30. CORPSE BRIDE (2005)
Tim Burton’s first venture into stop-motion animation — no, Burton didn’t direct The Nightmare Before Christmas — was this enjoyable enough piece of fluff about a Victorian fop (Depp) who runs from an engagement to an aristocrat’s daughter (Emily Watson) only to wind up proposing to a cursed corpse that comes back to life (Helena Bonham Carter). Corpse Bride looks marvellous, but isn’t as fun or interesting as it looks.
29. ARIZONA DREAM (1994)
For an actor known for bizarre movies, Arizona Dream may be the weirdest one Depp’s participated in. A surrealist rural comedy about an NYC transplant (Depp) coping with the weirdness of a small town in Arizona — largely due to the mother-daughter neighbors who dream of, respectively, building a flying machine (Faye Dunaway) and becoming a turtle (Lili Taylor). Its bravery to not care whether or not it works on your wavelength helps it succeed by its own terms.
28. THE RUM DIARY (2011)
Given a harsh reception by moviegoers expecting a direct sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diary is an enjoyable slice of Hunter S. Thompson lunacy, even if it never really goes anywhere. Director Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I) keeps the wheels spinning the whole time, ignoring the mud and suggesting you just enjoyable the trip. Depp doesn’t ham it up as you’d expect, instead playing the straight man comedically reacting to the ridiculousness around him.
27. PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009)
Michael Mann, Christian Bale, and Johnny Depp are each very capable of brilliance, but sometimes a group of geniuses can’t work together. All three seem to be making different pictures, rarely finding overlap. The few scenes where all three click are brilliant, but the rest of Public Enemies just remains good.
26. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN:
ON STRANGER TIDES (2011)
After what had originally seemed like a Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy closed with At World’s End, many had low hopes for a fourth movie, especially with neither Orlando Bloom nor Keira Knightley returning. Thanks to the freshness of using Tim Power’s classic novel as its source material, the addition of Penelope Cruz as a sparring partner for Depp, and the sheer fact At World’s End was worse, On Stranger Tides is better than most expect.
25. BENNY & JOON (1993)
One of Depp’s most charming performances will always be shy extrovert Sam in this likeable romance. The movie’s not without its narrative problems, but Depp’s unflappable lover of silent film comedy keeps the proceedings so amiable, larger plot holes don’t bother you much until the movie ends.
24. THE IMAGINARIUM OF
DOCTOR PARNASSUS (2009)
Filming of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a journey through dreamscapes directed by Terry Gilliam, was well underway when its star, Heath Ledger, died. Gilliam’s radical idea of casting other actors as Ledger’s character while inside the dreams led to Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Depp joining the cast. Depp pays quirky tribute to his departed friend and the casting changes invigorate the movie whenever it needs it.
23. TRANSCENDENCE (2014)
Transcendence was tarnished by an ad campaign that made the movie look much smaller than it ultimately was, but it’s an intelligent piece of science-fiction. It goes in a few too many directions by the end, but enough pay off to make it a worthwhile trip. The biggest shame is that Lucy tackled the same issues in a better movie mere months later.
22. SECRET WINDOW (2004)
After movie studios discovered in the ‘90s that non-horror Stephen King adaptations were in-demand, a bevy of movies based on various novellas and short stories of King’s came in succession, of which Secret Window was better than most. The movie’s brisk pace and unexpected ending kept you distracted from picking things apart before the credits.
21. FINDING NEVERLAND (2004)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl proved Depp’s comedic chops were worthy of an Oscar nomination, but his nod for Finding Neverland just a year later was an even stronger statement, with his role being stripped-down, dramatic, and real. As Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, Depp has a childlike twinkle in his eyes that gives the movie sparks of energy to match that of its child actors.