After the Danny Elfman concert, I got to thinking about my favourite Tim Burton films. Here’s what I came up with.

Beetlejuice (1988)
Originally written as a drama, Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are married suburbanites who find themselves in limbo after a tragic accident. ‘Bio-exorcist’ Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) may be the man to help them. Keaton improvised many of his lines and has often said that it was one of his favourite projects to work on (an underrated actor in my opinion). As well as the comedy in Beetlejuice – with the aid of Harry Belafonte’s calypso sounds – the Expressionist-inspired sets, the score, the stop-motion animation sequences and the colourful underworld make this one of Burton’s most imaginative films to date.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)
A pastel, suburban nightmare featuring Johnny Depp in his first Burton collaboration as Vincent Price’s macabre creation. After spending years hiding his razor-sharp hands and self-inflicted scars high in his gothic castle, Edward is ‘rescued’ by well-meaning Avon lady, Peg (Dianne Wiest). Naturally, Edward struggles to adapt to life in the ‘burbs and realises that not everyone is as kind and as thoughtful as he. A modern-day morality tale with beautiful music, an excellent cast and some amazing topiary.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Although it was Henry Selick who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas due to Burton’s hectic Batman schedule, he did create the story and the characters, as well as serving as producer. I have mentioned before that this was my childhood favourite, but even now as a grown-up I don’t get tired of watching it. The songs, the characters, the animation, the magical worlds of Halloween and Christmas town, it truly is enchanting.

Ed Wood (1994)
A cross-dressing Johnny Depp plays optimistic, B-movie director of the 1950s, Edward D. Wood Jr in this black and white comedy drama. We follow Ed on a mission to cast long-retired Dracula (1931) actor Bela Lugosi (played by Martin Landau) and the subsequent filming of Glen or Glenda (1953). Wood’s fascination with Lugosi is said to mirror Burton’s interest in another stalwart of film horror, Vincent Price. I feel that this film is often overlooked (it didn’t fare well at the box office) but Ed Wood is very humorous at times, and includes a great ensemble cast, particularly Bill Murray as Bunny Breckinridge. Landau went on to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Lugosi.

Big Fish (2003)
Based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Wallace, Big Fish is a less dark, but no less colourful, Burton offering. Ewan McGregor plays a young Edward Bloom, a travelling salesman with a penchant for tall tales. He meets many interesting characters on his travels including an eccentric ringmaster (Danny DeVito) with a nocturnal secret and a highly-amusing, hopeless town poet (Steve Buscemi). Albert Finney plays the elder version of Bloom, who is dying, and is supported at home by his wife, Sandra (Jessica Lange). Bloom’s son Will (Billy Crudup) tries to sort the fact from the fiction. The result is a moving tale of life and death and the importance of family.

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