Johnny Depp can only be described as a versatile actor with all the different roles he played. As someone who has been in the industry for about 40 years, Depp still proves himself to be one of the best actors out there. At first, he would participate in indie movies that perhaps weren’t what we would consider commercially successful films.

However, even these works are successful enough that people knew Depp through them.

He has often been described as a chameleon because of how he probably can play any role you ask him to.

From A Nightmare on Elm Street to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Depp never failed to portray completely different characters.

Just like any actor, there comes a time when their career is affected by some private event, and Depp is no different.

Johnny Depp’s 20 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

His trial with Amber Heard has affected both of them and paused their careers. One can only imagine the many roles that Depp lost or couldn’t perform due to the trial.

It garnered so much controversy that we started seeing movies being made about it, and most of them were unnecessary.

Despite that, Depp is still the same actor whom we know as Captain Jack Sparrow.

He is also still the same actor who deserves an Oscar because it is a waste that he retires before receiving one.

He played many memorable roles that people may believe he has been in many films more than anyone else.

This isn’t the case since Depp didn’t make it into the list of actors who have been in most movies.

Yet, we still get the chance to enjoy his over 50 movies. Here are his 20 best movies ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.

Related video: Johnny Depp Made $650 Million During His Heyday In Hollywood, But His Biggest Payout Was Not A… (Dailymotion)

Don Juan DeMarco – 72%

Don Juan DeMarco was a well-suited role that fit Depp’s charismatic nature.

In the film, he plays the role of a man who believes he is the world’s greatest lover, or in other words Don Juan DeMarco.

He attempts suicide and therefore needed to seek help because of this and also because of his delusional nature.

This is where psychiatrist Dr. Jack Mickler (Marlon Brando) comes in.

Mickler has ten days remaining before his retirement, and he still decides to attempt to treat DeMarco.

Soon, Juan changes the lives of those around him as he talks to them about love and passion.

He was very convincing that he even changed Mickler’s relationship with his wife Marilyn (Faye Dunaway) and brought passion back into it.

Don Juan DeMarco isn’t known by many of Depp’s fans, which is understandable since it was released in 1994.

However, the movie still deserves a watch especially because of the great cast.

Cry-Baby – 72%

One of Depp’s earliest lead roles was in John Waters’ Cry-Baby. The musical comedy was released in 1990 and despite not gaining much in the box office, it was still loved by the fans.

In the movie, Depp plays the role of Wade Walker, who is known as Cry-Baby and is quite the rebel.

There is a cultural aspect to the film since it takes place in Baltimore where the teens there are divided into two groups.

Wade is the leader of a juvenile criminal gang that belongs to the first group called Drapes.

The second group is called Squares and like most films about rebels, Wade falls in love with the wealthy Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane), who, of course, belongs to the Squares.

Again, Depp was perfect for this role not only because of his acting skills, but also because of his charming looks which made him the perfect Wade Walker, or the perfect Cry-Baby.

It is easy to imagine Depp in the bad-boy image wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle.

Black Mass – 73%

In Black Mass, Depp plays the role of James “Whitey” Bulger, the South Boston Irish mobster whose brother is Massachusetts State Senator, William “Billy” Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch).

In Black Mass, Depp was given the chance to breathe life into his career once more.

After a series of failed films, he badly needed to prove himself once more and Whitey Bulger and the prosthetic makeup that came with the character was what Depp needed.

Despite being low on our list, Black Mass is one of Depp’s best performances, and he was nominated for his third Screen Actors Guild.

Based on a real story, we see in the film FBI agent John Connolly, played by Joel Edgerton, who is trying to put an end to the Mafia by seeking help from Whitey.

He does that by contacting his brother Billy and finally convincing the crime kingpin to join them as an informant; it also helped that Whitey’s number-one enemy was the Mafia.

Playing the role of the Winter Hill Gang leader, Depp managed to portray this malicious figure, and he was very convincing too.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 74%

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the first movie in the franchise under the same name.

We follow Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who is a British young wizard always carrying a leather suitcase.

We quickly find out that inside his suitcase there are diverse creatures he looks after.

Yet, the moment he reaches America, problems start to chase him and his suitcase disappears.

The movie was quite successful commercially as it gained $814 million in the world box office.

Depp’s role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was just a cameo, but people still remember him as the dark wizard Grindelwald.

Throughout most of the film, Grindelwald disguised himself as Senior Auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell), and we only get to see Depp at the end of the movie when Grindelwald reveals himself.

One thing about Depp is that he can leave people remembering him even if he played a small role or appeared for a few minutes.

It was an interesting role and the film has also won several awards, including Best Production Design at the BAFTA Awards, plus an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design.

Before Night Falls – 74%

Before Night Falls is a biopic of the Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas (Javier Bardem), where we take a look at his life and writings.

We see in the film several episodes of Reinaldo’s life which he himself narrates, and we get to know about the author’s childhood too and what he went through as a gay man in Cuba.

It is a beautiful movie that undoubtedly is more focused on Bardem, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Before Night Falls.

This is one of the films where Depp doesn’t appear a lot, but it is still worth mentioning.

What makes Depp’s role in Before Night Falls interesting is that he actually plays two characters rather than one.

The first role is when he played Víctor, the sadistic prison warden who not only annoys Reinaldo but sometimes flirts with him too.

The second role that Depp plays is the complete opposite. We see him once again but this time he plays the cross-dressing Bon Bon, a fellow inmate to Reinaldo who helps him with smuggling his novel out of prison.

Before Night Falls gave Depp the chance to play completely different roles, and he played them well enough for people to remember and admire both roles equally.

Benny & Joon – 76%

In Benny & Joon, Depp plays the role of Sam, who is like many of Depp’s characters a misfit. We see in the 1993 rom-com Ben (Aidan Quinn), whose parents died in a car accident, and he now takes care of his sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson), who is mentally ill.

The siblings’ life changes completely when Joon convinces her brother to let Sam lives with them.

Sam, however, is not a normal or boring character at all. His love for silent films makes him keep performing routines inspired by Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton which adds to the comedy in the film.

The romantic part in Jeremiah S. Chechik’s film takes place when Sam falls in love with Joon, which goes against the wishes of her brother, Ben.

Ben wants nothing more than to end the relationship between his sister and Sam, but Sam is willing to fight for Joon.

He does everything he can to prove to Ben that he is capable of taking care of Joon and that he deserves her.

While Benny & Joon wasn’t a hit at the box office, Depp still got a Golden Globe nomination for his role.

Minamata – 78%

Minamata takes place in 1971, and it follows Depp’s character, W. Eugene Smith, who is a well-known World War II photojournalist.

Despite his place in society, Smith became a recluse with no real connection with anyone until he receives a secret commission that changes his life.

Life Magazine’s editor Robert Hayes (Bill Nighy), sends Smith to Minamata, the Japanese coastal city filled with mercury poisoning which became known as the Minamata Disease.

When he reaches the city, Smith starts documenting the lives of those affected and their efforts to put an end to the poisoning which was caused by a chemical company.

Depp’s performance in Minamata was amazing, and it was clear that he himself was passionate about it since he wrote a post celebrating its release.

The release took a long time to happen since the movie first premiered at Berlin International Film Festival and was released two years later in the United States.

Despite this long time and all the legal problems Depp was going through at the time, his fans still wanted the film to get the Oscars Fan Favorite Award.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – 80%

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which is what Depp is mostly known for as it helped his transformation into a mainstream movie star.

In the film, we follow a blacksmith named Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), as he and Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Depp, go on an adventure to save the governor’s kidnapped daughter Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), from the pirates abroad the Black Pearl.

The one behind her kidnapping was Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), and his cursed crew who have to make a blood sacrifice, or they will forever remain neither alive nor dead.

The film was a huge success as it brought in $654.3 million, and while critics may differ on what they think of the franchise, many people believe that it is a masterpiece.

Who could hate Captain Jack Sparrow with the way Depp portrayed him? From the hand gestures to his walk and how he ran, Jack Sparrow is quite hard to forget.

From the beginning, Pirates of the Caribbean was a wild concept especially since it was based on Disney’s theme park rides, but it was worth the risk.

A risk that brought Depp his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Finding Neverland – 83%

Finding Neverland is one of Depp’s emotional works and one of the most successful too.

In the movie, Depp plays the role of playwright Sir James Matthew Barrie, who was the man behind creating Peter Pan.

James is under a lot of pressure after his last play failed, and therefore he tries to write another play, but this time it must be successful.

While he tries to do that he meets Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), who recently became a widow, and her four children.

Soon enough James is welcomed into the family as they become friends except for one of Sylvia’s kids, Peter.

Peter (Freddie Highmore) is still grieving the loss of his father and James does everything he can do to help him.

His attempts at cheering Peter up help him come up with the idea of Peter Pan as we know it.

The film has a biographical element to it as it tries to imagine the process that James went through before he created Peter Pan.

Not only was it successful with the audience, but critics liked it too. It even got seven Oscars nominations and one of them was for Depp’s role, but he didn’t win.

In Finding Neverland, Depp once again proved himself to be capable of playing different roles including the still child at heart, James Matthew Barrie.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 83%

The relationship between Depp and Freddie Highmore continues in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

As the movie begins, we get to know Willy Wonka, played by Depp, who owns a chocolate factory that needs someone to inherit it.

To find someone worthy of inheriting the factory, Wonka hides five golden tickets in different chocolate bars and then proceeds to invite the five kids who found them to visit his factory on a tour.

One of the kids is named Charlie, hence the title and this adventure to the chocolate factory will change his life forever.

How will he decide which one should get the factory? Whoever is the least rotten among the five kids will be the lucky one.

The film was also another one where Depp met with director Tim Burton since you almost can’t separate both of them.

It is a retelling of Roald Dahl’s original story and quite the challenge for Depp since he was compared with Gene Wilder.

Both actors are completely different as each one created his own Willy Wonka.

While Wilder was better than Depp several times, Depp’s character still remains iconic even if it sometimes came off as unfunny.

We can only hope that this comparison won’t ruin the upcoming version of Wonka.

Corpse Bride – 84%

In Corpse Bride, Depp plays the role of Victor Van Dort, who is engaged to Victoria, but only for financial reasons.

Victor made a mistake during his wedding rehearsals and decides to go to the woods and practice his vows there.

He says his vows in front of a tree not realizing that in a few moments, he will accidentally marry Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), a corpse bride. She then takes him to the Land of the Dead.

The stop-motion animated film marked another collaboration between Depp and Tim Burton.

It was also Burton’s first time to direct a stop-motion. Corpse Bride gave us the opportunity to witness Depp’s skills in voice acting as well as hear him sing.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – 86%

Depp and Tim Burton meet again in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The film was Burton’s attempt to turn Stephen Sondheim’s musical into a film, and it was quite a successful, and horrifying, attempt.

We see in the film the story of Sweeney Todd who wrongfully spent 15 years in prison and finally returned to Fleet Street with only one thing on his mind: revenge.

As Todd starts killing people, he makes a deal with Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) that she turns those who he murders into meat pies.

While his revenge seems extreme, to Todd it was quite the opposite as he sets his eyes on getting revenge on Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman), who was behind his false imprisonment and also ruined his family.

The musical aspect remained in the film which again was a nice surprise since Depp does have musical background, and he showed it to us in the slasher film set in the 1800s.

Just like the audience wasn’t disappointed by Burton’s film, the critics and awards shows weren’t either; Depp got his third Oscar nomination for this one.

Arizona Dream – 87%

Arizona Dream is this bizarre and surrealist film directed and co-written by Emir Kusturica.

The film follows Axel Blackmar, played by Depp, who works in New York tagging fish, but he gets invited to his uncle’s wedding in Arizona.

It turns out to be a lie to deceive Axel and bring him to Arizona to join the family business.

The bizarreness of the film begins to appear when Axel meets there a woman named Elaine (Faye Dunaway), and her stepdaughter; they have a very complicated relationship.

Complicated enough that we see Axel helping Elaine by building her a flying machine.

The film won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

A fun fact about it is that its original run time was four hours, but then it got cut down to two hours.

It is definitely worth a watch or two because it can be confusing at times. This is an example of Depp’s indie movies early in his career.

Rango – 88%

Rango is another animated film that Depp acted in, and it was released in 2011.

Usually, we describe Depp as a chameleon and in Rango, he plays the character of a pet chameleon named Rango.

As someone who seeks adventure, we see how Rango takes the responsibilities of the town sheriff after he ends up in Dirt, the Old West town which is undergoing a water crisis.

As the new sheriff, he has to investigate the water crisis and find out who is behind it.

Rango has a nice story and also great animation and Depp did an excellent job. It also won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

The cast also includes Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, and Bill Nighy.

Donnie Brasco – 88%

Donnie Brasco is another film of Depp’s that is based on a true story. In the film, we follow FBI agent Joe Pistone, played by Depp, who infiltrates the Bonanno crime family under a fake name which was Donnie Brasco.

He befriends hitman Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), and they work together. Ruggiero decides to teach Brasco what he knows so that he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes unaware that he isn’t even called Brasco.

Just like Ruggiero’s life is not the best, Pistone’s life also starts to be filled with problems as he keeps up with playing two different characters and having two lives.

The film had an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay as it was based on the book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia written by the real Joe Pistone.

It was released in 1997 and was directed by Mike Newell. Along with Depp and Al Pacino, the cast includes Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, and Anne Heche.

Platoon – 89%

In Platoon, Depp has what we can call a small role as he didn’t appear that much, but it was still an important role in his career.

We follow the character of Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) as he decides to volunteer to fight in Vietnam.

He then discovers that he is not welcomed by the other soldiers since he doesn’t have their experience and to them, he’s just a naive person.

This event changes Taylor’s life as he has to fight the enemy as well as deal with the conflict between him and the men in his platoon.

Depp plays Lerner who is assigned to accompany the platoon as an interpreter.

His role is quite important since there are very few who can understand the language of the enemy.

We get to see Depp leaving his mark as the audience witnesses what the war does to a person, and even if it was a small role, it was also one in a very successful film.

Platoon was successful enough that it had seven Oscars nominations. It won only four, which were Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing.

Edward Scissorhands – 89%

Edward Scissorhands is perhaps one of Depp’s most loved roles and again, he and Tim Burton collaborated in it; it was actually their first collaboration.

The film covers the story of Edward, who was created by a scientist, but the scientist died before he could complete his creation.

Thus, Edward is left with scissors blades instead of hands, and therefore he came to be known as Edward Scissorhands.

His appearance made him an outcast, but not everyone is harsh and one day he meets Peg, a saleswoman who takes Edward to her house, and he starts working as a barber.

When he goes there, he meets her daughter Kim (Winona Ryder), whom he quickly falls in love with.

There is no doubt that Depp will always be remembered for his role in Edward Scissorhands. 

He had very few words to say, but his acting skills were enough to tell us a thousand words.

The film was quite successful, and it was even nominated for an Oscar.

The film teaches us about acceptance, and it is probably Burton’s best film.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – 90%

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape stars Depp playing the role of 24-year-old Gilbert, who works at a grocery store, and feels hopeless and trapped in his hometown Endora.

Along with Depp, we see young Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of Gilbert’s younger brother Arnie Grape.

Gilbert’s feelings are because of the responsibility he has since he is the main caregiver for both his mother and Arnie who is mentally challenged.

It is a very emotional movie especially since one can almost believe that Depp and DiCaprio are brothers.

You can’t help but sympathize with Gilbert and his wish to have a life of his own where he doesn’t have to look after anyone, but at the same time, he still cares for and love his brother.

The one who stole the show in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was DiCaprio rather than Depp.

DiCaprio even got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor; he was only 19 years old, which is quite impressive.

The film was adapted from a book with the same name which was written by Peter Hedges.

Ed Wood – 93%

Ed Wood is another film where Tim Burton and Depp work together once more.

It is considered a biopic about director Ed Wood who was called “the worst director” of all time.

Instead of the movie supporting this claim, Burton and Depp gave us a celebration and a love letter to the art of creation.

The black and white film of course follows the life of Wood as he created his films with the help of Lugosi.

Depp was perfect for this role as he portrayed Wood with enthusiasm fitting for the director’s character.

While the film wasn’t a success at the box office, the critics enjoyed it, and it was nominated for two Oscars.

One of which went to Martin Landau as Best Supporting Actor for his role as Bela Lugosi. Depp was nominated for the Golden Globe.

A Nightmare on Elm Street – 95%

A Nightmare on Elm Streetmarked Depp’s first film role, and what a debut it was.

Acting in a horror movie directed by Wes Craven is something to be proud of.

Many even consider A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was released in 1984, to be one of the best horror movies ever.

In the film, we follow a group of teenagers as they are haunted by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who still remains one of the most horrifying villains.

Krueger would sneak into the dreams of his victims and torment them before he actually kills them in real life.

Depp plays the role of Glen Lantz and while it was a small role, it is still memorable for Depp.

We get to see Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) as she tries to think of a way to put an end to Krueger with the help of her boyfriend, Glen.

The film itself was quite successful that it developed into a franchise with many movies.

However, since it is the original film, it is many people’s favorite despite its mysterious ending.

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