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4."Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003)
Many successful actors have one role that defines and extends their career for decades. Sometimes it's a franchise (Bruce Wills - "Die Hard") or on beloved character (Tom Hanks - "Forest Gump"). Johnny Depp has been able to play some of the greatest original creations such as Willy Wonka, Edward Scissorhands and Ichabod Crane, but nothing has defined his success more than Captain Jack Sparrow. The off kilter anti-hero was an edgy creation for Disney (the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" dailies scared studio executives to death), but has become one of the most popular and recognizable creations of the 21st Century. Sparrow landed Depp his first Oscar nomination and audiences can't get enough of him. So much that the "Pirates" series lives and dies on his participation. Can you really imagine anyone else playing him? 'Nuff said.
- Gregory Ellwood