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Quentin Tarantino Movies - Ranked


"You know somethin', Utivich? I think this just might be my masterpiece." - Inglourious Basterds

I’ve been told that any hardcore Tarantino fans are nothing more than film bros who only pretend to like movies but only watch Tarantino and Michael Bay action porn. I can appreciate the 2001: A Space Odysseys, the Seven Samurais and the intentionally avant-garde as much as anyone but I also refuse to deny that Tarantino is one of the best to ever do it. Anyone in denial hasn’t seen their father in decades and only has one testicle because the other one was stomped on by their impotent father as he left forever. 

Sorry but I had to. It honestly just makes me laugh when anyone tries to deny his abilities and triumphs as a filmmaker. It’s like trying to say with a straight face that Steven Spielberg isn’t that good at his job either. You’re just fighting a losing battle uphill in the rain and it’s raining down sex lube. It’s futile at this point. Anyway, here is a ranked list of his filmography from least best but still damn good to best best, god damn that was phenomenal. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am about this list and that you have both testes. No pictures please.

Tarantino Filmography:

10. Death Proof (2007) 7.5/10

I debated even putting this on the list. I’ve seen it twice and while it’s fun and has the spirit of a Tarantino B-grade movie, I just don’t know that it belongs on the list. But it is a Tarantino movie for better or worse so here it sits at spot number ten. It is without question his most straightforward plot and its singular focus is to build tension creating a clash of its villain and the women he perceived as his next victims. Big mistake on his part. He thought he was in control, until they took the fight to him. It’s brutal and Grindhouse approved. Exactly as advertised.

9. Jackie Brown (1997) 9/10

When I think about what Tarantino movie I want to watch on a random night, Jackie Brown isn’t usually my first, second or even third choice. But on the nights I do decide on Jackie Brown I’m always pleased with my decision. While it’s not my favorite of his, it’s still Tarantino and that speaks volumes. Until Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Jackie Brown was the auspicious auteur at his most subdued. After stories consisting of ear and accidental head removal, biblical murder-for-hire and constipated hitmen meeting their maker, Jackie Brown was more about the threat of violence rather than the actual act. It’s a cool, complicated crime caper involving six individuals all out for theirs. While it may not be my first choice, it is always a good one.  

8. The Hateful Eight (2015) 9/10

When initially asked about my thoughts on Tarantino’s most contained thriller, I gave the response, “It’s a Western Reservoir Dogs.” and I maintain that is a perfect description of these hateful bastards. One location. Eight hateful souls. A confining blizzard. And paranoia tenfold. It’s got all the makings for a less than ideal outcome of which any involved should fear for the simple fact that Tarantino is rarely so precious about his characters that he won’t kill every last one of them. And anyone who knows, his characters never go gentle into that good night. “Startin’ to see pictures ain’t ya?”  

7. Reservoir Dogs (1992) 10/10

What an absolutely stellar directorial debut! This is the movie that started his repeated story element of numerous characters, unknown to one another by name or reputation, being collected for one overall purpose. A purpose that rarely goes to plan. From the beginning, he demonstrated his aptitude for smart, colorful, incredibly audacious dialogue for characters that are usually up to no good and only aiming to get worse as the day carries on. He also showcased early on his eye for talent, often casting unknowns or actors unfairly deemed by Hollyweird as “has-beens.” From the moment his name was mentioned in the Hollyweird hemisphere, it was clear he was and remains, one to watch.    

6. Kill Bill vol. 2 (2004) 10/10

As a beautiful demonstration of his storytelling abilities, he took the second half of his own revenge epic and changed the very genre and pacing of it. Vol. 1 is a direct homage to Kung Fu cinema. Vol. 2 is its brother from the West, taking on a more Unforgiven, A Fistful of Dollars approach with its unnamed warrior heading toward their imminent encounter with destiny. After all the tension building, character backstories, endless waves of nameless henchmen stuck and stabbed, weapon artistry and epic training montages, it is time for her to finally, KILL BILL. Of course this is Tarantino, it’s always easier said than done. If Vol. 1 is the story progressing in a supercar, Vol. 2 is the warrior leaving it behind, broken down on the side of a rural desert road, riding on a burro. A more leisurely pace, every bit as compelling.   

5. Django Unchained (2012) 10/10

As his first true Western, cowboys and all, he decided on a sort of “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. He wanted his heroes on the bitter end of slavery fighting for their lives among the muck and languish of racist slave owners. It’s a revenge Western featuring an unlikely duo of former slave, now freeman, Django and his partner in the bounty trade, Dr. King Schultz. Together they collect their bounties and make plans to save Django’s beloved from the hellish grips of Calvin Candie. Jamie Foxx is quietly suave and heroic. Christoph Waltz is charismatically enthralling and Django’s true north. Leonardo DiCaprio is horribly evil and embodies the vileness that was the era of slavery and hopeful upheaval. The violence, and specifically the blood, is ratcheted up to eleven as countless gallons of syrupy goodness flows with reckless abandon.  

4. Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003) 10/10

Django Unchained is a fantastic revenge epic. But I truly believe his best of this particular sub-genre lies with The Bride and her rampage of justifiable homicide. Uma Thurman as the nameless assassin is a complex, nuanced character driven by pure bloodlust. She is a formidable, seemingly unstoppable force with the perfect hand-to-hand weapon imaginable, Hattori Hanzo steel. But she is also a vulnerable, aimless, mother-in-mourning, determined but broken. Fear is the only thing for anyone on the dangerous end of her justice and blade. The Black Mamba is going to kill them all. This is the start of a years long journey to somehow right a wrong so reprehensible there is simply no turning back from it. Those on her list will come to regret everything they did to her. 

3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) 10/10

If Pulp Fiction is Tarantino at his most chaotic, Once Upon a Time is Tarantino at his most laxed. For the first time in his filmography, it’s more about life in the time of, rather than plot driven decisions pushing the narrative forward. What was it like for actors and Hollywood as a whole during the end of the Golden Age? Everything that transpires is a direct response to that broad, open ended inquiry. It shows the newly successful talent, the antiquated movie star, the unknown possibilities of a stuntman facing unemployment. It’s funny, leisurely and fully realized 1960s Hollywood culminating in an altering of history itself into a more preferable outcome than the misfortune that befell the innocent on a normal but fateful night in August of 1969. As amazing as his filmography is prior to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, I believe this film is Tarantino at his most confident.

2. Inglourious Basterds (2009) 10/10

In the argument of which of his movies are masterpieces, I believe it comes down to these final two on the list. I could come up with a thousand reasons why this is his ultimate masterpiece. I could also make a list of a thousand reasons why Pulp Fiction is Tarantino at his absolute best. For myself, when his name is mentioned I immediately think of one film in particular and simply put, it isn’t Inglourious Basterds. But it’s always a close, close second. Before he took his circus to the wild west, he went to Europe for some good ol’ fashioned Nazi giveback. Think The Dirty Dozen but Tarantino-ized. It’s frivolous, unapologetically extravagant violence set during WWII where Tarantino puts the power of abhorrent violence in the hands of the Jew. Christoph Waltz won his second Oscar for playing the complicated but lovable Dr. Schultz in Django Unchained. He won his first playing the complete opposite kind of character a human being can be as the detestable, but begrudgingly fascinating, and kind of funny (?) Col. Hans Landa, “the Jew Hunter.” Inglourious Basterds is the beginning of Tarantino realizing history is merely a suggestion and that his take on how things could or maybe even should have ended is just as fascinating. Huh, who knew Tarantino was all about catharsis. This is proof that more than one masterpiece can exist from a single creator. 

1. Pulp Fiction (1994) 10/10

I admit ending the list in the most predictable manner possible is a bit anticlimactic but it’s only because I know I’m not alone in placing Pulp Fiction under the banner of Quentin Tarantino’s best. It’s his most exciting film. It’s his most daring and unhinged cinematic journey. This is the kind of film where it’s apparent that everything was tried; everything was thrown at the wall and what stuck is the Pulp Fiction as we all know it. What makes it so masterful is that so often when this approach of seeing what sticks is utilized it usually doesn’t result in something so altering of everything it interacts with. How many movies can make the claim that thirty years after release, its impact is as relevant and obvious as ever? Pulp Fiction is still spoken of to this day in a way that suggests it’s as fresh as it ever was as if released earlier this year. The nonlinear story structure, the confidence of revealing what’s going to happen first and then revealing what led to it knowing full well that what was first is just as insane and engaging as the culmination of a rigged boxing match or a bullet decapitation or an averted overdose. It can seem nonsensical to the uninitiated but for those that know, Pulp Fiction is pure, brazen cinema and it’s Tarantino at his most intrepid.   

Yay! The End.


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