Burton. Eight films with Burton’s unmissable gothic fingerprint is the reason he lands on this list. He doesn’t have a top 500 of all-time film (and unlike some others I’m pretty certain of that) and that’s a blemish, even this far down, but if Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride are his sixth and seventh best films? No, they’re not Pan’s Labyrinth (and Burton is no Guillermo del Toro- a contemporary that is an apt comparison), but that’s depth and quality there.

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gorgeous work in Beetlejuice– gothic establishing shot, color splashes
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a shot absolutely out of Caligari

Best film: Ed Wood. A film that is always overlooked when people talk about Burton’s or Johnny Depp’s best work but it shouldn’t be. Burton is a visual director, and many of his films over the years have so-so narratives and screenplays at best— Ed Wood is absolutely the exception- sharp, entertaining– it is a perfect film.

Ed Wood is sharp, entertaining– it is a perfect film

total archiveable films: 8

from Sweeney Todd– I’d hang this on my wall at home– stunning mise-en-scene here

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:   0

top 100 films of the decade:  2 (Ed Wood, Batman)  

most overrated: It’s Edward Scissorhands. Burton has two films that land in the TSPDT top 1000—both starting with “Ed”- haha. Ed Wood is fine (maybe a little underrated) at #901 on the TSPDT consensus top 1000. It’s Scissorhands at #678 that strikes me as 300-400 or so slots too high.

most underrated: Batman isn’t in the TSPDT top 1000—- that doesn’t crush me—though I’m somewhere between 600-900. But they have it way down at #1900 or so—too low. If you look at Marvel’s films and you, like me, lament the lack of individual artistry and authorship—look no further than Batman. Burton made a comic book film, a box office smash of great entertainment…. and he made a Tim Burton film at the same time.  

If you look at Marvel’s films and you, like me, lament the lack of individual artistry and authorship—look no further than Batman. Burton made a comic book film, a box office smash of great entertainment…. and he made a Tim Burton film at the same time.  
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Batman isn’t in the TSPDT top 1000—- that doesn’t crush me—though I’m somewhere between 600-900. But they have it way down at #1900 or so—too low.

gem I want to spotlight :  Sleepy Hollow. It is time this movie is revived and given the due it deserved. It was lost in the shuffle in 1999 (still is)—new names like PT, Wes, Sofia, Spike Jonze, Aronofsky were on the come— and I’m not saying this film is worthy of being in the class of those films. But look at Burton’s work here along with Emmanuel Lubezki as his cinematographer. Jaw-droppingly beautiful.

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Sleepy Hollow. It is time this movie is revived and given the due it deserved
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It was lost in the shuffle in 1999 (still is)—new names like PT, Wes, Sofia, Spike Jonze, Aronofsky were on the come— and I’m not saying this film is worthy of being in the class of those films
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look at Burton’s work here along with Emmanuel Lubezki as his cinematographer. Jaw-droppingly beautiful.

stylistic innovations/traits:  

  • Gothic horror, fantasy, expressionism, genre, macabre but playful
  • PG or PG-13 version of Cronenberg, darkness
  • Quirkiness of character and story— and inventiveness in mise-en-scene, art direction, the use of miniatures, color and black and white excellence, makeup
  • Reverberating notes of German Expressionism via James Whale and Tod Browning
  • Certainly hard to think of Burton’s work without thinking about the work of composer Danny Elfman
Reverberating notes of German Expressionism via James Whale and Tod Browning — this is from Edward Scissorhands
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inventiveness in mise-en-scene, art direction, the use of miniatures, color and black and white excellence, makeup

top 10

  1. Ed Wood
  2. Batman
  3. Sweeney Todd
  4. Sleepy Hollow
  5. Edward Scissorhands
  6. Beetlejuice
  7. Corpse Bride
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By year and grades

1988- Beetlejuice R
1989- Batman HR
1990- Edward Scissorhands R
1994- Ed Wood HR/MS
1999- Sleepy Hollow R
2005- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory R
2005- Corpse Bride R
2007- Sweeney Todd HR

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives