Quentin Tarantino has one of the most impressive filmographies of any director and he’s one of my all-time favorites. Here’s my ranking of his films from worst to best:
9. Death Proof – Tarantino has publicly admitted that this is his worst film, and for good reason. “Death Proof” features fun dialogue and a few interesting characters, but all other Tarantino movies have those aspects as well (and a lot more of them). Tarantino tried to make a fun grindhouse film, but the style he went for and the strange story just didn’t make for an engaging movie. The first half is far too artsy, as Tarantino decided to put an off-putting grimy filter on it which constantly had green lines flashing on the screen. Although the second half is certainly better, it ends in a car chase which went on for an overly-long twenty minutes, making the action sequence boring and tiring. I also think this movie would’ve been better as a short film, as it would allow Tarantino to make his dream grindhouse production without the excessive runtime. This is a somewhat decent film overall, but for a director who is known for consistently making great movies, it’s a failure.
8. Jackie Brown – This is Tarantino’s only film based on a book, which is why it feels strange to me. The book itself is called Rum Punch and it was written by Elmore Leonard, a writer Tarantino has called a major influence. The Tarantino staples such as great dialogue, complex characters, and exciting twists are all there, but the film also features a plot that doesn’t quite match Tarantino’s style. The film is essentially a heist movie in which Jackie Brown tricks everyone, and while that sometimes works, it feels like Tarantino didn’t focus on the plot as much as the story needed him to. Plot-heavy stories are not Tarantino’s style; his films are normally character-based with almost no focus on complicated narratives. There were a lot of scenes with characters just sitting and talking, and while those were my favorite scenes in the film (due to Tarantino’s great dialogue), they felt very out of place within the context of the story. With that stated, I would still call this a very good film due to its dialogue, characters, and outstanding performances by Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Forester.
7. The Hateful Eight – This film is essentially a remake of “Reservoir Dogs” that’s set in a cabin in the Wild West, but it was still a lot of fun for the most part. All the characters were fleshed out and thoroughly entertaining, especially Walton Goggins’ character who had a decent character arc. The film’s twists & turns were extremely Tarantino-esque and satisfying. The problem with this film is its nearly three-hour-long runtime. It should’ve been about 40 minutes shorter. The first 45 minutes are essentially just four characters sitting in a carriage talking about the Civil War, and although the dialogue is interesting, this section of the film couldn’t hold my attention throughout all of its 45 minutes. The film definitely picks up speed once the characters enter the cabin, but even the cabin segment could have been trimmed. If Tarantino just shortened the runtime, “The Hateful Eight” would be higher on this list.
6. Reservoir Dogs – Tarantino’s first film has a compelling, unique premise and his usual violence & exciting dialogue. You can read my full thoughts on this film here.
5. Django Unchained – This is a great modern western filled with interesting characters, thrilling action, and Tarantino’s signature dialogue. Watching Django’s journey from being a slave to an expert bounty hunter is extremely satisfying, especially when he finally gets his revenge. The acting, especially from Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, was amazing. I think Samuel L. Jackson’s performance in this film is actually his best. He transformed into a completely different person, which is especially hard to do considering how iconic and well known he is. To many people this is one of Tarantino’s best films, but I have a few issues with it. Firstly, the movie barely ever shows Django training to become a better bounty hunter; as soon as he held a gun, he was immediately an expert for no apparent reason. Also, the film hit a natural conclusion and decided to continue for another twenty minutes, making the climax less engaging.
4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Tarantino’s love letter to old Hollywood was immersive and surprisingly emotional. Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth is probably my second-favorite Tarantino character, as he’s effortlessly likeable, charismatic, and hilarious. Setting the film in 1969 was a brilliant move since that was truly the year of transition between classic Hollywood to the more edgy & creative Hollywood of the 1970’s. Some people found this film to be boring because it’s sort of a “hangout” movie in which not much happens, but I loved that aspect of the film. The characters and dialogue were plenty engaging for me. While the film could’ve been 5-10 minutes shorter, I always enjoy traveling back in time to this world Tarantino crafted.
3. Kill Bill (Volumes 1 & 2) – This is probably Tarantino’s most surprising movie for me, as I had no idea he was such a brilliant director of action before watching the film. The action sequence in the restaurant in which the Bride fights O-Ren Ishii’s henchmen is one of the best fight scenes in cinema history. The choreography in this movie is complex and brilliantly executed by Tarantino. The Bride herself is one of my favorite Tarantino characters, and her journey for revenge is extremely satisfying. I think the first half (Volume 1) is phenomenal, but the second half (Volume 2) is definitely weaker, mainly because it should have been fifteen minutes shorter.
2. Inglourious Basterds – This film has Tarantino’s most riveting dialogue, greatest tension, as well as his best character, Col. Hans Landa. Not only is he Tarantino’s greatest character, not only is he one of cinema’s greatest villains, but he’s one of cinema’s greatest characters period. Christoph Waltz gave one of the best performances of all time as Landa. He was charismatic, unpredictable, and frightening all at the same time. The rest of the characters were entertaining as well, especially Shoshana and Lt. Aldo Raine. The opening scene of this film in Lapedite’s farmhouse is my second favorite movie scene of all time (my all-time favorite being the restaurant scene in “The Godfather”), and the 25-minute-long bar scene full of Tarantino’s perfect dialogue was equally intense and enthralling. The reason this film isn’t higher on my list is simply because the next movie is just as good and is more significant to pop culture.
1. Pulp Fiction – This film broke all the rules of screenwriting: the narrative was out of order, the stories revolved around random events, none of the characters were protagonists, and most of the dialogue had almost nothing to do with the actual story. Yet all of Tarantino’s unconventional methods worked beautifully. This film fits into so many genres and balances all of them flawlessly, whether it’s a comedy, thriller, crime-drama, or action movie. “Pulp Fiction” is one of those very few films which actually changed cinema history. It’s a chaotic, wonderful, and extremely fun film that remains entertaining throughout its entire 2 1/2 hour runtime.