Five Must-Watch Movies For Anyone New To Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is a New Zealand filmmaker, actor, and comedian. He has received several accolades throughout his career, including six Academy Award nominations, and won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2020 Academy Awards and 2020 BAFTAs for his film Jojo Rabbit. He also won a Grammy Award for producing the soundtrack of the said film. The filmmaker was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance as the voice of IG-11, in the television series The Mandalorian. Waititi’s films have a distinct style usually combining comedy and tragedy. The Take published an article describing Waititi’s filmmaking style and shared, “His films, often regional slices of life, are primarily characterized by a veneration of nature and indigenous culture, a sense of longing for companionship, and an affection for innocence. It’s through this commitment to tone and style that Waititi has begun to construct a solid filmography of consistent quality.” If you’re new to Taika Waititi’s work, we encourage you to start watching his films. To help you, here are five of his movies that we highly recommend.

Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 comedy-drama film adapted from Christine Leunens’s book Caging Skies. The film follows the story of ten-year-old German boy Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, played by Roman Griffin Davis, who is a member of the Hitler Youth Camp and has Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend, played by Waititi himself. When Jojo finds out that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish teenage girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their house, he starts to question his loyalty and patriotic ideals. The film also stars Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, and Alfie Allen. Jojo Rabbit won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards. The film also won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival and was chosen as one of the ten best films of the year by the American Film Institute and National Board of Review. According to an article published by The Guardian, Waititi described Jojo Rabbit as a “strange art comedy” that wanders into “dangerous waters.” Rolling Stone reviewed the film and wrote, “But it’s in the small moments that Jojo Rabbit achieves its greatest impact. Waititi’s faith in the notion that a child will lead us out of ignorance may be naïve. It’s also deeply affecting.”

Boy

Taika Waititi’s film Boy is a 2010 New Zealand comedy-drama film set in the 1980s when Michael Jackson was taking over the world by storm. The film follows “Boy,” played by James Rolleston, living with his brother Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and his cousins. Boy idolizes Michael Jackson and his father who has been away for several years, and who he imagines to be a great adventurer. His father, played by Taika Waititi, comes home and the boy realizes that he is far from what he imagined. The coming-of-age film became the highest-grossing New Zealand film at the local box office and gained several awards and nominations including Best Feature Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay at the New Zealand Film and TV Awards, Best International Feature Film at the AFI Fest Audience Award, and Best Feature Film at the Sydney Film Festival Audience Award. The Guardian reviewed the film and wrote, “It’s heartbreakingly sad watching Boy’s illusions shatter as he begins to see his father for the cringeworthy immature man-child he is. And with a level of emotional realness missing from most quirky indie comedies, Waititi lets in the thought that, in this deprived rural community, a promising kid like Boy might grow up to be a man like his dad. A tender and funny film; it deserves to be seen.”

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a 2016 New Zealand adventure comedy-drama film based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. The film was produced by Carthew Neal, Leanne Saunders, Matt Noonan, and Waititi. The film centers on the relationship of Hector, played by Sam Neil, and his foster son Ricky Baker, played by Julian Denniso, who has appeared in Deadpool 2 and Godzilla vs. Kong after his lead role in the film. Ricky runs away to the New Zealand wilderness and Hector searches for him and finds him. However, the two get stranded when Hector gets injured. Their disappearance is misunderstood by the authorities and turns into a manhunt for the duo in the wilderness. Hunt for the Wilderpeople has received critical acclaim, especially for Neil and Dennison’s performance. New York Times published their review of the film and wrote, “Charming and funny, it is a drama masquerading as a comedy about an unloved boy whom nobody wants until someone says, Yes, I’ll love him. Much of the humor comes from the child, who’s at once a pip and a gloriously expressive ambassador for the director Taika Waititi’s clear-eyed take on human nature and movies.”

What We Do In The Shadows

The 2014 New Zealand mockumentary horror comedy film What We Do in the Shadows was written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi and they both star in the film. The main cast also includes Jonathan Brugh, Ben Fransham, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford, and Jackie van Beek. The film is set in modern times and follows the everyday lives of a group of vampires living together in a flat in Wellington and how they show a newly turned vampire the life of being undead. In 2019, an American television series spinoff with the same title was developed with Clement, Waititi, Scott Rudin, Paul Simms, Garrett Basch, and Eli Bush as executive producers. In The Guardian’s review, they hailed the film as the “best comedy of the year” and wrote, “The rigor with which their hideous and crepuscular world is imagined, combined with the continuous flow of top-quality gags, makes this a treat from first to last.”

Thor: Ragnarok

In 2017, Taika Waititi joined Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures to direct Thor: Ragnarok. The screenplay of the film was written by Eric Pearson together with Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s writing teams. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. The film follows Thor imprisoned on the planet Sakaar away from his home Asgard. He finds himself in a gladiator contest where he faces his fellow Avenger, Hulk, as his opponent and he must race back to his home to prevent the destruction of his world (Ragnarok) by the ruthless Hela. The film became the highest-grossing film of the Thor trilogy and the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2017. Vox praised the film in their article saying, “It’s the first Thor movie that will make you want to see more Thor movies because it’s the first Thor movie with an idea of what makes its titular hero worth rooting for.”

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