Ranked: Every Quentin Tarantino movie ranked from worst to best
Throughout the past decade, Quentin Tarantino has maintained that he will make just 10 movies in his career and then retire from filmmaking. Thus far, he has made nine, the last of which, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, As yet, there is no word on what the 10th and final movie will be.
Currently, Tarantino is busying himself with writing for a different medium. He will release a new book, Cinema Speculation, in the fall. The book is part personal history and part critique themed around a series of classic movies from the 1970s. This will be his second book after he released the novelization of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood in 2021.
Perhaps in interviews for Cinema Speculation, if he gives any, Tarantino may offer a hint or two about what his final movie will be, but until then, we’re left to speculate.
So, with a Tarantino-shaped hole in our lives to fill, we thought we’d have some fun and rank his nine movies thus far, from the absolute worst to the very, very best.
9. The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight should have been a slam dunk for Tarantino. Some of his finest work has come with characters packed into tiny rooms, desperately trying to wheedle out each other’s secrets. The start of Inglorious Basterds and the extended scene in the basement are both spine-tingling examples of that, written with the precision of a top playwright, with tension constantly amping up.
So when The Hateful Eight was announced, this tale of a bounty hunter and his prisoner seeking refuge from a blizzard in a stagecoach stopover already filled with six nefarious strangers had the world excited. Even more so when Tarantino confirmed a killer cast that included Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins as well as regulars Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen.
The result, sadly, was underwhelming. The story is limp and cliched, the plot is thin, and the pacing is off. Worse than that, it’s boring, something Tarantino so rarely is.
8. Death Proof
Death Proof is an odd entry in Tarantino’s career. It’s the second half of Grindhouse, the double-feature Tarantino made alongside his great friend Robert Rodriguez in homage to the slasher flicks both had grown up loving.
Set in the early 1970s, the movie follows Kurt Russell’s Mike “Stuntman Mike” McKay, an aging Hollywood stuntman who murders young women with modified cars he purports to be ‘death-proof’. We track Mike on two of his missions and watch him work.
Stylish though it is, Deathproof is strangely slow for a Tarantino movie and sits in stark contrast to Planet Terror, Rodriguez’s entry, which was a tongue-in-cheek, freewheeling, blood-spattered adventure.
At almost two hours, it’s far too long for such a thin premise and doesn’t have the tension or intrigue of Tarantino’s best work.
7. Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
We’ve now reached the point in Tarantino’s career where things come down to personal preference. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a very good movie, but there are still six others that are better than it, in our opinion.
A sprawling, 161-minute epic set in 1969 Los Angeles, the movie is a strange mix. A large chunk of it follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton and his longtime stunt double, Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth. The pair struggle to stay afloat in Hollywood and forge their way in an industry they hardly recognize anymore.
Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate then moves in next door to Dalton, sending everything into chaos. Throw into this is the haunting specter of The Manson Family, who are about to bring the hippy-dippy, happy-go-lucky culture of the 1960s to a bloody end.
As has become the director’s custom in every one of his movies since the Kill Bill double, everything goes a bit mad at the end, but it’s a very watchable and hugely enjoyable experience throughout the runtime.
6. Inglourious Basterds
After disappointing everyone with Deathproof, Tarantino roared back in 2009 with Inglourious Basterds, a glorious romp set in the midst of World War II.
Marking Tarantino’s first team-up with Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz, the movie follows two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s leadership, one by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers, the other a revenge plot by a French movie theater owner.
The movie is good fun, but it is elevated by the brilliant performances of Waltz’s dastardly SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa, Pitt’s eccentric Colonel Aldo Raine and Mélanie Laurent’s steely Shosanna Dreyfus.
At times knockabout fun, at other times a tension-fuelled drama, it somehow holds together to make a rollicking adventure.
5. Jackie Brown
In one sense, Jackie Brown is an anomaly in Tarantino’s career, in that it’s the only time he has adapted anything, in this case, Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch, for the screen. But in every other way, it’s a classic Tarantino movie with his trademark swagger, great soundtrack and a cast of double-crossing rogues.
Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton and Robert De Niro all star in this movie, which follows Grier’s titular Brown, a flight attendant with a criminal past who gets busted by an FBI agent for drug smuggling. To keep herself out of jail, she agrees to become an informant against the drug dealer she works for, a decision that brings a swathe of consequences…
4. Reservoir Dogs
Tarantino’s debut is still as vital, charged and clever as the day it first arrived in movie theaters.
Made for a paltry $1.2 million, it’s a heist movie with no heist in it. Instead, we see an assembled gang of villains before and after a jewelry store robbery that goes horribly wrong.
Starring Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, all of whom would go on to be Tarantino regulars, the movie introduced us to what would become Tarantino’s calling cards – snappy dialogue, lots of swearing, great soundtracks and plotting that ignored Hollywood convention, but somehow felt just as gripping and compelling.
It also introduced us to Tarantino’s taste for violence, with a sequence that is still hard to watch.
3. Django Unchained
In Django Unchained, Tarantino’s 2012 revenge saga, everything is dialed up to 11 for a loud, brash and thoroughly entertaining romp.
Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave who unexpectedly finds himself freed after a German bounty hunter offers him the chance to work with him. Once their mission is complete, Django reveals he wants to reunite with his long-lost wife and the pair set off together.
Another collaboration with Waltz and DiCaprio, the movie is Tarantino’s ode to spaghetti westerns and has the same cartoonish feel to many of its action sequences. It’s brilliant fun, very funny and hangs together superbly.
2. Kill Bill Volume 1 & 2
When Tarantino revealed he would be making 10 movies and then hanging up his clapperboard, debate instantly raged about whether he had already hit the milestone with the two-part Kill Bill. But no, he has since confirmed that he sees Kill Bill as one continuous tale, it was simply too long to be released as one movie.
The ultimate stylish revenge fantasy, Kill Bill tracks Uma Thurman’s character, who we only know as The Bride, as she swears revenge on a team of assassins and their leader, Bill, after they try to kill her and her unborn child. Her bloody journey takes her from Japan to suburbia and everywhere in between.
Tarantino, a life-long fan of martial arts movies, delivers a stunning pair of movies here, which contain some of the most incredible, balletic action sequences ever put on film. It is a full-on rollercoaster, emotionally and physically, with clever writing, twists you never see coming and a brilliant performance from Thuram. There’s talk of Kill Bill 3 and, God, what a way that would be to finish the director’s run.
1. Pulp Fiction
After announcing himself with Reservoir Dogs, a film that was not only clever and witty but innovative and supremely confident, there was real debate about how on earth Tarantino could top it. With Pulp Fiction he did, and then some.
Told creatively in seven, out-of-order chapters, the movie follows a range of criminals in Los Angeles as their lives and plans intersect. You’ve got John Travolta’s Vincent and Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules, two no-nonsense hitmen, Bruce Willis’ down-on-his-luck boxer Butch, Uma Thuram’s Mia, recently wed to Ving Rhames’ Marsellus Wallace, a terrifying crime lord, and Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer’s Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, two robbers about to take down a diner.
Whipsmart, supremely plotted, and full of iconic one-liners and action sequences, Pulp Fiction is a bona-fide Hollywood classic and one of the greatest films ever made. It deserves to top any list.