Skip to main content

Top 5 Taika Waititi Films Ranked

I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 15 years.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

In July of 2022, Oscar winning writer/director Taika Waititi’s most recent film Thor: Love and Thunder dropped into theaters to boatloads of cash and (to put it kindly) mixed reviews.

Love or hate Love and Thunder, it doesn’t appear to dampen Waikiki’s output much. As of this writing, he’s gotten married, has a movie about soccer ready to drop in early 2023, a Star Wars movie in development, as well as a live action version of Akira.

Before those movies take up the next 5 years of his life, here’s a ranking of Taika Waititi’s top 5 films.

What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

1) What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

A horror comedy mixtape-ing the mockumentary with the world’s most benign yet deadly vampires, What We Do feels like this should have been made years ago. You’ve seen so many elements of What We Do in countless other films, but yet it feels so startlingly original. It plays vampire lore for deadpan laughs, and offers more pathos than you’d expect.

Featuring so many quotable lines (“Werewolves, not Swearwolves”) and packed with visual gags you might not see until a second viewing, it makes you wish for a sequel that will never happen. But, at least we have the excellent TV series spinoff.

Rarely has 90 minutes felt so short. One of the best comedies of the 20-teens.

Boy (2010)

Boy (2010)

2) Boy (2010)

Waititi’s coming of age dramedy set in New Zealand in the '80s manages to weave Michael Jackson and a goat into a bittersweet story about growing up and leaving some of our illusions behind. Boy works because of James Rolleston’s titular performance as Boy.

If you don’t know the story, Waititi hired Rolleston a day before filming, replacing the original actor cast. Such a happy accident, as there’s no way the movie would stay afloat if you didn’t love and was a little bit afraid for Boy.

Waititi appears as Boy’s deadbeat, but loving-in-his-own-way father, Alamein. You know he's not a great father, but you don’t necessarily hate him as a character because you see he doesn’t know any better. By the end of the movie you think (and hope) Boy will be alright, despite having Alamein as a father.

Stick around to the end, too, because Boy features some of the most rewatchable end credits of 2010.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

3) Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

An upper-tier Marvel movie and easily the best of the Thor franchise, Ragnarok uses Chris Hemsworth’s comedic chops in a way that’s different from your standard Marvel quips. Unlike most MCU films, the jokes here actually land.

Featuring Cate Blanchett’s Hela as one of Marvel’s best villains, she genuinely feels like a threat, which is something you can’t say for 90% of the 500 Marvel movies in existence. Ragnarok showed what a Marvel film could look like in the hands of an actual filmmaker instead of a corporate lackey (See: The Russo Brothers).

With a whiz-bang visual palette a novel (for Marvel anyway) and a Thor-out-of-water story, the movie succeeded in straying from the cookie cutter. From Thor’s shorn locks to Jeff Goldblum playing…Jeff Goldblum, Ragnarok dared to be different and for a moment the MCU didn’t feel so homogenized. Let’s focus on that instead of whatever Thor: Love and Thunder was.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

4) Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Jojo Rabbit won Taika Waititi an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture in 2019. The curious mix of comedy and coming-of-age drama set during WWII works…except in the parts it doesn’t.

Some of the ridiculous humor undercuts the serious attempts at drama. Rebel Wilson acting like she’s in a different movie, and juxtaposing her against what happens to Scarlett Johansson’s character feels forced.

The film’s well-acted enough, with Waititi himself stealing every scene as Jojo’s imaginary Hitler companion. He never overdoes the inherent buffoonery of Hitler, and is the source of the most of the movie’s laughs.

Though not all of its attempts at pathos are successful, it’s a movie you have to see at least once for its stab at originality.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

5) Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

A movie that feels predictable and familiar if you try to describe it to someone but it's anything but. It's a coming-of-age story, road movie, and an adventure with some very specific, character-driven comedy bits.

Hunt is a movie with countless possibilities for missteps, but thanks to Waikiki’s direction manages to be perfectly balanced. There are moments that could have played cheesy and manipulative, but way more often than not you’re genuinely moved. One of Sam Neill’s best performances, if not his best.

As in Boy, Waititi elicits a grounded performance from young performer Julian Dennison as the troubled but trying Ricky Baker. A movie that’s best seen going in cold but will leave you warm in the end.

Overall

Writer/director Taika Waititi’s blend of humor and spectacle makes him one of cinema’s most interesting and sought after talents. And it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.

His new film Next Goal Wins is scheduled for release in 2023. Watch or rewatch some of his best while you wait.

Vote!

© 2022 Noel Penaflor