Ranking Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino made a little news recently when he indicated that he’s likely to direct just two more feature films. Whether this holds true or not – we shall see.

For loyal readers of this here blog, you may have picked up that Q.T. is my personal favorite director working today. It got me thinking – how would I list the nine pictures that this mad genius has directed?

Well, I went ahead and did it and it is sure wasn’t easy, but here goes…

9. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Last year’s Western – with a dash of Agatha Christie murder mystery thrown in – is the first and only Q.T. pic that I didn’t award four stars (it got three and a half). As I put it then – even Tarantino’s “worst” is better than most director’s “best”. That holds true here and it’s pretty darn solid.

8. Death Proof (2007)

One half of the double feature Grindhouse (the other is Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror), Death Proof is a gloriously fun homage to 1970s car racing features with a terrific twisted turn by Kurt Russell. One of the few Tarantino projects that flopped. It didn’t deserve to and is a must-see.

7. Django Unchained (2012)

It’s his highest grossing movie to date. Django is the controversial revenge flick set during slavery times that earned Christoph Waltz his second Oscar for a Q.T. entry and gave Leo DiCaprio a sinister role, showcasing a side of his we had yet to witness.

6. Jackie Brown (1997)

The pressure to follow-up Pulp Fiction was immense, but Quentin came through with this crime tale based off an Elmore Leonard novel. Not as ambitious as what came before, but it’s a dynamite genre piece with an amazing cast led by Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson in perhaps his career best performance.

5. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

Fanatics are divided as to their preference between part 1 and 2. Volume 2 rates just a bit lower for me yet it’s remarkable nonetheless.

4. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The one that started it all. A heist picture like we had never seen – Dogs educated us quickly as to what the Q.T. experience would be. Lots of pop culture references, first-rate acting, and bursts of violence. The opening credits sequence is one of the most memorable in cinematic history.

3. Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

The first edition of Bill truly has an aura of a filmmaker feeling completely free to do whatever the hell he wants. Mixing martial arts, blaxploitation, anime, Western themes, De Palma homages, and more – it’s a dizzying and exhilarating ride.

2. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Q.T. is surely the only man with the cojones to change the ending of World War II and he does so in this brilliant and often hilarious tale with an Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz performance that is arguably the best performance in any Tarantino work.

  1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

The pinnacle. Containing every element of what makes Quentin the force he is, Pulp Fiction is not only my favorite work of his – it ranks behind only the first two Godfather films as my all-time best picture.

Let’s hear your order, blog friends!

P.S. – This post is likely to lead to another list in the near future: “The 25 Greatest Quentin Tarantino Movie Scenes”… stay tuned…

Top 25 Best Movies (1990-2015): Nos. 20-16

Today we arrive at part two of my personal top 25 movies of the last generation – 1990 to now and that covers numbers 20-16. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

20. There Will Be Blood (2007)

From master director Paul Thomas Anderson comes this riveting tale of oil and greed at the turn of the 20th century. It features a towering and Oscar winning performance from Daniel Day-Lewis.

19. The Player (1992)

Robert Altman made some incredible pictures in the 1970s and had a career resurgence in the 90s and his pitch black comedy about Hollywood and its superficiality is the best example of it.

18. Kill Bill – Vol I and II (2003/2004)

OK, maybe I cheated a bit here with this actually being two movies, but Quentin Tarantino’s genre hopping master work stands (almost) at the top of his filmography.

17. Being John Malkovich (1999)

Spike Jonze has been making singularly unique films for nearly two decades now and Malkovich is his most rewarding. There’s simply nothing like it and I mean that in a very great way.

16. The Departed (2006)

Martin Scorsese finally earned his Oscar (though he’d been snubbed plenty of times before) for this twisty and deliciously fun and violent crime thriller with a killer cast that included DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg, and Nicholson.

And we’ll get to numbers 15-11 tomorrow, readers!

Oscar History: 2004

In 1976, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver was seen as a strong possibility to win Best Picture at the Oscars until a boxing movie unexpectedly captured audiences attention and took the prize. That would, of course, be Rocky. Fast forward to 2004 where Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator seemed to be the odds-on favorite for Best Pic until, yet again, a pugilistic tale surprised moviegoers late in the awards season.

Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby wasn’t even talked about much as an awards contender during 2004’s calendar year. It was released very late in the year, but it turned out to be great timing. 

Baby would win the top award over The Aviator, as well as Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland, Taylor Hackford’s Ray, and Alexander Payne’s Sideways.

As for other contenders not recognized, the Academy would ignore Quentin Tarantino’s fantastic Kill Bill and its Volume II after snubbing the first installment the year prior. It’s also worth noting that the greatest Harry Potter flick in the franchise (in my view) Prisoner of Azkaban could have been honored too. And there’s Michel Gondry’s highly original critical favorite Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And a favorite of audiences – Mel Gibson’s mega-blockbuster Passion of the Christ. Any of one of these pics should have at least replaced Finding Neverland, which was decent but doesn’t belong in the category.

The Baby boom would extend to Eastwood, who won Best Director exactly a dozen years after winning the same award for Unforgiven. This prevented Scorsese from winning his first Oscar. Other nominees included Hackford, Payne, and Mike Leigh for Vera Drake. 

Once again – Gondry, Tarantino, and Gibson are names worth mentioning that didn’t get in the mix.

Jamie Foxx would take Best Actor for his dead-on portrayal of the legendary singer Ray Charles in Ray, winning out over Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator, Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda, Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby, and Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland.

One major snub was Paul Giamatti for his fine work in Sideways. The Academy yet again snubbed Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine.

Hilary Swank won her second Best Actress award in five years for Baby (in 1999, she was victorious in Boys Don’t Cry). Other nominees: Annette Bening in Being Julia, Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace, Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake, and Kate Winslet for Eternal Sunshine.

Once again, it was Uma Thurman left out for her work in the Kill Bill franchise.

Morgan Freeman would win his first Oscar in the Supporting Actor race for Million Dollar Baby over Alan Alda in The Aviator, Thomas Haden Church for Sideways, Jamie Foxx in Collateral, and Clive Owen in Closer. 

Not to keep bringing up Kill Bill, but the late David Carradine should have been nominated.

The Aviator would finally receive some Academy recognition with Cate Blanchett winning Supporting Actress with her portrayal as Katherine Hepburn. Other nominees: Laura Linney in Kinsey, Virginia Madsen for Sideways, Sophie Okonedo in Hotel Rwanda, and Natalie Portman for Closer. 

After all my mentions for Kill Bill and Eternal Sunshine receiving snubs, there’s one other 2004 pic that demonstrates the Academy’s constant ability to ignore comedies. So I give you the following snubs –

Best Actor – Will Ferrell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Supporting Actor – Steve Carell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Supporting Actor – Paul Rudd, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Supporting Actor – David Koechner, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Scene Involving a Cannonball – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Scene With a Dog Being Punted – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Rendition of “Afternoon Delight” In a Movie: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

I’ll be back with Oscar History: 2005 soon, my friends!