Samuel L. Jackson is one of those actors who can instantly make any movie better. Even if it’s a bad movie, if it has Samuel L Jackson it’s going to be at least entertaining when he’s on-screen. The man is also a hard worker. He’s been in a ton of movies over the years, many of them ranging from good to great to masterpieces. With such a varied and eclectic selection, you’d think it would be hard to pick the best Samuel L. Jackson movie. But the truth is, there’s an unforgettable Jackson movie and performance that is just pitch-perfect in every way. The pick might be obvious, but it just feels right. There’s someone who knows how to put Samuel L. Jackson to good use better than anyone, and that person is Quentin Tarantino. Almost any Quentin Tarantino-Jackson collab could nab the number one spot, but I’ve got to go with the bad mofo himself — Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.
But first, let’s give credit where credit is due. There are plenty of awesome Jackson performances that could easily be the best Samuel L Jackson movie in someone else’s opinion. There’s his delightfully villainous turn in Kingsman: The Secret Service. He’s the badass glue that brings all the superheroes together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nick Fury. He was also one of the best parts of the (sort of underrated) Star Wars prequel trilogy as the purple lightsaber-wielding Mace Windu. And I’d be remiss to not give special mention to his unmistakable voice as Frozone in the Incredibles movies.
Regardless, could there really be another answer to take the spot as Samuel L Jackson’s best movie? Not only is Jackson’s performance one of the best parts, but the movie itself is an absolute classic and is nearly perfect all around. From the moment Jackson and John Travolta appear, you’re drawn in with their banter. Then you get the iconic scene in the apartment, which is just filled with Samuel L. Jackson quotables. He makes the scene hilarious, menacing, and suspenseful all at once. Honestly, could you imagine anyone else in the apartment scene or the diner scene at the end, for that matter? There’s simply no one else who could do that character justice quite like Jackson.
Not only is Pulp Fiction possibly the best Samuel L. Jackson movie, but it could very well be the best movie for a lot of the people involved. You could make the argument that this is John Travolta’s best movie. You could probably make the same argument for Bruce Willis too. If you don’t like the Kill Bill movies, you could say it’s Uma Thurman’s best. You could even make the argument that it’s Quentin Tarantino’s best screenplay and directing effort. That’s because Pulp Fiction is a pretty much perfect package. You get seemingly unrelated stories that all connect. You get hilarious and vulgar Tarantino dialogue. You get great performances from some of Tarantino’s go-to actors like Jackson and Uma Thurman. Even the Academy Awards agree, awarding it the win for Best Screenplay. Not to mention all the nominations it received for Best Picture, Best Actor for John Travolta, Best Supporting Actor for Jackson, Best Supporting Actress for Uma Thurman, Best Director, and Best Editing. While Jackson lost out on his trophy to Martin Landau, he could have easily walked away with the win that year and no one would have batted an eye.
Some movies just stand the test of time and Pulp Fiction is one of them. Many people are more than comfortable putting the film up near the top of their best movies of all-time lists. And not to take anything away from the script, the direction, or the rest of the performances, but Pulp Fiction would just not be on the same level if it wasn’t for Samuel L Jackson. Just look at Rotten Tomatoes to see the rare sight of critics and audiences being in near-universal agreement. Just type in ‘pulp fiction’ on YouTube and see how many of the results are scenes with Jackson in them, despite the fact he’s a supporting character. In short, Pulp Fiction is Jackson playing a role in only the way that Jackson can. And that’s why it’s the best Samuel L. Jackson movie of all time.