After a uniquely varied twenty-year career, Johnny Depp was the great unsung hero of the movies, popping up in lead roles and many supporting ones in interesting, thought-provoking pieces well into the early 2000’s. But with his breakthrough, eccentric performance in the 2003 box office behemoth Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Depp shot to the top of the A-list as fast as any other actor in history. With his newest flick The Tourist opening this week, it’s time to take a look back at his five best movies. Sorry, none of the Pirates movies are going to be on this list!
Here are the five best movies of Johnny Depp’s career…
Cry Baby (1990)
Depp’s sole collaboration with the irreverent John Waters is a cult classic in every sense, with the wonderfully retro 50’s time period, catchy old timey songs, and massive roster of supporting actors, including Ricky Lake and Traci Lords.
Nick of Time (1995)
One of the forgotten action suspense gems from the mid-1990’s, this incredibly tense film, directed by John Badham and featuring the great Christopher Walken as the sleazier-than-ever villain, proceeds the 24 concept by telling the story of a 90-minute movie in real time.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
This was a great, wholly original family drama that not only featured some of Depp’s best acting to date but also marked the first time Leonardo DiCaprio became an actor to watch—DiCaprio’s ingenious performance as Depp’s mentally handicapped younger brother earned him his first Oscar nomination.
Edward Scissorhands (1990) & Ed Wood (1994)
If we didn’t know any better, it would seem clearer than the light of day that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton were a happily married gay couple. The two guys have collaborated with each other on seven projects, with an eighth—Dark Shadows—on the way. Tim Burton fans know there are two Burton eras—everything before Planet of the Apes and everything after. Burton’s three films with Depp before are by far the best, with Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood standing out as not only two of Depp’s best movies, but as two of the best films of the 1990s.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Not every actor gets to be as lucky as Jamie Lee Curtis. Many actors who go on to have an illustrious career start their feature film work in the horror genre, but not every actor gets to start with a movie like John Carpenter’s Halloween. Look at Tom Hanks—his first movie is the little-seen mediocrity He Knows You’re Alone. But Johnny Depp, who has in the last seven years become possibly the most powerful actor in Hollywood, got his start all those years ago in one of the five best horror movies ever made, Wes Craven’s masterpiece A Nightmare on Elm Street. Even his death scene is a classic.