With Depp’s latest outing as “Whitey” Bulger in Scott Cooper’s Black Mass (review HERE) it makes sense to look back at the great film roles Johnny Depp has given us over his 30 years of acting. For awhile, we were all getting some fatigue from his Tim Burton roles which have given us some of the best performances along with some of the most annoying, but we are here to celebrate Depp hopefully returning to quality films and roles.
The criteria is mixed because though some of these films aren’t loved by a majority, I contend Depp makes these films as great as they are even with everything else falling into place. Please take note, this is a list of his best films through performance and quality direction combined.
Here is my top 10 list of best film Depp has given us:
10. Edward Scissorhands (1990): From the great composition by Danny Elfman to the childhood idea that later became reality as the romantic dark fantasy, we were given the start of a mixed bag of collaborations between Burton and Depp. Often funny in most sides of the story it is an overall somber tale of love and the hardships a person that is different will face all while discovering their place in this world. It’s a movie that you will appreciate if you like darkly original concepts like this, but even if that’s not the case, it will pull at the heartstrings by the third and final act.
9. Blow (2001): This is not Depp’s first crime/gangster style film and role he’s taken on, but it is one that stands out as he portrays American cocaine smuggler George Jung in this early 2000’s biopic. Depp does so many great things in his roles and subtly through so many roles where he wears make-up shows more vibrantly than most actors tend to be able to do. It may not be a crime classic, it is smartly written and shot with a great eye for setting the tone of any great crime drama.
8. Ed Wood (1994): Here it is! The first Tim Burton/Depp collaboration on the list, but it’s not one anyone realizes even exists, sadly. Telling the humorous struggles of famously bad director Ed Wood and his awfully weird habits become a journey into the conflicted mind of a man who dresses as a woman. It was ahead of our current times while winning two Academy Awards later in the year. Check it out if you want a clever black and white picture by Depp and Burton.
7. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003): Capping of the series of Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico trilogy, though Bandarez and Hayek are superbly talented and showcase it once again in their film, Depp is the scene stealer as a handsome CIA agent who recruits El Mariachi (Banderas) to kill a Mexican drug dealer before a slew of other big shenanigans ensue. Depp is written in so much that he makes Banderas almost a side character in his own film.
6. Black Mass (2015): I understand this may be a bit soon, but there is no denying that Depp gave us one of his best roles…ever when he was making this movie. Though the movie can be hollow to most and a little short for the rest of us, it doesn’t make Depp any less terrifying as Whitey Bulger. This is one of the films that make-up didn’t make him a literal monster, but something much more real, a psychopathic crime lord.
5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007): I love musicals and I love complex bad guys in movies so this is a no brainer. Depp showcases his singing ability next to constant collaborative partner Helena Bonham Carter, he is terrifying an equally quirky like Depp can do by also giving us a great film and musical adaptation with Tim Burton.
4. Rango (2011): In the world of animation Rango doesn’t get the love and recognition it deserves. Depp lends his voice to a pet chameleon who falls out of his vehicle and tank to land in the western town of Dirt where he later on becomes the unintentional sheriff. This is a pricey animated feature with an astounding voice cast and superb originality while Depp does a great job being the cowardly hero Rango boasting a monotone coolness through all his ridiculous situations.
3. Pirate of the Caribbean franchise (2003-present): We all know Jack Sparrow, oh sorry, “Captain” Jack Sparrow. Say what you want about the films after Curse of the Black Pearl they are all fun and endlessly entertaining if you’re just hanging out on a rainy night. Now being one of the most iconic roles for Depp, it’s not worth debating on whether or not the role is in his top, but man, if only that fourth film just didn’t exist…let’s hope number five in the franchise grows rather than wilt.
2. Donnie Brasco (1997): What does it mean when you can act exceptionally well alongside one Al Pacino in a gangster movie? It tells you that whoever you are, you are wickedly good at what you do, and Depp is wickedly good at what he does. Playing an undercover agent in the darkest end of the Italian mafia in New York, Donnie Brasco ends up merging with a real gangster while finding sympathy for those he was trying to take down. One of the most underrated gangster/crime films out there, the cast is all you’d want minus De Niro and Pesci.
1. Finding Neverland (2004): This my friends is my favorite Johnny Depp film, I know, it’s sort of shocking, but watch the movie and get back to me. Did you ever wonder how someone thought of Peter Pan and what would have taken them to get such a deep concept for a character like one that never grows up? Well, this is the film that explains it all to you as Depp becomes playwritgh J.M. Barrie whose relationship with one special family gave him the truest meanings of life and also serving as a reminder for how precious life can truly be. It’s a remarkable true story that was a strong contender during award season back in 2004 while still holding up as one of Johnny Depp’s greatest performances as a troubled Irish writer.
That’s all I have this time folks, for more top ten lists or any list relating to films, comment below your ideas and share this everywhere if you enjoyed it.