Tarantino Films: Worst to Best

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Director, writer, producer and actor Quentin Tarantino has secured a position of reverence in the annals of film-making.

A personal favourite, Tarantino’s uncanny knack for story-telling has given us a filmography of ultraviolent films, paired with gripping dialogue and non-linear plotlines that never fail to impress.

Since the release of his first film ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in 1992, Tarantino has captivated audiences, putting out a total of eight projects thus far, his most recent being ‘The Hateful Eight’, just last year. Along the way Tarantino has picked up two Oscars, both for best writing, alongside awards from all around the world.

His genius makes it very difficult for me to rank his films. The truth is, they’re all amazing, and I couldn’t recommend seeing each and every one of them highly enough. But before I start fanboy-ing too hard, here is my official list of Tarantino films:

(Massive Spoilers ahead, tread with caution!)

Number 8: The Hateful Eight

It’s fitting that this films ranking is in its very name. ‘The Hateful Eight’ solidified its position at the bottom of the list the moment I left the theatre. A Western meets a whodunit, this film only truly captivated me post-intermission. Until then the story seemed to lag a little bit, even though the wide-angle shots of the isolated mountain ranges were jaw-droppingly stunning. It was nice to see the return of some long-time Tarantino collaborators, including Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, both of whom displayed great performances. As for Jennifer Jason Leigh, her first time Tarantino appearance is one for the ages.

Tarantino
Image: Roadshow Films

Number 7: Jackie Brown

Tarantino’s third film, Jackie Brown is a rendition of Blaxploitation film. Following the life of an air hostess caught up in a $500,000 money smuggling scheme, the storyline is filled with backstabbing, gun-toting, money-hungry criminals, just the way I like it. The film also produced what is perhaps my favourite performance from Samuel L. Jackson in his many Tarantino collaborations. Still, it couldn’t quite overtake some of his other works, maybe it was the lack of gore and high-speed chases that did it.

Number 6: Reservoir Dogs

The one that started it all. A magnificent neo-noir crime-thriller that tells the tale of a diamond heist over-shadowed by impending betrayal. Each character remains anonymous by name, being assigned a colour as a place-holder. Here, we are introduced to Tarantino’s affinity towards blood, most notable as Michael Madsen carves the ear off a hostage while an associate lies bleeding from his stomach on the floor beside him. Reservoir Dogs couldn’t quite crack a higher spot; I guess being Tarantino’s first effort, it was lacking seamlessness. It felt a little bit chunky and dry at some points, and I couldn’t reconcile the fact that no one was able to trace the criminals back to the warehouse, considering they were screaming their heads off and it was broad daylight.

Number 5: Pulp Fiction

What on earth is in that suitcase? It’s absolutely killing me. Some rumour it holds the heist diamonds from Reservoir Dogs, others predict it contains Marcellus Wallace’s soul which was removed from the back of his head (hence the Band-Aid in that spot). Either way, Pulp Fiction is a prime display of Tarantino’s use of non-linear plotlines. Every story is woven together so perfectly, with each character bringing so much attitude to the table. The film also contains what is perhaps Tarantino’s best scene to date. I’m talking about none other than the dungeon at the back of a pawn shop that holds Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, a gimp, and two men looking for a good time.

Number 4: Inglorious Basterds

Nothing makes me happier than seeing Nazi’s get their comeuppance, and this film is full of it. Inglorious Basterds may be Tarantino’s best display of dialogue to date, from the opening scene where Christoph Waltz interrogates a family accused of hiding Jews, to the amalgamation of multiple assassination plots to kill Hitler, I was left hanging on each syllable. The film even goes so far as to rewrite history, adding an alternative ending to World War Two.

Tarantino
Image: www.mubi.com

Number 3: Death Proof

I know this may seem un-orthodox, after all Death Proof is Tarantino’s mostly widely-panned film, but hear me out. The entire way, start to finish I was absolutely beaming. The story follows a murderous stunt-double, his weapon is his car, his victims, unsuspecting beautiful girls. Stuntman Mike – our fateful antagonist – is played by Kurt Russell, who portrays a psychopathic maniac who has a knack for getting away with murder. This project was a part of a double feature, ‘Grindhouse’, collaborated on with fellow director Robert Rodriguez’ ‘Planet Terror’. The double-feature is an ode to grindhouse theatres of the 70’s, and absolutely spine-tingling.

Number 2: Django Unchained

Tarantino’s most commercially successful film, Django Unchained is an absolute stunner. A reappearance of Christoph Waltz as the travelling dentist/bounty hunter makes for one of my favourite ever opening scenes of a movie. Django, played by Jamie Foxx, freed from slavery, sets out to kill those who oppressed him and his family. The film is a gripping exposé of slave ownership, and has a hilarious cameo by Jonah Hill to top it off. Tarantino stated that this film was his first Western, and hopes that it will be a part of a trilogy, with Hateful Eight being the second instalment. We can expect his next one to follow suit – I absolutely cannot wait!

Number 1: Kill Bill

Here it is folks, Tarantino’s best film (I know it’s divided into two volumes, but it was intended to be viewed as one motion picture, and that’s how it’s counted). Kill Bill hits the nail on the head! A trained assassin betrayed by her assassin team and leader, seeks revenge on the man who ordered her death, Bill. It gets me excited just thinking about it! Fun fact: the plotline to Kill Bill was alluded to by Mia Wallace (Uma Therman) in ‘Pulp Fiction’, as she tells Vincent Vega (John Travolta) about a cancelled TV show pilot she was a part of, which held a similar storyline. The movie is a cross between classic Kung-Fu movies, Spaghetti Westerns, action films and a whole bunch of other genres and sub-genres, making for 4 hours of non-stop entertainment. The exorbitant amount of gushing blood flowing from the wounds of a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword gets me so pumped up, it’s no surprise it is my favourite Tarantino, and quite possibly favourite film of all time.

As always I’d love to hear your opinions! What’s your favourite Tarantino and why?

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