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(Credit: Miramax)

Film

Quentin Tarantino’s top 10 greatest scenes of all time

@Russellisation

Crafted like meticulous novels, the films of Quentin Tarantino are constructed with great care, with every scene perfectly structured to flow into the next to create, more often than not, a masterpiece of modern cinema.

Whilst his 1994 Palme d’Or winning feature film Pulp Fiction remains one of his most highly regarded films, his 21st-century efforts have shown that Tarantino remains on top of his game even after over 30 years in the industry. 

Mixing frenetic action scenes of chaotic violence in with carefully written scenes of snappy dialogue, Tarantino has become known as one of the finest working filmmakers, often keeping within the boundaries of genre to twist and contort its identity. Having toyed with the western genre in Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, as well as exploitative violence in Kill Bill and Deathproof, there are few genres that the filmmaker hasn’t touched on. 

Picking just ten films for Quentin Tarantino’s top ten greatest scenes was certainly no easy task, with several classic moments cut from the list including the finale of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the ‘Stuck in the Middle with you’ scene from Reservoir Dogs. Listing great action set pieces along with gripping conversations, let’s take a look at the list of Tarantino’s finest cinematic moments.

Quentin Tarantino’s top 10 greatest scenes of all time

10. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) – Sharon Tate at the movies 

Rewriting history in his fantastical Hollywood epic, Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 masterpiece feels like the culmination of several years of work, with the final film feeling like a dense exploration of great national change at the turn of the 1970s. Featuring the film star Sharon Tate, who was brutally murdered by the Manson family cult in real life, Tarantino leads the character by the hand and shows the audience what her life may have been like if misfortune hadn’t been on her side.

Played by Margot Robbie, Tate visits the cinema in one scene to watch her own film, The Wrecking Crew, a poor film that, in reality, the character watches with glittery-eyed amazement. It’s a moment of truly absorbing movie magic. 

9. The Hateful Eight (2015) – Introduction 

Whilst Tarantino’s 2015 western The Hateful Eight lacked the pace and panache of his other works, there are several moments in the film that remind the audience of quite how fantastic the filmmaker truly is. Setting up the film with terrific atmospheric effect, no scene does this better than the introduction, as Tarantino captures the deceit, danger and mystery of the snow-topped Red Rock cliffs. 

Backed by a sensational score by Ennio Morricone, the slow-paced introduction gears the viewer up for a dark and intense drama, practically forcing us to salivate by the time the stagecoach of characters arrives.

8. Django Unchained (2012) – Dinner time

Brought to life by its thrilling central performances, tensions come to a head in the dinner scene of Django Unchained, featuring the acting talents of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. Unbearably intense, the scene set up for a thrilling finale between the lead characters as the titular slave tries to free his wife Broomhilda von Shaft from the clutches of DiCaprio’s Candie. 

With every actor perfectly playing their part, it is DiCaprio who takes charge, famously cutting his hand in the scene for real, only to continue and use the streaming blood to his advantage, making for a torturously effective scene. 

7. Pulp Fiction (1994) – Jack Rabbit Slim’s ‘Twist Contest’

No doubt one of the director’s most iconic scenes, the moment when Vincent and Mia, played by John Travolta and Uma Thurman, jump up on stage for Jack Rabbit Slim’s ‘Twist Contest’ in Pulp Fiction is an influential moment of cinema. Pumped full of all the frenetic energy, romance and style of Tarantino’s filmmaking, the scene is an absolute cinematic joy from start to finish. 

Inspiring countless copycat scenes, the dance scene of Pulp Fiction is a strange moment of jovial respite in what is otherwise a bloody, intense affair. 

6. Jackie Brown (1997) – “Your ass used to be beautiful”

Something of a cult favourite from Quentin Tarantino’s career, many consider his 1997 film Jackie Brown to be his very best, despite watering down several trademarks of the director’s style. Spiked with moments of violence, one such scene occurs when Samuel L. Jackson’s Ordell confronts Robert De Niro’s Louis in a car after he botched a high-stakes crime. 

Revealing key elements of both characters with a final moment of Tarantino gore, the scene is a key moment in the 1997 classic that is both hilarious and utterly engrossing. 

5. Reservoir Dogs (1992) – “I don’t tip”

For one of Tarantino’s best uses of dialogue, look no further than his debut feature film Reservoir Dogs, in which his script work shines when his team of criminals go for a meal at a diner. Led by Steve Buscemi’s Mr Pink, the conversation largely revolves around whether tipping waiting staff is a good thing or a bad thing to do, with Tim Roth’s Mr Orange and Harvey Keitel’s Mr White also contributing to the gripping scene. 

Whilst Tarantino has demonstrated his talent for snappy dialogue many times throughout his career, this moment is one of his very best, showing a group of friends engage in a thrilling debate that looks and feels authentic. 

4. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) – The House Of Blue Leaves fight

The (ongoing?) Kill Bill series wasn’t made for its meticulous scenes of dialogue, it was made for Quentin Tarantino to fully embrace his love for frenetic action movies and Japanese samurai films. Fantastically over the top, Kill Bill features vibrant costumes, an eclectic soundtrack and insane visuals of spurting blood and rolling heads, with no scene better illustrating this chaos than the House Of Blue Leaves fight.

With dynamic cinematography and luscious choreography that covers every inch of the manic fight, the blade battle at the House Of Blue Leaves is most definitely Tarantino’s greatest action scene of all time. 

3. Pulp Fiction (1994) – Ezekiel 25:17

Most of Tarantino’s most well-known moments come from his most famous film, Pulp Fiction, with Samuel L. Jackson’s Ezekiel 25:17 speech in the movie certainly being an iconic scene in the filmmaker’s career. Oozing style and intensity, Jackson barks the bible verse in an interrogation scene as he tries to discover the whereabouts of his target Marsellus Wallace. 

Whilst not action-packed, this moment perfectly encapsulates Tarantino’s approach to violence, packaging it within a moment of carefully constructed dialogue. 

2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) – Spahn ranch

Telling several stories at the very same time, Tarantino’s multi-layered 2019 masterpiece Once Upon a Time in Hollywood deals with the story of Sharon Tate as well as the life of its protagonist, and the dark plotting of the Manson cult in the background. Two of these storylines cross wires at one moment when Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth visits the Spahn ranch where the cult are residing. 

Played out on a knife-edge, Tarantino constructs an intense scene of pure horror as Booth explores the ranch in search of its owner George Spahn who the audience is made to fear is dead. As the Manson cult watches on with beady eyes, the true course of the scene is unknown as we cling to Booth like desperate bystanders. It’s a scene of true mastery.

1. Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Introduction

Introducing Christoph Waltz to Hollywood with a thunderous crash, the introduction to Tarantino’s fantastical war drama, Inglourious Basterds, is a scene of utmost genius, showing a filmmaker truly in touch with his own art. Opening at a French farmhouse, the atmosphere is perfectly set up as Waltz’s SS officer, Hans Landa, approaches with his band of soldiers to shake the man down, suspecting that he is hiding Jewish fugitives. 

Wonderfully constructed with brutal intensity, Tarantino pairs a thrilling soundtrack together with excellent performances across the board to set up a compelling war thriller that never tops the promise of its gorgeous opening scene.