Quentin Tarantino is his generation’s most iconic director, and one of the greatest in history. He made a name for himself as the biggest name to emerge from 1990s cinema, a decade full of amazing films, and there’s not one movie of his you can call objectively bad. All movies by Quentin Tarantino are steeped in style and pop culture influence, and while some of his projects are certainly more iconic than the last, an evening watching Tarantino flicks is hard to beat no matter what you pick.
Tarantino Movies Ranked: Quentin Tarantino’s Body of Work, Ranked from Heel to Toe
Right away, we’ll say that Tarantino’s projects didn’t necessarily age well on some fronts, particularly dialogue, and some showcase his quirks more than others. But even the lower-ranked movies by Tarantino are worthwhile, warts and all, as listed below:
10. Death Proof
Death Proof starts the list as a reminder that Tarantino’s content, even at its worst, is really fun. Part of the Grindhouse project, a double feature collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, this film occasionally had boring dialogue, and excessive focus on bare feet, but still had a lot going for it. Along with fantastic stars like Rosario Dawson and Kurt Russell, it’s packed with some pretty crazy stunts, although if you watch the full Grindhouse feature, you might find it overshadowed by Planet Terror.
9. The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight was one of Tarantino’s recent examples of how his films aren’t always positively received by modern audiences, but still, retain his signature style and excellent filmmaking. It has the hallmarks of what has made his movies great, including dialogue-heavy drama between distinctive characters. It’s also intensely violent, a gripping mystery that traps its suspects in a room together with bloody consequences.
8. Jackie Brown
This is already a weird entry in the list because Jackie Brown is many people’s favorite Tarantino picture. It marked the return of Samuel L. Jackson and the continuation of the actor’s collaboration with the auteur director and made a star out of Pam Grier. The ensemble cast was phenomenal, and while the film had the tough task of living up to the hype of Pulp Fiction that came before it, Jackie Brown is remembered fondly.
7. Kill Bill Vol. 1
Kill Bill is amazing, make no mistake about it. The first part is littered with numerous genre-bending cultural references including revenge thrillers, direct anime references, and probably the most over-the-top action in any Tarantino movie. It uses pop culture as a weapon, with the Ironside theme forever stuck in our brains since then, especially if you’ve never seen the original 1967 show. The bride’s fight against the Crazy 88 was utterly insane, and that fight against Gogo Yubari can’t go unnoticed either.
6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
You were waiting to point at the screen like Leo when this entry popped up, weren’t you? Once Upon a Time in Hollywood felt so cool and authentic, despite having Tarantino’s usual twist and anachronisms, and had some of the best visual storytelling out of all of his movies. When a director has a chance to have a stunt double character square off against Bruce Lee or fend off the would-be Manson murders in an alternate history, you better believe Tarantino takes it. The scenes in this film also wound up highly influential, including appearing in the Chainsaw Man opening titles.
5. Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino filmed 2 westerns, one being The Hateful Eight, and the one before it being Django Unchained. This film felt like it had more of the exciting, entertaining aspects of Tarantino’s previous works, including A-list talents such as Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. The intense dedication of the actors to their roles is on full display, with many standout scenes that’ll live on for years to come.
4. Kill Bill Vol. 2
In the spectacular finale and follow-up to Vol. 1, the Bride finds herself facing crafty nemeses and a scene-stealing confrontation between her and David Carradine’s Bill. Vol. 2 felt significantly different from the first Kill Bill, with less gratuitous violence and feeling overall like a different direction for Tarantino movies. The buried alive scene, the Bride’s flashbacks, and the conclusion are all excellent in their right, and it felt like a genuine, satisfying conclusion to the story.
3. Inglourious Basterds
This movie was in a way one of Tarantino’s most infamous films, not due to any controversial content, but just in how self-aggrandizing it is in a very literal sense, especially in the ending moments. But arrogance must be earned, and Inglourious Basterds keeps viewers uproariously entertained for 2 and a half hours, so he’s paid his dues in this case. It features the first of Christoph Waltz’s Oscar-winning roles in Tarantino’s movies (the second being Django) and a hilarious Brad Pitt, hunting down Nazis and speaking in the most unconvincing Italian possible, what’s not to love?
2. Pulp Fiction
This is the film that catapulted Quentin Tarantino, and his flair for making stylish, timeless movies, into the mainstream and an absolute icon in the ’90s. It’s full of symbolism, it is insanely quotable, and it made stars out of younger cast members like Uma Thurman while boosting the careers of Bruce Willis and John Travolta. It was the breakout success film for Samuel L. Jackson and Tarantino’s first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Pulp Fiction is unabashedly original and pulls no punches, and is typically the popular favorite when Tarantino movies are brought up.
1. Reservoir Dogs
In many ways, this film captured and locked in some of the best qualities you’ll get to see in any of Tarantino’s movies. The plot largely takes place during the aftermath of a botched diamond heist, as the recruited gang members, assigned different colors as their names, grow suspicious of one another. Distinctive characters help sell this story, with great performances by Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, and Michael Madsen.
Viewers might also note the early instances of Tarantino’s love for using popular music to tie together a scene, and Stuck In The Middle With You will never quite sound the same. With how much the film is driven by dialogue and individual, smaller scenes outside of the hideout, the film plays out like a staged play, one where the tension could be cut with a knife. There’s drama, betrayal, and violent death for nearly everyone involved in the plot. Don’t ever forget those iconic shots from the movie, either.
Movies by Quentin Tarantino are often an event, looked forward to by his fans and anybody who can appreciate a thoughtfully-presented, slightly unhinged filmmaking spectacle. These movies never make Marvel or Disney-scale movies because they’re not supposed to, but rather linger on in memory by what it was like watching it, instead of their position as all-time grossing movies at the box office.
- This article was updated on February 2nd, 2023