Ever since bursting out on to the scene in 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino has quickly established himself as one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation and all-time. His unique style of filmmaking and love for stylized violence have made his films unique and exceptional from everything else, his wonderful knack for great dialogue is yet another talent that has gone a long way in making his films some of the most memorable ones to hit the big screen. Through a storied twenty-three year career, Tarantino has created some of the most beloved and prominent films in contemporary cinema. Here are what I believe to be his five finest films.
5. Kill Bill (2003,04)
Tarantino’s two-part homage to Martial Arts films are undeniably two of the most stylish and violent films of his entire filmography. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 follow the story of The Bride, a former assassin, who after awaking from a four-year coma seeks revenge against her former lover, Bill (David Carradine) and his assassination squad who contributed to the death of her unborn child, her entire wedding party and four years of her life. The first film is a flat-out martial arts film packed with grueling violence and some of the most well-choreographed action sequences in recent memory whereas, the second one is far more dialogue based as compared to its predecessor. Both films are superbly directed and both feature amazing performances from Uma Thurman as The Bride, one of the most bad-ass female characters ever to take the screen.
4. Django Unchained (2012)
Quentin Tarantino is someone who can master any genre he puts his mind to and I expected nothing less when he put his hands on the Western genre with 2012’s Django Unchained. The film is both an homage to and a subversion of spaghetti westerns and had has the Quentin Tarantino stamp all over it. Django Unchained is bloody, bold and beautiful. Set in the Deep South, two years before the civil war, the film centers on Django (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave who with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Ultimately, however I feel it’s Tarantino’s immensely inventive screenplay and two sensational supporting performances from Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio that make this film a truly special experience.
3. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
It’s hard to think of a debut better than Reservoir Dogs, but this film isn’t just a great directorial debut, but also a touchstone for independent cinema. Reservoir Dogs follows the story of a group of criminals who begin to suspect one of them is an undercover cop after a heist goes wrong. Reservoir Dogs is the movie that made Tarantino an overnight sensation and the film is, in all it’s essence, a truly brilliant piece of work. The film is loaded with Tarantino-isms that Tarantino would expand upon on his later films, Reservoir Dogs gives us a glimpse of these mannerisms; the dialogue, the pop-culture references, the style, the violence, needless to say the screenplay, which goes a long way in making this happen. Reservoir Dogs features fine performances from Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen but it’s Steve Buscemi’s Mr. Pink who steals the show.
2. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
What do I love about Inglourious Basterds? How about everything. I’m going to go as far as to say that this is my favorite war movie. Inglourious Basterds finds Brad Pitt playing Lt. Aldo Raine, who leads a group of Jewish-American soldiers into Nazi-occupied France during World War II with a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders. Inglourious Basterds is as audacious and unapologetic as Django Unchained in its interpretation of important events but what, I feel, makes this film even better is the scope of the story and Tarantino’s idiosyncratic vision of the war. Another great skill Tarantino possesses is his ability to create memorable characters and well, they don’t get any more memorable than Christoph Waltz’s Col.Hans Landa. Waltz is revelatory and electrifying as the Jew Hunter, in a performance of the ages. Inglourious Basterds made me laugh, it had me entertained and it made me marvel at Christoph Waltz’s performance.
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
I think there’s absolutely no question that Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino’s crowning achievement. Pulp Fiction is a phenomenon, a cultural touchstone and in my opinion the greatest film ever made. The film follows the interconnected stories of two mob hit men, a gangster’s wife, a boxer and two diner bandits which gradually build up to one hell of a climax. Pulp Fiction is one of the most beloved and influential films of contemporary cinema. The film is built on a non-linear structure which means no matter how many times you see it, you’ll never know what comes next. The masterful screenplay from Tarantino is ultimately what makes it such a tremendous piece of work. Constructed on a brilliantly twisty structure, packed with infectious dry comedy and some of the best dialogue you’re ever likely to hear, this is truly a screenplay to behold. The performances are of course amazing as well. John Travolta nails the role of Vincent Vega in a magnificent comeback performance, Samuel L. Jackson is off-the-wall as Jules Winnfield, the monologue in which he recites Ezekial 25:17 alone stands as one of the greatest moments in the film. Not to forget, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman who are also wonderful in their supporting turns as Butch and Mia respectively.
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