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01.23.2015by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Johnny Depp Performances

Johnny Depp's latest character invention hits theaters today in MORTDECAI, bringing yet another wacky and unique performance from the popular actor. While some have been disenchanted with his movies in recent years, Depp has amassed quite the resume of memorable and original performances. Here are our picks for the ten best from Johnny Depp's career. See if you agree or if we missed one, add it to the talk backs below.

#10 - CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

While not even close to matching the classic Gene Wilder version of the tale, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp bring something weirdly unique to their interpretation of Roald Dahl's novel. Depp gives a quirky performance that blends a childlike wonder with an underlying menace. You may not like this movie at all, but I guarantee you kept watching to see if Depp's Wonka would go nuts and kill everyone.

#9 - DONNIE BRASCO

Depp and Al Pacino sharing the screen is enough to make this movie worth watching, but Depp actually shows he is able to deliver an understated performance that doesn't beg for bells and whistles. There is no impression that Depp steals the screen but rather blends into the rest of the characters like a good undercover operation should. This allows Depp's emotion to shine in a way he doesn't get to often enough.

#8 - SLEEPY HOLLOW

A personal favorite, SLEEPY HOLLOW is a great homage to classic Hammer Horror while also maintaining Tim Burton's signature style. The supporting cast are all excellent, but Depp especially gets to bring his trademark quirkiness to the role of Ichabod Crane. He is a genius who is also easily frightened but you buy it in this dark world on screen. Not quite as over the top as you usually expect from Burton and Depp, but still definitely unlike any other performance.

#7 - WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE

While everyone remembers this movie for Leonardo DiCaprio's performance and Darlene Cates as the matriarch of the clan, Johnny Depp delivers another approachable and understated performance. Depp doesn't often get to play just regular people these days but this is an example of why he should.

#6 - DEAD MAN

Jim Jarmusch's 1995 Western is truly unlike anything else out there. The black and white movie has gotten a much larger reception outside of it's theatrical run. With a wide cast of crazy performances, Depp maintains a subdued presence as he journey's West towards his inevitable death. Nothing flashy here, just a complex postmodern film.

#5 - BLOW

Ted Demme's final film is a flashy ode to a middle man in a major drug trafficking ring. Depp plays George Jung as a man who thinks he is bigger than he really is over the course of his dubious career. Aided by a blisteringly cool soundtrack, BLOW is an absolutely fun time at the movies. Depp has a chance to balance his quirk while portraying a real life person and the results are worth repeated viewings.

#4 - EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

Johnny Depp channels Buster Keaton via Tim Burton in this modern cult classic. Depp manages to showcases a huge range of emotional depth despite barely uttering any dialogue. A great example of how Tim Burton can do more with less and another example of why Depp works better when he isn't flashing everything he has in his acting arsenal.

#3 - The PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN Series

The role that skyrocketed Johnny Depp to superstardom, Captain Jack Sparrow will remain one of the most enduring cinematic creations for years to come. We now know that Disney was concerned about Depp's approach to the character but thankfully they let him do his thing. Sparrow is funny, sarcastic, and a pleasure to watch even if the three sequels declined in quality. Regardless, this is the role Depp will probably always be remembered for and with good reason.

#2 - FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS

If you don't know the work of Hunter S. Thompson or the mad genius of director Terry Gilliam, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS may not be your cup of tea, but you cannot deny the insane dedication Depp brings to his portrayal of the author. Many never thought a true visual description of this non-fiction/fictional work could be made for the screen but Gilliam and Depp pulled it off brilliantly. A one of a kind movie.

#1 - ED WOOD

A combination of everything that Johnny Depp is great at: comedy, drama, playing obscure real life characters, and masterfully transforming himself into that individual. The height of his collaborations with Tim Burton, ED WOOD is the movie that should have garnered Depp a Best Actor nomination. This may not be as flashy as the last ten years worth of Johnny Depp movies but it is heads and tails above a lot of the work he has done on screen.

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2:43PM on 01/28/2015
I don't co-sign this list, it was super predictable.

And I know I am in a minority but Public Enemies is one of my favorite performances of his. Mann is known to push actors to new levels... I though he made a great John Dillinger.
I don't co-sign this list, it was super predictable.

And I know I am in a minority but Public Enemies is one of my favorite performances of his. Mann is known to push actors to new levels... I though he made a great John Dillinger.
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+0
8:21PM on 01/24/2015
My #1 is SWEENEY TODD.
My #1 is SWEENEY TODD.
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+0
6:41PM on 01/23/2015

Oh thank heavens this is #1

Honestly, while I might quibble with their exact positions, I think you nailed the top 4. I would have put Donnie Brasco at #5 however, instead of Blow.
Honestly, while I might quibble with their exact positions, I think you nailed the top 4. I would have put Donnie Brasco at #5 however, instead of Blow.
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-1
6:34PM on 01/23/2015

It was a fun movie

And Depp was fun and quirky in the role, but it was pretty generic "fun and quirky Depp stuff" so it seems like kind of an odd pick.
And Depp was fun and quirky in the role, but it was pretty generic "fun and quirky Depp stuff" so it seems like kind of an odd pick.
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+0
6:32PM on 01/23/2015
Super Happy this is on the list, although I personally would have listed it a bit higher. Ed Wood better be #1, though.
Super Happy this is on the list, although I personally would have listed it a bit higher. Ed Wood better be #1, though.
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4:06PM on 01/23/2015

Good List

I think Sweeney Todd should be on the list. I agree with "violentcop5". I don't think "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" should be on the top 10.
I think Sweeney Todd should be on the list. I agree with "violentcop5". I don't think "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" should be on the top 10.
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3:48PM on 01/23/2015

weirdly unique...

...yes, that's one way to put it. This movie is an abomination.
...yes, that's one way to put it. This movie is an abomination.
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3:04PM on 01/23/2015
Absolutely not! Why would you even consider putting that role on this list?
Absolutely not! Why would you even consider putting that role on this list?
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12:50PM on 01/23/2015

Love this film

Depp was fantastic and understated in this, hope it'll reflect what he'll do in "Black Mass".
Depp was fantastic and understated in this, hope it'll reflect what he'll do in "Black Mass".
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12:49PM on 01/23/2015

No, just no

My least favorite performance from him and I'll assume I'm not in the minority.
My least favorite performance from him and I'll assume I'm not in the minority.
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12:42PM on 01/23/2015

Agree with it except for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

That performance featured the dark side of Depp - his acting becomes eccentric for no purpose and is ultimately just weird and grating. I'd replace that with "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" as a fun version of him being eccentric or "Sweeny Todd" as a rare case of him being interior and menacing. The rest of list is spot-on. I hope he can get back on top, hes a talented dude but success has made him lose his grip a little.
That performance featured the dark side of Depp - his acting becomes eccentric for no purpose and is ultimately just weird and grating. I'd replace that with "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" as a fun version of him being eccentric or "Sweeny Todd" as a rare case of him being interior and menacing. The rest of list is spot-on. I hope he can get back on top, hes a talented dude but success has made him lose his grip a little.
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12:29PM on 01/23/2015

Ted Demme!!!!

Do you research or do you just go off of memory?!?! John is still alive and Ted is dead. Get your shit together!!
Do you research or do you just go off of memory?!?! John is still alive and Ted is dead. Get your shit together!!
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10:45AM on 01/23/2015
Blow, Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow, and Pirates of the Caribbean are my favorite perfomances from him.
Blow, Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow, and Pirates of the Caribbean are my favorite perfomances from him.
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