Rian Johnson is one of the iconic filmmakers of his generation, and he has already established his reputation as an intelligent and original voice, while paving the way for future success. Johnson has worked on projects that vary wildly in budget, genre, and tone. Whether he’s working on a microbudget indie neo-noir or in the galaxy far, far away, Johnson has the wit and genre recognition that makes his stories all the more exciting.
In fact, some of Johnson’s best work has been on the small screen, as he contributed to some of the most memorable episodes of all time. breaking Bad. After Season 3’s ambitious “Fly” and Season 5’s existential “Fifty-One” episode, Johnson premiered one of the final episodes with “Ozymandias.” Hailed for its emotional devastation and inventive structure, “Ozymandias” is among the show’s best episodes, if not its crowning glory. It is also directed to burrows and several music videos.
Johnson’s six feature films are all fully formed narratives worth watching, and he won’t be slowing down any time soon. A Knives out 3 is already under construction. Here are Rian Johnson’s six films, ranked from best to best.
6. The Bloom Brothers (2008)
Johnson’s second film The Bloom Brothers is certainly a smart and engaging caper adventure that comes with kinetic pacing and rapid-fire one-liners, but it’s perhaps the only film in Johnson’s filmography that feels a little too smart for its own good. . It’s not that Johnson doesn’t realize the twists, as with most caper movies it’s more about the journey than the reveal, but as the story progresses it becomes harder to follow. At a time, The Bloom Brothers is inherently about performance and plasticity, so maybe the fact that it doesn’t come together completely is a bit of execution on Johnson’s part.
The story centers on the rogue brothers Stephen (Marc Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrian Brody), who carry out an elaborate scheme to steal the fortune of wealthy heiress Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz), who ends up joining their crew. While their misadventures and elaborate heists are enjoyable, the film is kept afloat by the tumultuous family disputes at the center, as Bloom desperately pleads with her brother to take everything seriously and give her a straight answer. This meditation on the conflict between sincerity and personality gives substance to the adventure.
5. At Knives Out (2019)
Knives out is a thriller made by someone who loves thrillers. Although it deals with modern themes of inflated cynicism and the self-importantness of the very wealthy, everything about the execution and delivery is wonderfully classic. The influences are in the text itself, as the story centers on the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plumer), which lets the film play out as a loving tribute to Agatha Christieliterature of the time. Daniel CraigBenoit Blanc is both a wackier and more sensitive version of Poirot, showing once again that outside of the 007 series, Craig can bring character actor specificity to his starring roles.
Can’t say enough good words about the set, and it’s rare for the actors to be so naturally attuned to the material. Does the stacked cast of Hollywood heavy hitters make the dialogue even funnier, or are they just mimicking the brilliance of Johnson’s script? As the execution and danger keep the pace relentless, there’s a sense of optimism and warmth at the heart of Knives out. Blanc is a kind-hearted and unassuming detective, and Ana de Armas‘ Amazing job as Harlan’s trusty nurse Marta Cabrera gets justice in the most perfect closing shot imaginable. So why Knives out rank so low? Perhaps it’s wrapped up so satisfyingly, whereas the first four are more ambiguous in what they leave the viewer to chew on.
4. Glass Onion: A Mystery at Daggers Drawn (2022)
Unsurprisingly, the success of Knives out inspired Johnson to return to the material with a new mystery involving Benoit Blanc. Netflix had full confidence in its vision and committed to producing a second and third installment. What is interesting Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads is that it’s not a traditional sequel; rather than exploring an already solved mystery, the film simply shows another fun case for Blanc to solve. That doesn’t discredit the first film’s perfect ending, and the central mystery itself is more satisfying. Blanc is invited by ambitious tech giant Miles Bron (Edward Norton) to solve the case of his own murder.
The first one Knives out spent a lot of time flipping tropes in crime movies, and Glass Onion continues the film’s social commentary. Beyond the focus on wealth disparity, the film touches on canceled culture, social media, influencers, and creative license. This comment is incorporated more subtly, but it gives White a sense of righteous anger that suits his character. At 139 minutes, it simply flies without any dull moments. It’s full of twists, flashbacks, events told from multiple angles, and utterly delightful unexpected cameos.
Johnson understands why Blanc is so beloved. Unlike other famous detectives, he is neither pretentious nor cold. Craig’s inherent warmth and hilarious accent is even more delightful, and he shows more of the warmth he shared with Marta in the first film. While Johnson has proven with The Last Jedi that it could subvert our expectations for a star wars film, Glass Onion showed that he was even capable of turning the world he created upside down. While the public won’t want to wait too long to see Knives out 3, Glass Onion deserves to be revisited and analyzed to explore its latent details.
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the only follow-up to the original trilogy that really engages with The Force’s thematic subtext in a compelling way. It’s a less plot-driven tale than any other entry in the series, and while there are plenty of thoughtful subplots in Johnson’s story, Rey’s dichotomy (daisy ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is most engaging with its theme of balance. Kylo Ren is a skillfully written antagonist; Behind the mask there is no pure rage, but the spirit of a frightened child who has never been able to cope with his traumatic experiences and the high expectations placed at his feet.
The Last Jedi is also the most visually beautiful installment of the saga, featuring superb Kodak 60mm and 35mm from Johnson’s regular collaborator Steve Yedlin. The planets of Crait, Ach-To and Canto Bight are designed with a creative mix of practical and digital effects, and Johnson’s take on lightsaber duels combines the raw energy of the classic trilogy with the fluid formal elegance of prequels. The holographic image and the sacrifice of Luke Skywalker (Marc Hamil) is a brilliant reimagining of Yoda’s teachings that deftly ends the film on an ambiguous but hopeful note.
2. Looper (2012)
looper is one of the most original sci-fi films of the 21st century, and while there’s a hint of Johnson’s passion for playing with familiar genre elements through his new take on science neo-noir -fiction, it looks completely new. It’s not just an inventive use of time travel that Johnson is playing with, but a fun spin on watching parallel timelines sync up and twist. The global construction of looperThe world of futuristic tracking images and telekinetic powers is conveyed to the audience solely by how it affects Joe’s character (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and its eldest (Bruce Willis).
The themes of destiny, regret and redemption are heavy and receive the frank discussions which looper a, but on a visceral level, it’s simply an exciting action movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on one of the darkest roles of his entire career, and Bruce Willis actually seems awake and gives one of his few great performances of the 2010s. mystery behind the identity of the “Rainmaker” are compelling and lead to serious moral dilemmas. An original, ambitious sci-fi film with a studio budget worth praising no matter what, but looper asserts itself as a future classic.
1. Brick (2005)
Johnson first wrote the screenplay for his directorial debut in 1997 and tried to present it for seven years without interest. Gathering a small budget, he speculated that all you needed was a good script and a bit of creativity. After all of his box office successes and the hefty budgets thrown at his feet, nothing can top the ingenuity Johnson has shown in Brick. The reinvention of hard-core detective cinema brilliantly re-contextualizes gender archetypes within a Los Angeles high school. Instead of social classes there are school clubs, instead of a stern police sergeant there is an opinionated assistant principal, instead of a femme fatale there is an illustrious theater girl, and at the instead of private detectives, there is the lonely teenager Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
This symmetry may seem like the basis of a parody, but there is nothing satirical about it. Brick, which takes mystery issues very seriously. The meditative dialogue doesn’t feel incongruous with the teenage characters, and Johnson’s narrative structure incorporates flashbacks and exposition appropriately. There’s also a creative nastiness to the film’s gritty cinematography with raw violence. An inspirational work for budding directors that remains one of the strongest modern neo-noirs, Brick is still Johnson’s crowning glory.