Updated On: November 06, 2023 by   Miranne Khaled   Miranne Khaled  

Hollywood is home to some of the world’s most talented filmmakers and producers. They’ve bestowed upon us thousands of movies that left their imprints on our hearts and minds. However, rarely do people watch a film and relate it to a specific filmmaker or director, even before the credits appear on the screen unless it was a masterpiece by Tim Burton.

Timothy Walter Burton, commonly known as Tim Burton, is an American filmmaker born in 1958. He established himself as an out-of-the-ordinary filmmaker, presenting a wide array of Gothic stories that grossed colossal success throughout the years. Burton made his works recognisable by the kind of stories he presented, the special gothic effects, and the original twists. 

The man’s style has become perceptible that people sometimes attribute gothic animated films and stories that Tim Burton hadn’t contributed. These films include the popular animated film Coraline, ParaNorman, Jim Carrey’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Hocus Pocus, and the original Addams Family movie. 

All of these aforementioned works possess key elements that make them fit the criteria of Burton’s movie, yet they’re not. It’s precisely the kind of success that anyone could dream of. Here are some of the most victorious works of Tim Burton that you need to give a shot, especially if Halloween is around the corner.

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a popular Disney animated movie that took the cinema world by storm upon its release in the 90s. Despite being an animated film for kids, a lot of people deemed it a bit too dark with mature concepts for children to grasp. This makes a lot of sense, for the film takes you on a journey inside the brilliant mind of its creator, Tim Burton. We’re sure it’s not a pleasant ride for kids, but teenagers and adults would pretty much enjoy it.

No wonder this particular Disney film is often referred to as Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas; it’s a pure depiction of Burton’s brain that functions too well with dark fantasy. The movie’s idea was utterly original, blending two different holidays with distinct vibes, resulting in this fascinating film with indigenous characters. 

Besides the significant key elements featuring Halloween props, including skeletons, dead spirits, and dark vibes, the movie has other details that display Tim Burton’s strong impact. Given that it’s a musical movie, the lyrics resonated with the dark side, blending well with the gothic-like music that helped create a gloomy ambience. 

2. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Edward Scissorhands dropped in theatres in 1990, and it was a colossal success with a remarkable story. The success of this movie paved the way for a permanent collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Definitely, Depp is a talented actor with unique skills, and even more, he seems to be the best at executing Burton’s ideas and bringing them to life.

The movie was one of the most fabulous creations of Tim Burton that sprung his career with great force. Edward Scissorhands made Burton’s consistent visual style recognisable, and people got acquainted with his penchant for fantastical concepts. Although viewers enjoyed the authenticity of the movie’s idea, some were left perplexed by the message it was attempting to convey. 

Looking closely at the story, it may seem too peculiar at first. It featured an artificial man-like creature with a soul and scissors for hands. The melancholy vibes were meant to make the viewers see life through the eyes of outcasted Edward. Burton had professed that he himself was a loner; thus, he always wanted to show the world how it felt to be the inferior party living in your head. 

Needless to say, Tim Burton succeeded in conveying his message, and people started sympathising with Edward’s character despite seeming dangerous from the outside. All he ever wanted was to search for his true identity and be accepted in society, which shows that we’re all the same at the core; we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. 

3. Ed Wood (1994)

Ed Wood was the second collaboration between our favourite pair, Burton and Depp. The movie wasn’t a massive success like Edward Scissorhands was, not even close, yet it won a couple of Academy Awards. Although it was about Edward Davis Wood Jr., a man who was labelled “the worst director of all time”, the movie gave the late director a break, shedding light on his low-budget films with peculiar themes.

Tim Burton depicted the story in his very own methodology. It made sense that Burton resorted to stories centring around “being outcasted” after revealing his own story of being a lone wolf for as long as he remembered. Wood shared a lot of similarities with Burton, especially in their eccentric ideas and unique styles when it came to creating their movies. 

However, Wood was labelled the worst director all his life, while Burton was constantly applauded for his brilliant brain. That’s one thing they never shared. Moreover, the special bond between Wood and Bela Lugosi was, according to Burton, pretty much like that he has with Vincent Price, sharing a genuine friendship and the same passion for dark fantasy. We recommend you give this movie a shot and try to see Burton’s perspective embedded within. 

4. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Despite the massive success of 2010 Alice in Wonderland, many viewers find it hard to attribute it to Tim Burton. The story had received some twists to fit into the Burtonesque world, yet it was somehow a bit different from what people expected. Burton claimed in an interview that he’d always hated the character of Alice, finding her annoying and odd. 

For that reason, he tried to portray her as someone he could relate to on a much deeper level, being the quiet type with an old soul and a bit of an anxious character, according to his own words. Lewis Carrell’s original story was already a huge success worldwide, so Burton didn’t add much to the storyline. 

Yet, the most Burtonesque elements in the movie were the portrayal of the Mad Hatter by Johnny Depp and the Red Queen by Helena Bonham Carter. Seeing the pair together on screen has always been a delight, bringing Tim Burton’s visions to life. Despite being among the highest-grossing films, this movie was quite controversial among the viewers. People wanted to see more of Burton’s genuine signature stamp in the film.

5. Corpse Bride (2005)

This is yet another animated musical film spontaneously associated with Tim Burton. You can easily see Burton’s impact evident when you look at the film’s poster. It features those Burtonesque elements of dark ambience with a twisted story and Halloween props scattered into parts of the story. 

Even the film’s font resembles the Nightmare Before Christmas; no wonder the film is known as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. The story is based on a Russian-Jewish folktale, where a bride rises from the dead when a young man practises his vows beside her burial site. She wakes up believing they’re married, and troubles start following the shy young man. 

The movie has a humorous effect blended with dark themes and profound lyrics. It’s suitable for all family members despite mentioning death and scattered bones, but in a Halloween-y style that appeals to kids. Although we believe the film’s meaning is too mature for children to understand. 

Still, the movie was a huge success where Tim Burton presented a lesser-known legend to the world, adding his own stamp to it. Interestingly, it was another collaboration with the perfect dark pair, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, who voiced the film’s main characters. 

6. Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie is an animated film created by Tim Burton as a remake of his 80s comedy horror. The film is displayed in a black-and-white style, an element that helped bring Burton’s vision to being. It’s also deemed the third animated film for Burton after his big animated hits The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. 

You can see Burton’s stamp on this movie from the film glance—a Halloween-themed cartoon with a horror twist. The best part is that it was released on 5 October 2012, making it a perfect Halloween watch. Moreover, Tim Burton has embedded many of his details into the film, including Sparky’s character, inspired by Burton’s childhood pet, Pepe.

Although this animation wasn’t the first in black and white, it’s among the most successful films, especially for Disney and Tim Burton. Burton also professed that they originally shot the film in colour, then it was changed to black and white. The movie’s creator believes that this style was an excellent choice for the digital world, especially since the story was a homage to the 60s monsters horror movies. 

7. Dark Shadows (2012)

2012 was a big year for Tim Burton’s career, releasing two of his most successful movies, Frankenweenie and Dark Shadows. The latter featured Burton’s best movie partner, Johnny Depp, along with his perfect actress match, Helena Bonham Carter. Little do people know that the film is based on a gothic-themed soap opera from the 60s. 

The film is ranked as humorous yet with a horror twist that perfectly defines the elements of Burton. Depp was also a great choice given his versatile abilities to portray any Burton character and helped drive the movie to success. Presenting vampires with pale skins, witches, and dark backgrounds speak loudly of Burton’s key elements.

Dark Shadows is yet another movie that Burton had professed relating to for the portrayal of an outcast character. Besides using contrasting designs and gothic-styled themes, his characters are unique and similar. 

Tim Burton has also claimed that he gets inspiration from remaking old movies or television shows based on the stories and characters. In this case, it was Barnabas that he pretty much related to.

8. Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice was Burton’s first full-length film to direct, so it made sense to feature it on the list of Tim Burton’s top movies. This popular film, one of Tim Burton’s classics, presents an original story about a deceased couple. This gothic flick has been one of the works for which Burton received much praise and applause. 

Before going with Beetlejuice, there were other suggestions for its title, including House Ghosts and Scared Sheetless. However, Beetlejuice was the last decision, which went viral with people in no time. An interesting fact we recently learned about the movie’s name is that it’s a variation of Betelgeuse, the protagonist’s name, named after the brightest stars in the sky. 

The first draft of Beetlejuice was said to be much more gothic and darker, with so little humour to be left. Tim Burton was responsible for adding some delight, making the movie more appropriate for all family members. Interestingly, the film won an Academy Award, but it was for Best Makeup, another humorous element we can’t deny. 

9. Wednesday (2022)

The latest of Tim Burton’s works was a massive hit with Netflix’s streaming services immediately upon its release. This series has presented the pure talents of young actress Jenna Ortega who aced her role as Wednesday Addams, the girl with a dark mind and Kubrick stare with an insatiable penchant for sweet revenge.

Addams Family has been a great hit since the 90s classic movie. It’s easy to comprehend Tim Burton’s interest in creating this spin-off. Not only was the film a classic Halloween-themed flick, but Wednesday has deemed an outcast who never fits anywhere. Yet, she pretty much enjoyed it.

The gothic-styled locations of Romania played a vital role in the movie’s success, not to mention choosing references to the late poet Edgar Allen Poe. We think it was a perfect choice, for Poe’s dark-themed mind, brimming with his macabre passion for monsters and dark mysteries, went perfectly well with the Addams’ deadpan life and the melancholy ambience of Nevermore Academy.

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

Sweeney Todd’s story is another dark tale that inspired Tim Burton to adopt and make it into one of his most successful classics. Another creepy collaboration between Burton, Depp, and Carter resulted in this victorious film, along with the role of our all-time favourite actor, Alan Rickman.

A spine-chilling story of a barber murdering his clients in cold blood with a razor, seeking revenge for being unjustly incarcerated. The dark-themed story fits the criteria of a classic Tim Burton film, not to mention the musical part with lots of harrowing lyrics. Besides, the music composition is theoretically complicated, which added to the success of this dark movie.

Besides Burton’s contribution to the movie’s success, the story received much attention from keen viewers. Not only was it an adaptation from A Penny Dreadful, but being a true story or not was a controversial topic. Nobody knows whether there’s a real-life Sweeney Todd or not, and this mysterious element makes the story more enjoyable.

Although there are many more works by Tim Burton worth mentioning, we shed light on the most successful ones that delivered Burton’s authentic viewpoint. The brilliant-minded filmmaker once shared his belief in paradox, claiming that with sadness comes humour, and darkness comes light. Lodging his ideas into his works is undeniably evident. 

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