9 of Quentin Tarantino’s Best Movies- Ranked

The Hateful Eight‘s trailer introduces the Western thriller as “the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino.” This raises a few questions: Tarantino only has seven other films to his name? Is he aiming for any number in particular? And, seriously, who’s counting? Answers are murky. Technically, there are nine Tarantino-directed feature films (plus one segment in Four Rooms and one guest-director credit for Sin City). The writer-director has said that he’s going to retire after his 10th movie is in the can and that he plans to direct one more Western as a trilogy capper, but old QT seems to be the only one counting.

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But with The Hateful Eight in theaters, arriving as one more notch on Tarantino’s belt, we took the trailer proclamation as a cue to rank the writer-director’s oeuvre. Let all future mythologizing accept our definitive list:

9. Django Unchained (2012)

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Has Quentin Tarantino ever made a bad movie? Despite cleaning up at the box office and winning its bomb-throwing writer yet another Best Original Screenplay Oscar, this meandering pastiche of spaghetti Western tropes, broad satirical gags, and old-fashioned Homer-aping epic storytelling comes perilously close to being his first total misfire. Intermittently brilliant and anchored by complex, multi-layered performances from Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson, the movie struggles to make sense of its own jarring tonal inconsistencies and far-reaching thematic provocations. Unlike the equally ambitious but more structurally inventive Inglourious Basterds, Django has a plodding, repetitive quality to it that undermines Tarantino’s genuine efforts to examine the legacy of slavery and the meaning of vengeance. Unlike Django’s own journey, the movie itself is a long road that leads nowhere. Hub Telegram

8. Death Proof (2007)

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Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror preceded Tarantino’s vehicular homicide slasher in their double-feature experiment, Grindhouse. It remains the only time Rodriguez ever trumped his fellow genre-smasher. Though flame-broiled by the millennium’s gnarliest car stunts,Death Proof is erratic and oversaturated, even by Tarantino standards. Much likeGrindhouse it’s a collision of two movies; an extended opening introduces us to Kurt Russell’s kooky Stuntman Mike and a handful of coeds who spit one-liners as they inch towards inevitable death. By the time crew two shows up, Tarantino’s strength and glamour fetishization reaches a breaking point. Death Proof dreams of playing on scratchy 16mm in a dilapidated 42nd St theater where people routinely masturbate in the back row. In the modern age, the shtick never sticks. – Hub Telegram

7. The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Tarantino’s claustrophobic, Reconstruction-era chamber drama is one of his most mature efforts. A study in slow-burn narrative tension, the film traps a group of depraved lowlives with hidden motives in an isolated Wyoming haberdasher, then sets them loose on one another, as post-Civil War tensions, hidden motives, and personal grievances bubble to the surface. It’s like the bloodiest game of Clue ever. The film has an epic cinematic quality — shot on pristine 70mm film, with a soaring score by spaghetti Western staple Ennio Morricone — while simultaneously unfolding like a stage play, as the movie’s top-notch ensemble brag, bluff, bluster, and berate one another before — minor spoiler ––  descending into full-borne bloodbath (Samuel L. Jackson as a bounty hunter with a chip on his shoulder, Jennifer Jason Leigh as a feral criminal, and Walton Goggins as a slimy white supremacist are among the standouts). While the film’s plot and themes feel flimsily constructed at times, the ominous, sinister mood never yields. – Hub Telegram

6. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

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Although it lacks the emotional depth of its sequel, Tarantino’s homage to ‘70s martial-arts flicks is a wild, blood-soaked spectacle. Arguably the movie that established Tarantino as a full-fledged mainstream auteur, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 possesses some of the filmmaker’s most iconic set pieces and visual tableaus, from the Bride rocking Bruce Lee’s Round 5 jumpsuit to the animated O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) backstory sequence. The first installment of his feminist revenge epic is also the most brazen example of the hyper-stylized acts of violence that have become Tarantino’s signature, with Uma Thurman’s vengeful Bride twirling like a rhythmic gymnast, spinning ribbons of blood as she slices and dices her enemies. Splatter hasn’t looked this good since Jackson Pollock. – Hub Telegram

5. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

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The first of Tarantino’s revisionist history flicks, Inglourious Basterds is a rollicking revenge picture that envisions a group of Jewish renegades plotting to take down the Nazi leadership in occupied Paris, 1944. While the film isn’t quite as cohesive as other Tarantino works, it might be his most entertaining, with scenes of high-tension verbal sparring and scalp-smashing mayhem, all erupting when Tarantino’s band of vigilantes (led by Brad Pitt’s drawling lieutenant Aldo Raine) gun down their German rivals in a blaze of glory. Basterds is also notable for introducing America to Christoph Waltz, who won the Oscar for his performance as silver-tongued sociopath Colonel Landa, one of the most compelling film villains in forever. The movie’s opening scene — a 15-minute-long, dread-soaked verbal chess match where Landa linguistically and physically encircles his prey — is a high watermark in Tarantino’s filmography. – Hub Telegram

4. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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Tarantino’s debut had a bellowing voice. Reservoir Dogs is all talk, and mostly bullshit, spewing from the mouths of knuckleheads who just screwed up the diamond heist of a lifetime. Unencumbered by Hollywood’s rules, Tarantino deconstructs masculinity through monologue, standoffs, and the literal removal of body parts (the now-legendary ear scene deserves that status). Speaking of ears, Tarantino has one; the “tipping” scene alone is an apogee of crude, poetic vernacular. Reservoir Dogs will always feel primordial, an introduction to the writer-director’s isms and a kickoff for endless imitators. But the movie is the last man standing, all these years later. – Hub Telegram

3. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

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Upon its release, this relatively quiet, reflective sequel was viewed by many as a leisurely paced come-down from the frenzied blood-letting high of the action-packed first half, but, like Beatrix Kiddo herself, the movie has only gotten wiser with age. Filled with some of Tarantino’s sharpest writing and most lived-in characters — Michael Madsen’s Budd remains his most underrated dirtbag villain — the movie still kicks ass: the buried-alive sequence, the eye-snatching trailer park throwdown with Elle, and the final confrontation with Bill are all masterfully directed showstoppers. But what elevates it beyond mere kung-fu mash-up is the obvious affection Tarantino has for the character of the Bride and for Uma Thurman’s funny, thoughtful, and ultimately moving performance. – Hub Telegram

2. Jackie Brown (1997)

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For all their blood, guts, and mayhem, the best Tarantino movies are love stories. Functioning as both a savvy blaxploitation riff and a tender tribute to QT’s literary hero Elmore Leonard, Jackie Brown follows Pam Grier’s flight attendant title character and a weary bondsman, played with a knowing twinkle in his eye by Robert Forster, as they slowly fall for each other while outsmarting an endless barrage of con men, wise guys, and dumbasses. While it may lack the flash and formal audacity of some of his bigger hits, it’s undoubtedly Tarantino’s most human movie, an empathetic character portrait from an artist who often gets unfairly pegged as a sadist. And, damn, is there a movie with a better final shot? – Hub Telegram

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Pulp Fiction is a film where objects evoke whole oceans of meaning: the briefcase, the watch, the sword, the “bad mother fucker” wallet, the $5 milkshake. No other modern movie so effortlessly created its own language and mythology of cool. Many have tried, from forgettable knockoffs like 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag to this year’s American Ultra, but only Tarantino could cut and paste his passions — European art-house movies, paperback crime novels, Saturday afternoon sitcom reruns — into a collage. Both wickedly funny and surprisingly thoughtful, Pulp Fiction is even better than you remember it being in the 1990s. Travolta still sizzles. The dialogue still pops. The soundtrack still sings. Forget the loftier films he’d make later in his career — this is his masterpiece.– Hub Telegram

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