From "Pulp Fiction" to "Django Unchained," his style is defined by a mix of shocking violence and humor.
His latest film, "The Hateful Eight," came out on Christmas Day. At long last, Tarantino decided to do a full-blown, traditional (or traditional-ish) western.
But where does "The Hateful Eight" fit in with the rest of his filmography?
Here is a ranking of all of Tarantino's films, starting from the worst and going to the best. But hey, even the worst ones are still pretty great:
9. "Death Proof" (2007)
Tarantino’s worst outing as a director requires some context. “Death Proof” was one half of “Grindhouse” (the other was Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror”), an experimental double feature meant to recreate the experience of the schlocky B-movies of the 1970s.
The problem with “Death Proof” is that it feels half-assed. Tarantino is so good with homage, but this still feels lazy. Tarantino’s signature long conversations don’t work for a film this short. Even with a stellar ending and a great performance from Kurt Russell, “Death Proof” feels like the first time in Tarantino’s career when he didn’t just go for it.
8. "Jackie Brown" (1997)
“Jackie Brown” had the unfortunate timing of being Tarantino’s follow-up to “Pulp Fiction.” No matter what he did next, it was bound to not live up to monumental expectations. When “Jackie Brown” first came out in 1997, people missed one of Tarantino’s smartest and most understated movies, if not his most thrilling.
7. "Django Unchained" (2012)
“Django Unchained” is Tarantino’s most polarizing work to date, and for good reason. It asks a lot of challenging questions about slavery and whether it gives the right answers is entirely up to the viewer. "Django" is boosted by some strong work from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson. Maybe the biggest thing running against it is that, at two hours and 45 minutes, it would have been much better if the filmmakers trimmed it down by about an hour.
6. "The Hateful Eight" (2015)
"The Hateful Eight" is the most Tarantino film ever made. It's overstuffed with so much dialogue and self-indulgence that it could almost be a play. But man, if Tarantino doesn't know how to do Tarantino well. The film also veers toward a more traditional structure, but with a twist. Sure, maybe the first half is a bit weaker than the second. But even after the first half ended, I knew that one viewing of “The Hateful Eight” would not be enough.
5. "Reservoir Dogs" (1992)
While some filmmakers stumble in their debuts, Tarantino announced exactly who he is from the start. "Reservoir Dogs" is scrappy, but it still holds up well. From the snappy and brilliant dialogue to the shocking violence (which is actually filmed with some restraint, especially during the film's most infamous moment), this is a film that doesn't stop from the moment it starts. It's as tense as it is funny, and still a great introduction to the rest of Tarantino's career.
4. "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" (2003)
On a personal note, this is the Tarantino movie that got me hooked on both Tarantino and movies in general. It's no wonder. "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" is a brilliant genre mash-up that never loses its touch, even after countless viewings. It mines severed limbs for laughs while also telling a very humane revenge tale. This was the role that Uma Thurman was born to play. (It also helps that her and Tarantino wrote it together.) Introduce "Vol. 1" to somebody looking to get into movies. They'll immediately be renting a steady stream of Westerns, gangster pictures, and samurai epics.
3. "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (2004)
While "Kill Bill" was originally meant as one long film, both parts stand up incredibly well on their own. "Vol. 2" rises above its excellent predecessor by dialing it down a notch. This is one of Tarantino's slowest, least violent films. It is also one of his most emotionally rich, anchored by David Carradine, who gives a legendary performance as the villainous Bill. His speech about why he loves Superman stands out as perhaps the best thing Tarantino has ever written.
2. "Inglourious Basterds" (2009)
Quentin Tarantino said the opening of "Inglourious Basterds" is one of his two favorite scenes he's ever written. Re-watch it in its entirety, and you will understand why. "Inglourious Basterds" is both a revenge fantasy and an antiwar tale. What really makes it pop, though, is the performance by Christoph Waltz as Colonel Hans Landa. The role is almost bigger than the movie itself. Luckily, he's got a great movie to stand in front of.
1. "Pulp Fiction" (1994)
This seems like the obvious choice, but that's only because it's the only logical choice. "Pulp Fiction" announced Tarantino as a genius, and it might just be the coolest film ever made. Calling this No. 1 just feels like an instinct for me. Whenever this comes on TV, I sit down and watch it, no matter how censored it is, and recite every line along with it. There is a reason "Pulp Fiction" was and still is called revolutionary. It's one of few movies that can sustain excitement with long conversations about foot massages. It hops through time organically. It kills off a main character and then brings them back like nothing ever happened. There is always something thrilling about watching "Pulp Fiction."
Since "Pulp Fiction" first made waves in 1994, numerous filmmakers have tried to imitate the film's unique style. Many tried, and most failed, for one reason alone: They aren't Quentin Tarantino.