Few filmmakers could — and even fewer should — attempt what writer-director Quentin Tarantino has accomplished across his three decades of movie-making magic. Armed with an appetite for ultra-violent action, a knack for crafting dialogue sharper than a samurai sword, an infectious appreciation for the art of filmmaking, and, yes, a bit of a thing for feet, the two-time Oscar winner famously said: “You don’t have to know how to make a movie. If you truly love cinema with all your heart and with enough passion, you can’t help but make a good movie.”
Though he was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and spent some years living in Austin, Texas (where the legendary director hosted an annual movie festival called “QT Fest” from 1996 to 2007), Tarantino grew up mainly in Los Angeles, California. As a young man, Tarantino was a staple of the now-closed Video Archives rental store in Manhattan Beach, where he worked while writing, directing, and starring in his first unfinished film, titled “My Best Friend’s Birthday,” and drafting scripts for both “True Romance” (directed by Tony Scott) and “Natural Born Killers” (directed by Oliver Stone, who would enter a public feud with Tarantino over the project years later.)
Tarantino finally made his feature debut in 1992 with “Reservoir Dogs”: the story of a diamond heist gone wrong starring Harvey Keitel, who championed the project after producer Lawrence Bender helped get a copy of Tarantino’s script to the “Mean Streets” actor. “Pulp Fiction” arrived in theaters two years later and marked Tarantino’s first major box office success. The non-linear crime thriller won Best Original Screenplay at the the 67th Academy Awards, but lost both Best Picture and Best Director to Robert Zemeckis’ “Forrest Gump.”
Still, “Pulp Fiction” marked a career high for Tarantino at that time and established relationships with many of his most important collaborators for years to come. From Oscar-wining actors Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman to co-story writer Roger Avary and the late film editor Sally Menke, Tarantino’s many talented friends have played an integral role in the director’s continued success and singular body of work.
Before Tarantino delivered a poignant reflection on cinema itself in the 2019 Best Picture nominee “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the filmmaker wrote two episodes of “CSI,” enjoyed a cameo role as an Elvis impersonator in an episode of “Golden Girls,” helmed exactly one scene from “Sin City,” and directed nine other feature films, including “Jackie Brown,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Kill Bill,” and “Django Unchained” among others.
So now — to paraphrase “Pulp Fiction” philosopher Jules Winnfield — IndieWire presents the cornerstone of any nutritious film education: All 10 feature films written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, ranked.
Note: The 1995 anthology comedy “Four Rooms,” which includes a segment titled “The Man from Hollywood” directed by Tarantino, has been excluded primarily because it is nowhere close to feature-length, but also because the project was a notorious flop. Additionally, Tarantino’s acting cameos have been broken out by title. In instances where no character name has been provided, a description of the role serves as substitute.