I love Quentin Tarantino’s films. I think he is brilliant. In an industry where the term “artist” is thrown around way too casually, Tarantino is a genuine artist. Too often people confuse “craftsman” with “artist.” Tom Hooper is a craftsman. Tim Burton is an artist. Danny Boyle is a craftsman. Tarantino is an artist. An artist is anyone who makes a unique piece of work that conjures a world no one else can duplicate. People may try to copy artists but their works just come off as pale imitations.
Have said that, I don’t believe Tarantino will ever win the coveted Best Director Oscar (the true label of conventional cinema greatness) and here’s why:
1) HIS MOVIES ARE TOO SUCCESSFUL
Too much success tends to breed resentment amongst fellow directors. Ask Steven Spielberg (Jaws, The Color Purple). Ask Ron Howard (Cocoon, Apollo 13). They both had to endure slights and absent nominations for obviously superior work until they finally “paid their dues” and won. Christopher Nolan is going through this right now.
2) HIS FILM INSPIRATIONS ARE TOO LOW BROW
Gangster movies, martial arts movies, Blaxploitation flicks, 1970s drive in movies, B-war movies, Italian horror, and spaghetti westerns. While such films were popular in their time, they were not considered Oscar winning subject matter then and neither are Tarantino’s variations on them now.
James Cameron finally earned his Oscar by switching from popcorn movie subject matter (The Terminator, Aliens, True Lies) to something more serious like Titanic. Ditto with Spielberg and Schindler's List. Ditto for Ron Howard who finally scored with the true-life drama A Beautiful Mind.
3) HIS MOVIES ARE FUNNY WHEN THEY SHOULDN’T BEFilmwonk
More specifically, he finds humor in uncomfortable situations. His films are funny when they should be serious and serious when they should be funny. This makes some viewers (usually older, usually Academy members) uncomfortable. People don’t vote for films that make them uncomfortable.
4) HIS SUBJECTS STRIKE NERVES & MAKE PEOPLE SQUIRM
He likes to make films about things we’d rather not talk about: slavery, race relations, the Holocaust. He used that N-word in Django. He makes them because he wants us to reexamine our thoughts on them. People often don’t like to have their viewpoints questioned. They don’t like to reexamine things. They want to be entertained.
5) HIS MOVIES ARE TOO VIOLENT
Whether it is families getting machine gunned by Nazis or slaves being made to fight to the death, Tarantino’s films draw out the violence. He rubs our nose in it until we get the bloody point. Many people don’t like that. I’ve seen people walk out of Tarantino’s movies rather than endure such scenes. People don’t vote for films they walk out on.
6) HE IS TOO CAVALIER WITH HISTORY
Oscar likes its films to stick close to the facts with minor liberties taken here and there. Whether it is reimagining the ending of World War II or depicting the Ku Klux Klan years before it was formed, Tarantino often disregards historical facts for contemporary audience wish fulfillment. This works if someone is already cognizant of history but many of his admirers are historically ignorant. They actually believe this is how it was.
7) HE IS MORE FAMOUS THAN HIS MOVIESCelebrity Review
Ask Alfred Hitchcock. Ask Cecil B. DeMille. Anytime the public is more aware of the filmmaker than the films, the filmmaker doesn’t win.
8) HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T HONOR SELF-REFLEXIVE MOVIES
Ask David Lynch. Ask Ken Russell. Ask Michelangelo Antonioni. Academy voters like their dramas straight like Gandhi or Dances With Wolves or The King’s Speech. Serious yet safe. They don’t like films that question their genres or their subject matter or their audiences’ prejudices.
9) HOLLYWOOD DOESN’T REWARD ENFANT TERRIBLES
Ask Orson Welles. Ask Charlie Chaplin. Ask Peter Bogdanovich. Filmmakers who prove themselves masters of the medium at a young age do not win no matter how old they get. It’s the Salieris’ way of getting back at the Mozarts. And there are a lot more Salieris in the world than Mozarts. Getting nominated is as close as they will get.
10. HE HAS ALREADY WON
Welles won Best Original Screenplay for Citizen Kane (1941). Hitchcock took Best Picture for Rebecca (1940) – even though the statue actually went to producer David O. Selznick. That became the reasoning in later years for not voting for them. Tarantino has already won Best Original Screenplay twice for Pulp Fiction (1994) and Django Unchained (2012). The Academy can pat themselves on the back and move on. Maybe some day he’ll eventually get an Academy Honorary Award like Robert Altman or Jean-Luc Godard. But no Best Director
What do you think?
WHY THIS SONG OF THE DAY?
Because it is slicky & sexy & scary. Because it plays over the end credits of Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)