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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Birthday Special: TOP 10 Tim Burton Films

Happy Birthday Tim Burton! (Born: August 25, 1958) I have always loved Tim Burton's films since I was young and he has directed some of my favorite movies! Once a former animator for Walt Disney Studios, Tim Burton is a successful writer, producer, director and even sometimes actor (Singles (1992)). Many of his movies are brilliant examples of his unique artistry and creativity! Tim Burton has made some of the strangest and darkest movies in the last 30 years! This is my list of the Top 10 Tim Burton movies, including some of my favorite films. Enjoy!

#10 Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) - This was Tim Burton's first major motion picture and Pee-Wee Herman's (Paul Reubens) first movie. The childlike talent of Reubens' character with the darkly, twisted visuals of Tim Burton was a perfect combination. The character of "Pee-Wee Herman" first appeared in Paul Reubens' adult-oriented, one-man show The Pee-Wee Herman Show (1981), (which he would later reprise on Broadway in 2011). A year after the Big Adventure movie Pee-Wee would later appear in the popular children's TV show Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1986-1990). Pee-Wee also appeared in one other movie, Big-Top Pee-Wee (1988) before the literal "death" of the character in 1991 when Reubens was accused of indecent exposure in 1991.

#9 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) - Of the many projects with director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp, one of the most unique is the movie adaptation of the musical "Sweeney Todd". Whereas movie musicals are in short supply since the 1960's, Sweeney Todd seemed an appropriate subject for Tim Burton, it's dark, it's twisted, there is a LOT of blood and a lot of singing of course! With Helena Bonham Carter (Burton's latest companion) as Mrs. Lovett whose questioningly addictive meat pies and Sweeney Todd (Depp), a bloodthirsty barber driven by revenge makes Sweeney Todd a dark, entertaining and somewhat disturbing story.

#8 Edward Scissorhands (1990) - The first among many Tim Burton films which star Johnny Depp. Depp stars as Edward, an artificial boy, leather clad, mop-topped, freak with a passion for topiaries created by Vincent Price. When discovered by an Avon salesman, Peg (Dianne Wiest) she brings Edward home to her suburban home and her daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Soon he starts cutting womens' hair and falls in love with Kim. Soon realizing that normal people will never truly accept him, he is chased back home by a mob and presumed dead after an accident. While Edward himself is both mysterious and frightening, the story is quite romantic. The ultimate story of humanity's fear of the unknown and dangers of conformity make Edward Scissorhands one of Burton's best films and established Depp and Burton's long-time collaboration for years to come.

#7 Mars Attacks! (1996) - In this parody of classic sci-fi movies based on a series of 1960's Topps trading cards, Martians arrive on Earth. Although they seem peaceful at first, a horrible invasion begins, which can only be stopped by the warbling yodels of country music...? Mars Attacks is a quirky and hilarious movie with a star-studded cast which includes: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox , Sarah Jessica Parker and a young Natalie Portman!

#6 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - While not directed by Burton himself, "Tim Burton's:" The Nightmare Before Christmas is in fact pure Burton. Directed by Henry Selick and produced and based on a story and characters created by Tim Burton, "Nightmare" is a beautiful stop-motion animated feature set in the dark and twisted world of Halloween Town. When Jack Skellington (voice:Chris Sarandon/songs:Danny Elfman)"The Pumpkin King" grows tired of the same old thing every year, he discovers a magical door to Christmas Land and devises a plot to kidnap Santa Claus and takeover Christmas in his own creepy way! With incredible animation and ingenious songs by long-time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman, "Nightmare" is a favorite holiday movie!

#5 Batman Returns (1992) - Following the phenominal success of the first Batman (1989) movie, Tim Burton was set to direct another delightfully dark sequel with the addition of two of Batman's most popular villains: The Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfieffer)! The grotesque Penguin and the seductive Catwoman added much to the already dark and disturbing story. Although the sequel had a bigger budget and earned a bigger salary for Michael Keaton (Batman), producers at Warner Bros. soon decided to bring in director Joel Schumacher for the third movie, Batman Forever (1995). While successful to most fans, it was a joke, and the fourth movie, Batman & Robin (1997), would soon prove to be a horrific end to the first Batman franchise.

#4 Ed Wood (1994) - In this quirky bio-pic of Hollywood's Worst Director of All Time: Edward D. Wood, Jr., Tim Burton directs this entirely black-and-white story based on Ed Wood's biography "Nightmare of Ecstasy". Johnny Depp plays Ed Wood alongside Martin Landau's Oscar Winning performance as Bela Lugosi. Burton was the perfect director to pay tribute to the worst director, who oddly enough is remembered fondly for directing some of the worst and best B-Movies of the 1950's and 60's such as Bride of the Monster (1955), Night of the Ghouls (1959) and of course Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)!

#3 Beetlejuice (1988) - One of Burton's most well-known movies, Beetlejuice is a black comedy on death. Starring Michael Keaton as the disgusting and vulgar Beetlejuice (oops, I said it three times! LOL), a self-proclaimed bio-exorcist who wants to "help" recently dead newlyweds Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) remove a live family from their house. Their plan soon backfires as the "ghost with the most" becomes uncontrolable and wreaks havoc on the living! Brilliantly dark and funny with Burton's distinct touch, Beetlejuice is one of my favorite Burton movies!

#2 Sleepy Hollow (1999) - Although "loosely" based on the timeless novel by Washington Irving with a little inspiration from Disney's animated short, Sleepy Hollow is one of Tim Burton's most successful and big budget blockbusters! Full of Gothic atmosphere and blood, Sleepy Hollow is a new spin on the classic tale with Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as a police constable from New York who is sent to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of bizarre decapitations.  He soon becomes involved in a complex plot of conspiracy, murder and black magic. Christina Ricci stars as Katrina Van Tassel with a group of Burton regulars including veteran actor Michael Gough (which would be his last movie) and Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman with stunts by Ray Park.

#1 Batman (1989) - Batman, one of the greatest comic book crime fighters of all time finally gets a blockbuster movie which redefined the comic book movie/summer blockbuster! Tim Burton's dark vision of Gotham City brought the Dark Knight to life, with music by Danny Elfman and the perfect cast of Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The Batman movie was one of the defining movies of my childhood and established my lifelong love of the Caped Crusader. While Jack Nicholson almost stole the show as the Clown Prince of Crime, it established Tim Burton as one of the biggest directors of the last few decades and paved the way for many of his films!