The Best Tim Burton Movies and Where to Stream Them

No director in cinematic history has quite the creative vision as Tim Burton. With style reminiscent of ‘50s Hammer Horror, ‘30s comic books, and classical Gothic paintings, Burton’s eccentric imagination is apparent in all his movies, dating back to his start in the late 1980s.

Over the past four decades, Burton has been regarded as an ironclad vessel of pure originality in the mainstream film industry. Like any director who’s had a career as long as he has, Burton’s filmography is not without the occasional flops. Still, for the most part, his creative output is composed of undeniable classics.

From cult comedies to darker superhero films, here are the best Tim Burton films of all time, ranked from best to worst.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Tired of celebrating Halloween, the ghoulish celebrity resident of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), encourages his fellow monsters to celebrate a new holiday he’s only just heard of: Christmas.

Contrary to popular belief, the film that Burton is most closely associated with is the movie he had very little to do with. Based on a poem written by Burton, animator Henry Selick sees the potential for Burton’s rich creative world represented on screen. Burton didn’t write the screenplay, sculpt the figures, or direct the film, but his distinct contributions served as an ideal jumping-off point for Selick and his team.

Currently streaming on Disney+


Beetlejuice, Winona Ryder
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Annoyed by the presence of their house’s obnoxious new residents, a pair of mild-mannered ghosts (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) reluctantly hire an eccentric “bio-exorcist” (Michael Keaton) to scare the new homeowners away.

Burton’s first film after his debut effort, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice might as well have been Burton’s first official movie. So many of the telltale signs bearing Burton’s fingerprints can be found throughout Beetlejuice. The film essentially encompasses his foremost aesthetic sensibilities as a director. It's a lurid, hilarious, and spectacular subversion of the haunted house story that is just as humorous as it is entertaining.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Living in the isolation of his creator’s castle, an artificially-created young man with scissors for hands (Johnny Depp) is invited to live in an idyllic suburban community, his obvious differences clashing with his mundane surroundings.

Based on Burton’s filmography, the filmmaker clearly has a deep affinity for Frankenstein. As great as Burton’s other takes on Mary Shelley’s immortal horror story are, Edward Scissorhands is perhaps Burton’s definitive spin on the classic cautionary tale. Focusing on the “Monster”’s more humane psychology, Burton allows his film to resemble a tragedy more than a horror movie, portraying Depp’s Edward as a displaced figure in a strange, alien world.

Currently streaming on HBO Max


Batman Michael Keaton
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

As he balances his life as playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne, the fledgling superhero Batman (Michael Keaton) seeks to avenge his parent’s death when a psychopathic gangster known as the Joker (Jack Nicholson) emerges in Gotham City.

The Dark Knight may be considered the best superhero movie ever made, but Burton’s 1989 Batman is likely the closest we’ll get to a straight adaptation of the 1940s Caped Crusader. Blending Burton’s predilection for Gothic facades and imagery with iconic DC characters, Batman is a faithful recreation of the world created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in the original comics.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

Pee-wee's Big Adventure Paul Reubens
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When his prized bicycle is stolen, the childlike Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) embarks on a cross-country search for his missing property.

Burton’s feature-length directorial debut, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, is similar and unlike any other film Burton has worked on. Bursting with creativity, it's far more lighthearted than most other films on this list, although Burton’s penchant for darker subject matter occasionally bleeds through the film’s pastel outer surface.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Corpse Bride

Corpse Bride
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

After mistakenly proposing to the corpse of a young woman (Helena Bonham Carter), a meek young man (Johnny Depp) is transported to the underworld, trying desperately to return to his fiancee (Emily Watson) before their wedding ceremony.

As with Edward Scissorhands, there is an inherent beauty found in Corpse Bride, despite its somewhat frightening-sounding premise. Closer in nature to a Neil Gaiman fantasy story, it's a refreshingly fun family movie that may be overwhelming for younger audience members yet ideal for those just approaching their teenage years.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures

Returning to London after his forced exile, a barber (Johnny Depp) embarks on a bloody rampage against the corrupt judge (Alan Rickman) responsible for his banishment.

Like Batman or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the original Sweeney Todd musical by Stephen Sondheim was the ideal source material for Burton to adapt. Coinciding with Burton’s love for grim subject matter and macabre settings, it’s a musical that lives up to Sondheim’s gripping stage production, following the titular Sweeney Todd’s slow descent into murder, hate, and insanity.

Currently streaming on PlutoTV

Ed Wood

Ed Wood Johnny Depp
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studio, Touchstone Pictures.

In the early 1950s, mediocre B-movie director Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) sets out to create his most ambitious movie yet, Plan 9 From Outer Space — a film that would become notorious as the worst film ever made.

One of Burton’s most personal films, Ed Wood, is also among his most visionary works. Focusing on the life and career of Burton’s idol, Ed Wood, and his relationship with horror icon Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood is sadly among Burton’s lesser-known films. Yet between its ‘50s-esque black-and-white cinematography and stunning performances by Depp and Martin Landau, it's a deeply affecting movie that deserves far more attention.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online


Frankenweenie, Winona Ryder, Dee Bradley Baker, Atticus Shaffer
Image Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

After his beloved pet dog Sparky is accidentally killed in a car accident, the brilliant child inventor Victor (Charlie Tahan) uses his scientific experiments to bring Sparky back from the dead.

As with Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie marks another full-fledged exploration of stop-motion animation on Burton’s part. Once again returning to the story of Frankenstein, the film also drew on an early short work by Burton dating back to his formative years at Disney, brilliantly spread out into feature film length.

Currently streaming on Disney+

Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow Johnny Depp
Image Credit: Summit Entertainment and Warner Bros.

In the late 1790s, a series of beheadings plague the isolated farming community of Sleepy Hollow in upstate New York, all attributed to a mysterious Headless Horseman. To find out the truth about the Horseman, a skeptical Manhattan constable (Johnny Depp) is dispatched to solve the crime.

One of Burton’s darkest movies, Sleepy Hollow, is in the same vein as Sweeney Todd. However, instead of its Victorian setting, Burton turns his attention to a more barbaric presentation of colonial America, channeling a stylistic look straight out of a Hammer Horror film.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Big Fish

big fish
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures, Inc.

Learning that his father (Albert Finney/Ewan McGregor) is on his deathbed, a young man (Billy Crudup) looks back at his dad’s life, trying to separate fact from fiction in his numerous elaborate stories.

Roald Dahl may not have written Big Fish, but it feels like he did. Just as creative and bursting with childlike imagination as Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s a wondrous family movie that might be the most children-friendly of Burton’s films (even when held up to the potentially ghastly The Nightmare Before Christmas or Edward Scissorhands).

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online

Batman Returns

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

When a mysterious sewer-dwelling circus performer calling himself the Penguin (Danny DeVito) arrives in Gotham City, Batman (Michael Keaton) investigates his past, all the while playing a game of cat and mouse with an alluring vigilante (Michelle Pfeiffer) and corrupt industrialist (Christopher Walken).

Even by Burton’s standards, Batman Returns is an exceptionally dark film (perhaps even a little too dark for its own good). Pushing the boundaries for macabre to its most extremes, it can make for an off-putting viewing experience for some, but like every Burton film, there’s no denying its utter originality and artistic vision.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Big Eyes

Big Eyes Christoph Waltz
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

In the 1950s, rising artist Margaret Ulbrich (Amy Adams) has her career stalled when her second husband (Christoph Waltz) began taking credit for her famous paintings.

One of the better Burton films in recent years, as well as one of his most underrated, Big Eyes is another foray into the biographical genre on Burton’s part after his earlier, equally overlooked Ed Wood. Exploring Ulbrich’s story and heated relationship with her husband, it's a fascinating look at the world of art, the 1950s, and gender politics specifically, all to dazzling effect.

Currently streaming on Netflix

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Willy Wonka
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Upon winning a contest, an impoverished young boy (Freddie Highmore) and his grandfather (David Kelly) are invited to tour the grand chocolate factory of the reclusive candy mogul Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp).

A more macabre, albeit still incredibly faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, proves more bewildering than Gene Wilder’s earlier 1971 film. Far more divisive than Burton’s other films, most viewers either adamantly love the movie or outright despise it; however, there’s no question Charlie and the Chocolate Factory bears all the main elements of a typical Burton film: bizarre images, quirky characters, an eccentric Johnny Depp, a Danny Elfman score, etc.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online

Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When ghastly Martians arrive on Earth, various inhabitants around the globe wonder about the aliens’ intentions: are they peaceful visitors coming in harmony, or do they intend to wage war against mankind?

Burton’s first career blunder, Mars Attacks! was derived as a more comedic spoof of the cult classic Tops trading card series. Modeled after the kitschy atmosphere of Ed Wood’s ‘50s B-movies, the movie’s tone is just slightly too mocking for effective comedy or sci-fi, its narrative too scattered across its wide cast. However, like most of Burton’s movies, it has since garnered a strong following of fans.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online


Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).