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Sean Baker Films Ranked From Worst to Best

Stills from Tangerine, The Florida Project and Red Baker, three of the most recent films by Sean Baker

Sean Baker has one of the most impressive filmographies: here’s a list of the director’s most recent films, ranked from worst to best.

There are very few filmmakers that produce interesting independent films like Sean Baker. He is known for having an eye for casting unknowns who give brilliant performances in almost all his movies, and you can see Baker’s development as a filmmaker throughout his filmography. Every time he has a film come out, there is always a sense of anticipation because, ever since the 2010s, every feature he’s directed has always been impressive. Sean Baker’s movies usually provide a look into an underrepresented community, from the transgender sex workers of LA to the kids on the outskirts of Orlando, and feature authentic characters and worldbuilding that make the experience highly immersive. With his most recent film, Anora, set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, here is our list of Sean Baker’s most recent films, ranked from worst to best!

4. Starlet (2012)

A young blonde woman smiles at an old lady with her hands clasped next to her face in Tangerine, one of the most recent films by Sean Baker ranked from worst to best
Sean Baker Films Ranked From Worst to Best – Starlet (Augusta Quirk / © Music Box Films)

Starlet is a buddy comedy that we have seen plenty of times before, but it is still worth a watch because we can see Baker developing his directing trademarks. This film follows a 21 year old named Jane (Dree Hemingway) who sparks up a friendship with an elderly woman (Besedka Johnson) after she is sold a vase with ten thousand dollars in it. Baker typically edits his own films and his comedic timing is best utilized here. There are scenes where he cuts to certain characters for reaction shots unexpectedly, and every time it happens, I laugh. Both Hemingway and Johnson have amazing chemistry and elevate a screenplay that isn’t nearly as original as Baker’s other films. While this isn’t masterpiece territory, like the other movies on this list, it is still an essential watch in his filmography. 

3. Red Rocket (2021)

Red Rocket Review: An Unwanted Homecoming – Loud and Clear
Starring Simon Rex, Red Rocket follows a charismatic, self-obsessed porn star and his attempts to put his life together.

Having a film like Red Rocket in the bottom half of a ranked list is a testament to how strong of a filmmaker Sean Baker is. Baker’s most recent movie follows ex-porn star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex, of The Sweet East) who returns to his hometown Texas City, Texas to reunite with his ex-wife (Bree Elrod). Right when things seem to be going smoothly for them, Mikey meets Strawberry (Suzanna Son), a teenager who works as a cashier, and immediately attempts to seduce her.

Simon Rex easily gives one of the best performances of the 2020s so far. Mikey is written as such a despicable character, but Rex plays him in such an innocent and well meaning manner, making every scene such a fascinating watch. Even though the over two hour run time is a little long, there is really nothing worth taking out, because the world building of Texas City is so inviting, you’re captivated the whole time.

2. Tangerine (2015)

The outline of two girls is dark against a sunset in a city in the movie Tangerine, one of the most recent films by Sean Baker ranked from worst to best
Sean Baker Films Ranked From Worst to Best – Tangerine (Picasa)

Filmed on an iPhone, Tangerine is an unforgettable watch. It follows Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) on their night long adventure across Los Angeles to figure out if one of their pimp boyfriends is cheating. The film is just as chaotic as it sounds, in all the best ways. Tangerine is the funniest of Sean Baker’s movies because there are so many fun characters we interact with in under an hour and a half that there is no time to fully understand what is going on. You just laugh, and the film moves on. The intensity of Tangerine can at times be compared to Uncut Gems, which can be slightly too much, but there is really not much to dislike about the film. 

1. The Florida Project (2017)

The Florida Project: Film Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
The Florida Project follows six-year-old Moonee, her friends, and her mother, as they all navigate living in a careless yet colourful world.

Ever since I first saw The Florida Project for class in college, it has been one of my favorite films of all time. Cinema has the power to both inform and entertain, and this movie does both exceptionally well. Telling the story of a six year old named Moone (Brooklynn Prince) who is having the time of her life in a low income area of Orlando, Florida, Baker is able to show one of the most emphatic portraits of this socioeconomic demographic in film history. Every performance, from Brooklynn Prince to Willem Dafoe, who plays the apartment manager of the motel Moone lives at, is picture perfect, and the heartbreaking ending is sure to touch the heart of anyone who watches. It will be nearly impossible for Sean Baker to top The Florida Project, but I will surely be watching every new movie of his just in case. 

Sean Baker’s Anora will have its World Premiere at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

2024 Cannes Film Festival: 20 Films to Watch – Loud And Clear
Loud and Clear’s list of 20 films to watch at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, from anticipated movies to promising premieres and indie gems!
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