Edgar Wright has been making movies for almost 30 years, starting way back in 1995 with A Fistful of Fingersand most recently, with 2021’s Last Night in Soho. Spanning action, comedy, rom-zom, sci-fi, and horror, the British filmmaker has honed a style that has garnered plaudits around the world.
In the lead-up to the Netflix animated series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (in which Wright is acting as executive producer), we thought what better time to discuss the highs and lows of the filmmaker’s career… not that there are many of the latter. This will take into account all seven movies directed by Wright, so don’t expect The Adventures of Tintin, Spaced, or The Sparks Brothers documentary to appear.
Of course, this is just one writer’s opinion, not a definitive ranking that will be chiseled onto Mount Rushmore for all eternity. Try not to take it too seriously. After all, it’s just a bit of fun. With that out that way, let’s rank every Edgar Wright movie from worst to best.
7. A Fistful of Fingers
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Out of every movie on this list, A Fistful of Fingers is the one you will probably never have heard of. Made in 1995 on a budget of $15,000, this was Wright’s first feature-length debut about a cowboy seeking revenge for a bandit who kills his trustee horse.
There’s plenty of comedy potential in this British Western spoof of Sergio Leone films, it’s just the pacing is all over the place (at only 78 minutes runtime too) alongside the woeful acting that is hard to get past. Aside from that, for a first-time directional straight out of school, it’s a valiant effort. The full movie is now available to watch on YouTube.
6. The World’s End (2013)
The final entry in the beloved Cornetto Trilogy saw Simon Pegg and Wright partner once again for The World’s End. The setup? Five friends reunite in their hometown in an attempt to complete a pub crawl they failed 23 years earlier, only for an alien invasion to suddenly take place. It has all the hallmarks of what helped the director find success: a solid cast, clever social commentary, heartfelt moments surrounded by layers of comedy – and yet, not everything comes together as it should on paper.
Maybe it’s the switching of personas by having Pegg as the unlikable aloof and Nick Frost as the straight-edged everyman, or the serious tone that underlines the whole plot that at times makes it hard to laugh at what’s unfolding. Or maybe it’s just not as sharp as what came before and after. It’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination – in fact, it’s Pegg’s favorite of the three – it just doesn’t live up to the heights we know Wright can reach.
5. Last Night in Soho (2021)
Last Night in Soho is the latest release from the director but it’s also the lowest in terms of critical reception. It’s something we can see growing in appreciation as time goes on.
Sporting stunning cinematography of London recreated in the swinging sixties that is only matched by the gorgeous costume design and an alluring performance by The Menu‘s Anya Taylor-Joy, the psychological horror has a lot going for it. It’s in the final third that the story goes a bit off the rails and the film’s identity begins to question itself where things go wrong.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Based on the graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World presented a fresh of breath air in what is essentially a mix of a video game and superhero flick. Even though it bombed at the box office, the 2010 romantic action-comedy has deservedly earned itself a cult following to this day, now leading to a Netflix series that will see the full cast return to voice.
Headlined by Michael Cera as Scott, a 22-year-old bassist who seemingly has no issues getting a girlfriend, everything changes when Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) rolls into his life as he’s forced to battle her seven evil exes. Visually, it’s the most impressive film by Wright, offering a smorgasbord of colors, lighting, and flashy camera work that excites rather than gets in the way. It’s easy to forget the number of names involved before they made it big: Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson (The Marvels), Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Aubrey Plaza, the list goes on and on. Oh, and most importantly, Scott Pilgrim shares vital life lessons, like bread makes you fat
3. Baby Driver (2017)
Edgar Wright’s use of music is undoubtedly one of his best assets, unleashed to its full potential in 2017’s Baby Driver. Starring Ansel Elgort as an on-call getaway driver trying to get out of the game, every moment is defined by a different killer track, beginning with the cold opening use of Bellbottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. This immediately goes into title credits as our protagonist merrily jaunts down the street to the Harlem Shuffle by Bob & Earl, showcasing the brilliance of Wright as he escalates the simple into the sublime.
The action film never lets up thanks to its pacing, trademark style fast edits, and breakneck stunts that would give Tom Cruise a run for his money. We haven’t even talked about the supporting cast: Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, and Jon Bernthal are all in fine form. It’s Jamie Foxx’s psychotic Bats that steals the show, though, providing the perfect antagonist that you want to love as much as you want to hate. Baby Driver is as slick as they come.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
There are some films that just won’t die, and fans love for Shaun of the Dead embodies that better than most. And rightly so! The rom-com-zom is a hoot to this day. Set in North London, two layabouts Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Ed (Nick Frost) find themselves in the middle of a zombie invasion. What to do but go to the Winchester, have a pint, and wait for this all to blow over.
Acting as the first film in the Cornetto Trilogy, it’s laugh-out-loud, smartly written with a wonderful sense of foreshadowing while proving why its leading men have some of the best chemistry in Hollywood. It’s aged brilliantly in the almost 20 years since its debut too making it eternally rewatchable. Better yet, it somehow improves on every repeat viewing thanks to every detail being accounted for. No wonder it catapulted Wright, Pegg, and Frost to stardom.
1. Hot Fuzz (2007)
“Morning, Sergeant!” “Yarp.” “The Greater Good.” “Do feel free to spool though.” “Nobody tells me nothin.’” “A great big bushy beard!” Hot Fuzz is endlessly quotable, somehow turning a parody of action buddy cop films into one of the best comedies of the 21st century. This is not only Edgar Wright at his very best, it’s Simon Pegg and Nick Frost firing on all cylinders to create a movie so iconic that whenever a swan gets loose, the British press has a field day.
Every character is immaculately written. Whether it be Timothy Dalton’s sadistic supermarché manager Simon Skinner, Jim Broadbent’s bumbling Frank Butterworth, Oliva Coleman’s innuendo-loving Doris Thatcher or Lucy Punch’s hapless Eve Draper. There aren’t many films that have such an extensive cast and yet are so easily recognizable. Filmed in the small Somerset city of Wells, where Wright grew up, it’s only fitting that Hot Fuzz encapsulates everything that makes the man a top filmmaker.