The eccentric actor, Johnny Depp, has enjoyed a long and prosperous career as an A-List celebrity. Love him or hate him, Depp has given countless performances that moviegoers will never forget. Despite his increasingly tiresome collaborations with Tim Burton that have come to feel like recycled roles over and over again, Depp's career work is certainly worthy of recognition. As his latest comedy, Mortdecai, arrives in theaters this weekend, I've decided to devote January's Movie List of the Month to Johnny Depp's greatest performances (click here for December's list).
*** Disclaimer - I'm ashamed to admit I've never seen Ed Wood or Benny & Joon
Honorable Mention: Donnie Brasco (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
#5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Probably more out of nostalgia than anything else, my first inclusion on the list is a childhood love of mine, Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. This classic earned Depp his first Golden Globe Nomination and spawned a lengthy partnership with him and his famed director.
#4. Finding Neverland (2004)
Marc Forster's Finding Neverland had a strong Oscar showing with 7 nominations in total and 1 win for Best Score. Yet, the occasionally slow-paced drama landed Johnny Depp one of his three Best Actor nods from the Academy in the impressive role of author J.M. Barrie whose friendship with a family helped spawn his classic tale of Peter Pan.
#3. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
Admittedly, Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a personal favorite of mine and probably the most controversial inclusion on the list. In the final installment of Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" character, Depp stars as CIA Agent Sheldon Sands who attempts to foil an assassination attempt on the President of Mexico. Although I've never been a huge outspoken fan of Robert Rodriguez's stylish work, Depp's sleek performance transforms Once Upon a Time in Mexico into an unforgettable action-thriller.
#2. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
Johnny Depp had an enormous career resurgence following the worldwide success of Gore Verbinski's action-comedy franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean. As the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp delivered one of his finest performances ever and it nearly earned him his first Oscar statue. However, Depp was nominated but unforgivably lost out to a grossly over-embellished turn from Sean Penn in Mystic River. Yet, Depp had the last laugh as the Pirates franchise has become one of the most profitable franchises in the history of film.
#1. Blow (2001)
Despite being critically panned, Ted Demme's Blow has transformed into film beloved by the masses. Depp stars as real life drug kingpin George Jung, the man responsible for establishing the cocaine market in the U.S. during the 1970s. Blow transcends the typical gangster flick and develops a very sincere story that ultimately humanizes a socially perceived villain. This is by no means an easy task for any director, but Johnny Depp's brilliant onscreen work has a sense of originality and authenticity that only he could provide.