Tim Burton has an amazing track record of directing and producing really odd, weird, strange, and fantastic movies. While he's fallen off a bit recently, his best work is at once dark, funny, heartwarming, and clever. Here are the best movies he's either produced, directed, or both.
5: Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Vincent Price plays an old inventor who creates a human boy, Edward. Sadly, the boy remains unfinished, having scissors for hands, when the inventor dies of a heart attack before completing his creation. (Heart breaking that he was in the process of giving Edward real hands when he died.) Edward goes on to grow up alone and develop no social skills until he is found by an Avon lady who brings him home. People discover Edward is a terrific hairdresser, but their latent prejudices come to a head when those who have been taking advantage of him turn on him. - Burtonesque: A manufactured man with scissors for hands--the creation of a mad scientist--intersecting with the real (our) world.
4: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - One of the few commercially successful stop motion films in the last twenty years, this has become a classic for both Halloween and Christmastime. This is the story of Jack from Halloweentown discovering Christmas and usurping the role of Santa to disastrous effect. Don't worry, everything works out in the end. Burtonesque: Halloweentown filled with creepy monsters, ghosts, and ghouls; the icons of every holiday alive and interacting with each other and the real world, but only on a limited basis.
3: Big Fish (2003) - The story of a dying man told through a lifetime's worth of very tall tales; and the story of his wounded relationship with his son. This is so beautifully done, and so well acted--it's impossible not to cry by the end. This is easily the best movie on the list, but it isn't the best Tim Burton movie (as in, it isn't the film that best reflects his whimsically trippy style). Burtonesque: Tall tales including stories of giants, werewolves, creepy circuses, and a town called Spectre, and their relative truths in the real world.
2: Beetlejuice (1988) - A couple dies to find themselves occupying the veil between the living and the dead, trying to rid themselves of a live family who've moved into their house. When they summon the crude Beetlejuice by saying his name three times, they get more than they bargained for. Burtonesque: Ghosts, the rules that apply to ghosts, and the red tape and hierarchical structure of the afterlife, all bisecting with the real world.
1: Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) - Pee-wee Herman's bike gets stolen, and his quest for its return leads him on a wild goose chase to the Alamo, encountering all manner of bizarre and quirky people on the way. This movie is responsible for a dozen or more classic movie quotes, and should be on everyone's list. Burtonesque: Leaping from bizarre situation to bizarre situation, including an unforgettable stop in a magic shop.
I tried to find a spot for Mars Attacks! since nobody seems to remember he both produced and directed that spoofy gem, but he's responsible for so many masterpieces that I'm not sure it would place any higher than 8. Unfortunately, two movies that should be on this list aren't, as Burton dropped the ball on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, two stories in his wheelhouse. Let's hope he finds his mojo again and gives us more of the good stuff.
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