Taika Waititi is a name that has had a lot of success in the industry in recent years. Due to massive hits like the MCU blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok and Oscar winner JoJo Rabbit, he has become a force to be reckoned with in mainstream Hollywood. However, before all that hype, Waititi was first and foremost a rather obscure filmmaker who was known for making quirky local indie films that truly captured the heart of his homeland, New Zealand. Taika is also often cited as one of the filmmakers who propelled New Zealand cinema to the forefront of the world stage. How This Small-Town Maori Comic Became A Marvel Master Who Works On Flash Gordon remakes and star wars movies ?
To be part of the five-man comedy troupe, So you are a manand the Billy T Award-winning comedy duo Humor beasts Along with fellow actor and comedian Jemaine Clement, Waititi then ventured into the world of film making several short films. His second short film, titled Two cars, one nightearned him a nomination for Best Live Action Short Film at the 76th Annual Academy Awards in 2004. Since then he has starred in over 15 films and directed six feature films, as well as writing and directing. realization of episodes of the beloved Flight of the Conchordsas well as the production and direction of episodes of What we do in the shadows, a series adapted from his film. With two of his upcoming projects, Thor: Love and Thunder and sports comedy-drama The next goal winsslated for release this year and next year respectively, we take a look at Waititi’s entire directorial filmography, ranking them from worst to best.
6 Eagle vs. Shark
Waititi’s feature debut tells the quirky story of two unlikely social outcasts who find their way through love amid a series of conflicts and delusions. Although written by Taika, the story was a collaborative effort devised by both him and his then-partner Loren Horsley (who also stars in the film). While having a unique twist on the usual rom-com tropes, Eagle vs. Shark suffered heavy comparisons to Jared Hess Napoleon Dynamite, a feel-good film released three years prior. It was obvious that Taika still found her place in this film by adapting various themes and styles used by other filmmakers. However, what made this film stand out was its strength of writing. Waititi and Horsley had great command of the characters, knowing them inside and out. Plus, having Jemaine Clement (who would become Taika’s frequent collaborator) elevate the film with her quirky performance.
Waititi’s second feature film is a heartwarming tale of an 11-year-old boy’s coming of age and his relationship with his criminal father, who returns home in search of his bag of cash buried in the area park. The film is based on his 2004 Oscar-winning short Two cars, one night and, according to Waititi, the first draft of this screenplay was written in 2005 before he began work on Eagle vs. Shark. In addition to writing and directing, Taika also starred in the film, playing the titular character’s narcissistic ex-convict father, “Boy.” The film develops Waititi’s ability to see humor beyond the mundane and the ordinary. Additionally, telling the story from a child’s perspective allowed it to include original visual fantasies while remaining as grounded and realistic as possible.
4 JoJo Rabbit
Following the success of Thor: RagnarokWaititi’s next film was risque – a coming-of-age comedy-drama set in Nazi Germany about a young boy (and his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler) who discovers a Jewish girl hiding in the attic of their house. JoJo Rabbit is a film that would probably never be made if Taika hadn’t proven himself to be a very bankable filmmaker. Aesthetically, the film is reminiscent of Wes Anderson, but filled with Waititi’s wit, charm, and signature style of taking a bland situation (often from a child’s perspective) and making it fun. However, besides being just another comedy, JoJo Rabbit is also filled with plenty of heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, especially from a phenomenal Scarlett Johansson. Taika also stars in this one, this time playing the Nazi leader himself in a twisted, subversive version of Hitler that reveals what an ignorant buffoon the monster really was. The film received rave reviews, earning Waititi the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards.
3 Thor: Ragnarok
The Marvel Cinematic Universe needs no introduction at this point, as it’s essentially the biggest blockbuster franchise in cinema today. However, there was an urgent need to save the thunder god after the rather disappointing Thor: The Dark World. Enter Taika Waititi, who before that had only made a handful of local independent films in New Zealand. The iconoclastic comedic director was a ridiculous risk on the producers’ part, but who would have thought he was exactly what the franchise needed? Infusing his signature quirky humor into a mainstream cinematic formula, Thor: Ragnarok proved to be a huge hit, becoming the biggest and best of the Thor films. It balanced the action with humor perfectly, telling the story of a broken family with their world at stake as Hela, Thor’s sister, arrives to destroy Asgard. On top of that, Waititi also played a dual role as director as well as doing the motion capture and providing the voice for one of the MCU’s finest comedic reliefs, the lovable being made of rock, Korg .
2 What we do in the shadows
Widely considered one of his best works, What we do in the shadows first came to fruition in 2005 as a short film directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. The feature further expands on the idea of what it’s like to live as a vampire, or even more what vampires do behind closed doors in the mundaneness of their daily lives. This premise alone allows the comedy to flow naturally, and Clement (who shares writing and directing credits) and Waititi take every opportunity to deliver pure entertainment, never missing a beat. The film takes full advantage of its style of mockumentary making, which takes this bizarre and macabre concept into a certain realm of realism. In addition to that, What we do in the shadows was also made into a major TV series which premiered on FX in 2019.
1 Wild Peoples Hunt
Waititi’s fourth feature is a unique adventure with a lot of heart. Wilderpeople Hunt tells the story of a foster child and his newly widowed, grizzled guardian who are chased by law enforcement after running into the New Zealand bush. The movie is mostly set in the bush and focuses primarily on these two characters, so even the slightest misstep on their part would end up screwing up the whole project. Luckily, that’s not the case here as the protagonists, played by Sam Neill and a lovable and brilliant Julian Dennison, do a phenomenal job and carry the narrative to perfection. Wilderpeople Hunt is one of the best coming-of-age tales of all time, and one that makes Waititi feel like he’s perfected himself over the years since. Boy. The film was also the first to gross over NZ$1 million in its opening weekend at the New Zealand box office and perfectly combines Waititi’s penchant for comedy and action to through comforting childlike wonder.
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