Before Midnight, Gravity, The Conjuring, The Lone Ranger. One of these things is unequivocally not like the others, but each share the honor of being deigned a high point in 2013 cinema by none other than Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino, whose "best movies of 2013 so far" list has nearly everyone on the Internet scratching their heads in unified mystification - if only for the out-of-left-field choices that are his signature.
For a man who has built his career on pastiche and homage, Tarantino nonetheless marches to the beat of his own drum; nobody, then, should be surprised when he puts overlooked, unexpected, or flat-out reviled movies on his top tens. Back in 2011, he ranked The Three Musketeers alongside films like The Artist, The Skin I Live In, Midnight In Paris, and Moneyball, while 2010 saw Tangled and Kick-Ass (the sequel to which also pulled a spot on Tarantino's current collation for 2013) on-level with The Social Network, Enter the Void, and True Grit.
So this new list is basically par for the course for QT, but at the same time The Lone Ranger feels like a film that belongs in a league of its own in terms of negative hubbub; few tentpole studio releases in the last couple of years have been taken to the woodshed by critics with quite the same fervor as Gore Verbinski's take on the Western pulp hero. One wonders what QT sees in it that others didn't. For reference, the full list - presented by The Quentin Tarantino Archives - can be seen below in all of its alphabetized glory:
1. Afternoon Delight (Jill Soloway)
2. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
3. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen)
4. The Conjuring (James Wan)
5. Drinking Buddies (Joe Swanberg)
6. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
7. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
8. Kick Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow)
9. The Lone Ranger (Gore Verbinski)
10. This Is The End (Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg)
Ignoring the presence of The Lone Ranger and the disappointing Kick-Ass 2, that's actually a pretty strong list of contenders in a release year littered with great movies. (One could put together an entirely different top ten list with absolutely zero overlap with any of the movies mentioned above.) Gravity (now a record-setter as of this weekend) and Blue Jasmine in particular are already enjoying a surplus of awards season buzz, while Frances Ha earned the privilege of being picked up for home release by Criterion. The Conjuring, on the other hand, is easily the best-received and most successful horror film of the year.
All of this presents a strong pedigree to stack The Lone Ranger and Kick-Ass 2 against, so there's a lingering curiosity regarding what QT found so compelling about them. At a glance, they both speak to the sort of exploitative, genre-driven cinema that Tarantino is drawn to as a movie geek and as a filmmaker; perhaps that's all the explanation anyone need - though it's certainly the best we'll get as Tarantino doesn't tend to wax eloquent about these sort of things.
What do you think of his list, Screen Ranters? Did he get it right? Did The Lone Ranger get railroaded by overeager critics, much as the cast and crew of the film believe? Is he just trolling us all? Has he overlooked too many good films - like The World's End, by pal Edgar Wright, and Machete Kills, by occasional collaborator Robert Rodriguez - for this list to stick? It's possible he'll change the whole thing around again come December, but for now this is what we've got; fire away in the comments section!
Source: The Quentin Tarantino Archives