Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Johnny Depp Movies - Rolling Stone
Home Movies Movie Lists

Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Johnny Depp Movies

‘Ed Wood,’ ‘Donnie Brasco’ and your other favorites


Courtesy 20th Century Fox Films

Johnny Depp's new movie Transcendence earned a paltry $10 million at the box office last weekend. It's his latest commercial disappointment after 2013's The Lone Ranger and 2012's Dark Shadows, but Depp rarely stays down long and his upcoming sequels to Alice In Wonderland and Pirates of the Caribbean will probably be huge. We asked our readers to vote on their favorite Johnny Depp movies. Click through to see the results. 

Play video

10. ‘Cry-Baby’

John Waters followed up his 1988 hit Hairspray with Cry-Baby, another music-driven, nostalgic look at his childhood in Baltimore. He continued his eclectic casting by bringing on Iggy Pop and teen porn star Traci Lords to star along Johnny Depp, who played a greaser from the wrong side the tracks that drove girls crazy by crying out of one eye. The film wasn't a big hit, but it's since becoming something of a cult classic. It was turned into a musical in 2008, though it never hit Broadway. 

Play video

9. ‘Benny & Joon’

Johnny Depp's string of oddball characters continued with 1993's Benny & Joon, where he played an illiterate cinephile that fell in love with a mentally ill woman played by Mary Stuart Masterson. The film, which was a moderate success, introduced Americans to "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles" by the Proclaimers. It also brought silent film-era comedy routines by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton back onto the big screen for the first time in decades. 

Play video

8. ‘Dead Man’

In this surreal, postmodern Western directed by Jim Jarmusch, Depp plays an accountant from Cleveland that travels out west and winds up a wanted man after he's blamed for the death of a former prostitute. The remarkable cast features Gabriel Byrne, Crispin Glover, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop and, in his final film, Robert Mitchum, and the soundtrack was created by Neil Young, who improvised most of the music while watching film footage. 


Play video

7. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’

There were many doubters before the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie hit theaters in the summer of 2003. There hadn't been a successful pirate-themed movies in a very long time, and the notion of building a film around a Disney World ride seemed like a pretty dubious proposition. But the public absolutely loved Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Captain Jack Sparrow instantly became Depp's most iconic character. The sequels have grossed billions of dollars and ensured that even Depp's great-grandchildren will be very wealthy. 

Play video

6. ‘Donnie Brasco’

Donnie Brasco isn't the greatest mob movie of the 1990s – that would be Goodfellas. And it isn't the best Al Pacino mob movie – that would, obviously, be The Godfather. Nevertheless, Donnie Brasco, the true story of a an undercover FBI agent in the mafia, is a pretty stellar film that holds up well to repeat viewings. Depp played the undercover agent and Pacino plays Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero. They form an unusually tight bond and the last few minutes of the film remain heartbreaking. 

Play video

5. ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’

Leonardo DiCaprio's performance of a mentally challenged young man in What's Eating Gilbert Grape earned the young actor earned him his first Academy Award nomination and played a crucial role in turning him into a superstar. But it was still just a supporting role. This is a Johnny Depp movie and yet more evidence that he consistently picks challenging projects instead of going for the easy bucks, as he was offered a lead role in Interview With the Vampire before choosing Grape instead. The latter film made far less money and many people found it hard to watch, but it helped guarantee that Depp would have a long career. 

Play video

4. ‘Ed Wood’

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have made many movies together, but it's possible their greatest triumph was their smallest-scale project. Ed Wood tells the story of one of Hollywood's least talented directors. The real Ed Wood made a ton of monster movies in the 1950s and 1960s, including the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space, but they'd otherwise had little life outside of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Johnny Depp played Wood with the eternal optimism of Ronald Reagan, smiling his way through endless setbacks. Martin Landau played a drug-addled Bela Lugosi, who teamed up with Wood during the final years of his life. It's an incredible story of faith and determination in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and perhaps one of the best movies of the 1990s. 

Play video

3. ‘Edward Scissorhands’

Johnny Depp first teamed up with Tim Burton for this surreal 1990 movie about a man created in a laboratory with scissors for hands. He moves into a suburban neighborhood and falls in love with Winona Ryder's Kim, but the town sees him as a Frankenstein-like monster and its people hunt him down. On paper it doesn't seem like a mainstream flick, but the story is ultimately very sweet and it was a huge hit. Burton would hide Depp's face with all sorts of masks and make-up over the next two decades, but Edward Scissorhands remains the most beloved oddball character they ever created together. 

Play video

2. ‘Blow’

The full title of the book that was turned into the 2001 film Blow pretty much gives away the full plot: Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellín Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All. Depp played George Jung, a kid from Boston that got insanely over his head when he became involved with a drug cartel. He was busted with a whopping 1,754 pounds of cocaine in 1994 and thrown into prison. The real life Jung is actually due out later this year.

Play video

1. ‘Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas’

Johnny Depp is a huge fan of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and he jumped at the chance to play the writer in this 1998 big screen adaptation of his 1971 classic book Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. Monty Python's Terry Gilliam directed the movie, which had been knocking around Hollywood for years, but it was way too trippy for mainstream audiences and it failed to make back it's modest budget. It's reputation has only grown in years, and many a stoned college kid has watched it as part of a back-to-back feature with The Big Lebowski

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.