Edgar Wright is one of the best writer-directors working today.
His skill as a writer blends with outstanding visual comedy and an aptitude for explosive action to tell stories of realistic personal growth stories that engage all the elements of over-the-top popcorn movies. All of his movies are worth seeing, but they are not all created equal. Here's the official ranking of his greatness.
5. The World's End (2013)
The final film in Wright's Cornetto (or Blood and Ice Cream) Trilogy with his Spaced collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, The World's End is a movie about the anxiety of lost youth. Gary King is a man perpetually clinging to his adolescent idea of himself as a rebel. He has no footing in adulthood, and the whole world seems to be changing and leaving him behind, including his best friends. What starts as a tragicomic reunion movie quickly devolves into an apocalyptic body-snatcher story that brings about growth for King but also reveals the value of the friendships he's been so desperate to revive. It's well made and consistently fun, with plenty of action and some good jokes, but the emotional core feels a bit less heartfelt than Wright's other work.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Scott Pilgrim is an ambitious film. It's based on a series of graphic novels of the same name, and it plays with the reality of its world in an attempt to fuse the realms of comic books and video games with Toronto's indie music scene. And it actually does a really good job. Wright manages to get a lot of humor out of these blurred boundaries and tells a charming story of a twenty-something learning to take responsibility for his love life. It's a really fun movie, and it would rank higher if not for some outdated race-and-sexuality-based comedy that have taken on a level of cringe in recent years.
3. Hot Fuzz (2007)
Hot Fuzz is the second entry in the Cornetto Trilogy, and the first of his films that really shows off his substantial skills as a director. A buddy cop movie about the oppressive darkness that can hide beneath the kind and tidy surface of a small town, Hot Fuzz tells the story of super-cop Sergeant Nicholas Angel being "promoted" to a sleepy country town where he'll stop making the rest of London's police-force look bad. A rigid, by-the-book authority figure, he learns to loosen up by spending time with PC Danny Butterman and uncovers a massive conspiracy to control the town of Sanford. It's a polished and deeply funny film that delivers all the action and absurd plot twists of a classic buddy cop movie with a cast of small-town characters that show off some of the weirder corners of England.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is hilarious and heartfelt. It's a buddy movie, a romantic comedy, and a horror movie all at once, and it manages to do all of those genres justice. What it lacks in the directorial polish of Wright's later work, it more than makes up for in charm, and in the genius of its writing. The number of lines that are seamlessly repeated with new meanings as the film progresses is genuinely impressive, and makes re-viewing particularly rewarding. It tells the story of the mindless slog of adult life and how it's possible to find joy and love in growing up. Shaun's relationships with his girlfriend, his mother, his step-dad, and his best friend all manage to grow and evolve as zombies take over London. The movie plays with just about every trope from zombie movies and delivers almost as many touching moments as it does laughs.
1. Baby Driver (2017)
Within the first ten minutes, you will know why Baby Driver is Edgar Wright's best movie. A heist film that follows the story of the getaway driver—a young man who just wants to pay off a debt, save up some money, and listen to some good music while driving the hell out of a car. If you don't fall in love with him as he sings along to his headphones in the first scene, then you will during the balletic drive away from the bank robbery, or else during the three-minute tracking shot that syncs his music with the world around him. And if you don't love him after that first ten minutes, you are dead inside. As the usual heist-movie twists and backstabbings play out to an unforgettable soundtrack, it actually becomes possible to forget that Kevin Spacey is a monster and Jon Hamm can't really act. People die, Baby falls in love, and in case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil the ending, but it's almost as good as the beginning. Just make sure you see it in time to catch the sequel.