Best Tim Burton Movies - Featured - StudioBinder-min

Tim Burton is a curious talent. From the start of any of his movies, you instantly have the thought, “Oh yeah, this is a Tim Burton movie.” He has a unique aesthetic, showcasing the beauty in the morbid.

His career has been a rollercoaster of quality. From classics to clunkers, Burton’s unique filmmaking style has occasionally run its course. But love or hate his films, there’s bound to be one that fills you with cheer for being an outcast. Here are the best Tim Burton films, ranked from worst to best.

NOTE: This list will only include all movies directed by Tim Burton, and The Nightmare Before Christmas is not one of them. Therefore, it’s been excluded. Henry Selick actually took the director reigns for that one. Now with that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Tim Burton Films

19. Planet of the Apes (2001)

It’s hard to live up to a classic, but Burton’s Planet of the Apes fails on almost every level. Perhaps most disappointingly, it doesn’t even feel like a Burton film. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t bring any of the whimsy normally associated with Burton’s protagonists, and the film takes certain liberties that just don’t add up. Combined with an ending that will make you pass out from your eyes rolling into the back of your head, it’s bizarre to even fathom what would attract Burton to this project in the first place.

Planet of the Apes | Interviews

50%
Story
15%
Aesthetic
25%
Filmmaking
30%
Acting
30%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The Score
  • Ape Make-Up
  • Some Cool Action
  • Lead Performances
  • Adds Nothing New
  • "Ape" Lincoln

Best Tum Burton Movies

Conclusion

Burton’s Planet of the Apes has zero originality. When you have a singular talent like Burton’s, that’s the worst crime of all.

Tim Burton Movies List

18. Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows | Behind the Scenes

Dark Shadows seemed like a natural film for Burton. A remake of an old vampire TV show starring frequent collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. However, the finished product is an unfocused story and visuals that almost seem like a parody of a Burton film. There’s nothing for fans of the old show not the uninitiated. It’s just a big, bombastic mess.

20%
STory
40%
Aesthetic
40%
Filmmaking
30%
Acting
32.5%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Eva Green
  • Helena Bonham Carter
  • Interesting Idea
  • Dangling Plot Threads
  • Zero Chemistry
  • Mediocre Visuals

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

It’s hard to understand who Dark Shadows was made for. Outside of a couple actors doing their very best, it’s just a slog to get through.

All Tim Burton Movies

17. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Through the Looking Glass: The Tech Behind Alice | Wired

​Riding high off the advent of actually good 3D technology, Alice in Wonderland grossed over $1 billion and led the way to all of the live-action Disney remakes you see today. A mortal sin if ever there was one. In hindsight, it’s a bizarre film that sacrifices any heart for a “Look what we can do!” aesthetic.

45%
Story
60%
Aesthetic
50%
Filmmaking
40%
Acting
48.75%
O48RALL SCORE
  • 3D Visuals
  • Helena Bonham Carter
  • N/A
  • Johnny Depp’s Schtick
  • No Sense of Wonder
  • Tonally Inconsistent

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Alice in Wonderland may still dazzle younger viewers. But while it may be pretty to look at, it all adds up to nothing.

Tim Burton Directed Movies

16. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Making of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Warner Bros.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is an all-time classic for a reason. Tim Burton had the thankless task of directing the remake, and to his credit, there’s a lot of interesting choices he makes. He fleshes out Charlie’s family and gives Wonka himself a sympathetic backstory. But what it gets wrong completely shoots the film in the foot. Namely, Johnny Depp’s bizarre performance. Still, you have to commend him somewhat for fully committing to his strange new vision.

55%
Story
60%
Aesthetic
55%
Filmmaking
35%
Acting
51.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Intriguing Backstory
  • Visuals
  • Oompa Loompas
  • Johnny Depp
  • Lack of Imagination
  • Lack of Warmth

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Unlike other remakes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is worth seeing if nothing else to compare to the original. It has some cool ideas up its sleeve, but it just doesn’t coalesce as well as Burton wants it.

All Movies Directed by Tim Burton

15. Dumbo (2019)

Eight Men Out Trailer

The 1941 Dumbo may be beloved, but with a 64-minute runtime and some unfortunate overt racism, it hasn’t exactly aged well. Perhaps this is one of Disney’s films that should’ve remained in the vault because Burton’s remake just falls flat in so many ways. Dumbo itself is very cute, and it’s kind of interesting seeing a Disney film… make fun of itself? But it’s just too much of a bore for anything to really stand out.

50%
Story
55%
Aesthetic
55%
Filmmaking
60%
Acting
55%
OVERALL SCORE
  • CGI Dumbo
  • Some Bold Performances
  • Corporate Commentary
  • Too Slow
  • Loss of Focus
  • Too Much Going On

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Dumbo isn’t without its charms. But it’s too slow and too one-note to ever feel like anything special.

Complete Tim Burton Movies List

14. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

Set Tour | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

If Tim Burton ever directed an X-Men movie, it would look exactly like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. While it has that Burton-esque flair, it doesn’t have a whole lot else. Eva Green is fantastic, but the children the movie clearly wants to celebrate get tossed to the wayside. Kids who already have an appreciation for goth aesthetic may get a kick out of it, but it never rises to such heights Burton is capable of.

40%
Story
65%
Aesthetic
65%
Filmmaking
55%
Acting
56.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Creepy Monster Designs
  • Gothic Aesthetic
  • The Climactic Battle
  • No Heart
  • Feels Rushed
  • Too Much Exposition

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

It’s the film that feels one of the most Tim Burton-y. If he crafted it with just a bit more care, perhaps it wouldn’t have been forgotten so quickly.

Good Tim Burton Films

13. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Behind the Legend | Sleepy Hollow

Now we’re getting into the Tim Burton film that are actually pretty good. Sleepy Hollow is Tim Burton at his stylistic best. The costumes, production design, and cinematography work together splendidly to create one heck of an atmospheric landscape. The story doesn’t always work in as many terrors as it would like, and it has a tendency to fall into the realm of cliche. But for a pretty picture, you can’t beat the view.

45%
Story
80%
Aesthetic
60%
Filmmaking
60%
Acting
61.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Costumes
  • Atmosphere
  • Cinematography
  • Not Much Substance
  • Thin Climax
  • Cliche Scares

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Sleepy Hollow has all of the flair you want out of a Burton film. It’s just too bad the story doesn’t bolster it up enough to rank among the greats.

Fun Tim Burton Films

12. Mars Attacks! (1996)

Mars Attacks | The Nostalgia Critic

Look, I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you Mars Attacks! Is some masterclass of artistry. But for a good time, it’s hard to imagine the last time a Hollywood film with an all-star cast made something so bizarre. It evokes classics from the past and serves as a modern homage to B-movies. 

Your mileage with this film will likely depend on how much you like visual gags and low-brow humor. As long as you don’t go in with lofty expectations, it’s a good way to pass a Saturday afternoon.

65%
Story
60%
Aesthetic
60%
Filmmaking
70%
Acting
63.75%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Humor
  • Celebrities
  • B-Movie Schlock
  • Premise Runs Dry
  • No Substance
  • On-the-Nose Satire

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Mars Attacks! is big, dumb fun. Don’t look any deeper than that.

Ranking Tim Burton Directed Movies

11. Corpse Bride (2005)

The Dark Secrets of Corpse Bride | Screen Rant

Corpse Bride feels like some producer said, “Hey! Kids like Nightmare Before Christmas. Let’s just do that again.” Tim Burton actually got the chance to direct a stop motion animated film, and the results are spectacularly “meh.” 

It’s a cute film, and the stop motion is breathtakingly wondrous. It was actually animated by LAIKA before they were their own fully-fledged animation house. It’s just a shame the other components don’t do the stop motion justice.

60%
Story
85%
Aesthetic
60%
Filmmaking
55%
Acting
65%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Stop Motion
  • Macabre Aesthetic
  • Good Family Film
  • Rote Characters
  • Uninspired Music
  • Feels Done Before

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Corpse Bride is a great film to watch with the kids, provided they’re okay with some darker humor. For adults, it will mostly just make you wish you had watched The Nightmare Before Christmas instead.

Top 10 Tim Burton Movies

10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Sweeney Todd: How to Adapt | Bobby Burns

Now that we’re into the top 10 Tim Burton movies, everything from here on out pretty much reaches “great” status. Sweeney Todd is without a doubt Burton’s most violent film, but even amongst all the blood and violence, he never loses his creative flair. The whimsy usually injected into his movies is replaced with macabre stylism, and it works brilliantly. 

More than anything, the film shows just how good Burton is at directing musicals. The music and horror never overshadow one another. Instead, they work in tandem to create a gripping work that sticks with you.

80%
Story
80%
Aesthetic
75%
Filmmaking
70%
Acting
76.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Stylistic Flourishes
  • The Staging
  • The Horror
  • Poor Singing in Parts
  • Jokes Fall Flat
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Sweeney Todd is not for the faint of heart. But for a riveting Broadway adaptation, it’s one of the best to grace the big screen.

Tim Burton Films You Love

9. Frankenweenie (2012)

Tim Burton made a short film called Frankenweenie before his feature-length debut. He returned to these roots in 2012 for a film of the same name that retells the story of Frankenstein, but this time, it’s about a young boy who wants to bring his dog back to life after it’s hit by a car. 

It’s a moving, heartfelt film. Made in black and white and featuring plenty of B-movie, monster references, the film is a loving testament to the movies that clearly influenced Burton growing up. It flies a little off the rails in the third act, but it’s the kind of movie that will make you hold your pup a little closer once it’s over.

Frankenweenie | Helping Puppets Act

80%
Story
85%
Aesthetic
85%
Fimmaking
70%
Acting
80%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Stop Motion
  • Loving Story
  • A Lot of Heart
  • Third Act
  • Outdated References
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Frankenweenie isn’t without its flaws. However, your heart would need to be buried in the ground to not feel something out of it.

All Tim Burton Movies Ever Made

8. Big Eyes (2014)

Anatomy of a Scene | The New York Times

Tim Burton let go of many of his artistic flourishes for Big Eyes. However, unlike Planet of the Apes, the movie is all the better for it. Burton brings the characters down to Earth to tell a haunting tale of a husband who steals his wife’s artwork and passes it off as his own. 

It’s one of Burton’s most mature works. Instead of focusing on style, he places Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz front and center, and the pair do an extraordinary job. It’s a solid film that shows Burton can still tell relevant, engaging stories without relying on many of his crutches that became prominent within the last decade.

90%
Story
70%
Aesthetic
80%
Filmmaking
90%
Acting
82.5%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The Acting
  • Thought-Provoking
  • Social Commentary
  • Too Much Restraint
  • Too Fairytale-Like
  • N/A

Best Baseball Movies

Conclusion

Big Eyes proves Tim Burton can still make films for an adult audience. If only he continued down that path in the years that would come...

Beloved Tim Burton Directed Movies

7. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Paul Reuben on Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure | Hollywood’s Master Storytellers

Tim Burton’s first film proves to be one of his best. He brings slight brush strokes of what would come to be known as his signature style to the zany antics of Pee-Wee Herman. 

There’s nothing particularly insightful about the film. It’s just going from one gag to the next, but when those gags work so well (particularly the super freaky Large Marge sequence), it’s hard not to fall in love with the film.

90%
Story
85%
Aesthetic
80%
Filmmaking
80%
Acting
83.75%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Paul Reubens
  • Unique Style
  • Fun Jokes and Gags
  • Aimed Squarely at Kids
  • Loose Plot
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Watching Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure today for the first time as an adult may irritate you more than endear you. However, for millennials, it’s a seminal film that will make you want to watch Pee-Wee’s Playhouse again.

Best Tim Burton Films

6. Batman (1989)

Behind the Scenes Facts | Fun Fact Films

Tim Burton accomplished something truly extraordinary with 1989’s Batman. He made a comic book superhero accessible to the masses while infusing his own creative flair in the process. Burton’s trademark grim but whimsical set design is on full display, turning Gotham into a German expressionist dream. 

Batman shows exactly why Burton is an immense talent. He can take a superhero film, musical, or dark drama and turn it into something that is signature “Burton.” He’s faithful to the genre he works in while putting his own stamp on it.
90%
Story
85%
Aesthetic
85%
Filmmaking
80%
Acting
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Production Design
  • The Score
  • Batdance
  • Pacing
  • The "Joker" Reveal
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Even amongst all of the superhero films coming out today, 1989’s Batman still holds up. Consider it was Burton’s third feature film, it’s all the more impressive.

Top 5 Tim Burton Films

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Edward Scissorhands | CineFix

Edward Scissorhands is peak Burton. It’s an oddly lovely film and a biting satire of suburban sensibilities. The townspeople are all too welcoming to allow Edward to trim their hedges and give them haircuts, but when he’s frame for a crime, they’re all too willing to chase him out. 

For anyone who’s ever felt ostracized and cast out from society, Edward Scissorhands is a near-perfect love letter to those who have ever felt like an “other.” It’s a modern fairy tale, and the kind of film that would’ve only been possible through someone like Burton.
90%
Story
90%
Aesthetic
90%
Filmmaking
85%
Acting
88.75%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performance
  • Production Design
  • Satire
  • Lack of Character Arcs
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Edward Scissorhands is a must-watch for artists who have ever felt excluded from society. It’s hauntingly beautiful and shows how you can take well-known tropes and create something wholly unique.

The Total Tim Burton Movies List

4. Batman Returns (1992)

How McDonald’s Got Tim Burton Fired From Batman | Cracked

Riding high off the success of Batman, Burton upped the weirdness with the sequel. He introduced Catwoman, played brilliantly by Michelle Pfeiffer, whose scenes with Batman are extraordinary. Danny DeVito is also a delight as Penguin, and his run for mayor is still a magnificent piece of political satire. 

The film exudes personality. It’s a film with a confident director at the helm who knows precisely what he wants to do, and the studio being cool with him getting incredibly strange with it. Darker superhero movies would come later, but there still has never been a beast like Batman Returns.
85%
Story
90%
Aesthetic
90%
Filmmaking
90%
acting
88.75%
OVERALL SCORE
  • The Performances
  • Sheer Spectacle
  • Daring Vision
  • Too Many Villains
  • Not Enough Batman
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Batman Returns is one of the all-time great Batman movies. It shows what’s possible when you allow a true auteur to take the reigns of a hit franchise and just go to town.

Amazing Tim Burton Films

3. Beetlejuice (1988)

The Weird Wisdom of Beetlejuice | The Take

Beetlejuice laid the foundation for Burton’s entire film career. It showed his offbeat humor, morbid sensibilities, and sentimentality. Beetlejuice twists the ghost movie on its head by making the ghosts the central characters. You root for them to scare the uptight Deetz parents from their home. 

Classic moments abound. From the “Banana Boat Song” scene to the sand worm, Beetlejuice was designed to influence a generation of outcasts.
90%
Story
95%
Aesthetic
90%
Filmmaking
90%
Acting
91.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performances
  • Style
  • "Banana Boat Song"
  • Jokes Haven't Aged Well
  • Too Fast Paced in Parts
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Some gags haven’t exactly aged well. But Beetlejuice showcases Burton’s flair for the eccentric and macabre so well, it’s essential viewing.

Tim Burton Movies List, Ranked

2. Big Fish (2003)

Tim Burton’s Abandoned Town | Big Fish Filming Location

Big Fish isn’t filled to the brim with Burton’s usual stylistic flourishes. But those magical, whimsical moments are there just enough to lift this movie to something wonderful. 

Even if you strip away the visuals, it’s a fantastic movie about the bond between a father and his son. The stories the father tells his son influence his life so much. While other Burton films deal with the power of stories, none are quite as impactful as Big Fish.
95%
Story
90%
Aesthetic
95%
Filmmaking
95%
Acting
93.75%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Emotional Core
  • Stylish Visuals
  • Themes
  • Lack of Surprises
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Big Fish shows how Burton can merge his unique sensibilities with a more traditional story. It’s an ode to all of the storytellers out there.

The Best Tim Burton Movie

1. Ed Wood (1994)

Tim Burton & Johnny Depp Talk About Ed Wood | Eyes on Cinema

If there’s a central message to take from all of Tim Burton’s films, it’s that the world needs more outsiders, more weirdos, and more kooky talents. In Ed Wood, Burton celebrates the life and talent of the director of such “bad” movies as Plan 9 From Outer Space. Ed Wood may have never found his place in the world, but through this film, Burton celebrated what he tried to do, fully devoting himself to his visions. 

The style here is restrained. Burton foregoes many of his flourishes and opts to film in black and white. The characters are allowed to shine, and the audience can bask in all of their eccentricities. An ode to cinema and how it’s only been possible through outcasts makes this Burton’s most personal film and the one that highlights why he is a singular talent.

100%
Story
95%
Aesthetic
95%
Filmmaking
95%
Acting
96.25%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Performances
  • Comedy
  • A Touching Tribute
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

BEST TUM BURTON MOVIES

Conclusion

Ed Wood encapsulated everything that makes Tim Burton a great director. The world would be a better place with more movies like this.

Up Next

What is German Expressionism?

Watch one of Tim Burton’s films, and you’ll easily find the influences from German expressionism. Learn more about the artistic style that has influenced Burton throughout his career and how other modern films have incorporated this important movement. 

Up Next: What is German Expressionism? →
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