Over the course of two decades, Quentin Tarantino has directed some of the greatest films of the modern era. Often hailed as one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors, Tarantino’s style and movie language introduced the audience to a whole new world of storytelling. From Reservoir Dogs to Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill to Django Unchained, Tarantino has effortlessly reinvented genres as postmodern tomes, turning westerns, ninja serials and war films into cinematic masterpieces.
Following the release of the acclaimed director’s latest feature, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, we at Augustman are looking back on every Tarantino directed film to see how they stack up.
9. Death Proof
Essentially directed as a genre movie exercise, Death Proof is an experimental film meant to recreate the experience of the schlocky B-movies of the 1970s. The black sheep of Tarantino’s otherwise celebrated filmography, Death Proof is unfortunately a fairly disposable slice of cinema.
Despite a stellar car chase sequence, as well as a spectacular performance from Kurt Russell, Death Proof feels like the first (and only) time in Tarantino’s career when he didn’t quite deliver. For all its flaws, it’s hard not to admire the unique style and extravagant horror that Death Proof has to offer, which does indeed offer a lethal roar of entertainment.
8. The Hateful Eight
Following the release of Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s tale of the Old West is a tall order, even for himself. The Hateful Eight sees a ragtag bunch of characters holed up in an isolated location, as truths are gradually revealed and twists emerge.
While The Hateful Eight is an all-around entertaining western that features Tarantino’s signature combination of exhilarating action, offbeat humour and over-the-top violence, it ultimately falters in its execution and can at times feel overindulgent. Ultimately, The Hateful Eight suffers from its painstakingly slow pacing, which is made even more apparent by its drawn out conversations between characters across a run time of three hours.
7. Jackie Brown
Till this day, Jackie Brown is the only Tarantino film that’s an adaptation rather than an original work. Having said that, you would be wrong to think that it’s any less of a Quentin Tarantino directed film. Based off Elmore Leonard’s novel, Rum Punch, Jackie Brown pushes the Academy Award winning director outside of his comfort zone to stellar results.
While certainly less stylish than the other films of his filmography, Jackie Brown is a testament that Tarantino is capable in delivering a compelling movie without the limits of genre tropes and references that moviegoers have often associated him with.
6. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood
Much like Inglorious Basterds, Once Upon a Time in Hollwood is a retelling of real-life events on Tarantino’s own volition. Taking place in the era of the Manson murders—specifically, the murder of starlet Sharon Tate and her friends in August 1969.
Through the film, Tarantino created a world that’s incredibly stylish and breathtakingly mesmerising. Everything from its eye-catching cinematography to its immersive production sets, Tarantino’s ninth feature invites you to visit a stunningly evoked Hollywood past. Committing himself into bringing 1960s Los Angeles to life on the big screen, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Tarantino’s love letter to an endearing era that’s long gone.
5. Django Unchained
Django Unchained is a revenge tale that’s filled with tension enough to keep you sitting at the edge of your seat at all times. Bold, bloody and stylistically daring, Django Unchained also consists Tarantino’s strongest thematic work as he navigates through racial power dynamics with the settings of a spaghetti western. While the film is a little over-the-top at times, there’s no denying that it’s overflowing with pure Tarantino style.
4. Kill Bill (Vol .1 & 2)
Enthralling, riveting and straight up bloody. Kill Bill Vol .1 & 2 tell the story of the Bride (Uma Thurman) seeking revenge towards those who wronged her. Masterfully directed, the two-parter exquisitely balances between character development and action sequences. Thurman’s ferocious performance rendered The Bride as one of cinema’s greatest characters.
Alongside breathtaking action sequences, classic Quentin Tarantino dialogue, as well as its unique cinematography, Kill Bill is a remarkable set of films that balances out the chaos of human nature with genuinely bitter pathos.
3. Inglorious Basterds
From the now iconic prologue that kicks things off to the cathartic third act that nobody saw coming, Inglourious Basterds is one of Tarantino’s best work as a filmmaker. Narratively, Inglorious Basterds is constructed as a film that’s historically revisionist in nature, which allows the filmmaker to play to his strengths by leaning heavily on the unpredictability of his excellent screenplay.
Whether it’s espionage or Jewish people hiding out in Nazi-occupied France, every single scene in the historical revenge fantasy is directed masterfully. A classic Quentin Tarantino genre-blending thrill ride, Inglorious Basterds successfully presents a vision of events where the moral arc of the universe is more instant (and bloodier) as it bends toward justice.
2. Reservoir Dogs
Tarantino’s directorial debut remains a perfect example of a filmmaker who is fully formed as both a writer and director. Incredibly daring with the decision to scramble its linear structure, the film opts to feed its audience bit by bit in an intentionally out-of-sequence chain of events. Whether it’s the well-written dialogue, mindblowing needle drops or captivating performances, Reservoir Dogs is responsible for introducing the hallmarks that Tarantino would become known for.
A film about a group of criminals hiding from the cops after a robbery doesn’t seem particularly original; however, Reservoir Dogs ultimately succeeds in its unique structure that’s constructed with style. The goal of the film is perhaps its most fascinating element — to not only pull the rug out from underneath the audience, but the characters.
1. Pulp Fiction
One of the most influential films of the ’90s, Pulp Fiction is an euphoric post-modern blend of neo-noir fun, dark humour and pop-culture homage. Often imitated but never duplicated, Pulp Fiction is so embedded in pop culture that it’s easy to forget how revolutionary it truly is.
First started with Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction allowed the acclaimed director to perfect his fragmented story structure. Tarantino’s second feature is composed of a series of long and captivating sequences; with most of them culminating in a flash of instant, mind boggling violence. More often than not, Pulp Fiction is the movie that cinephiles think of when they think of Tarantino movies.