Best Taika Waititi Movies, Ranked
The eager viewing public finally got their first teaser trailer look at Thor: Love and Thunder, the next movie on its way from beloved director Taika Waititi. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe consider his previous Thor title, Ragnarok, to be several cuts above the other movies in the MCU franchise, Thor or no Thor.
That said, I’m sorry to say I know next to nothing about Thor or the MCU. My last encounter with a Marvel movie was in high school, when a friend took me to see the first Avengers and I fell asleep halfway through. But Taika Waititi as a filmmaker, actor, screenwriter, and producer (and occasional YouTube influencer) is a topic that I’m very familiar with, therefore I’m thrilled that he’s become ubiquitous. With the recent success of HBO Max’s Our Flag Means Death, which he stars in and produces, the approach of Thor 4, and a schedule of upcoming projects a mile long, Taika Waititi is one the busiest and most in-demand people in the entertainment biz, and we couldn’t be more excited about that.
If you’re excited, too, then now’s the time to get caught up on his other works. Just like with Wes Anderson, it’s difficult ranking his films, because they’re all better than most movies out there. Even though there are more on the way, here are the best Taika Waititi movies, ranked.
For his second feature film, Waititi returned to his roots and filmed in Waihau Bay, where he partially grew up. Boy follows Alamein, nicknamed “Boy,” a kid who loves Michael Jackson and lives with his little brother in a house full of cousins. When his deadbeat dad finally resurfaces in order to dig up some hidden cash, Boy begins to undergo his first forays into adulthood—perhaps a little early, but ain’t that the truth for most of us.
I really enjoyed this movie and found that it portrayed the soul of growing pains better than most films like it. The only reason I’ve placed it so low is that it doesn’t really have a plot, and at a certain point it started to feel as though it was meandering. I think that was the point, though, so it’s not a negative mark on this movie at all. The scene with Rocky and the sparkler towards the end was more than worth the wait.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Similarly to Boy, this movie is placed lower because the plot starts to take a dive for the absurd after the halfway mark, and while some moviegoers enjoy those sorts of turns, I just end up feeling exhausted by them. That said, this movie is so full of charm, I think it’s a crime that it’s not more well-known.
Ricky is a tough kid in the NZ foster-care system, who ends up being placed with his Auntie and her husband, “Hec.” Auntie is an ideal caregiver, affectionate and understanding, but when she suddenly passes, Ricky decides to take matters into his own hands to avoid the foster care system—therefore burning down the house to make it look like a suicide.
Unfortunately, things rarely go as kids plan them to, so the feds assume that Hec did this, is mentally unwell, and initiate a manhunt to “rescue” Ricky. This is the point that the movie starts to become a little absurd for my liking, but that’s just Taika’s way, and the characterization of Ricky, Hec, and Ricky’s dog Tupac (named after his “best friend,” of course) makes it an incredibly poignant romp from start to finish.
Eagle vs. Shark (2007)
This was Taika Waititi’s first movie, and the trailers made it seem as though it was going to lean hard into the mid-2000s “twee indie movie” schtick. On top of that, the last person I met who liked Flight of the Concords was a jackass, and Eagle vs. Shark seemed to have this show written all over it—so imagine my surprise when this movie ended and I felt my heart expand three sizes.
Traditional indie movies tend to suffer from too much self-awareness and an attempt to seem cool, or different, but this movie abandons all that BS in the name of earnestness. It’s so sugary sweet at times, but in a way that makes it feel like it could be taken from the most vulnerable points of your life, and in the best possible way. Just reading the plot summary doesn’t do this movie justice in any way, because it’ll make you assume that the lead character is a fool for putting up with such an asshole boyfriend.
She’s no fool. And he’s the most accurate summary of most modern young men I’ve seen in a while. It’s probably my favorite Taika Waititi movie to date, although personal bias isn’t enough to rate it higher.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Now that the hype for this movie has died down, I really hope that people can talk about it in less black-and-white terms. When it first came out, all my lefty friends avoided it for featuring those people at all (let alone in a comedic light), while all my liberal relatives sang its praises as a way of telling the world, “Hey, I hate that guy, too!”
Both parties, I think, were being a bit silly, even if their reasoning was apt. It’s good to poke fun at villains. And enjoying a work of art to its fullest must go beyond the surface-level political clout that comes along with it. To that end, here’s my take: Jojo Rabbit is one of the most honest, wondrous movies of our time.
The subject matter makes it a difficult movie to talk about in-depth, so I just recommend you watch it when you get the chance. Fellow insomniacs and night-owls: it often plays on movie stations after midnight, so, do with that what you will.
What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
I mean, it’s a classic, it’s iconic, it’s the moment, very few films of its ilk can top it. I’d even go so far as to say the spinoff show, hilarious as it is, has nothing on the original.
If you haven’t watched it yet, that’s on you. Get on that.
(Featured Image: Jeremy Renner)
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