It's a special year for Quentin Tarantino. He has a highly anticipated new film out this Christmas (you know, because he makes films for the whole family to enjoy on a holy day), he has a career-spanning Blu-ray box set out in a month and today is the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Reservoir Dogs, which we just heard will be rereleased to theaters along with Pulp Fiction in December. Since that feature debut as a director, he has helmed seven-and-a-quarter more films, which includes the short he did for Four Rooms. It also includes both parts of Kill Bill on their own, as well as Death Proof as a separate entity rather than half of Grindhouse. There's no reason to note this except that when considering his best films, you might rather lump together Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 than have to rank them separately. For me, even if the first is more of a pleasure to watch, I think of them like twins and can't rightly pick one as the best over the other.
Of course, it's almost as hard to pick one Tarantino film over all the others. In a way, they're so unified as a complete package (with separate films even sometimes connected by character relationships), and in another way, they're too distinct to compare. How do you pit Reservoir Dogs, with its decade-defining style and ever-quotable dialogue, against Inglorious Basterds, with its greater thematic depth and visual imagination? Can we still look at Pulp Fiction with memories of how fresh and groundbreaking its structure and conversational scenes were and still recognize it as a monumental achievement? And do we dismiss Roger Avary's contributions to that aspect to accept it primarily as not only Tarantino's film but also his greatest?
Does anyone favor the more muted, restrained Jackie Brown or the more wild and crazy Death Proof? Is there anyone on the planet that would pick "The Man From Hollywood" from Four Rooms if we allow it? I'm sure there are some who would rather not even pick without seeing Django Unchained first. Especially if you recognize that Tarantino is becoming a smarter, more comfortable filmmaker with age and believe that he'll top Basterds, your current favorite.
While thinking about his career recently, I thought about how in the '90s I grew tired with his early films the more I watched them (and the more others copied them), but with the past few works I've appreciated them each more with multiple views (does it help that they're not as imitable?). Of course, rewatching parts of Reservoir Dogs this week had me wondering if it's still the most Tarantino-y Tarantino film. That might not mean it's his best, but I think it might be his most defining.
When I think of which film I'd like to watch again and again while letting the others burn, though, I have to say Basterds is currently my favorite. It's still not perfect, however, and none are. I do believe his best is yet to come.
What is the best Tarantino film, or at least your favorite?
Here some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twiter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).