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"Discovering the Best of Johnny Depp: Top 25 Must-Watch Movies"

Updated: May 15

Johnny Depp, a versatile actor known for his unique choice of roles and captivating performances, has starred in numerous films that have left a significant mark on the film industry. From his early days in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' to his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series, Depp has showcased his wide range of acting skills through various characters. This article explores the top 25 Johnny Depp movies, highlighting his most memorable and impactful roles.

Key Takeaways

  • Johnny Depp's career spans a variety of genres, showcasing his versatility as an actor.

  • His collaborations with director Tim Burton have produced some of his most iconic roles.

  • Depp often portrays complex, eccentric characters that captivate audiences.

  • His performances are not only popular among fans but also critically acclaimed.

  • These top 25 films highlight the best of Johnny Depp's career and his contributions to cinema.

1. Edward Scissorhands

Released in 1990, Edward Scissorhands is a poignant tale directed by Tim Burton, featuring Johnny Depp in one of his most memorable roles. Depp portrays Edward, an artificial man with scissor blades instead of hands, whose life transforms when he is taken in by a suburban family. The film blends elements of fantasy, drama, and romance, striking a deep chord with audiences through its exploration of isolation and acceptance.

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Duration: 1h 45m

  • Metascore: 74

Edward Scissorhands not only showcases Depp's ability to immerse himself into a character but also highlights the seamless collaboration between Depp and Burton, creating a visually stunning piece that remains a significant work in cinematic history.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street

In 1984, Johnny Depp made his film debut in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street,' a seminal work in the horror genre directed by Wes Craven. The film introduces audiences to Freddy Krueger, a monstrous figure who invades the dreams of teenagers, leading to fatal consequences in the real world. Depp plays one of these teenagers, whose iconic death scene would become a defining moment in horror cinema.

  • Release Year: 1984

  • Director: Wes Craven

  • Genre: Horror, Slasher, Supernatural

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Released in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl quickly became a beloved classic, blending action, adventure, and a touch of supernatural. Directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp as the eccentric pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, the film follows Jack's quest alongside blacksmith Will Turner, played by Orlando Bloom, to rescue the governor's daughter from cursed pirates.

The film's success spawned several sequels, making it one of Disney's most successful franchises. Its blend of humor and adventure, anchored by Depp's performance, received critical acclaim and solidified the film's place in pop culture.


  • Box Office: Grossed over $654 million worldwide.

  • Awards: Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Johnny Depp.

  • Critical Reception: Holds an 8.1 rating on IMDb and a 63 on Metascore.

4. Finding Neverland

Released in 2004, Finding Neverland explores the life of playwright J.M. Barrie and his inspirational encounters with a widow and her four sons. This touching narrative not only delves into the depths of imagination and creativity but also beautifully portrays the birth of Barrie's most famous work, Peter Pan. The film stars Johnny Depp, whose portrayal of Barrie is both superb and deeply moving, alongside Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman.

Key Details:

  • Release Year: 2004

  • Rating: PG

  • Duration: 1h 46m

  • Director: Marc Forster

  • Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie

Finding Neverland is a poignant film that beautifully captures the essence of inspiration and the power of human connection.

5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Released in 2007 and directed by Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a dark and thrilling tale of revenge and tragedy. The film stars Johnny Depp as Benjamin Barker, a barber who returns to London after being wrongfully imprisoned. Bent on avenging the rape and death of his wife, Barker resumes his trade under the alias 'Sweeney Todd.' He forms a sinister partnership with Mrs. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter, who bakes Todd's slain victims into meat pies.

The movie is based on the hit Broadway musical and is known for its gothic aesthetic and intense performances. It combines elements of horror with a dramatic narrative, making it a standout in Depp's career. The film's critical reception was generally positive, with a Metascore of 83 and a user rating of 7.3 from over 387,000 reviews.

6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Released in 2005 and directed by Tim Burton, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory offers a vibrant and whimsical adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved tale. The film stars Johnny Depp as the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, who opens his mysterious chocolate factory to five lucky children. Among them is Charlie Bucket, a boy from an impoverished family, portrayed by Freddie Highmore.

The movie is not only a visual spectacle but also a story about the wonders of childhood and the wildness of imagination. It received a Metascore of 72 and has been a favorite among both children and adults.

Key Details:

  • Release Year: 2005

  • Director: Tim Burton

  • Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, David Kelly

  • Rating: PG

  • Runtime: 115 minutes

  • Metascore: 72

7. Donnie Brasco

Released in 1997, Donnie Brasco features Johnny Depp in a compelling role as an FBI undercover agent who infiltrates the mob. Directed by Mike Newell, the film also stars Al Pacino and Michael Madsen. The plot revolves around Depp's character, who finds himself increasingly identifying with the Mafia life, to the detriment of his regular life.

Box Office and Ratings:

  • Gross Revenue: $42.0M

  • IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

  • Metascore: 77

8. Blow

In the film Blow, Johnny Depp portrays George Jung, a man who became a pivotal figure in the American cocaine market during the 1970s. The movie, directed by Ted Demme, dives deep into the complexities of Jung's life, from his early days to his partnership with the Medellín Cartel, led by Pablo Escobar. Depp's performance is often cited as one of his best, capturing the ambition and eventual downfall of Jung with a nuanced depth.

Blow not only showcases Depp's acting prowess but also features strong performances by Penélope Cruz and Franka Potente. The film's portrayal of the era's cultural and social dynamics adds layers to the understanding of its main characters' motivations and the consequences of their actions.

9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp delivers a compelling performance as Raoul Duke, a journalist who, along with his eccentric lawyer Dr. Gonzo, embarks on a drug-fueled journey to Las Vegas. Directed by Terry Gilliam, the film is a vivid adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel, exploring the bizarre and chaotic escapades of the duo in the neon-lit city. The movie dives deep into themes of the American Dream and countercultural excess, portrayed through surreal visuals and a chaotic narrative.

  • Release Year: 1998

  • Duration: 1h 58m

  • Rating: 7.5/10

  • Metascore: 41

10. Alice in Wonderland

In Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp brings to life the eccentric Mad Hatter, adding a unique flair to this darker version of the classic tale. At 19, Alice, played by Mia Wasikowska, returns to the whimsical world she once knew as a child. Here, she reunites with her old friends and discovers her true destiny is to overthrow the tyrannical Red Queen, portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter.

Alice in Wonderland was not just a visual spectacle but also a box office success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide. It combines elements of adventure, fantasy, and a touch of darkness that Burton is renowned for.

11. The Tourist

In The Tourist, Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo, a math teacher on a European adventure to heal from a broken heart. His journey takes an unexpected turn when he meets Elise (Angelina Jolie), who intentionally entangles him in a web of intrigue and danger. The film unfolds as a cat and mouse game with Frank mistakenly identified as a notorious thief, leading to a thrilling chase across Venice.

  • Release Year: 2010

  • Duration: 103 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • IMDb Rating: 6.0/10

  • Metascore: 37/100

12. Public Enemies

In the 2009 film Public Enemies, Johnny Depp portrays the notorious Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger. The movie, directed by Michael Mann, dives deep into the crime wave of the 1930s, focusing on Dillinger's confrontations with the fledgling FBI, led by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover, desperate to capture Dillinger, declares him America's first Public Enemy Number One, assigning his top agent, Melvin Purvis, to bring Dillinger in, dead or alive.

The film not only captures the audacity and charm of Dillinger that endeared him to America's downtrodden but also highlights the intense efforts of the FBI to bring down Dillinger and his associates, including Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. This gripping narrative is supported by a strong cast including Christian Bale and Christian Stolte, alongside Depp.

13. Rango

In 2011, Johnny Depp lent his voice to the animated feature film Rango, where he portrayed a chameleon with an identity crisis. This role is notable as it's one of the few voiceover roles in Depp's career, highlighting his versatility as an actor. The film, directed by Gore Verbinski, blends adventure and comedy, making it a unique entry in Depp's filmography.

  • Director: Gore Verbinski

  • Co-stars: Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin

  • Genre: Adventure Comedy, Animation

14. The Rum Diary

In The Rum Diary, Johnny Depp portrays Paul Kemp, a journalist who leaves New York during the Eisenhower era to start anew in Puerto Rico. The film, based on Hunter S. Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel, explores Kemp's journey through the hedonistic world of 1960s Puerto Rico. He becomes entangled with Chenault (Amber Heard), the fiancée of a businessman aiming to commercialize the island. Kemp's adventures lead him into a web of love, corruption, and the pursuit of journalistic integrity.

Fans of Johnny Depp's work in literary adaptations will find much to appreciate here, as his performance subtly captures the essence of Thompson's writing. The film combines elements of comedy and drama, making it a compelling watch for those who enjoy complex character studies set against vibrant historical backdrops.

15. Sleepy Hollow

Released in 1999, Sleepy Hollow stars Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, a constable sent to the eerie town of Sleepy Hollow to solve a series of mysterious decapitations. Directed by Tim Burton, this film blends horror, mystery, and fantasy, creating a darkly whimsical atmosphere that captivates the audience. Depp's performance, alongside co-star Christina Ricci, is both intelligent and engaging, making it a standout in his career.

Key Details:

  • Release Year: 1999

  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Fantasy

  • Director: Tim Burton

  • Co-stars: Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson

  • IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

  • Metascore: 65

This film is not only a critical success but also ranks as one of the most rewatchable movies of the 1990s. Its legacy continues to be celebrated by fans of the genre and admirers of Depp's versatile acting skills.

16. Corpse Bride

Released in 2005 and directed by Tim Burton, Corpse Bride is a unique stop-motion animation film that delves into a dark yet whimsical tale. The story revolves around Victor, who finds himself in a bizarre predicament of being married to a mysterious corpse bride in the underworld, while his true love, Victoria, remains in the land of the living. This film is notable for its distinctive visual style and the emotional depth of its characters, making it a standout in the genre of animated films.

  • Runtime: 76 minutes

  • Rating: 7.4/10 (299k votes)

  • Director: Tim Burton

  • Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson

17. The Libertine

The Libertine portrays the life of John Wilmot, a.k.a. the Earl of Rochester, a notorious figure in 17th century England known for his outrageous and debauched lifestyle. Directed by Laurence Dunmore and starring Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, and John Malkovich, the film dives deep into the excesses and self-destructive behavior of its protagonist. Despite his early demise, Rochester's work gained posthumous acclaim, reflecting his complex character and sharp wit.

For fans of biography, drama, and history, The Libertine offers a compelling reason to watch, especially to appreciate Depp's deep dive into a complex character.

18. Chocolat

In the 2000 film Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallström and based on the novel by Joanne Harris, a mother and daughter challenge the rigid moral and religious norms of a small French town by opening a chocolate shop. Their shop becomes a symbol of indulgence and free-thinking, sparking controversy among the town's conservative residents. The arrival of a group of gypsies further intensifies the town's prejudices, leading to a dramatic climax.

Cast Highlights:

  • Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher

  • Johnny Depp as Roux

  • Lena Olin

Rating: 7.3/10 from 200,000 reviews

19. From Hell

Released in 2001, From Hell delves into the dark and eerie world of 1888 London, where Inspector Frederick Abberline, played by Johnny Depp, investigates the notorious 'Jack the Ripper' murders. The film, directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes, explores a chilling narrative involving ritualistic murders and a deep-seated conspiracy that reaches the upper echelons of the government. Fans of Johnny Depp's ability to immerse himself in moody roles will particularly appreciate his performance in this intense urban spin on the horrific legend.

From Hell is not just a mere retelling of a serial killer's tale but an unraveling of a complex plot that suggests high-level involvement in the crimes. The movie ranks as of the best movies of 2001 and is noted for its gripping storyline and atmospheric setting.


  • of 769 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

  • of 113 on The Best Movies Of 2001

  • of 57 on The Best Horror Movies Based On True Stories, Ranked

20. Dark Shadows

In 2012, Tim Burton brought the cult classic TV series Dark Shadows to the big screen, casting Johnny Depp as the enigmatic vampire Barnabas Collins. Despite its rich visual style and Depp's unique portrayal, the film failed to connect with moviegoers. This adaptation highlights Depp's ability to transform into deeply quirky characters, yet it struggled to resonate as strongly as some of his other works.

21. The Ninth Gate

In the 1999 film The Ninth Gate, Johnny Depp plays Dean Corso, a book broker who stumbles upon a rare tome that is rumored to have the power to summon Satan. Directed by Roman Polanski, this film blends elements of horror with a detective narrative, creating a unique atmospheric experience. Despite its intriguing premise, the film received mixed reviews, with a Metascore of 44.

  • Release Year: 1999

  • Duration: 133 minutes

  • Director: Roman Polanski

  • Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin

  • Genre: Horror, Detective Film

22. Secret Window

Released in 2004, Secret Window stars Johnny Depp as Mort Rainey, a successful writer grappling with a painful divorce. The plot thickens when he is stalked at his remote lake house by a stranger who accuses him of plagiarism. This psychological thriller, directed by David Koepp, delves deep into themes of isolation and paranoia, making it a compelling watch.

  • Release Year: 2004

  • Duration: 1h 36m

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Metascore: 46

  • User Rating: 6.5 (210K reviews)

23. Into the Woods

In Into the Woods, Johnny Depp plays the role of The Big Bad Wolf, a character that allows him to showcase his singing and acting talents. With a memorable rendition of "Hello, Little Girl," he demonstrates his ability to embody darkly comedic characters within a musical context. This star-studded adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical weaves together multiple Brothers Grimm tales, each character embarking on an adventure filled with danger, deception, and unexpected twists.

The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Supporting Actress for Meryl Streep. It ranks of 204 on Musical Movies With The Best Songs and of 78 on The Greatest Movies To Watch Outside.

24. Black Mass

In the 2015 action thriller Black Mass, Johnny Depp delivers a chilling performance as the notorious Boston mobster, Whitey Bulger. Directed by Scott Cooper and also starring Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch, the film is based on true events and literature from the 21st century. Depp's portrayal of Bulger earned him a Screen Actors Guild nomination, highlighting his ability to transform into complex characters.

  • Genre: Action Thriller, Political Thriller

  • Director: Scott Cooper

  • Co-stars: Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch

  • Based on: 21st Century Literature, True Story

  • Availability: Available for rent or purchase on iTunes and Netflix.

25. Murder on the Orient Express

In the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie's classic, Murder on the Orient Express features a star-studded cast including Johnny Depp, who plays the mysterious Edward Ratchett. The film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is a gripping blend of mystery and crime, set against the luxurious backdrop of a trans-European train journey. The plot thickens when a murder occurs on board, leading to a suspenseful inquiry into the passengers' secrets.

The movie not only captivates with its intricate plot but also showcases Depp's ability to adapt to diverse roles, further cementing his status in Hollywood. With a box office gross of over $101.5 million, the film was both a commercial and critical success, appealing to audiences worldwide.


In this article, we've explored the top 25 Johnny Depp movies, showcasing the breadth and depth of his career. From his early days in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' to his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow and beyond, Depp has proven his versatility and staying power in Hollywood. Each film listed not only highlights his unique acting skills but also his ability to bring complex characters to life, making each performance memorable. Whether you're a longtime fan or new to his work, these films are a testament to Johnny Depp's enduring appeal and talent.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are these Johnny Depp movies ranked?

The movies are ranked based on their popularity, critical reception, and significance in Johnny Depp's career.

Where can I watch these Johnny Depp movies?

Many of these movies are available on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Check your local listings or streaming service for availability.

What makes Johnny Depp's performances unique?

Johnny Depp is known for his versatile acting skills and his ability to immerse himself completely into eccentric and diverse characters, making each performance memorable.

Has Johnny Depp worked with any notable directors?

Yes, Johnny Depp has collaborated with several renowned directors, including Tim Burton, with whom he has a long-standing partnership.

What genres do Johnny Depp's movies cover?

Johnny Depp's movies span multiple genres including drama, fantasy, horror, and comedy, showcasing his range as an actor.

Are there any new Johnny Depp movies coming out soon?

Keep an eye on current movie listings and announcements for any upcoming films starring Johnny Depp.

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