best film:  This all depends on whether one considers Samuel L. Jackson’s pit stop of a performance as Stacks in Goodfellas (which beats out Pulp Fiction by an eye lash) to have enough to it to count for this category. Pulp Fiction feels like the right answer here. There is no shortage here of other contenders – Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing a film is another film with Samuel L. near the top of the all-time best films – giving Samuel L three (3) films in the top fifty (50) of all-time in total counting Goodfellas.


best performance:  Pulp Fiction by a mile here though he is tremendous in films two through five below.  Samuel L Jackson’s verbal skills are a perfect match for Tarantino’s singular dialogue and his Jules character and performance may just be the single best in the film (and Tarantino’s oeuvre). Jackson clearly has the most memorable line delivery – though the best scene is the John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slims.


Samuel L. Jackson as Jules in Pulp Fiction. Opportunities for a monologue like the Ezekiel 25:17 scene simply do not come along often for actors – and to his credit – Samuel L. Jackson absolutely slays it.


stylistic innovations/traits:  Twenty-two (22) films in the archives for Samuel L. Jackson so far with over 150 film credits – he is busy. It may be because he is so prolific (4-5 movies per year plus plenty of commercials) that it has become easy to take Samuel L. Jackson for granted. He is commanding actor – and can portray toughness and intelligence in equal measure. He is a late bloomer as well. He was just over 40 (forty) when Do the Right Thing came out in 1989 and his big break with Tarantino came five years later. The running thread of work Samuel L has done with Tarantino across the decades is important – but the weakness here for Samuel L. is that in a half dozen of his archiveable films – he is fairly unmemorable. Ten (10) of his archiveable films came before his Pulp Fiction star making breakout and he often has these bit parts in these films (True Romance, Goodfellas). Though his work with Spike Lee is during this pre Pulp Fiction period and those films are a valuable part of his resume.


Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Señor Love Daddy – the disc jockey in Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece. Samuel L. is strong here – but would be even better in Jungle Fever (1991) – a powerful film and performance playing Gator – an addict.


directors worked with:  Quentin Tarantino (5), Spike Lee (3), Milos Forman (1), Martin Scorsese (1), Steven Spielberg (1), Paul Thomas Anderson (1), Steven Soderbergh (1), George Lucas (1). The partnership with Tarantino is key – four (4) of Jackson’s top five (5) performances are in Tarantino films. The list here with everyone else besides Spike is a little misleading – even if small performance as Hejira Henry in Out of Sight is a fun one.


from Django Unchained in 2012 – Samuel L Jackson has rarely been better – big and bold here – in a film calling for it. He would team up again with Tarantino just a few years later in The Hateful Eight. His monologue directed at Bruce Dern’s character is not quite Ezekiel from Pulp Fiction – but still brilliant.


top five performances:

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Django Unchained
  3. Jungle Fever
  4. Jackie Brown
  5. The Hateful Eight


archiveable films

1981- Ragtime
19880 School Daze
1989- Do the Right Thing
1989- Sea of Love
1990- Goodfellas
1990- Mo’ Better Blues
1991- Jungle Fever
1992- Patriot Games
1993- Jurassic Park
1993- True Romance
1994- Pulp Fiction
1996- A Time to Kill
1996- Hard Eight
1997- Jackie Brown
1998- Out of Sight
2002- Changing Lanes
2003- Kill Bill Vol. 1
2004- Kill Bill Vol. 2
2005- Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
2012- Django Unchained
2012- The Avengers
2015- The Hateful Eight