Color me surprised, but I never imagined this film would have been nominated for the top prize. Sure, it always had the potential, but even after seeing it, I wasn’t sure if the Academy would go for it and I’m a Tarantino fan. So, clearly I was elated to see it among the final nine for Best Picture, the third instance for a film directed by Tarantino. That’s pretty good given the famed director has only sat behind the camera a total of nine times in his illustrious career. Without his touch, this film would not be among this conversation, because there is simply no other writer or director that enjoys what they are doing more than Tarantino. Sure, they like it and can be good, even great at it, but Tarantino enjoys his craft in a way that the audience can’t help but respect. Sure, it’s not always perfect, but I doubt you will ever walk away from a Quentin Tarantino film thinking it was boring. And that’s what I love about him, because you can watch a film like “Django Unchained” and see it in exactly the same way he sees it. You will know what’s it about within minutes and even know what to expect, yet look forward to it all because the end result is so much fun to endure. Consequently, it’s too bad he couldn’t get his third nomination for directing with this film, as I think he more than deserved it.
Having said that, I could see Tarantino walk away with the award for Best Original Screenplay, a category that could almost be named after him given the amazing work he has showcased over the years. I mean, forget about this film or even “Inglorious Basterds” for a minute and focus on “Pulp Fiction.” To this day I doubt people realize how much this film has influenced Hollywood. So much has been taken from “Pulp Fiction” over the years, both technically and historically, that you almost need a guide to sort through it all. Dubbed as one of the greatest films of all time, it also holds the distinction of being the first independent film to earn over $100 million at the box office. Above that, countless outlets and critics have called it the most influential movie of the 90’s. I mean, this film is on so many “Best-of” lists that you can’t help but wonder how it did not win Best Picture in 1995. I know I did, and I was still in high school, so now when I look back and see what this film has meant to cinema both here and abroad, it’s a travesty it is not listed among Oscar’s best. So, if “Pulp Fiction” can’t win and beat out a film like “Forrest Gump” for Best Picture, what chances does “Django Unchained” really have this year?
Quentin Tarantino is old school with his delivery of dialogue and even action, which somehow manages to keep him unlike anyone else. In a Hollywood driven by technology, Tarantino managed to shoot this film in widescreen using 35mm film. Not many big time directors do that and for some reason, I dig that because it allows you to enjoy the movie for what it is and not get caught up with some CGI driven special effect. That’s the essence of what makes a Quentin Tarantino film his own and why a cinematographer like Robert Richardson was a perfect choice. Yeah, everyone knows western’s can breed great cinematography, but this is Tarantino, and nothing he does is ordinary. So, for Richardson to fit his style with the great director’s was a true feat, one worthy of its nod for Best Cinematography. I just don’t know if it will be enough to upset a marvel like “Life of Pi,” my pick for this category. Same could be said for its nomination for Sound Editing, which had “Life of Pi” not been in the mix, might have yielded a win given its strong western roots.
That leaves just one other category that “Django Unchained” could potentially walk away with a win. Never settling for the norm, Quentin Tarantino has always taken pride in finding unique talent for his films. I could cite one example after another, but none could compare to Tarantino’s brilliant find of Christoph Waltz, when he casted him for “Inglorious Basterds.” Here’s a guy that many probably still don’t know, but should given his endless talent. For Waltz, this is the second film with Tarantino and the second time I have been impressed. I like this guy and for some reason can’t help but think this is just all too easy for him after years on German TV before diving into movies full time in 2000. Having already won the Golden Globe Award, he could pull off an upset over a fairly stacked list of nominees. Especially when you consider how much he was in the film, making his impact so well known that you were mad when he was gone. That’s the definition of a winner in my book, so we’ll see what happens on Feb. 24th when the official envelope is opened and those famous words are uttered, “And the Oscar goes to….”
To read my full review on “Django Unchained,” click here
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