Overall, I concluded that the one thing that Tarantino knows how to do best in his films is knowledge and command of the subject matter. Each of these films range in subjects and time periods from the old west to WWII Germany to 1969 Hollywood to present-day LA; yet Tarantino knows not only all about these cultures, but how to put his own zesty spin to bring out the most gritty details. But there are some things he never quite achieves even after ten movies. For one: they still glamorize murder. His movies are also too White, he does more uplifting of Caucasians than he does of most other ethnicities. On a more technical level, these movies either have very little character development or none whatsoever, which is very much core to storytelling. That's really the main thing that keeps his screenplays from being A-quality in my book.
As far as the types of themes his works have in common, Quentin Tarantino seems fairly consistent on promoting a Humanist worldview, saying that the physical ambition to live is more important than the spiritual. In some ways that works to his advantage, because he knows the power of launching a bullet onto someone's head and seeing that red liquid splatter everywhere, it really hits you with the viciousness some humans have against the value of life.
As for the way they stack up in artistic quality, here's the full ranking:
Undoubtedly the weakest of Tarantino’s films, Death Proof isn’t remembered for much besides being just plain boring, nonsensical, and pointless. Although it’s still got his positive quirks: good acting and rich characterizations with irresistible dialogue for one. The car chases are especially exciting when the old, vintage look to the image keep this as stylistic as the rest of Tarantino’s filmography, but this still glamorizes violence more so than his more intelligent works.
With a heavily intense element of surprise backed up by an epic musical score, The Hateful Eight is perfect for men to be entertained by. Although it does suffer from its lack of development in its characters, which results in a serious absence of heart. Some other cheap elements are pretty blaring too, such as a bad Mexican actor and some bad shiner makeup effects. Although, I should say: Jennifer Jason Leigh should have won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Right from its unforgettable opening conversation, Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature offers a blood-boiling experience; even the actors build up this thoughtful analysis on the criminal underbelly of early 1990s America. Yet it’s certainly among his weaker directing efforts, as his sense of worldbuilding and heart are significantly lacking. Not to mention none of the female characters have speaking roles. Still though, Reservoir Dogs is highly impressive as a first film!
Behind its beautification of revenge, Django Unchained also has a strong, deceptively human message against racism perfect for the time it was released. Where it lacks in heart and character development it makes up for with its expert sound design utilized with mastery beside the exciting dialogue. Not to mention Leonardo DiCaprio’s improvised “bloody hand“ monologue is one for the books! Just please Quentin, stop cameoing in your own movies: you can’t act.
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is not exactly like Tarantino’s other films. It’s still got his quirks including the flavorful dialogue and rich characterizations, but goes further to give an exciting yet down-to-earth recreation of 1969 Hollywood that makes you want to live there yourself. While it does suffer from its glamorization of illegal action that isn’t helped by the lack of heart to make it relevant, the acting is as great as ever, especially by Oscar-bound Leonardo DiCaprio!
With its non-stop excitement that satirizes the modern world of assassins, Quentin Tarantino puts out some of the most masterful fight choreography ever put to film with this first part to his graphic novel epic. Even if Kill Bill Vol. 1 does suffer from its ridiculous lack of believability, as well as its glamorization of revenge, it’s an adrenaline-heavy experience with a phenomenal cast, especially the near-perfect lead performance by Uma Thurman!
This high-tension commentary on the criminal underbelly of California knows how that part of society functions to a tee. Even if Jackie Brown doesn’t delve into the culture of California deeply enough as it beautifies criminal actions, it’s still a greatly well-thought out mystery complete with great acting and Quentin Tarantino’s gift for crafting irresistible characterizations. Although, it could certainly be boring for someone who doesn’t like long movies with lots of talking.
The second half to Tarantino’s epic miraculously steps up the excitement, which continues to be felt at every turn under a fantastic musical score and rich characterizations. The acting is also close to perfection as it gives us a deceptively relevant social commentary on the idea of revenge and injustice and the strides one will go to for closure. If it has any real flaws, it would be the lack of heart put into the character development, and Pai Mei’s stupidly fake hair attachments.
With its colorful cast in a deliciously created world that’s familiar yet unfamiliar, Pulp Fiction stirs up your pulse at ever corner it turns with its genius homages to past films. Even if it glamorizes the cold-heartedness of crime too much and doesn’t give Vincent Vega enough character development, the irresistible dialogue that satirizes national pride is to die for. Not to mention Uma Thurman should have won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress that year.
This meticulously directed glamorization of revenge shows the sincere side of the humanity between Jews and Nazis. It’s incredible how much knowledge Tarantino displays about what the true relationship between the two parties was like, to the capacity when you feel genuine discomfort as the two sides toy with each other. Not to mention it’s got perfect editing and sound to make up for the absence of character development! I think this just might be a masterpiece!
Best Picture: Inglourious Basterds
Best Director: Kill Bill Vol. 1
Best Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Best Actress: Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. 1
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Madsen, Kill Bill Vol. 1
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Best Film Editing: Inglourious Basterds
Best Sound Mixing: Inglourious Basterds
Best Cinematography: Django Unchained
Best Makeup: Pulp Fiction
Best Costume Design: Reservoir Dogs
Best Production Design: Kill Bill Vol. 1
Best Original Score: Kill Bill Vol. 2
Best Visual Effects: Kill Bill Vol. 2