Quentin Tarantino has written and directed many amazing movies from Reservoir Dogs to Pulp Fiction to Django Unchained. His natural understanding of story combined with a deep, obsessive love for film and pop culture has created one of the most impressive careers of any director we have working today.
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Still despite the many viable choices, his 2007 World War II drama Inglourious Basterds is by far his best.
Inglourious Basterds is the best Tarantino film because it plays to all his strengths and incorporates everything he loves in story. It features multiple titled “chapters,” many scenes of tense dialogue far more exciting than most movies action set pieces and of course plenty of gratuitous violence. It’s like a Tarantino greatest hits. Perhaps that’s not surprising as the natural drama of World War II combined with its heightened presence in our popular culture means that a WWII movie almost had to be the best Tarantino movie.
The movie is made even better by just how difficult it must have been to pull off. In the middle of the movie, tying everything together is Christoph Waltz’s mesmerizing performance. Tarantino didn’t proceed with making Inglourious Basterds for years just because he couldn’t find an actor with the unique multilingual talents to bring the villainous Hans Landa to life. Waltz is quite literally the only actor to be able to make the character, and subsequently the movie, work.
In some aspects Inglourious Basterds is a movie about movies as much as its about real life. Hans Landa is crucial to depicting the most extreme and interesting aspects of both the celluloid and real world aspects. Waltz’ performance goes much far beyond being a merely great acting job – it’s essentially the glue that holds the entire movie together – and what a movie it is.
Inglourious Basterds is wonderfully funny, completely intense and always watchable. It’s a alternate universe retelling of the Second World War and a stealth love letter to all things film. No need to question it. Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s masterpiece.