Taika Waititi is one of my favorite people right now; he’s a wonderful director/actor and ranking his films is incredibly difficult. I decided it was time to rank his films in honor of his new film, Thor: Love and Thunder, coming to theaters on July 8th. He adds so much heart and humor to his films and makes the most unlikeable characters incredibly likable.
Without further ado, here’s my personal ranking of Taika Waititi’s films…
6. Eagle vs Shark
Not everyone can strike gold with their directorial debut. Many people (myself included) found Taika Waititi’s debut too similar in style and tone to Napoleon Dynamite. There’s still some humor to be found and if it accomplished anything, it was putting Waititi and New Zealand filmmaking on the map.
Taika steps it up in his sophomore film which is a love letter to the 80s and adolescence. He also has a gift (like Spielberg) of bringing out terrific performances from child actors, especially James Rolleston. The film tackles the relationship between Boy and his father (played by Waititi) and doesn’t pull any punches either. Also, stick around for the credits and enjoy an amazing dance sequence!
4. What We Do in the Shadows
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to watching this film. Nothing against Taika or vampires, I’m just not a fan of the mockumentary style. That being said, this is probably my favorite mockumentary that I’ve seen because Taika just knows how to make everything charming, even vampires and the world of monsters. I enjoyed it enough to consider giving the FX series a chance, so we’ll see what happens!
3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I didn’t know I needed to see Sam Neill in this kind of role; it’s similar to Dr. Grant in some ways. At the beginning, they want nothing to do with kids, but it’s the kids that bring out the best in him. Once again, Taika brings out a great child performance in Julian Dennison (most known for his appearance in Deadpool 2). It’s a story of survival of a number of things, and the journey that Ricky and Hector go on has to be seen to be believed.
2. Thor: Ragnarok
Taika truly breathed new life into Thor by unlocking Chris Hemsworth’s true superpower: comedy. I didn’t know that I needed a buddy comedy between Thor and Hulk, but Hemsworth and Ruffalo are certainly up to the task. We also get a wonderful new cast of characters, from Tessa Thompson to Jeff Goldblum as well as a terrific villain performance from Cate Blanchett as Hela. It’s fun and colorful but also has the heart that Taika always brings to his films; I can’t wait to see how he expands this new Thor world with Thor: Love and Thunder next week!
1. Jojo Rabbit
Only Taika Waititi could make a black dramedy satire set in Nazi Germany where he plays an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler. It’s quite an impressive feat, almost as impressive as the cast Taika assembled. Scarlett Johansson is an absolute highlight in this film (resulting in a well deserved Best Supporting Actress nomination) but it’s the relationship between Jojo and Elsa that’s the heart of this film.
Taika also received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with the film being nominated for Best Picture, Best Costume and Production Design, and Best Film Editing. While the comedic treatment of Nazis will be offputting to some, it’s a film everyone should see that shows we all have the potential to be accepting of others; we just have to make the choice to do it.