10 Essential Tim Burton Films You Need To Watch

5. Batman (1989)


Bob Cane’s D.C. comic creation came to new life in the grand vision that was Tim Burton’s ‘Batman.’ Everything, from the fine assemble cast down to the murky, gothic imagery solidified Burton as a master film craftsman and, in the industry, a filmmaker to be reckoned with. It set the standard by which movie-goers set for all future superhero and comic book films.

The stunning imagery in the film, from the tall, cold buildings of Gotham City, to the vivid and fantastically imaginative vehicles, props, and gadgets were nothing short of genius for the time, like nothing that had ever been before. Jack Nicholson’s manic performance as The Joker was both exhilarating and frightening to watch. Michael Keaton’s somber version of Batman was played with shadowy depth that brought Batman out of the comics, out of the television campiness, and into the flesh.


4. Mars Attacks! (1996)

Mars Attacks! (1996)

‘Mars Attacks!’ was Tim Burton’s homage to all of the cheesy, weird, and wonderful B-grade science fiction films of the 60s. For instance, the flying saucers in the film can be seen as almost replicas of the ships found in the film, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still.’ The film is intentionally gluttonous and excessive. The terrific ensemble cast, which includes Glenn Close, Annette Benning, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, and Jack Nicholson (in dual roles), fully understand and flow with the satirical tone of the film.

The film centers on events within the United States of America during a Martian invasion. Martians surround the Earth in spaceships under the premise of peace. But soon, the people of Earth realize that these Martians want nothing but to destroy us.


3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)


Jack Skellington, voiced by Chris Sarandon, is The Pumpkin King of Halloweentown. He discovers a way into Christmas Town. He wants to bring the festivities of Christmas into his own world, but the people, or creatures, of Halloweentown aren’t quite ready for such a spectacle. During this disaster, Jack falls in love with Sally, voiced by Catherine O’Hara, the sewn-together daughter of the local Halloweentown Evil Scientist, voiced by the late William Hickey.

Make no mistake, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ was not directed by Tim Burton. It was directed by Henry Selick (‘Monkeybone,’ ‘James and The Giant Peach’). But, it was based on a story by Tim Burton and characters which Burton created. The film’s landscape, characters, and story have become synonymous with Tim Burton’s style and tone.


2. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

Children of the 1980’s will almost unanimously agree that Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) was a staple of Saturday morning network television viewing and a part of their childhood. That character was something of a Charlie Chaplin for the time. He was a man-child with impeccable comedic timing. He had amazing, out of the ordinary clothes and toys, and even more colorful friends. Bringing his charisma along with his overstated world to the big screen warranted a filmmaker that could capture the atmosphere of the over-the-top camp, yet still make the film their own. Tim Burton did just that.

‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ took Pee-Wee Herman out of the playhouse and into a far-out fantasy world crafted by Tim Burton. Pee-Wee’s beloved red and white bicycle is stolen. He sets out on a cross-country escapade to get it back. The places that he goes and the characters that he encounters are all so vibrantly quirky. From giant, colorful dinosaur statues and The Alamo to the nightmare-inducing Large Marge, this film is not to be missed.


1. Ed Wood (1994)


Ed Wood was America’s most notorious bad filmmaker. He also truly believed in the charmingly horrible films that he made and the people that he worked with. Johnny Depp captivatingly plays Ed Wood in this film. He brings Wood’s charm and naive optimism to the screen almost effortlessly. One of the focuses in the film is on the relationship that Ed Wood had with the aging Bela Lugosi, played brilliantly by Martin Landau. Landau went on to win an Oscar for this performance. Patricia Arquette, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Bill Murray round out the amazing cast.

Burton chose to film ‘Ed Wood’ in black and white, a move not supported by the commanding studio executives at Columbia Pictures. Walt Disney Studios stepped in and released the film under their company, Touchstone Pictures. It flopped at the box office. But still, twenty years later, ‘Ed Wood’ remains a critical and cult success.

Author Bio: Elizabeth Howell is a 34 year old native of Nashville, Tennessee and a mother of 2. She is currently a student and holds an Associate’s Degree in Psychology. She has been a film fanatic since the age of 8.