Top 10 Films – Johnny Depp

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Depp, not one to be afraid of dressing up

List compiled by Eddie on 9/10/2015

From his first screen appearance in horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street and his gig on cult TV show 21 Jump Street, to his standing as one of the art-house circuit’s go-to leading men and Tim Burton’s muse in the early 90’s and through to his time as one of the biggest box office draws of the early-mid 2000’s, Johnny Depp has lived an eclectic and eventful life in Hollywood, that’s recently seen him slip from his publicly adored throne, to the depths of box office failures lead by the two pronged attack of The Lone Ranger and Mortdecai.

While Depp at present is struggling to juggle his image with successful output, over his 3 decade long career he’s been a part of many a critically adored small budget gem, bigger blockbuster fare and a wide range of films in between that have made him into one of the most recognisable and well liked stars of the modern era.

Depp has found success in many of the genres he has graced, he’s been nominated for 3 Academy Awards across his career and his films have tallied billions of dollars in box office receipts, so it’s clear the man has made an above average attempt in his career path.

This below listings of films, if nothing else, surely showcase the variety Depp has had over his time in movies, and while he more often than not ends up playing characters that lean towards the crazy end of the spectrum, his just as comfortable playing a straight bat that will hopefully be seen in an unhinged type of way in his recently released biopic of Whitey Bulger, Black Mass, a movie that one can only hope sets him back on the path of success.

As always this list is not reflective of Depp’s performance solely, more so the movies his been in as whole.

Happy reading and happy watching.

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With Amber Heard in the Rum Diary, Depp found a love interest that followed him off screen

10. The Rum Diary (2011)

Depp plays – Kemp

Withnail and I director Bruce Robinson’s underrated box office flop is a film that’s actually quite a bit funnier than you would’ve thought from the reviews and lukewarm audience reception. Based upon Hunter S. Thompson’s memoir (Depp must relate pretty strongly to the famous author) this is black comedy at its finest the features a great one-two double up of Johnny Depp and Richard Jenkins. The nice exotic locales and Amber Heard certainly add to the appeal as well.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – Yes.

9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Depp plays – Glen Lantz

An undisputed horror classic, Wes Craven’s oft copied yet never bettered fright fest that introduced the world to the dastardly Freddy Kruger is to this day a movie that succeeds at offering up the scares and producing the gore. An all-round winner of the genre, Elm Street is deserving of its high standing in horror fans best of lists.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – No.

8. Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Depp plays – Sweeny Todd

Teaming up with his long-time friend and directional collaborator Tim Burton, Sweeny Todd saw Depp try his hand at singing, in the act of brining this famed musical to the big screen. The end results were fabulous with Sweeny Todd possessing a dark yet totally mesmerizing tone and some stand out supporting turns from all involved. Not for the faint of heart, this is an adult musical done right.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – Yes.

7. Donnie Brasco (1997)

Depp plays – Donnie Brasco/Joseph D. Pistone

With industry legend Al Pacino on one side and just-beginning-to-hit-the-big-time Depp on the other, Mike Newell’s telling of this true life mafia/informant tale is a genre classic that amongst all the Scorsese and Coppola gets lost in translation quite often. An unflashy yet totally enthralling dramatic thriller Donnie Brasco is must see stuff for any fans of the undercover cop or Mafioso genre.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – No.

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Depp plays – Capt. Jack Sparrow

In the movie that saw him reach previously unheralded public love, Johnny Depp created a character for the ages in Gore Verbinski’s funny, adventurous and downright spectacular pirate themed actioner. Who would’ve thought that a movie based around a theme park ride (a ride Jordan has fond memories of… funny story there) could’ve been so much fun? Let’s just forget that those nasty sequels never happened.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – Yes.

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A pirate with some serious swagger, Capt. Jack Sparrow is Depp’s most iconic role

5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Depp plays – Raoul Duke

Arguably Terry Gilliam’s last truly strong film, Fear and Loathing based upon Hunter S. Thompson’s famed book is an incredibly bonkers yet downright loveable acid trip of a movie. Featuring great central turns by Depp and the almost never better Benicio Del Toro, Fear is a wholly unique film that explores the journey to attain the American Dream in a way we’ve never seen before or since.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – Yes.

4. Platoon (1986)

Depp plays – Lerner

Oliver Stone’s multiple Oscar winning war classic is a deeply personal and incredibly insightful look into the war in Vietnam that features some of cinemas most memorable acting turns by Willem Dafoe and the then non-machete wielding Charlie Sheen. Platoon can at times be harrowing viewing but it’s uncompromisingly stark look at war in the Vietnamese jungle acts as a stunning example of war based movie making.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – No.

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

Depp plays – Gilbert Grape

Lasse Halstrom’s sombre and effective film about family life in a small American township is a lovingly crafted and emotionally engaging affair that features the great double pronged acting attack of the then fresh faced Leonardo Di Caprio (in a role that he lost his first Oscar for) and Johnny Depp. Unique and charged with a real heart this is family drama at its best and features one of Depp’s most naturally strong acting turns.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – No.

2. Ed Wood (1994)

Depp plays – Ed Wood

Filmed in a well-used pallet of black and white and told in an engaging and unconventional way, Tim Burton’s wonderful biopic of famous Z-grade director Ed Wood is one of the directors most effective and full formed films. With a great lead turn by Depp and a classic supporting turn by Hollywood stalwart Martin Landau, Ed Wood is a unique true life tale that is worthy to be seen by any cinema aficionado.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – Yes.

1. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Depp plays – Edward Scissorhands

A fairy-tale straight from the mind of wild haired Tim Burton, Scissorhand’s is a magical bed time story come to life that lives and breathes in a world of its own. From the lovingly crafted set pieces, Danny Elfman’s enthralling score and Johnny Depp’s majestic turn as the Frankenstein like Edward Scissorhands this is a wonderful cinematic gem that will continue to be adored for years to come thanks to its broad appeal to those both young and old.

Does Depp play a “crazy” person? – Yes.

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As the loveable and mistreated Edward in Tim Burtons classic fairy-tale, Edward Scissorhands

Honourable Mentions – Public Enemies, Finding Neverland, Dead Man

What are your favourite Johnny Depp movies? Maybe there are some big fans of Mortdecai out there? Let us know in the comments below whether you agree or disagree with this list!

For more of our actor Top 10’s see below –

Tom Hanks

Robert De Niro

Leonardo Di Caprio

Bruce Willis

Nicolas Cage

Russell Crowe

Denzel Washington

Brad Pitt

Tom Cruise

44 responses to “Top 10 Films – Johnny Depp

  1. Good choices. Ed Wood is my favorite. It’s such a brilliant story about work, passion and life. Plus it looks beautiful.

    I also love him in Finding Neverland and Corpse Bride. And it’s small part but I enjoyed him in Into the Woods

      • Into the Woods loses it’s way in 3rd Act and Depp is just in it for about 10 minutes in the beginning but first 2 acts I loved. But to be honest felt same way about the play 🙂

  2. I have a special fondness for the Rum Diary. It was my birthday movie that year. Ed Wood was special; I saw Plan 9 as a child and thought it was great. Of course, I did not know what a production value was back then, I just sorta went with things. Fear and Loathing: wow.

  3. Good list! Mine would have had: Blow, Dead Man, Nick of Time, and 9th Gate on it. But most of all, it would include his most recent “Black Mass”. Wow! Great performance, great film. I am particularly impressed because I haven’t liked anything Depp has done for a long time. But ‘Black Mass’ was fantastic!

    • It was his first legitimately good film in some time mate. I really hope he picks some more decent projects in the upcoming years as his radar has been very untrustworthy as of late.

  4. Good list. My favorites are Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Benny and Joon, and Edward Scissorhands. In general I like the films he’s done with Tim Burton directing, but they are rather dark. I usually like Johnny’s performance even if I don’t care for the particular film.

  5. I was worried that Jack Sparrow wouldn’t be included because of those nasty sequels. In fact, earlier today I was talking to someone (in real life, mind you) about those sequels and how they make no sense. Funny.

      • I feel like Gore Verbinski is one of those directors that doesn’t understand why one of their films is popular. Like George Lucas with Star Wars.

  6. Oh man, I wish you had included Cry Baby – J. Depp and John Waters at their twisted best. ‘You’ve got it Alison, you’ve got it raw…’ Probably the all time worst (but also best) line that J. Depp has ever delivered!

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  9. 😦 I miss Depp’s old work! He can do so much, and has gotten stuck in this one weird place. Hopefully he breaks out of that rut and goes back to some great things!

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  17. Well I think he did some admirable job in “Sleepy Hollow”. I mean there was so much eccentric enthusiasm coming from his character – very memorable, at least deserving a mention. Him in “From Hell” was not bad either. I guess with such a long filmography it is hard to choose just 10 films.

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