If you’ve ever visited a film school or “lazy towns” (as they are commonly known), you’ve seen them. Hundreds of guys directing and writing their own “cool” short films. Funny dialogue, a bunch of guns, and pools of blood swarm the screens of all the editing rooms in the building, until every production is indistinguishable from the next.
It’s true that these imitators know that Quentin Tarantino didn’t go to film school, but that’s too much of a long shot. What they don’t know is what Quentin probably says to everyone he meets: “There’s only one Taran to this Tino, baby!” And that’s because of the marvelous characters he creates. The stylized violence and interesting dialogues are just icing on the cake; Tarantino is definitely a character-driven filmmaker.
All of his scripts depict real people who obsess about the past and fear the future. Their motivations are clear, their decisions make sense, and most of them are incredibly entertaining to watch.
Scroll down and you’ll find the 10 best ones.
10. Major Marquis Warren (The Hateful Eight)
A bounty hunter with a dark past stands in the middle of the road in an attempt to hitch a ride from a passing stagecoach. He needs to transport his booty: three frozen human bounties, all ready to be claimed.
Tarantino has said that there isn’t a main actor in his latest masterpiece. However, Major Marquis Warren is the closest thing in this film resembling a lead character, and he certainly knows how to carry a film on his shoulders.
In one of the best performances ever by Samuel L. Jackson, his Major Marquis Warren is a master manipulator who is as selfish as he is tough. The Major has no shame in admitting that he killed a few of his own men to escape a prisoner’s camp. In fact, his favorite pastime is to murder white folk.
Every line of dialogue tells us he’s smart; which is again confirmed in the end when he solves the mystery on which the entire film is based. Before that, he utters a hilarious monologue, even better than the one Jules Winnfield famously preached to the soon-to-be-murdered.
Most quotable line: “Oh, you believe in Jesus now, huh, bitch? Good, ’cause you ’bout to meet him!”
9. Daisy Domergue (The Hateful Eight)
One would assume that in the Wild West era, “Daisy” could pass as a shadowy code name for a male outlaw, to keep the sheriffs confused. Because badass gang cowgirls didn’t exist then, right? Well, this isn’t “Taste of History”, but I assume it was just as common to run into wanted posters featuring guys with Nietzschean mustaches than it was to find an innocent looking lady’s face looking back at you. This becomes evident when experiencing this character’s badassery.
There’s a high reward on Domergue’s head, and a bounty hunter is taking her to Red Rock (the town in which she committed the crime) to be hanged. Unsurprisingly, she isn’t a very pleasant travel companion, and the guy who captured her isn’t very diplomatic either, so she gets beaten pretty badly for her rudeness. However, she can take punches (that would make anyone cry their eyes out) like a veteran boxer.
Daisy’s personality is destructive, funny and sarcastic. And she never misses a chance to mock one of her companions.
She clearly doesn’t trust anyone around her, which makes her unpredictable. Her character is also ruthless, to the point where she is literally bathed in blood and doesn’t really seem to be uncomfortable afterward. However, Daisy seems to honestly love her brother, and he also loves her, which adds a whole new layer of depth to her character.
Tarantino’s movies are filled with tough people. Domergue is certainly the toughest one in this particular film.
Most quotable line: “You really the Sheriff of Red Rock? You wanna save the town? Then SHOOT that n****r dead!”
8. Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs)
I’m not sure if Blondie here is the antagonist in this movie. “Reservoir Dogs” also doesn’t really have a protagonist, unless you count Mr. Orange, but he lies in a pool of blood for most of the film.
Mr. Blonde is the cause of every main event in the film; he’s an experienced part of the team of thieves, he starts a shooting in which a bunch of his partners get killed, and he cuts off the ear of a cop he kidnapped. He’s the catalyst of the movie’s entire plot.
This character’s personality is a little hard to grasp; he acts like a complete psychopath, but he also shows emotion and torture-dances a cop with childish cheer. Mr. Blonde is friends with the son of his boss and he doesn’t believe that his comrade is unusually violent, so it seems that this character is just a happy psychopath in disguise.
Michael Madsen plays him wonderfully; he even makes his character appealing for awhile, at least before the ear-cutting scene. It’s hard to imagine how the film would have ended up without him.
Most quotable line: “Eddie, you keep talking like a bitch, I’m gonna slap you like a bitch.”
7. Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)
To balance Django’s lack of personality, Tarantino created a charismatic German dentist, the “Obi Wan” to the main character. Dr. King Schultz guides Django by the hand into a dark and violent world. He’s the shepherd of this story, and Jamie Foxx plays the black sheep.
Schultz may seem harmless at first, but he’s actually an expert assassin, and a good teacher as well. Thanks to Schultz’s help, Django becomes an effective and ruthless bounty hunter, which allows him to rescue his beloved wife.
This character is also a vessel for the wisdom and metaphors that enrich the film’s story. In general, he’s the puppeteer that makes things happen.
Sometimes it feels as though a writer in disguise has entered the movie, especially when after (spoiler alert!) shooting plantation owner Calvin Candie (played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio) Schultz says: “I’m sorry… I couldn’t resist.” As though the screenwriter got so mad at the Candie’s awful behavior that he murdered him in person, and is trying to justify that moment to us, the audience.
Christoph Waltz’s performance is flawless as usual, earning him a second Oscar. He uses his talent for languages once more, and makes a serial murderer seem nice and intellectual.
Most quotable line: [to Django after shooting Calvin] “I’m sorry… [Pause] I couldn’t resist.”
6. Mr. Orange (Reservoir Dogs)
An undercover cop, trying to fit in with a group of dangerous outlaws, gets shot when trying to escape a bank robbery, and is forced to keep his cool and prove his loyalty to his fellow robbers, who will begin to suspect him.
This is easily the most humane and vulnerable character in all Tarantino’s filmography. His situation couldn’t be worse and he’s forced to deal with it alone; after a robbery gone wrong and having to go through an army of cops, clearly he’s someone who is not who he says he is.
We see how Tim Roth’s character carefully plans his actions to guarantee they buy his story. He even makes up a few funny stories of his hard times with the law that amuse his partners.
Mr. Orange tries to hold his act together even after he starts bleeding out from his bullet wound, but then (spoiler alert!) basically sacrifices himself when trying to save a fellow cop from being burned to death.
Roth’s performance is spectacular; the actor went through a wide range of emotions, from crippling pain to intense fear and sudden relief, in depicting his character, who is the moral center of the film.
Most quotable line: [yells] “FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! I’M FUCKIN’ DYING HERE! I’M FUCKIN’ DYING!” [Pauses and calms down]