Best: 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' (1998)
"He who makes a beast of himself…"
Hunter S. Thompson lives on in Depp's performance, which spends the entire movie several dozen tokes over the line. The most incredible thing about his turn isn't that he nails the Gonzo writer's voice and look so much as he's able to sustain it for nearly two hours — it starts with the drugs kicking in and Raoul Duke swatting off the bats of his imagination, and it only goes south from there.
A look of comic paranoia etched onto his face, Depp's Duke quickly becomes like a mescaline-addled Virgil guiding us through a crazed desert inferno, incepting the American Dream and finding all sorts of unpleasant creatures hiding in its deepest layers. Funny and frightening in equal measure, it's amazing how much of this performance would wind up informing Captain Jack Sparrow, the iconic backbone of a multi-billion dollar Disney kids franchise. Indeed, Depp was so good as the "doctor" of journalism that, like a stubborn tab of acid, he would never really leave the part behind.