Taika Waititi’s Projects, Ranked (And Where They’re Streaming)

Taika Waititi is one of those directors who worked his way to the top of the industry after years spent working in television and the independent film circuit. Starting off writing and producing several short films, the New Zealand filmmaker would continue to climb the rungs of the entertainment world by directing and writing episodes of several popular TV series, the most notable being HBO's Flight of the Conchords.

In 2014, however, Waititi entered the public spotlight as a young, talented director to look out for in the future. Collaborating with his former Humourbeasts comedy partner Jemaine Clement, the duo released the critically acclaimed What We Do in the Shadows, a comedic mockumentary focusing on the complicated lifestyles of vampires in modern New Zealand.

Growing Popularity

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Image Credit: Paladin.

From there, Waititi would only grow in popularity, honing his skills as a filmmaker while releasing multiple critically acclaimed drama films, including Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jojo Rabbit, and newest Thor: Love and Thunder. Not limiting himself to film, the increasingly prolific Waititi has expanded to television recently, overseeing production on similarly acclaimed series like Reservation Dogs and Our Flag Means Death.

Here are all of Taika Waititi's projects (including every movie and TV show he's had a hand in developing), ranked from worst to best.

11. Eagle vs. Shark

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Image Credit: Miramax.

Eagle vs. Shark was Waititi's first film debut, starring Waititi's close friend and frequent collaborator, Jemaine Clement, and the movie's co-writer, Loren Horsley. Horsley plays a timid young woman who falls in love with a gawky, socially awkward loner (Clement), who seems more distracted by a grudge he's held against a former high school bully than he is by the woman's flirtations.

Not Much Different

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Image Credit: Miramax.

Eagle vs. Shark bears the markings of a beginner's film, containing little memorably funny or dramatic scenes that made it stand out from other, similarly-veined quirky romantic comedies of the 2000s. However, it does boast some vital elements in regards to the movie's sense of humor and intermittent emotional moments that Waititi would grow more skilled at portraying in his later films.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online.

10. Thor: Love and Thunder

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Courtesy of Marvel

Thor: Love and Thunder being so low on this list is more a testament to how great Waititi's other projects have been in the past few years than a slight against Love and Thunder itself. The fourth MCU film centered around the Asgardian god of thunder, Love and Thunder follows Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he's hunted across the universe by a galactic serial killer (Christian Bale) bent on destroying all of the gods.

Old Friends

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Courtesy of Marvel Studios

To combat this terrifying new threat, Thor reaches out to his old allies for assistance, including his best friend, Korg (Waititi), the new King of Asgard, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and his former girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

Thor: Love and Thunder was far from a bad movie, presenting an overall enjoyable, comedic adventure centered around Thor and some of the MCU‘s fan-favorite characters. However, most critics believed that the film did little to set itself apart from the earlier, arguably better Thor: Ragnarok, which many felt had a better story, pacing, and humor than this film.

Streaming on Disney+.

9. Wellington Paranormal

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Image Credit: CW.

A spin-off of the What We Do in the Shadows film, Wellington Paranormal is a TV series that follows the ineffectual New Zealand police officers (Mike Minogue and Karen O'Leary) introduced in Waititi and Clement's mockumentary comedy film.

In the series, the two police officers and their superior (Maaka Pohatu) establish a task force to investigate paranormal events in their community, ranging from demonic possessions to plant-based alien lifeforms who've landed in the rural countryside.

A Must-See

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Image Credit: CW.

For fans of either the film version or the TV adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows, Wellington Paranormal is a must-watch. It offers an equally entertaining, satirical take on numerous horror subgenres, directly riffing on The Exorcist, Signs, and dozens of other well-known horror movies.

Streaming on HBO Max and The CW.

8. Thor: Ragnarok

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Courtesy of Marvel Studios

It's fair to say he third Thor-centric MCU movie remains not only the best Thor movie, but also one of the strongest MCU movies to date. Years after the Avenger's unofficial disbandment in Civil War, Thor (Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned in an alien junk world, all the while racing against time to stop his sister, the goddess of death Hela (Cate Blanchett), from initiating the mythical Ragnarok and destroying Asgard.

Before this film, the Thor movies were considered a somewhat disappointing branch of Marvel movies, taking themselves a little too seriously and (unfortunately) tending to come across as boring as a result.

Humor Wins

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Image Credit: Marvel/Disney

With Ragnarok, though, Waititi completely reinvented the character, opting more for a more humorous approach that fans delighted in seeing. It's a movie that helped reinvigorate Thor just in time for his critical role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, with Waititi being the perfect fit for this more comedic version of the god of thunder that we see here.

Streaming on Disney+.

7. Reservation Dogs

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Image Credit: Hulu.

These past few years have proven themselves to be the most productive of Waititi's career yet, with several new shows and films attached to the New Zealand director having recently been released. One of the more notable of these was Reservation Dogs, a show co-created by Waititi that follows the lives of several Native American teenagers on a local reservation in eastern Oklahoma.

Comedy Plus Drama

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Image Credit: Hulu.

A deft blend between comedy and drama, Reservation Dogs set a ton of precedences when production began on the series in 2019. It's the first TV series composed entirely of Native American writers and directors, featuring a predominantly Native cast and production team.

Released to glowing reviews, Reservation Dogs quickly became one of Hulu's premiere series, winning and earning nominations from several prestigious awards ceremonies, including the Golden Globes, the Peabody Awards, and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Streaming on Hulu.

6. What We Do in the Shadows (TV series)

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Image Credit: FX.

When it was first announced What We Do in the Shadows was being adapted to television, viewers were unsure of what to expect. Some feared the show could never live up to the hilarity of the film, while others were excited to see the movie expanded into a longer format.

Thankfully, when the show did finally air in 2019, it proved all the naysayers wrong, presenting a humorous interpretation of the comedic vampires that stayed true to 2014's What We Do in the Shadows. Following an entirely new cast of characters, the What We Do in the Shadows TV series centers on the lives of stereotypical vampires living in New York City, told through a comedic mockumentary format.

Lots of Cameos

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Image Credit: FX.

Featuring cameos from big-name celebrities like Tilda Swinton, Dave Bautista, and even Waititi, Clement and Jonathan Brugh's characters from the original film, What We Do in the Shadows is an uproariously funny comedy series that's earned nonstop rave reviews. It's funny, authentic, and endlessly imaginative in its characters and the hilarious situations they find themselves in, perfectly recapturing the spirit of Waititi and Clement's 2014 movie.

Streaming on Hulu.

5. Our Flag Means Death

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Image Credit: HBO Max.

One of the rare shows that Waititi was involved in from an executive producing, directing, and acting standpoint, Our Flag Means Death was also one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable and forward-thinking comedies to come out this past year.

The series focuses on the “Gentleman Pirate” Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), an inexperienced buccaneer captain who left his wealthy life of luxury behind to see the world and pursue a more adventurous existence (actually based on a true story). Meeting with the notorious pirate Blackbeard (Waititi), the two nurture a close relationship as they travel the high seas, soon developing romantic feelings for one another that transcends the bounds of simple friendship.

Inclusive

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Image Credit: HBO Max.

Praised for its inclusion of the LGBT+ community, Our Flag Means Death broke down barriers upon its release to HBO Max, showcasing one of the first romances on a mainstream TV series between two male leads. It's a great comedy, but more importantly, it's a show that emphasizes representation when it comes to all walks of life.

Streaming on HBO Max.

4. Boy

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Image Credit: Paladin.

As he embarked on making his first feature in Eagle vs. Shark, Waititi also continued writing the followup to his 2004 Oscar-nominated short film, Two Cars, One Night, on the side. The creative endeavor would eventually result in his 2010 film, Boy, which received markedly better reviews than his 2007 debut.

In the mid 1980s, an 11-year-old child known simply as “Boy” (James Rolleston) spends his days idolizing Michael Jackson and daydreaming about his absent father. When his grandmother (Mavis Paenga) briefly leaves the small farm they live on to attend a funeral, Boy is surprised to find his father (Waititi) return home.

Reality

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Image Credit: Paladin.

Realizing his dad is little more than a self-serving petty criminal, Boy comes to terms with the reality of who his father is versus what his expectations were as they spend time getting to know one another.

Boy arrived in theaters and was met with glowingly positive reviews, earning multiple awards from independent film organizations and topping several critics' lists for film of the year.

Streaming on Showtime.

3. Jojo Rabbit

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Image Credit: Fox Searchlight.

Perhaps Waititi's most well-known film outside of the Thor movies, Jojo Rabbit is a period comedy/coming of age drama set in the final days of World War II. As the Allies push into Nazi-controlled Germany, a Hitler Youth cadet (Roman Griffin Davis) begins to question his pre-existing beliefs after finding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) secretly living in his attic.

A dark comedy and political satire with a heavy emphasis on the more traumatic moments of global history in the Second World War, Jojo Rabbit was a far more serious film than any Waititi had worked on previously. Sprinkled throughout, however, are elements of Waititi's trademark humor — a key example being a buffoonish interpretation of Adolf Hitler (Waititi) who serves as Jojo's imaginary best friend.

WWII

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Image Credit: Fox Searchlight.

When it's dark, it's unwaveringly dark. But it still presents a growing maturity on Waititi's part and showing his willingness to deal with more sobering subject matter as the years go by.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online.

2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Image Credit: Fox The Orchard.

An emotional meditation on family, Hunt for the Wilderpeople was Waititi's first film after his breakout success with What We Do in the Shadows — a drastically kind of film than Shadows, but one that was just as popular among critics upon its release in 2016.

Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a troubled young orphan adopted by a homely couple who live in the isolated countryside of New Zealand. When his more openly jovial foster aunt (Rima Te Wiata) passes away, Ricky's surly adoptive uncle (Sam Neill) does his best to bond and care for Ricky, only for the two to repeatedly clash, thanks to their differing personalities.

Adoption

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Image Credit: Fox The Orchard.

When child services threatens to put Ricky back up for adoption, Ricky resolves to run away, disappearing into the bush, sending his uncle on a journey to recover him and triggering a massive nation-wide manhunt to find the two.

Funny, heartfelt, and touchingly sentimental, Hunt for the Wilderpeople illustrated Waititi's ability to work with differing genres and emotions aside from strictly comedy. It's perhaps his most tender film to date, as well as one of the most criminally underrated movies of his career so far.

Streaming on Netflix, Tubi, YouTube, The Roku Channel.

1. What We Do in the Shadows

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Image Credit: Unison Films.

One of the most inventive and creative comedy films in recent memory, 2014's What We Do in the Shadows is the modern equivalent of This Is Spinal Tap — an thoroughly entertaining movie that keeps you engaged, laughing, and watching throughout.

What We Do in the Shadows follows a group of centuries-old vampires living in New Zealand, each one modeled after a famous vampire in pop culture. Presented as a documentary that offers an in-depth look at their daily lives, the film focuses on the group as they interact with each other and other supernatural beings, including rival vampires and a clique of mild-mannered werewolves.

Vampires

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Image Credit: Unison Films.

What We Do in the Shadows was an unexpectedly huge hit for filmmakers Jemaine Clement and Waititi, whose highly original spoof on vampires earned instant praise from critics. It's a movie that's almost destined to be a cult classic in the future, its success prompting a well-received spin-off series (Wellington Paranormal) and an equally popular television reboot.

Not currently streaming, but available to rent online.

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Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).