ranking tarantino characters jackie brown

5. Jackie Brown

The Movie: Jackie Brown

The Actor: Pam Grier

Noteworthy Quote: “Well, I’ve flown seven million miles. And I’ve been waiting on people almost 20 years. The best job I could get after my bust was Cabo Air, which is the worst job you can get in this industry. I make about sixteen thousand, with retirement benefits that ain’t worth a damn. And now with this arrest hanging over my head, I’m scared. If I lose my job I gotta start all over again, but I got nothing to start over with. I’ll be stuck with whatever I can get. And that shit is scarier than Ordell.”

Pam Grier’s legacy as female face of ’70s “blaxploitation” was secure long before Tarantino cast her as the title character in Jackie Brown, but this role offered her the chance to look back and reflect. Jackie is not a woman of action, like Coffey or Foxy Brown. She’s a middle-aged flight attendant who is barely scraping by. With nothing to look forward to, all she can do look to the past… until she decides to take action, to take control of her destiny and leave her world in the rearview mirror. You can see a lifetime of experience in Grier’s eyes – this isn’t some starlet pretending to be tough. This is one of the film industry’s toughest ladies showing us what she’s made of. This is Pam Grier refusing to let us forget about her or think of her as a relic. Grier and Jackie have that in common – they’re done taking shit from anyone.

ranking tarantino characters mr white

4. Mr. White

The Movie: Reservoir Dogs

The Actor: Harvey Keitel

Noteworthy Quote: “Now if it’s a manager, that’s a different story. Managers know better than to fuck around, so if you get one that’s giving you static, he probably thinks he’s a real cowboy, so you gotta break that son of a bitch in two. If you want to know something and he won’t tell you, cut off one of his fingers. The little one. Then tell him his thumb’s next. After that he’ll tell you if he wears ladies underwear. I’m hungry. Let’s get a taco.”

Do you know what’s pretty good? The great Harvey Keitel playing a tough-as-nails veteran thief. Do you know what’s great? Harvey Keitel playing a tough-as-nails veteran thief who forms a fatherly attachment to a dying comrade, who is actually an undercover cop. Mr. White has has fair share of action beats. He yells and swears and threatens with the best of ’em. He is perfectly entertaining. He achieves near-perfect status anytime he interacts with Mr. Orange. In their relationship, you see Mr. White’s paternal side come out. You see this professional killer soften and you see him put his life and word on the line for someone else. When the smoke clears in the final moments, after Mr. White has killed to defend Mr. Orange only to learn that he saved the life of a cop, the moans of anguish that follow are unreal. He trusted someone. He murdered friends for someone. The final moments of his life are filled with a pain that is unlike anything we’ve seen.

ranking tarantino characters jules

3. Jules Winnfield

The Movie: Pulp Fiction

The Actor: Samuel L. Jackson

Noteworthy Quote: “But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”

Jules Winnfield is a performer. He “gets into character” before he goes on a job. He has a big, scary speech memorized to terrorize his victims. He’s a terrifying force of nature who likes to put on a show. Jules is already iconic before an act of, well, something saves him and Vincent from a barrage of bullets fired at close range. Faced with a crisis of faith, forced to confront who he is, what he does, and where he’s going, Jules must come to terms with the seemingly divine second chance he’s been given. We only see the first step of his journey, which concludes with him recognizing what he is and deciding to make a change (see that Noteworthy Quote, possibly the most famous line Tarantino will ever write). Long after the credits roll on Pulp Fiction, you wonder what Jules did and where he went. Did he stay true to his word and lay down his arms for a life of peace? Who knows. But the fact that we care to wonder says everything.

Film Title: Inglourious Basterds

2. Col. Hans Landa

The Movie: Inglourious Basterds

The Actor: Christoph Waltz

Noteworthy Quote: “Oooh, that’s a bingo! Is that the way you say it? ‘That’s a bingo?'”

There exists a quick way of explaining who Hans Landa is: what if a Sherlock Holmes-level genius detective was tasked with hunting down Jews who have gone into hiding during World War II? While accurate, this brief description doesn’t get into how Landa wields language as a weapon and how his overwhelming intellect can be seen behind his fake smile in every single scene. It doesn’t delve into his selfishness and his ego and how he’s more than ready to drop his loyalties to Germany if it means getting to live another day. Because Hans Landa takes no pleasure in serving the Nazi regime – he takes pleasure in being able to hunt, in being respected, in inspiring fear in everyone around him. Christoph Waltz plays Landa was a disquieting jolliness. He’s happy to be here, thank you very much. It’s the kind of performance where you can watch his face and realize when he’s catching other characters in lies and filing away the information for future use. It’s the kind of performance where you catch more details every single time you watch it. This is Quentin Tarantino’s greatest villain.

ranking tarantino characters the bride

1. The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo

The Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2

The Actor: Uma Thurman

Noteworthy Quote: “It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that I’m sorry. But you can take my word for it, your mother had it coming. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I’ll be waiting.”

Beatrix Kiddo, a.k.a. the Bride, feels like the past and future culmination of everything that makes a Quentin Tarantino movie special. She is a collection of familiar film tropes given new life… but she also does things we have never seen before. She’s a walking cartoon character, an absurd action hero torn straight out of the wildest genre movies… but she’s also a scorned mother who weeps with raw joy when she’s reunited with her daughter. She’s a warrior and a mother, a hero and a villain, a sinner and a saint, a bundle of contradictions wrapped in movie references, all to protect a human core. The Kill Bill movies are nothing if not a love letter to the seemingly unlimited range of Uma Thurman. It is literally impossible to imagine anyone else in this role.

Pages: Previous page 1 2 3

Cool Posts From Around the Web: