best film:  Dead Man is the easy winner here and I’m a big admirer of the artistic accomplishments of Public Enemies, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Ed Wood. Of course, you could bring up the two scenes where Depp appears on screen in Platoon but even when considering Platoon I’m going with Jarmusch’s masterpiece as Depp’s very best film. Jarmusch is a top 100 all-time auteur (I had him at #68 the last time I updated) and this is his best single film.

best performance:  Dead Man. Depp’s comic performance here is an all-timer. There’s a deadpan genius at work here that, to me, puts it ever so slightly over performances 2-5 below here. It helps that it’s a film teeters constantly with being on my all-time top 100 list, top 10 of the 90’s—and Johnny is so central to the film- in every scene.

stylistic innovations/traits: Depp is an underappreciated comedian at this point. His stretch from 1990-1998 starting with Edward Scissorhands and ending with Donnie Brascoe (really before he became an international superstar in Pirates) is why he’s on the list. He’s on absolutely fire in five films that belong in the top 10 of their years. Those films range from minimalist indie-comedy (Dead Man) to zany-as-shit-Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing), to straight drama excellence (Donnie Brascoe). The three gangster films on Depp’s resume (Brascoe, Black Mass and Public Enemies) are extremely important to his career and the balancing act he’s doing. I admire his performance in Pirates and Sweeney Todd as well so there’s a lot of depth here.

directors worked with:  Tim Burton (5), Lasse Hallström (2), and then stalwarts like Stone, Jarmusch, Gilliam, and Michael Mann

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Dead Man
  2. Ed Wood
  3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  4. Public Enemies
  5. Edward Scissorhands

Archiveable films

1984- Nightmare on Elm Street
1986- Platoon
1990- Edward Scissorhands
1993- What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
1994- Ed Wood
1995- Dead Man
1997- Donnie Brascoe
1998- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
1999- Sleepy Hollow
2000- Before Night Falls
2000- Chocolate
2003- Pirates of the Caribbean
2004- Finding Neverland
2005- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2007- Sweeney Todd
2009- Public Enemies
2015- Black Mass