In honor of Baby Driver being released, I’d like to take a moment and highlight the films of one of my favorite writer/directors working today: Edgar Wright. He’s the man behind Baby Driver, which you can find my review of here, but he’s also the cinematic mastermind that has brought some of the century’s most beloved modern classics to life. It’s those classics, along with a hidden gem, and the newly released heist thriller, that I’m going to do my best to rank in this post, according to my personal preference.
#5 The World’s End
This is probably Edgar Wright’s most underrated movie four years after its release, and that’s a shame considering that it’s an excelllent conclusion to his unofficial Cornetto trilogy. Upon its release back in 2013, it received lots of critical and audience buzz; it currently sits at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 71% audience score. Sadly, though, it has for some reason failed to maintain the cult following of its predecessors in the trilogy, which we’ll discuss later.
Of all Wright’s films, this was actually the one I revisited after watching Baby Driver. I myself had only seen it once, and remember feeling somewhat conflicted about it. Upon first viewing, this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. However, upon second viewing, I really must admit that I now see the beauty of the film. It’s a nuanced piece, making humor out of more detailed elements than Wright’s previous films. It’s also character driven, like the rest of his work; but what makes his characters interesting here is the role reversal between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Typically, in their previous endeavors with Wright, Pegg was the sharp and responsible member of the duo, while Frost was more of the bumbling idiot friend. In The World’s End, the trio takes a risk by reversing those roles and making Pegg the bumbling idiot and Frost the sharp and responsible one. I do think this role reversal is responsible for some mixed feelings that I felt upon first viewing, but from a creative standpoint and having watched the film twice now, I cannot help but commend the team for making that bold choice. It makes the movie feel like a truly fresh entry to wrap up a great, albeit unofficial, trilogy.
#4 Baby Driver
Here is where Baby Driver will sit for the time being. I’ve only seen the movie once, so there’s no reason to discount the possibility that it could climb this list upon a second viewing and beyond. Even so, Baby Driver serves as a great comeback for a filmmaker that film-fans have been missing dearly. Four years after The World’s End, and two years after having to leave Marvel’s Ant-Man, Edgar Wright returns to the camera for a truly thrilling ride with his take on a heist movie.
The characters in the movie are popping with personality, and the action sequences are astounding. While it does feel a bit plot driven at times, as opposed to character driven, it’s still a very satisfying action/crime/musical for those looking for something fresh and original in the genre. It’s only spent a week in theatres, and it’s already on its way to being Wright’s most financially successful endeavor thus far. Please do yourself, and the film industry, a favor and go see it. You’ll love the movie, and we need the business executives to green-light more movies like this.
And also, Ansel Elgort is really freaking cool.
#3 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
This entry in Wright’s filmography is a true cult-classic. Scott Pilgrim is undoubtedly his most stylized production thus far, making use of comic book-like graphics. Furthermore, it offers a career best performance from Michael Cera as the titular Scott, in a role that he seems to be born to play. What’s perhaps most commendable, though, is the fact that this feels like a movie that was unapologetically made for fans of the manga source material. Rarely are titles of any written medium adapted so faithfully, and it’s for that reason that those fans that are out there who love Scott Pilgrim will take a bullet defending this movie. And even if you’re not a fan of the manga, then you can of course respect the creativity behind Wright’s employment of zany graphics and over-the-top elements. Above all else, too, there is the fact that the movie on its own is just really freaking funny!
If you haven’t seen this one, do yourself a favor and check it out. It might weird you out at first, but if you give it a chance then you’ll certainly be glad you stayed along for the ride.
#2 Hot Fuzz
This is probably the most well-known of Wright’s films, and his most beloved. I adore this movie myself, and I do think it sees Nick Frost at his absolute best. After taking on the zombie genre, Wright and star/co-writer Simon Pegg tackle the buddy cop movie with hilarious results. This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and picking between this and my #1 Wright movie was definitely difficult. It’s hard to find anything wrong with this movie; not only are the performances pitch perfect, but the comedy is well timed and the writing is always intriguing. It’s also got some of the snappiest editing I’ve ever seen in a movie, which helps fine tune the beats of the comedic elements. Pegg and Frost have amazing chemistry together as the two buddy cops in a small British town, and their characters are as endearing as any pair of buddies working for the fuzz. Indeed, the sequel is just as good as the original with this second entry in the unofficial Cornetto trilogy!
Hot Fuzz is just awesome. While I would think most of you who read my blog have seen it, if for whatever reason you haven’t, make it one of your next viewings. I’m pretty sure it’s still streaming on Netflix!
#1 Shaun Of The Dead
This is my favorite Edgar Wright movie, the first movie in the Cornetto trilogy and the first time that Wright teamed up to write with Simon Pegg, who plays Shaun. Their take on the zombie genre is nothing short of hilarious, offering truly fresh genre filmmaking. It’s funny when it needs to be funny, but it’s also scary when it needs to be scary. Pulling off that balance is hard, but Wright and company make it look effortless. That’s mostly due to the well-written, well-realized characters created on the page. The writing is excellent, and the handling of pace and tone is a true magic trick. This is probably the funniest of Wright’s movies, for me, and it’s the one that I think about the most. It’s the most creative of his films in that it set the tone for his filmography perfectly. It’s fast-paced, stylized, hilarious, and every detail is handled with extreme precision. You can’t ask for better filmmaking than this.
Shaun Of The Dead is a true masterpiece of a debut.