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20th Century Fox’s latest venture ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ is about to release worldwide in couple of days and as usual the excitement for a Tim Burton directed film is on the peak in 5 years to 50 years old cinema lovers, the early reviews from The Guardian, Variety and Hollywood Reporter are phenomenal too. Burton has developed a following over the world in last three decades that now no one can afford to miss his films. Based on the Bestselling Novel of Ransom Riggs, Burton’s new film is another dark fantasy adventure drama. Indian mass hasn’t even heard of Ransom Riggs before Burton announced his film, that’s true as apart from a small reading section most Indians don’t even read books forget about the children and entire mass is completely dependent on films, TV series’ and cartoons. And most of these in India neither provide the kids healthy entertainment nor enrich them so, in the end, urban conscious parents expose their kids to western cinema, the Hollywood.
Burton after directing some short films in the early 80s got the 1st chance to direct a full-length feature film in 1985 with ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’, it became a smash hit and eventually developed into a cult film. The movie was based on Italian Classic ‘The Bicycle Thief’ and was a pure adventure comedy since then Burton has directed 17 films in last 31 years and with his substantial dark, gothic, comedy and quirky fantasy films framed the imagination of the kids world over.
He is one visionary man who does not want to make entertaining films just to earn money at the box office but also to give some heartfelt lessons to his audience. That is the reason why most of his films are either memorable blockbusters or considered as cult pieces of cinema. ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ is his 18th directorial outing and we all are expecting nothing less than a beautiful work of art combined with massive vision and a heavy dose of fantastic adventurous entertainment, and like the kids of 90s and 2000s he’ll shape the minds of the children of today’s era. His new film stars the ingenious actress Eva Green as Miss Peregrine and she is the one who completely fits in Burton’s world of reverie. Miss Green is one quintessential artist and arguably the best female actor in the world right now, we would love to see her collaborating with Burton in some more films in future.
As per Albert Einstein, Imagination is more important than Knowledge and by going with this belief I think Burton is someone who is on the top on the list of greatest filmmakers along with Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Roman Polanski, Ridley Scott and few others. Burton is not just a director for me; he is a wizard, a true magician. Ask any of the 90s born and they will say ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘Beetlejuice’ are in their favorite films list, check any 2000s born best movies docket and you’ll find ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Big Fish’ and ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ in it.
While we all are waiting for 30th September to watch his latest magic spell on the silver screen, I have listed my favorite Burton films and want to thank the legend for making my childhood, teenage and adulthood enriching with his gems.
1. Big Fish (2003)
Most Indians haven’t got the access to watch this cult classic when it actually released including me, I saw this film in my early 20s and was floored by it. The epic story of Daniel Wallace on whose novel of the same name the movie was based became indelible when Burton’s sorcerer vision presented it on the big screen. Unlike other Burton films it was not a huge hit and ended up being a modest success but was highly acclaimed all over the world and for me, it is the best fantasy drama I have ever seen till date. It is one film which I rate almost in the same bracket with ‘Forrest Gump’, a clever, smart fantasy that targets the child inside every adult without insulting the intelligence of either. Not to forget the monumental performances of Ewan McGregor as young Edward Bloom and Albert Finney as old Edward Bloom which also fetched Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations in the best supporting actor category for the latter. And how can I not mention the veteran Jessica Lange’s performance as the old Sandra Bloom, she delivers an amazing understated performance. The Background score and music of Burton’s friend and iconic musician Danny Elfman’s work is just first rate and also gave him an Oscar nomination. If you still haven’t seen the film, don’t waste any time and watch it now.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
As a teenager it was my favorite film, again Burton exposed the youths of the mid-2000s all across the world to author Roald Dahl’s smart children novels as the film was based on his novel of the same name. The movie is now a cult classic, one of the most entertaining films one can ever see. It became a huge critical and commercial blockbuster upon the release and earned $481 Million USD worldwide, The release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also rekindled public interest in Roald Dahl’s 1964 book again and it featured on the best sellers list for months. After watching the film I became a huge fan of Jhonny Depp, who delivered his career’s most underrated performance as eccentric conjuror chocolatier Willy Wonka which garnered him a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination, the art direction is delicious I would say and Costume designer Gabriella Pescucci received an Oscar nomination for his supremely bright work. For the delight of Indians who love Song and dance, the movie had 5 songs in it and a superb score/BGM by Danny Elfman. It is a must watch for all and definitely can be termed as ‘ever fresh’.
3. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Widely regarded as the best work of Burton by many critics across the globe and was the first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton which is considered as treasure and a remarkable asset of Hollywood. Burton’s modern fairytale has an almost palpably personal feel, it is told gently, subtly and with infinite sympathy for an outsider who charms the locals but then inadvertently arouses their baser instincts. All credit goes to Depp who delivered his breakthrough performance which is sensational, summoning anxiety, melancholy, and innocence with heartbreaking conviction. He as Edward an artificial man, an unfinished creation who has scissors for hands is beyond cute and rather than a destroyer he is projected as an artist by magician Burton and made Depp a star overnight. His role became so popular that an extinct lobster-like sea creature called Kootenichela deppi is named after Depp because of its scissor-like claws. Beautiful art direction along with the melodious music of Elfman made it a cult and should be seen by the people of every era. The film received numerous nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA including the best actor for Depp in Golden Globe; it was a Box office hit also but now has grown into an unforgettable cinematic piece.
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
It is one musical thriller drama which Burton made for the adults, he again with Depp infuse the brilliant cold steel of Stephen Sondheim’s score with a burning passion. Helena Bonham Carter and a superb supporting cast including Alan Rickman bring focused fury to this musical nightmare, it’s bloody great. A memorable screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s landmark 1979 theatrical musical where everything turned out uniformly right thanks to highly focused direction by Tim Burton, expert screw-tightening by scenarist John Logan (Creator of Acclaimed series Penny Dreadful) and haunted, musically adept lead performances from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. It is one movie which is on the list of best 50 films made after the 2000s of every film critic around the world even the harshest ones. Depp delivers one of his most accomplished performances as Sweeney Todd which earned him his third Oscar Academy Award nomination for Best Actor as well as he won his 1st Golden Globe Best Actor Musical/Comedy after several nominations. It was a box office success but later after a year with the DVD release it increased the footfalls in a large number as approximately 19 Hundred thousand copies were sold within months bringing in more than $38 million USD to make it a classic, a cult one.
It earned 2 more Oscar Academy Award nominations apart from Depp’s best actor, in the Best Costume and Art Direction categories; latter was won by Dante Ferrettianease and Francesca Lo Schiavo for their outstanding work. It earned many nominations at Golden Globe, won Best film in it with Best actor and in BAFTA also it fetched many Nominations, this is a must watch.
5. Ed Wood (1994)
This was very different from his other films, Biographical comedy drama is a film which celebrates Ed Wood, the worst director of all time more than it mocks him, and which also celebrates creative passion, friendship and the zany spirit of 1950s exploitation films, in which a great title, a has-been star and a lurid ad campaign were enough to get bookings for some of the oddest films ever made. A tough film to make on an epic loser of Hollywood but Mr. Burton did it and walked away with all the critical acclaim. Again with Depp a certified great actor, who captures all the can-do optimism that kept Ed Wood going, thanks to an extremely funny ability to look at the silver lining of any cloud, he ended up with another Golden Globe Best Actor nomination. Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, an old A-list horror film faded actor whom Ed brings back into the spotlight, was at his all-time best and won Best supporting actor award in Oscars and Golden Globe for his memorable portrayal. The film was not a success at the box office but it is another cult today by Burton.
Some other notable Mentions:
Off course the Smash hit cult Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) an adventure comedy film from where it all started for the legend Burton, Paul Reubens starrer movie which not only entertains you but also tells you to live every moment to the fullest and don’t stick to the memories rather create new ones.
One film which deserves a mention is Burton’s biggest spectacle ever so far, based on Lewis Caroll’s never fading fantasy novel of the same name, Alice in Wonderland (2010). I call that movie as a visual orgasm, it was the first choice of young and adults around the world at time of its release and became one of the biggest hits in the history of Hollywood as it is in the list of those rare 26 films which earned over $1000 million USD worldwide, first for Burton and third for Depp who played the famous character of Mad Hatter in the movie and earned another Golden Globe Nomination in the Best Actor category. It also starred Anna Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Mia Wasikowska. The movie was nominated in three categories in the Oscar academy awards and won two of them, Best Art Direction and Best Costume; it also had many BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations to its name.
Such is the power of Burton that the sequel of Alice in Wonderland, ‘Through the looking glass’ which released this year’s summer failed miserably both critically and commercially as he was not directing the film, even Depp’s magnetism was not enough to stop the drowning of the film.
Another film which I would like to mention is Beetlejuice (1988), the gothic comedy is a fun ride. If you think Michael Keaton is a serious actor who does films like Birdman and Spotlight then you must watch this one, his mad comedy as Beetlejuice will make you die to laugh, the very cute 90s sensation Winona Ryder is another reason to watch this cult comedy film. It won the Oscar award for best makeup and earned many nominations at BAFTA, Burton’s genius work to develop the unique characters in the film is also praiseworthy.
The last mention I’ll make which may surprise you, Dark Shadows (2012). One of Burton’s least acclaimed films but I found this Dark vampire comedy very much entertaining and I have many reasons to love it. First for the cast (Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter together), Second, it was the last Burton and Depp film so far and I miss them being together, third for the stunning Music of Elfman and last for the amazing Cinematography and Great Art Direction. There are very few times when someone else overshadows a legendary actor like Depp (Who is great as 200 years old vampire Barnabas Collins) and Miss Green as Angelique Bouchard did that, she is so extraordinary that you just can’t look anything else when she’s on screen.