Taika Waititi Films Ranked

Over two decades, much thanks to the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, New Zealand has become a buzzing hive of filmmaking activity. This relatively small and out of the way film industry might boast only a few internationally known A-list directors, but these have made a massive impact on film culture far beyond their island chain. Jane Campion, Peter Jackson, Andrew Niccol and of course Taika Waititi immediately spring to mind as the most influential and iconic filmmakers of the bunch, and it is the latter’s films that will be ranked in this list.

After making his start in comedy and theatre as a performer, Waititi first stepped behind the camera directing short films (including the Oscar-nominated Two Cars, One Night and a trial run of What We Do in the Shadows) before HBO musical sitcom ‘Flight of the Conchords’ came along, friend and co-lead Jemaine Clement enlisting him to direct 4 episodes. As a writer-director he quickly became known for his distinctive, deadpan Kiwi comic chops, wacky characters, and making a feature of the absurdity found in mundane situations, particularly those found in strained family settings. 

With eight features to his name and many more varied films and TV series in his immediate future, not to mention acting in most of his own films and memorably appearing in the projects of his closest collaborators, Waititi has been one of busiest men and hardest workers in film anywhere in the world for over a decade. In this edition of Ranked, we here at The Film Magazine are judging each of Taika Waititi’s feature directorial efforts from worst to best, based on critical consensus, connection with audiences, and uniqueness of voice. These are the Taika Waititi Films Ranked.

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8. Next Goal Wins (2023)

Next Goal Wins Review

Its heart is in the right place, but you have to have a pretty high tolerance for Waititi’s eccentricities and penchant for colourful extended cameos in his own movies to get through this one.

Adapted from the award-winning 2014 documentary of the same name, we follow the trials and tribulations of the worst international football team in the world, American Samoa, as they attempt to qualify for the World Cup or at the very least score a single goal under the tutelage of short-tempered European coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender).

The main question you have to ask is: in a world where the documentary exists, why did we need the feature film? It’s the same story but with more dramatic licence taken and many more sports movie clichés. The largely Polynesian cast are solid, the self-deprecating humour mostly works and there are a few pleasingly feel-good moments, but this was still a completely unnecessary, totally wonky exercise that is probably best forgotten among Waititi’s filmography.

7. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

Thor: Love and Thunder Review

Thor: Love and Thunder brings the jokes and some pleasing rom-com elements but doesn’t quite strike the difficult tonal balance that Ragnarok did overall, and is far more inconsistent with its thrills.

Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is called back from his carefree adventuring to put a stop to Gorr the God-Butcher (Christian Bale) doing what his name says he will, with the unexpected help of ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) now battling cancer and empowered as the Mighty Thor.

Love and Thunder does right by some characters and criminally eclipses others. The film unfairly splits its time between the previous instalment’s standouts, with comic relief Korg (Waititit) given unnecessary prominence and Tessa Thompson’s far more interesting Valkyrie largely pushed to the background. Thankfully Portman and Bale’s striking performances, Russell Crowe chewing scenery as Zeus, and a few standout set pieces (notably the black-and-white Shadow Realm battle), still make this worth a look.

Recommended for you: Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains Ranked

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