Do you love Quentin Tarantino movies? Do you love them so much that you couldn’t possibly choose which ones are the best? Are they all the best?
Don’t despair, your sleepless nights of mental toil are over! We’ve undertaken the daunting task of ranking every Quentin Tarantino movie so that you don’t have to.
Can you guess which Tarantino movie sits at the top?
10. Death Proof
Death Proof is basically a showcase for spectacular practical movie stunts. There are some great car chase and crash scenes in this movie.
Drawn out scenes of banter between characters are a Tarantino trademark. But if you’re looking for the riveting dialogue and innovative story telling that Tarantino films are known for, you’re going to be let down.
Unlike Tarantino’s other movies—where dialogue scenes are masterfully written and arguably among the greatest scenes in cinema—when I watch Death Proof, I get restless and even bored. Most of the non-action scenes are downright tedious.
I understand that the conceit of this project was to pay homage to 70s grindhouse cinema with warts and all. The bad acting and cheesy dialogue were intentional.
But a movie can be bad and cheesy and still be entertaining. Most of the scenes that don’t involve stunts in Death Proof are just boring—and that’s not a criticism I would level at any of Tarantino’s other movies.
If you’re a die-hard Tarantino fan, this is worth checking out. It has some redeeming qualities. But go in with lowered expectations.
This second installment in the Kill Bill saga was a bit of a let down from the first one. There are definitely some soaring high points—like the close-quarters trailer fight and the Pai Mei training sequences.
The ending is a total momentum killer though.
The final confrontation between Bill and Beatrix is a bit of a slog. During the scene, the possibility of the two combatants crossing Hanzo swords on a moonlit beach is teased but never realized.
Instead we see Bill defeated by the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. While it is pretty cool to see Bill defeated in this way—a technique taught to Beatrix by his former master—a moonlit ninja beach duel would have been way cooler.
The conversations between Bill and Beatrix leading up to this finale are a half-hour long and is the only sequence in a Tarantino movie I would call boring other than parts of Death Proof.
The Hateful Eight is a mean, ugly movie. It is also cinematographically beautiful.
Shot on 65mm film with classic Panavision lenses in the widest aspect ratio of 2.76:1, The Hateful Eight (at the time of its release) was the first anamorphic 70mm theatrical release in 50 years.
If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry… neither do I! What I do know is that these yesteryear tools in the right hands can produce a spectacular looking movie.
As for the film itself? It’s not Tarantino’s best. Not even close. But if you can endure the constant abuse and hatred exhibited by the mostly irredeemable characters, there is a lot to enjoy.
The exterior shots are breathtaking, the acting is excellent, and the dialogue (though long-winded at times) is fairly engaging.
Also, pay attention to the scene where Kurt Russell smashes the guitar. It’s not a prop. It was an 1870s priceless artifact guitar on loan from the Martin Guitar Museum—and the response from Jennifer Jason Leigh in that scene is genuine shock and horror.
Kurt Russell was never told he was supposed to replace the guitar with a prop. As a result of this mishap, the Martin Guitar Museum no longer loans instruments to film productions.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is a kung-fu revenge movie and doesn’t try to be anything else—and that’s a good thing. Sadly, the sequel lost its way by being overly ambitious for more.
In Kill Bill: Vol. 1, every scene is a fight scene or a way to set up a fight scene, with some ambiguous explanations of the main character’s motivations sprinkled in.
We find out who the bad guys are, know that they’re on the main character’s kill list, and they get taken out one by one. We don’t really need much else from this type of movie.
The second volume could have stuck to the same template and fared better than what we got. This movie accepts what it is and thrives in its simplistic action-packed approach.
Christoph Waltz makes his second Tarantino film appearance as bounty hunter Dr. King Shultz and mentor to Jamie Foxx’s character Django.
Django is a former slave who was freed by Shultz and now works for him. In return for his services, Shultz offers to help Django reunite with his wife who’s enslaved on a plantation.
They free Django’s wife and exact a fiery revenge on the sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Calvin Candie is absolutely unhinged and terrifying. Tarantino has a knack for creating truly abhorrent characters, but Candie belongs in a class all on his own—vain, pathetic, with a complete lack of control over his rage and cruelty.
Very few characters in cinema history come to mind who are as loathsome as this man—and that makes it all the sweeter when he meets a very Tarantino end.
5. Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction is Tarantino’s second movie and the one that really jumpstarted his career. There isn’t a scene that isn’t iconic.
It is now solidly imbedded in American culture to the point where even people who haven’t seen it know what it’s about and can probably quote a few lines.
The casting in this movie is flawless. Here are the most iconic roles of Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Eric Stoltz, and Ving Rhames. Other than John McClane from Die Hard, it’s also possibly Bruce Willis’ most iconic role. Plus it features Christopher Walken performing one of the most famous monologues ever.
The unconventional story structure influenced countless movies that followed, and many have attempted to emulate the dialogue style with varying degrees of success.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a single movie from the last 30 years that left as significant a cultural footprint as Pulp Fiction.
All of Quentin Tarantino’s skills are on display in Inglourious Basterds. His first foray into the revisionist-history revenge genre culminates with a squad of mostly Jewish-American soldiers exacting cathartic revenge on Hitler and leading Nazi members.
This movie features some of Tarantino’s best dialogue. The scene in the German tavern is the most suspenseful he has ever put on screen—a long sequence that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time and explodes spectacularly at the end.
Inglorious Basterds also introduced American audiences to the great Christoph Waltz as the sociopathic Hans Landa, a role the man seemed born to play. Landa will certainly go down as one of the greatest villains in movie history.
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Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood is Tarantino’s most recent movie as of this writing, and there are rumors that it could be his last.
It might be his most thoughtful and most introspective film, with only Jackie Brown as a competing contender (even though it was an adaptation). What a great high note this would be to go out on.
It’s a great mix of Tarantino’s usual craziness coupled with his mastery of filmmaking. The actors give performances that rank among their best, in particular Leonardo DiCaprio. He really should have won an Oscar for this one.
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I love movies that do a lot with very little. Reservoir Dogs is one of those movies. There are only a few locations and a very small cast. Most of the movie is dialogue-driven. Very few action scenes.
This was Tarantino’s directorial debut and set him up with the reputation and backing that allowed him to make the much larger and more expensive Pulp Fiction, which was the movie that really put him on the map.
Instead of being a hindrance, the budgetary constraints turned out to be asset for this movie. Being forced into a smaller space with fewer people really allowed Tarantino’s writing to shine.
We see a similar situation in The Hateful Eight, but that didn’t work quite as well. Perhaps Tarantino was a little more humble and cautious with Reservoir Dogs being his directorial debut. That restraint paid off in spades here.
1. Jackie Brown
This is the only novel adaptation that Tarantino has done—but I wish he would do more because this movie is excellent.
Far more reserved than his other films, Jackie Brown exhibits a thematic maturity and a restrained focus that sets it apart from the rest of his catalog.
Sure, it has the usual Tarantino-type elements—bikini clad women armed with drug paraphernalia and assault rifles, too-cool-for-school characters, and violent ends for many characters—but they aren’t shoved in your face like his other movies.
Some of the most suspenseful scenes are slow and quiet. Sometimes they are lit so darkly that you can’t see anything. And Samuel L. Jackson’s menacing arms-dealing character is lurking in the shadows, smiling and polite… up until the moment he kills.
This is peak Tarantino. His outrageousness is present but controlled. All of his strengths are on display here with none of the excesses that often hinder his otherwise fantastic movies.