Tim Burton has been one of the most famous film directors in the world for decades. His expressionist and somber visual style is unmistakable and his films are adored by millions of viewers.

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But while Beetle juice, Sleepy hollow, Eduardo scissorhands, and the bat Man All films are acclaimed classics, one of Burton’s films that remains an overlooked gem is his 1994 biopic. Ed wood. While the film received almost universally positive reviews, it stumbled at the box office and remains the director’s most underrated work to this day.

10 It’s a love letter to Burton’s favorite movie era

Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi watching a horror movie at Ed Wood

From creature features to gothic horror stories transplanted into a suburban setting, Tim Burton has used his idiosyncratic cinematic voice to tell all kinds of stories, evoking the film genres and styles that influenced him as a child.

With Ed wood, he set out to make a movie about the movies themselves. It’s a love letter to one of your favorite (and most celebrated) movie eras: the sci-fi B-movies of the 1950s.

9 Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski’s screenplay tells Wood’s story with a refreshing sense of humor

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood in a studio

Biopics tend to be very dry. Being told the full life story of a celebrity or historical figure can feel like being back at school instead of a fun night out at the movies.

Thankfully, Ed wood it doesn’t have that problem, because screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski told Wood’s story with a refreshing sense of humor.

8 No cheap shots needed

Patricia Arquette and Johnny Depp in Ed Wood

It would have been easy to make a petty Ed Wood biopic that has a ton of bumps to the director’s infamous career, but Burton wasn’t interested in poking fun at Wood or taking low shots.

Instead, Burton makes audiences love Wood by portraying him as a real human being and encouraging them to laugh with him, not him.

7 Wood’s optimism is contagious

Ed Wood and his friends reading a movie review

No matter how many times he fails, Johnny Depp’s Ed Wood always manages to put a positive spin on things and always keeps investigating what he hopes is a bright future.

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That optimism is contagious, not to mention inspiring. Like the brave spirit of the titular band in rockumentary Anvil! Anvil’s storyWood’s refusal to give up on failure is universally identifiable and easy for the audience to delay.

6 Martin Landau’s turn as a Bela Lugosi past his prime captures the tragedy of fading stardom

Johnny Depp and Martin Landau in Ed Wood

Ed Wood managed to keep making movies because he could get a passable star well past their peak to appear in enough supporting role to place them prominently on the bill. The forgotten star that Burton’s film focused on was Bela Lugosi, played by the brilliant Martin Landau.

Lugosi is a horror legend, having played Dracula in the old Universal classics, but at the end of his career, as shown in the movie, he was a junkie out of a job. Landau’s performance brilliantly captures the tragedy of fading stardom and the inevitable downfall that follows a stratospheric rise.

5 Burton presents the sad reality of Hollywood instead of enjoying the fantasy

Mike Starr as film producer on Ed Wood

Many films about the film industry, despite being made by people in that industry, have the same fantasy that Tinseltown is a place where dreams come true and anyone can be a star.

On Ed woodInstead, Tim Burton explores the grim realities of Hollywood. Wood has a hard time making every one of his films, producers don’t sugarcoat his thoughts on his writing, and critics line up to criticize everything he creates.

4 Orson Welles’ fictional encounter sums up the film’s message about creativity

Vincent D'Onofrio as Orson Welles in a bar in Ed Wood

One of the most crucial scenes in Ed wood it is a fictional encounter with Orson Welles. Exhausted by repeated failures and incessant study notes, Wood goes to a bar for a couple of drinks, where he meets Welles by chance. Vincent D’Onofrio portrayed Welles’ physical appearance, while unaccredited Maurice LaMarche provided his voice.

Welles encourages Wood to stick with his artistic vision and not bow to studio pressure, similar to his own approach to groundbreaking masterpieces such as Citizen Kane. This scene perfectly encapsulates the film’s message about the creativity and passion of the artists.

3 Perfectly recreates the old-school look from Wood’s movies

Johnny Depp as the main character in Ed Wood

David Fincher’s recent Netflix movie Mank set out to tell the story of the writing of Citizen Kane in the style of Citizen KaneBut its digital cameras, modern lighting techniques, and super-wide aspect ratio failed to really evoke the iconic aesthetic of the Orson Welles classic.

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On Ed woodBurton, on the other hand, perfectly recreates the rough, old-school look of Wood’s notorious B-movies. With the Panavision Panaflex Gold II cameras and spherical lenses, cinematographer Stefan Czapsky beautifully brought Wood’s cinematic style back.

two Johnny Depp delivers one of his most nuanced performances

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood in a dressing room

Over the years, Johnny Depp has played all sorts of characters for Tim Burton, appearing in almost every director’s movie, but he’s generally relegated to playing the same eccentric weirdo, essentially.

On Ed woodThe film that reinvigorated Depp’s passion for acting, he had the opportunity to play a real person rather than a single-note archetype, and he seized that opportunity, giving one of the most nuanced and compelling performances of his career.

1 It’s a classic underdog story

Johnny Depp as Ed Wood directing a scene

The central conflict in Ed Wood’s life as a filmmaker that Burton’s film set out to capture was the fact that he truly believed that he was a great artist who created high-level cinematic art, despite critics and audiences to him. they constantly said otherwise.

In this sense, Ed wood It is a classic story of the homeless. He has been kicked out of theaters by angry mobs of moviegoers and has to fight to get funding for each subsequent film because his works are always a bomb. But don’t let that put you off.

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