Tarantino. Tarantino is clearly a style-plus auteur (a term I made up to help distinguish even the greatest auteurs on this list) influenced by exploitation cinema, De Palma, Scorsese, Woo, Leone, Godard (though QT disputes that mostly). Despite his influences he creates his own post-modern, violent film world that is entirely his own every bit as much as Lynch, Wes Anderson, Fellini. His influences might be mostly B-cinema but he is clearly a maker of super-produced (very un-B-cinema) films who not only is one of the most accomplished writers in the history of cinema but a masterful craftsman behind the camera as well… and I haven’t even discussed his brilliant work on non-linear narratives…

…. For the purposes of this list Tarantino already has 1 top 100 film, 3 top 500 films (excluding everything from 2009-now) and again, visually and narratively checks every box  you’d need from a top auteur.

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this magnificent one is from Kill Bill but QT has a few doorway shots in his oeuvre including Inglourious Basterds as well

Best film:  Pulp Fiction. Pulp fiction is a big differentiator when picking out QT amongst his peers.

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a perfect shot here from Pulp Fiction

total archiveable films: 7

top 100 films: 1

simply one of cinema’s greatest sequences- still exhibit A. when discussing Tarantino’s work behind the camera

top 500 films: 3 (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs)

slow motion, mise-en-cene (costume here)– the announcement of a major talent in Reservoir Dogs

top 100 films of the decade: 6 (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds Django Unchained)  

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double agent reflection in the window– a spectacular shot in Inglourious Basterds

most overrated:  Nothing overrated by TSPDT on QT.  His three films in the TSPDT top 1000 are Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction of course.

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Reservoir Dogs is largely set in a big ugly warehouse– yet QT can still give us images like this

most underrated:   Django Unchained has moved up a little since 2015 but it’s still #11 for 2012 on the TSPDT 21st century list and that’s underrating it by several slots. It’s a very entertaining film.. Robert Richardson as the DP does some fantastic work here- and I certainly wish this, not Hateful Eight– had been QT’s 65/70mm film. Wondrously zoom-heavy. Waltz’s exacting diction is just perfect for Tarantino’s dialogue. His “brittle brothers” and “Lubbock, Texas”. Flashbacks done in an effective washed-out (what looks like 16mm) taken straight from 1970’s B-picture cinema. Amazing shot of blood splattering on cotton. Narrative is part German folklore, Blaxploitation, western. The surrealism sequences with Kerry Washington haunting the Jamie Foxx character is really well done. Lovely De Palma (or Hitchcock Vertigo if you like) 360-shot near the end. It is a major achievement for these 4 lead actors (DiCaprio, Foxx, Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson).

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magic hour work here in Django
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how about those spanish moss tree set pieces?
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blood splattering on white cotton- genius work here in Django

gem I want to spotlight:  Kill Bill is underrated as well but it’s finally starting to get more and more of its due. Perhaps this is the cost of breaking up a movie into two parts for strictly commercial reasons. It may take another decade or two for people to rightly piece it together and conclude it’s one of the best films in its genre of all-time.

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Kill Bill may be QT’s most stylistically agile film
the battle between Uma and Lucy Liu may be second behind the Pulp Fiction dance sequence in terms of scenes I’d submit to exhibit QT’s work as an auteur

stylistic innovations/traits:    His dialogue is unmistakable and surely he’s known for this violence. Most of his work manipulates the linear narrative structure beautifully and now his recent films have been tackling and rewriting tragic points in history.  He’s a creator of a rich mise-en-scene, he’s a sharp editor (especially of action sequences) in scene along with his narrative editing supremacy, and has gorgeous tracking shots throughout his oeuvre. There are repetition in his shots like the trunk POV shot, the overhead shot (usually of carnage), there’s the 360-shots from De Palma, the doorway shots (The Searchers), chapter breaks, Morricone music, pop/rock soundtracks.

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a trademark shot here
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the trunk shot – Wellesian low angles
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every film of his has at least one- most more
the best one is here in Inglourious Basterds

top 10

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Kill Bill
  3. Inglourious Basterds
  4. Reservoir Dogs
  5. Django Unchained
  6. Jackie Brown
  7. The Hateful Eight
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a dazzling long-take tracking shot to kick off Jackie Brown

By year and grades

1992- Reservoir Dogs MS
1994- Pulp Fiction MP
1997- Jackie Brown HR
2003- Kill Bill Vol 1 MP
2004- Kill Bill Vol 2 MP
2009- Inglourious Basterds MP
2012- Django Unchained MS
2015- The Hateful Eight R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives