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What Is Quentin Tarantino's Best Movie?

drawing of quentin tarantino

Quentin Jerome Tarantino, born on March 27, 1963, in Knoxville, Tennessee,  grew up to be one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation. Known for his eclectic, genre-mixing style, extensive pop culture references, and intense dialogue, Tarantino has crafted a unique and bold cinematic identity that is instantly recognizable, even in the increasingly crowded landscape of American cinema.

Tarantino’s upbringing was steeped in film and cinematic culture. His mother, Connie McHugh, was a healthcare executive and part-time actress, and his stepfather, Curtis Zastoupil, was a musician who would often take the young Tarantino to the movies. This early exposure to film nurtured an intense passion for the medium, a passion that would come to define Tarantino’s career.

In his early twenties, Tarantino worked at Video Archives, a video rental store in Manhattan Beach, California. This period was like film school for him, offering unlimited access to a wide range of movies. During his time there, he began writing screenplays for what would later become his early films, like True Romance and Natural Born Killers.

Tarantino’s directorial debut came in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs, a violent, nonlinear heist film that made a significant impact at the Sundance Film Festival. The film showcased many of what would become Tarantino’s trademarks – intense dialogue, graphic violence, an ensemble cast, and a love of pop culture and genre cinema.

After the success of Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino followed up with Pulp Fiction in 1994, a film that would forever establish him as a leading voice in American cinema. The film’s innovative structure, blending of genres, and witty, often shocking dialogue, won it the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The rest of the ’90s and early 2000s saw Tarantino experiment with form and genre, from the crime thriller Jackie Brown (1997), to the martial arts epic Kill Bill series (2003 and 2004), to the Grindhouse tribute Death Proof (2007). Each film, regardless of commercial success, further cemented his reputation as a director who was willing to take risks and break conventions.

In 2009, Tarantino released Inglourious Basterds, a revisionist WWII film, which marked his highest grossing film at the time. He continued to play with historical events in Django Unchained (2012), a spaghetti western-style film set during slavery in the antebellum South, and The Hateful Eight (2015), a post-Civil War western whodunit.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), Tarantino’s ninth film, is a nostalgic trip back to 1969 Los Angeles, around the time of the infamous Manson Family murders. The film was widely lauded, winning two Academy Awards and becoming a box office success.

Film Release Date Budget Box Office
Reservoir Dogs 1992 $1.2 million $2.8 million
Pulp Fiction 1994 $8.5 million $214 million
Jackie Brown 1997 $12 million $74.7 million
Kill Bill: Volume 1 2003 $30 million $180 million
Kill Bill: Volume 2 2004 $30 million $152 million
Death Proof 2007 $15 million $30.7 million
Inglourious Basterds 2009 $70 million $321.5 million
Django Unchained 2012 $100 million $425.4 million
The Hateful Eight 2015 $44 million $155.8 million
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 2019 $90-96 million $374.3 million

What Is The Best Quentin Tarantino Movie of All Time?

Reservoir Dogs

Tarantino’s directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs, is a tense heist movie with a non-linear narrative structure. The story revolves around a group of criminals, who, after a botched jewelry heist, try to figure out who amongst them is an undercover cop. The film is renowned for its sharp dialogues, excessive violence, and the use of popular music, elements that have since become signature characteristics of Tarantino’s style.

  • Year Released: 1992
  • Budget: $1.2 million
  • Box Office: $2.8 million

Pulp Fiction

Perhaps one of the most celebrated films of the 90s, Pulp Fiction is a neo-noir black comedy with a convoluted narrative structure that intertwines several Los Angeles crime stories. The film’s cultural impact, memorable lines, eclectic soundtrack, and multi-strand narrative structure make it a touchstone of postmodern cinema.

  • Year Released: 1994
  • Budget: $8 million
  • Box Office: $214 million

Jackie Brown

An adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, Jackie Brown is a homage to blaxploitation films of the 1970s. The story revolves around a flight attendant who gets embroiled in a plot between the police and an arms dealer. It’s often regarded as a more mature work from Tarantino, reflecting themes of aging and life choices.

  • Year Released: 1997
  • Budget: $12 million
  • Box Office: $74.7 million

Kill Bill: Volume 1 & 2

Kill Bill is Tarantino’s love letter to martial arts cinema and spaghetti westerns. It’s a revenge story about a woman, referred to as “The Bride,” who wakes up from a four-year-long coma and seeks to avenge the attempted murder on her by her ex-lover and his assassination squad. Stylish, violent, and visually arresting, the two-part film is a testament to Tarantino’s love for genre cinema.

  • Year Released: 2003 & 2004
  • Budget: $60 million (total for both volumes)
  • Box Office: $333.1 million (total for both volumes)

Death Proof

As a part of the double feature Grindhouse, with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, Death Proof sees Tarantino exploring the slasher genre. The film follows a psychopathic stuntman who murders young women using his “death-proof” stunt car. Though it received a lukewarm response upon its release, it has gained a cult following over the years.

  • Year Released: 2007
  • Budget: $53 million (Grindhouse budget)
  • Box Office: $30.7 million (Grindhouse box office)

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds, a World War II film with a typical Tarantino twist, follows a group of Jewish-American soldiers, known as “The Basterds,” as they seek to assassinate Hitler. The film is a thrilling blend of war, western, and revenge genres, featuring a stellar ensemble cast and one of Tarantino’s most memorable villains, Hans Landa, played by Christoph Waltz.

  • Year Released: 2009
  • Budget: $70 million
  • Box Office: $321.5 million

Django Unchained

Django Unchained is a stylized tribute to Spaghetti Westerns, in particular the 1966 Italian film Django by Sergio Corbucci. Set in the Old West and Antebellum South, it is a story of a freed slave who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal plantation owner. The film’s themes of revenge and justice are served with a generous helping of violence and humor.

  • Year Released: 2012
  • Budget: $100 million
  • Box Office: $425.4 million

The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight, another homage to the western genre, is a tense chamber piece set in post-Civil War Wyoming. The film’s confined setting and slow-burn narrative build to a bloody climax, showcasing Tarantino’s mastery in creating suspense and tension.

  • Year Released: 2015
  • Budget: $55 million
  • Box Office: $155.8 million

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Set in 1969 Los Angeles, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood weaves a tale of an aging actor and his stunt double amidst the changing Hollywood film industry, with the backdrop of the Manson Family murders. Packed with nostalgia, the film serves as Tarantino’s love letter to a bygone era of Hollywood.

  • Year Released: 2019
  • Budget: $90-96 million
  • Box Office: $374.6 million