Since Today is Quentin Tarantino’s 57th birthday, I figured this would be a good time to rank the ten films that he’s directed so far!
Please note that I have not included things like Natural Born Killers, True Romance, Four Rooms, Sin City, or those episodes of CSI and ER on the list below. These are just the feature films that Tarantino has directed.
So, without further ado, for worst to best, here are the ten film of Quentin Tarantino:
10) The Hateful Eight (2015)
The Hateful Eight is one of those films that people either seem to love or hate. I personally think that it’s the one Tarantino film in which QT truly stepped over the line and became a parody of himself. From the punishing run time to the lengthy “chapters” that went nowhere to the overwritten dialogue that read more like someone trying to write like Tarantino than Tarantino himself, The Hateful Eight is my least favorite of his films. For me, the final straw was when — after already having forced audiences to endure two and half hours of this film — Tarantino stopped the action completely for a totally unnecessary flashback that apparently only existed so Tarantino could work in a Zoe Bell cameo.
9) Death Proof (2007)
Oh, Death Proof. I really liked Death Proof the first time that I saw it but whenever I’ve tried to rewatch it, it’s been a struggle to get through it. Yes, Kurt Russell is great as Stuntman Mike and, unlike her previously mentioned cameo in The Hateful Eight, Zoe Bell is a welcome addition to Death Proof‘s ensemble. But oh my God, why doesn’t the film just start in Tennessee? Why do we have to suffer through all of that crap in Austin?
8) Kill Bill: Volume One (2003)
Now, it may seem like I’m ranking the first volume of Kill Bill fairly low on the list but you have to understand that, as far as I’m concerned, Tarantino has only made two bad films. Kill Bill: Volume One is an exciting thriller and it not only features Uma Thurman at her best but it also has some of the best and most energetic fight scenes of all time. If Kill Bill: Volume One seems ranked low, it’s just because it has some truly tough competition to deal with.
7) Jackie Brown (1997)
The first time I saw Jackie Brown, I thought it was a bit too slow and I guess I didn’t really “get” it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to better appreciate this surprisingly low-key and rather sad film. Jackie Brown features Tarantino in the type of contemplative mood that he wouldn’t really return to until making Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
6) Pulp Fiction (1994)
One of the most influential films ever made, Pulp Fiction was not only the first of Tarantino’s first film to be nominated for an Oscar but it was also his first film to truly establish that his filmography takes place in its own separate, pop culture-centered universe. If there’s anything that’s keeping Pulp Fiction from being listed higher, it’s the painfully self-indulgent taxi cab conversation between Bruce Willis and Angela Jones and Quentin Tarantino’s own terrible cameo as Jimmy, the casually racist homeowner. That said, this is still one of the most — if not the most — essential film for the 90s. If you want to understand that decade, you have to watch Pulp Fiction.
5) Django Unchained (2012)
Despite the fact that it features one of Leonardo Di Caprio’s worst performances (I know I’m the only one who thinks that), Django Unchained is still Tarantino at his most provocative and angry. After decades of Hollywood films that attempts to explain away the history and legacy of slavery or that suggested that racism could easily be overcome, Tarantino and Django stepped up to say, “Fuck that.” While the film received a lot of attention for its violence, I think it revealed that Tarantino is an artist with a conscience. When Christoph Waltz speaks against the evils of slavery, it’s obvious that he’s speaking for Tarantino as well. In much the same fashion of 12 Years A Slave (which would come out a year later), Django Unchained doesn’t flinch away from showing the horrors of slavery.
4) Inglourious Basterds (2009)
With Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino showed how art could be used to fix history’s mistakes. In reality, many of the leaders of Nazi Germany escaped justice by committing suicide. In Inglourious Basterds, they get blown away by a group of Jewish soldiers. The film itself features some of Tarantino’s best set pieces and one of his best casts. Despite the film’s length, this is also one of the few Tarantino films where there’s not a single scene that you can look at and say, “Well, that could have been cut.” For once, every minute of the run time is needed to tell the film’s story. Christoph Waltz became the first actor to win an Oscar for appearing in a Tarantino film.
3) Kill Bill: Volume Two (2004)
The Kill Bill saga concludes in grand fashion in Kill Bill: Volume Two. For all of the fights and the violence, this film is more about accepting the consequences of your actions. Uma Thurman and David Carradine give great performances but the heart of the film belongs to poor Michael Madsen, sitting in his trailer and waiting for justice to come and get him. The scene where Thurman digs herself out of her grave is a justifiable classic and the final confrontation between Carradine and Thurman is Tarantino at his best.
2) Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Tarantino’s debut film is still one of the most exciting and, in it’s way, funniest crime films ever made. Every line is quotable. Every performance is perfect. Every song on the soundtrack is perfectly selected. Who can forget Harvey Keitel’s incoherent scream of pain as he realizes that he’s been betrayed? Personally, I just hope Mr. Pink escaped with the diamonds.
1) Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
Tarantino’s latest film is also his best, a love letter to the movies and the actors whose legacies live on in his own films. For all the criticism that the film took for Margot Robbie’s lack of dialogue, her performance as Sharon Tate is the perfect epitome of everyone’s fantasy of what Hollywood was like in the years before the Manson murders made everyone lock their doors. Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt are perfectly cast as Rick and Cliff and the film’s finale may be bloody but, at the same time, it corrected history in much the same way that Inglorious Basterds did. By the end of the film, Rick Dalton knows that he’ll probably never be as big of a star as he could have been but at least he’s made some new friends. He’s been accepted, in much the same way that a somewhat dorky former Hollywood video store clerk was eventually accepted by a film industry that, at first, wasn’t sure what to make of him.
Happy birthday, Quentin Tarantino!