Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is already out, and it’s a darling celebration of an ending Hollywood era directed by a filmmaker who loves old genre films to the core: Quentin Tarantino.
Counting this one, he has made, written, and directed 10 films. Sure, he collaborated with other luminaries for From Dusk till Dawn and Natural Born Killers, but when you bring up a Tarantino film, you see his style, his homage-making, his dialogue and fleshed-out-if-meandering written bits, and his ode to the genre he’s basing his film on. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
To celebrate the penultimate film in the man’s illustrious career, we’ve decided to rank our top three Quentin Tarantino flicks.
- Inglourious Basterds
- Django Unchained
- The Hateful Eight
Nothing else in the Tarantino library compares to the brilliance that is Inglourious Basterds. Movies that explore speculative fiction or alternate history are finicky genres but this movie pulls it off with both style and substance in equal measure. It managed to be funny and intense at the same time, without coming off as self-indulgent or cringe-inducing.
I remember being immediately hooked after watching “The Jew Hunter” opening scene with the utter revelation of a performance by Christoph Waltz’s SS Colonel Hans Landa. However, my absolute favourite scene from the movie is this one, which leaves me in stitches every single time I rewatch it.
As uncomfortable as most movies exploring slavery in America usually are (as they should), Django Unchained was at its heart a spaghetti western with a simple but compelling revenge tale at its heart. However, Jamie Foxx’s Django Freeman wasn’t even the main highlight of the movie, as that distinction goes to Christoph Waltz once again dazzling me with his acting chops as Dr King Schultz and Leonardo DiCaprio’s villainous turn as “Monsieur” Calvin J. Candie.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) scene in Django Unchained could have been distasteful and offensive (it may still be for some), but Tarantino’s script and direction turned this scene into a hilarious one that never fails to make me laugh.
While Tarantino dabbled in the genre with Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight is when he went full western with a thriller twist. The sense of tension and paranoia is palpable throughout the entire movie, ramping up as we learn more about each of the eight strangers taking refuge in the increasingly cramped (both literally and figuratively) cabin.
In a movie like The Hateful Eight, it’s difficult to pinpoint on one specific favourite scene, since the movie has to be experienced in its entirety to be fully appreciated. However, this scene, in particular, was memorable for me, in which Walton Goggins’s racist Confederate character Chris Mannix guffaws at the idea that Samuel L. Jackson’s Major Marquis Warren could have received a personal letter from Abraham Lincoln himself.
To end my list, I would also like to point out that I’m not a fan of Pulp Fiction. In fact, I think that it is the most overrated movie in Tarantino’s library. I never really understood why it was praised so much. I’ve watched movies with non-linear narratives before, but nothing in Pulp Fiction makes much sense. It felt like Tarantino was just filming random scenes out of order for no reason at all.
- Inglourious Basterds
- Reservoir Dogs
- Django Unchained
I consider Inglourious Basterds to be Tarantino’s magnum opus. It’s like that scene where Aldo Raine carves the Nazi symbol on Hans Landa’s forehead and he says “I think this just might be my masterpiece”. I really believe Tarantino was speaking through Aldo in that scene and I completely agree with the man.
It’s actually hard for me to rank the Tarantino films that I’ve watched because I’ve generally loved all of them but Reservoir Dogs holds a special place in my heart. It was the first Tarantino film I watched and to this day, I can still almost remember each and every scene of that movie. The dialogue is amazing as usual and the usage of music is brilliant.
Everyone who has watched Tarantino’s works usually puts Pulp Fiction in their top three and honestly, it was very difficult for me not to do the same. However, Django Unchained gets into my list chiefly thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio’s award-worthy acting in that film. His portrayal of an affluent and eloquent racist white man is, to me, the best portrayal of that kind of character.
- Pulp Fiction
- Jackie Brown
- Reservoir Dogs
As the old man of the group, I’m obligated to list down Tarantino’s earlier works because the top three listed above influenced how I look and watch films these days. Tarantino brought an air of coolness, style, and suave in the first three major films he’s directed and written, going back to what he loved about blaxploitation and grindhouse films back in the 60s and 70s and then making his own version using contemporary and legacy actors.
His first film, Reservoir Dogs, is an hour-and-a-half whodunnit crime drama which kept a lot of folks guessing the outcome. It also comes with entertaining scumbags played by Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, and Harvey Keitel.
His tribute to 70s blaxploitation flicks, Jackie Brown, has all the trappings and nods of one while still coming off as an original mesmerizing slow-building crime caper involving gun runners and an airline stewardess. And still proved that Pam Grier is a badass.
With Pulp Fiction, he combines 4 stories (actually, it’s just one interconnecting story) in one engrossing and atmosphere-setting sit-through filled with great music, a plethora of quotes, and well-paced storytelling.
Oh, and it made Samuel L. Jackson a household name. Technically, True Romance made him the apple of Tarantino’s eye (since the latter wrote the film), but he went out of his way to make the role of Jules strictly for him. All I’m saying is that without Tarantino’s brand of films, we won’t be getting films with colourful characters, storylines set in 70s genre tropes, a huge abundance of overindulgence in its writing and dialogue, and high usage of a race-disparaging word.