I’m late to the party, but that’s alright. With the recent release and success of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, there was a surge power rankings regarding Hollywood’s most marketable director, Quentin Tarantino. Personally, I had to wait a minute because going through my movie excel sheet I noticed how I had not seen one of his nine motion pictures.

Now, here is my rankings of Quentin Taratino’s films. But first…two things I should note. First, I have combined the Kill Bill movies into one because that is how Tarantino views them. Two; none of these movies are bad. In fact, all are good and at least well above average in various respects. Also these rankings are not set in stone…just as of today.

9. Death Proof (2007)

Death Proof

There are aspects of Death Proof that are outstanding, and some choices that just perplex me. I think that this is Tarantino’s personal love child (more so than his other projects). The style in which it was made, and it’s pairing with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror make it one of a kind.

Two separate tales about a quartet of women who get involved with a man who only goes by the name of, Stuntman Mike. The first group, well their evening doesn’t go so hot. The second group, well stuntman Mike messed with the wrong group of gals. Kurt Russell plays the only constant part, the deadly sweet-talking stuntman. He is more than up to the part and his perverted air of evil is the strongest part of the movie.

The gripe I have with Death Proof is that it objectifies women a bit too much. I get its part of the B-movie, grindhouse tone, but it still didn’t sit right with me. Just a bit too on the nose with the lap dance, underdressed cheerleader and unkind approach to them. Granted the women get their revenge in a sweet way, but still, med.

Stanko Rating: B

8. Kill Bill (2003 & 2004)

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This ranking is a result of combining parts one & two. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is an absolute blast and the exaggerated violence is breathtaking. The crazy 88’s and Gogo…that scene will always be one of the most shockingly violent scenes I’ll even watch. It’s got the sound effects, the kung-fu jumps and over the top screams. It has everything.

In terms of Kill Bill: Vol 2, I recall liking it more for the cinematography aspects but not as much in tersm of the story and the way it led to its conclusion. I just don’t recall it that well or go to YouTube and relieve scenes very often at all.

In all fairness, it’s been the longest time since I have seen all of Kill Bill, so I may need to rewatch both volumes and see if my memory and thoughts serve correctly.

Vol. 1 Stanko Rating: B
Vol. 2 Stanko Rating: B

7. The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Oh the cinematography. Oh the dialogue. It is exquisite in The Hateful Eight.

Robert Richardson, longtime cinematographer for Tarantino, deserves a heap-ton of praise for his efforts in this endeavor. (Side note, he is in the same role for Venom 2 and that has me much more excited for the sequel).

Much like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, it is the immensely talented ensemble cast that allows for The Hateful Eight to rise above just a mere well-written three hour affair. To have a movie set nearly entirely in a wooden shack with characters not privy to extensive exposition and make it a fascinating character study on multiple levels is a crowning achievement.

I just can’t get out of my mind the shots of the wagon in the woods and then the unraveling of the characters within the hut. It’s Hitchcock like this movie, and the only drawback is finding three hours of freedom to full sit down and appreciate it.

Stanko Rating: B

6. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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The one that started it all. Taking the immediate chance of not showing the immense height, and then heightening up mystique around the movie with that chirpy dialogue and subtle social commentary. Reservoir Dogs took the status quo and kindly flipped it a bit, and I recall from my first time watching it that it made the torture scenes both unbearable and unforgettable.

Tarantino began his climb to the Hollywood’s mountain top with Reservoir Dogs. It’s fitting how it was the darling of 1992 Sundance Film Festival…and still didn’t win any awards. Tarantino has only two Academy Awards and five nominations, which is CRAZY TOWN FOLKS.

Stanko Rating: B+

5. Jackie Brown (1997)

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I was very late to the party with this one but holy crap Robert De Niro in a Tarantino movie!

Any who…Jackie Brown goes the opposite route of Reservoir Dogs. It shows a heist and it shows every single little bit of it. Rankings and lists I’ve seen have had this movie in the bottom third of the rankings, but I was captivated by it.

I think that Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson are both incredible. Robert Foster is the one who got nominated for an Academy Award, which surprised me a little bit, but he fits nicely into the easily moldable parole officer Max Cherry. All the performances are good, even De Niro as a stoner ex-convict.

The way that Jackie Brown flowed together surprised me and all the characters fit perfectly in the tropic environment.

The opening shot of Jackie Brown going through the airport…it reminded me of that airport scenes in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. The comparing and contrasting of the different eras, colors and characters in the two movies grasped me.

Also, Jackie Brown goes by the same line of Pulp Fiction where anyone can die at any time. Poor Chris Tucker…

Stanko Rating: B+

4. Django Unchained (2012)

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We have a return to violence here folks. That’s what this is. After Death Proof and Inglorious Basterds hyped up the verbal violence rather than the physical, Django Unchained is back to bloody madness.

What I love most about Django Unchained is the malevolence of Leonardo DiCaprio as slave owner Calvin Candie. The Mandigo fight scene he orchestrates is excruciating to watch. Then there is the speech at the dining room table once he discovers Django and Dr. King Schultz’s true motives. The sureness in which he speaks on the three dimples within the brain and the way he perceives whites to be better than blacks…it is chills inducing.

Also the fact that the cut his hand, kept on going, then washed it over Broomhilda’s (Kerry Washington) face in disgust is berserk! DiCaprio doesn’t usually play the antagonist, but in Django Unchained it’s terrifying.

People who struggle with Django Unchained point toward the final shootout and how it was too violent and soaked in blood. I could care less. I wanted Django to kick all the possible ass he could, and to my heart’s content, he did.

Sidenote, can we get more Jamie Foxx in our lives? When he is good, he is gold. Foxx brings the swagger that makes Django drip off the screen. In Baby Driver he’s turned up too a thousand and in Horrible Bosses he’s a delight short stint.

Stanko Rating: A-

3. Pulp Fiction (1994)

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I did not know that movies could be made like this. The time jumping aspect, the amount of soliloquies and over the monologues. It was also one of the first movies I ever saw that had immense, absurd, ludicrous amount of bad language.

People who saw this movie when it first came out in 1994 say that it shaped the culture and the way they spoke to one another. It set a tone for how friendships could be, as weird as that sounds. In what world would Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield be friends together? Only in Tarantino’s world.

Pulp Fiction was also one of the first movies to really let me in on the “anyone-can-die-at-anytime” theme. Marvin dying in the car; “Oh man I shot Marvin in the face” is delivered perfectly and when it happened the first time I saw it, I had to rewind it to make sure there wasn’t some quick cut away clue I missed.

Then there is Samuel L. Jackson delivering the “Does he look like a bitch?” speech. Just amazing stuff. “DID I STUTTER?!” “SAY ‘WHAT’ ONE MORE TIME, I DARE YOU, I DOUBLE DARE YOU!”

How the stories intertwine between the settings, characters and time-jumps is an amazing feat of writing and storytelling. I can’t imagine comprising something like this.

Stanko Rating: A-

2. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

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The newest to the list, and yes it deserves to be this high. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the most personable of all Tarantino movies. It touches into the fascinations that he had growing up and shines the brightest spotlight on the areas of aspects of Hollywood he loved as a kid.

Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt give dynamite performances as Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. They are supplemented by a star-studded cast that includes but is not limited Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning and Al Pacino.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood uses master strokes to create ethers of vulnerability and facades around its characters. The vulnerability that DiCpario shows as Dalton is remarkable, most notably when he interacts with Trudi both in and out of his western TV show. Then there is Pitt as Booth, who has an aura of cool, mystique, and nonchalant overconfidence.

Tarantino paints the innocence of society along his cinematic treasure map via Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Sharon Tate. The happy-go-lucky smile and excitement of being within the world of Hollywood is the perfect antidote for the Dalton and Booth’s different types of shattering egotism.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is the best made movie I have seen this year.

Stanko Rating: A-

1. Inglorious Basterds (2009)

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I freaking love this movie. It is some of the best written dialogue in any movie I have ever seen. You can tell Tarantino spent 10+ years writing this script. Also, the fact that only 30% of the movie is in English yet it still maintains some of best tension possible is another achievement!

There are so many memorable scenes in Inglorious Basterds. It has to be one of the most “YouTubed” movies for the sole purpose of rewatching some of the best scenes…almost all of which contain Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa. His performance and that character is one of the best this turn of the century. Outstanding. Waltz’s effort to unarm everyone around him with a personable and charismatic attitude before dismantling their soul and emotions is iconic.

Here are my top four vignettes from Inglorious Basterds.

  1. French Bar Basement – Know Your Threes
  2. Opening Scene – Ultimate Character Introduction
  3. Shosanna Reconnected With Col. Hans Landa
  4. Bear Jew

From top to bottom, Inglorious Basterds is Tarantino’s best woven adventure. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you and got to Netflix right now and immerse yourself.

Stanko Rating: A

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