The Great Digital Film Festival: Quentin Tarantino's 10 Greatest Female Characters
“All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.”
Quentin Tarantino took Jean-Luc Godard’s quote to heart, populating his blood-splattered films with some of the most iconic female characters in the last twenty-five years. There’s almost always a female lead or, at the very least, a villain.
Quentin's next movie, The Hateful Eight, isn't any different. Early press for the film has raved about Jennifer Jason Leigh and her performance as Daisy Domergue. So get ready for Tarantino’s eighth film with “Bang Bang” by Nancy Sinatra and a celebration of the badass babes that have defined Quentin Tarantino’s filmography.
True Romance plays as part of The Great Digital Film Festival. Click here for tickets and showtimes.
Who is Tarantino’s greatest female character?
Don't agree with our picks? Well, let's try to convince you...
10. Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) - Pulp Fiction
Amanda Plummer’s Honey Bunny is a watered down version of the Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) in Oliver Stone’s Tarantino-penned crime satire, Natural Born Killers. Honey Bunny isn’t quite as deadly or insane as Mallory, but she still deserves inclusion on this list for Pulp Fiction’s cold open in the diner.
9. Zoe (Zoë Bell) - Death Proof
Zoë Bell is the unheralded hero of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series. The fast-talking director, who initially hired the New Zealand stuntwoman as a “crash and smash” double, quickly realized that she’d be the ideal double for Uma Thurman’s fight scenes. The “Xena: Warrior Princess” stuntwoman reteamed with Tarantino for 2007’s Death Proof. In the action-exploitation film, Zoë plays herself – but a version of herself that’s being stalked by a “death-proof” stunt car driver.
8. Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) - Natural Born Killers
Mallory Knox is crazy and – even worse – she’s crazy in love. She and her husband Mickey (Woody Harrelson) travel across New Mexico Arizona, and Nevada, murdering nearly everyone they come across whilst declaring their undying devotion to one another. Natural Born Killers is considered one of the most controversial films of all-time, as it inspired a rash of “copycat” killers after the film’s release in 1994.
7. Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) - Kill Bill
After Kill Bill: Vol. 1 was released, no one would have picked The Bride as their favourite Kill Bill character. Nope. That honour most often went the mace-whipping seventeen-year-old personal bodyguard of O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) – Gogo Yubari. It takes a formidable actress to make a character wearing a schoolgirl uniform so menacing. Portrayed by Battle Royale’s Chiaki Kuriyama, Gogo is incredibly loyal, defiant, and deadly – “for what she lacks in age she makes up for in madness.”
6. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) - Pulp Fiction
Mia is the Dusty Springfield-loving second wife of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) who is addicted to cocaine and 1950s-themed restaurants. If there could only be one iconic Tarantino woman – and it’d be a close call between Mia and The Bride – she’d of course be played by Uma Thurman. With her severe bob and failed career in the “Fox Force Five,” Uma’s Mia Wallace instantly became a pop culture icon after Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.
5. Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) - True Romance
With Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette in the running – and to be honest: the clear frontrunner – for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars this year, some of the conversation has turned back on her 1993 collaboration with Tarantino and Christian Slater. Though the cult film had little-to-no Oscar chances, Arquette’s Alabama Whitman is one of those nomination snubs that your friend of a friend of a friend constantly whines about at parties. Heck, Winona Ryder was nominated that year for Little Women! Why not Arquette?
4. O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) - Kill Bill
Even though The Bride is front and centre, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is basically a love letter to the character of O-Ren Ishii. Lucy Liu’s Chinese-Japanese American assassin is the first on The Bride’s Death List, and she's arguably the hardest to kill. It takes Kiddo an entire movie to get rid of O-Ren, and she has to get through all forty-four* members of The Crazy 88 to get the privilege of slicing her head in half. The two women are so evenly matched that their final showdown is more a battle of wills than swords. The creation of O-Ren Ishii also yields one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history. Yes, we’re talking about the meeting with the heads of the Yakuza clans.
3. Shoshana Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) - Inglourious Basterds
Together, Jewish Shoshanna and Marcel (Jacky Ido), who is black, own and run Le Gamaar Cinema, and are romantically involved. An interracial relationship in the 1940s? That’s an incredibly dangerous choice – and to make things so, so much worse – they’re in Nazi-occupied France. Completely independent of Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and the Basterd’s “Operation Kino,” Shoshanna and Marcel devise a plan to burn down their beloved cinema with Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking Nazis present.
2. Pam Grier as Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) - Jackie Brown
Pam Grier is the reigning queen of Blaxploitation films – exploitation films made specifically for a black audience. Quentin Tarantino is obsessed with them. Grier was known for Blaxploitation’s more pulpy crime flicks like Foxy Brown and Coffy. Beyonce’s Foxxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember is an outright parody of these characters. Tarantino wrote and directed his own homage to Grier’s 1970s films and called it Jackie Brown. (Mike Myers isn’t in this one.)
1. Beatrix Kiddo aka The Bride (Uma Thurman) - Kill Bill
It’s almost sacrilege to have a Quentin Tarantino “Best Of” list and not have Uma Thurman’s The Bride at the top of it, so we won't do that. Cinema is sacred. We know if Tarantino wrote this list himself, The Bride/Black Mamba/Beatrix Kiddo would have taken up the entire winners’ podium. Once a member of the Deady Viper Assassination Squad, Beatrix went into early retirement in order to marry Tommy, her fiancé, and – spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.
For those not worried about spoilers, let’s just watch The Bride brutally killing people:
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