RANKED! The 10 Best Quentin Tarantino Films Leading Up To ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’
When Quentin Tarantino was working in a California video store as a teenager, he couldn’t have known that one day, he would be as influential as the filmmakers whose films he was putting on the store display. He’s become one of the most acclaimed film directors of his generation and his work has been studied, dissected and ripped off by millions of cinephiles. His films tackle themes like racism, sexism, revenge, and redemption. The characters Tarantino has created have become legends, from gangsters and assassins to vampires and vixens.
Tarantino has told a lot of stories across a wide variety of mediums, but it’s the movies he wrote and/or directed that we’re focusing on here. These are Tarantino’s best films, ranked!
10. 'From Dusk Til Dawn' (1996)
Tarantino’s BFF, Robert Rodriguez, directed From Dusk Til Dawn but it was written by Tarantino himself. For proof, look no further than the film’s plot: Two bank robbers kidnap a family, befriend the family, and take on an entire horde of vampires in a bar called the Titty Twister.
So. Ya know. Tarantino actually starred in this film, too, as Richie Gecko. His brother Seth (George Clooney) was the suave, calm type. He almost seems like a pretty cool guy to hang out with as long as, like, it was your choice.
9. 'Death Proof' (2007)
This film is not a favorite among diehard fans, but we appreciate its gritty nostalgia. As part of the Grindhouse double feature with friend/collaborator Robert Rodriguez, Death Proof didn’t feel as epic as Tarantino’s other films, but it wasn’t supposed to. Death Proof was supposed to be an homage to drive-in B-movies, and that’s exactly what it was.
The plot: a serial killer hunts and kills girls -- using his car. Said serial killer is played by Kurt Russel in what is, perhaps, his most fun role. Death Proof wasn’t made to be anything other than what it was: fun, gory, and nostalgic.
8. 'Jackie Brown' (1997)
Leave it to old QT to reignite the career of a star from the ‘70s. Pam Grier was a fixture of many "Blaxploitation" movies from decades past, but it was Jackie Brown that Grier turned the most heads in. She starred as the titular character who gets caught up in a money-laundering scheme involving drug lords, the FBI, and a bail bondsman who accidentally fell in love with her.
The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert DeNiro and more, but it is absolutely Grier’s show. Tarantino has always been a fan of strong woman characters, and that’s exactly what Jackie Brown is.
7. 'The Hateful Eight' (2015)
Tarantino’s most recent film is not one of his best, but it’s still better than 90 percent of the other movies out there. The Hateful Eight is another ensemble film that tells the story of a bounty hunter (Kurt Russel again) traveling with his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason-Leigh). While on the trails of a post-Civil War Wyoming, they encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson again). As the three travel through a Wyoming winter, they seek shelter in an old cabin. While there, they encounter even more strangers and as the plot unravels, so do the plans of everybody involved.
6. 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)
For many, Reservoir Dogs is believed to be the one that started it all for Tarantino. It makes sense, as this was the first movie that he wrote and directed. The ensemble cast included an incredible array of talent, like Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, and more.
It wasn’t just the cast that impressed, however. The story was tight, action-packed, and intricately woven. It was a crime thriller and a whodunit film in one. There were twists, turns, and torture. The result was a movie that would put Tarantino on the map.
5. 'True Romance' (1993)
You should always wish for a love like the one between Clarence and Alabama. It’s a love that resulted in the death of a lot of people, but it’s also one that gave new meaning to the term "Till death do us part." Their love withstood a lot of death in this Tarantino-scribed classic. While it wasn’t directed by the man himself, True Romance is true Tarantino through and through.
Clarence works at a comic shop and loves Kung-Fu movies. Alabama is a hooker with a heart of gold. They’re two kids who meet, fall in love, and accidentally-on-purpose get caught up in a drug scheme involving Balki from Perfect Strangers. It’s the greatest love story we’ve ever seen, that’s all.
4. 'Inglorious Basterds' (2009)
If Tarantino directed World War II, it would look like this movie. In Europe and beyond, Hitler is reigning supreme, doing all the things Hitler did. In this film, his main man is a Colonel named Hans Landa. If you thought Hitler was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Combating Hitler, Hans, and the rest of the Nazis is a group of Jewish soldiers who call themselves, surprisingly, the Basterds. This group of young men, led by Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine, capture Nazis and scalp them (and Raine wants his scalps) but the biggest revolt against the Germans comes in the form of theater-owner named Shoshanna Dreyfus. When these forces combine, the results are electric and we prefer to imagine this is what actually happened in Germany all those years ago.
3. 'Django Unchained' (2012)
Who knew Christoph Waltz could make us love his Dr. King Shultz as much as we hated his Hans Landa? Tarantino knew. Django Unchained is a pre-Civil War era film that tells the story of Django, a slave turned bounty hunter that is only interested in finding and freeing his wife. King Shultz offers to help in exchange for tracking down some bad guys.
The two find themselves in Candyland, a plantation owned by the charming-yet-deadly Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). When all of these combustible elements find themselves in the same place, stories are written, legends are made, and Django gets unchained.
2. 'Pulp Fiction' (1994)
Pulp Fiction single-handedly saved John Travolta’s career. It also elevated the careers of Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, and more. The non-linear film followed several characters' stories and by the time the credits rolled, audiences weren’t sure just what they saw. Subsequent viewings cleared it up a little bit. They were watching one of the greatest films ever made.
1. 'Kill Bill' (2003/2004)
She said she was going to Kill Bill and that’s exactly what she did. It took two volumes, but The Bride finally got her revenge for the murder of her friends and family. In doing so, she found out she had a daughter and her life changed forever. Still, nothing could stop her from getting to the man who caused all of this tragedy. She was going to find and kill him. God save anybody who got in her way.
Kill Bill is, arguably, Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus. It’s his masterpiece. It’s a story of revenge, redemption, forgiveness and fate. It is everything one wants in a movie and it was the performance of Uma Thurman’s career. Kill Bill is, in many ways, the movie of Quentin Tarantino’s career. We can’t see him outdoing this one, but we look forward to his next bedtime story: Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.