The best Tim Burton movies – MFC TOP 5

Tim Burton has one of the most characteristic styles in the film industry and in MFC we celebrate the month of fear with a TOP 5 of his best movies.

Tim Burton

The best Tim Burton movies


With a career of almost 50 years and more than 20 films under his direction, Tim Burton is one of the most prolific and recognized filmmakers in the industry.

His peculiar visual style combines the strange aesthetics of B movies with more friendly motives, while exploring themes such as loneliness, fear and love through funny and empowering stories. His films usually introduce the audience into both creepy and attractive worlds, with charismatic and colorful characters that fill them with life.

Although his films are usually inspired by the most traditional horror cinema, they all contain new proposals that he takes from drama, mystery and adventure, creating his own creative current that has inspired many to keep making films. For all that, in MFC we celebrate the month of fear with a TOP 5 of the best Tim Burton movies.

Learn more about the subgenres of horror cinema here

5. Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990)

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands tells the story of Edward, a young man with scissors instead of hands, and how he is adopted by a family in the suburbs of the United States. The relationships that Edward develops with the different inhabitants of the town become valuable opportunities for him to grow as a person and to even find love.

It starred Johnny Depp, with whom Tim Burton would create a close relationship that would lead them to collaborate on many projects in the future. It also features the performances of Winona Ryder and the legendary horror movie actor Vincent Price.

The cinematography and art direction of Edward Scissorhands brought forward the foundations that Tim Burton had laid in Beetlejuice (1988), establishing the definitive aesthetic that would identify his onward. The film won the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Production Design in 1991.

Although Tim Burton claimed that it is not his best film, he does consider it his favorite.

4. Batman Returns (Tim Burton, 1992)

Batman Returns

Batman Returns is the sequel to Batman (1989), also directed by Tim Burton. It features performances by Michael Keaton, Christopher Walken, Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Although the first film had already been a success, Batman Returns is an improved version of the first one, mostly thanks to the magnificent performance of Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Danny DeVito‘s performance as The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s as Catwoman are as memorable as Nicholson‘s, and the gothic style that Burton projected in Gotham City was as influential in the comics as in the hero’s future films.

The particular vision of Tim Burton in the Batman films rescued the character from the path by which the interpretation of actor Adam West had led it during the 60s, making Burton the first director to make a Batman film attached to the original concept, where elements of horror, mystery and action take place.

With Batman and Batman Returns, Tim Burton inaugurated the superhero cinema we know today.

Learn everything about the new Batman movie here

3. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton, 2007)

Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd is a film adaptation of the musical play of the same name written by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, which, in turn, is inspired by the original play written by Christopher Bond. It tells the story of Sweeney Todd, an English barber who uses a razor to murders his clients with the help of Mrs. Lovett, who bakes pies with the bodies.

It features performances by Helena Bonham Carter (who was Tim Burton‘s partner at the time of the production) as Mrs. Lovett, Sacha Baron Cohen as Adolfo Pirelli and Johnny Depp as the barber Sweeney Todd, in his sixth collaboration with the director. The powerful production of the film created a Victorian London that traps the audience in a story of revenge, supported by a wonderful soundtrack and memorable songs.

Despite the refusal of composer Stephen Sondheim to have his musical play turned into a movie at first, Tim Burton‘s particular finally convinced him. Sondheim states that this is the only film adaptation of one of his works that gets his original vision.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas was directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton. The film was created with the stop motion technique, where the animation is made frame by frame, with the creation of huge sets and puppets manipulation.


The idea stems from an original poem by Burton, but his commitment to the directing of Batman Returns led him to choose Henry Selick as the final director of the film.

It tells the story of Jack, a spooky skeleton who, in his determination to celebrate it, ends up ruining Christmas. Through a beautiful animation, powerful musical acts and a soundtrack composed by Danny Elfman, with whom Burton has collaborated on almost all of his filmography, the film introduces us to Halloween Town, a place where Halloween is eternal.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was the movie that led Selick to work in Coraline (2009) and Burton to direct more films entirely with stop motion animation, such as Corpse Bride (2005) and Frankenweenie (2012). This is the film that better represents Tim Burton’s aesthetic, thematic and narrative styles.

1. Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994)

Ed Wood

Ed Wood portrays the life of cult movie director Ed Wood, famous for directing a large number of low-budget B movie films and the legendary Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), considered as one of the worst films in history. The story takes the spectator through Wood‘s attempts to carry out his films and the close relationship he had with Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, famous for his role as Dracula in the 1931 classic.

The film starred Johnny Depp in the role of Ed Wood and Martin Landau as the legendary horror movie actor Bela Lugosi, part that earned him an Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. It also featured performances by Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette and Bill Murray.

The relationship between Lugosi and Wood is one of the strong points of the film, showing an intense friendship with which Burton could deeply identify due to his similar relationship with Vincent Price. The film was shot in black and white by Tim Burton’s personal decision, in honor of the general aesthetics of Lugosi’s filmography.

Although The Nightmare Before Christmas represents Tim Burton‘s particular style, Ed Wood is considered the director’s best film. This movie is Tim Burton‘s tribute to horror cinema and science fiction B movies, as well as a realistic portrayal of the film industry of the 50s.



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