amazingly only occupies less than 20 minutes of screen time.
1) Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Following the box office success of Batman in 1989, Burton had a whole host of projects to pick from. Luckily he stayed true to himself and made Edward Scissorhands. The story had been around since Burton’s early days and he was finally granted creative control by Fox. The story goes Robert Downey, Jr., Toms Hanks and Tom Cruise were close to getting the lead role, but Burton opted for a young and raw Johnny Depp. The rest, as they say, is history. Depp was perfect as the metal-fingered misfit looking for love, and Burton’s dark tones were the ideal contrast to the suburban America setting.
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