If you ask Quentin Tarantino fans what their favorite of his films is, you will likely get many answering Pulp Fiction. Heck, we even put it in the number one spot on our ranking of the director’s oeuvre. Pulp Fiction is more than a reasonable response when picking a favorite Tarantino film because few films changed the pop-culture landscape quite like the filmmaker’s second directorial outing when it was released in 1994. But is it his best movie? Well, according to the man himself, no, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is. Which is a film he has said is the closest thing to Pulp Fiction he has made.
Quentin Tarantino was recently interviewed by Howard Stern, where the host asked the movie maker what he believes to be his best movie. The overly excited auteur said in the past when he was asked this question, he would try and skirt the answer because all of his films felt like his “children,” but now he answers differently. According to the filmmaker, he believes Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is his best work. He said:
This answer may surprise longtime Tarantino aficionados because though Hollywood shares a lot of similarities to his past works (the ensemble cast, for example), the movie has many differences, which make it stand out when compared to his previous eight films. Tarantino’s past movies were hyperfocused on cinema-cool. They revel in ultra-violence intercut between everyday meta conversations and snappy dialogue moments. Sure, Hollywood has moments of violence (particularly in the third act), but the movie is more interested in organic dialogue and character study.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood mainly was critically well-received upon release, but everyone didn’t love it. When it hit cinemas, Hollywood faced its fair share of controversy, which has come to be somewhat expected for a Tarantino release. One of the major criticisms leveled at the fictitious take on real-life faces of 1969’s Hollywood was the portrayal of Bruce Lee. While Lee’s family thought the arrogant take on the martial art icon was disrespectful, Tarantino replied in the most Tarantinoesque way.
Perhaps where the film shines most, and shows the filmmaker’s growth as an artist, is the amount of love and reverence shown in the portrayal of Sharon Tate, brought brilliantly to life by actress Margot Robbie. Though Tate and her unborn child were tragically slain in real life by The Manson Family, Tarantino wrote a Hollywood ending for her. It’s no wonder Sharon Tate’s sister cried when the filmmaker screened it for her.
For years The Manson Family has been depicted in pop culture as satan worshiping boogeymen to fear and Charles Manson as some brilliant psychopath. Tarantino can get closer to the reality of “The Family” and Manson through the use of fiction. The filmmaker depicts the cult leader as a bumbling, drug and revenge-fueled madman and "The Family" as nothing more than a bunch of lost and misguided youth.
Is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Tarantino’s best film? Hard to say. “Best” is subjective. However, I would have to say it’s up near the top, and for my money, it’s far and away his most mature piece of moviemaking. That is until he makes his confirmed tenth and final film.
We will update you if we hear anymore about Quentin Tarantino’s last film. Until then, stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all your news about upcoming new movie releases.
Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing.
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