Oscar 8-Ball: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Christoph Waltz, left, and Jamie Foxx play bounty hunters in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."
(Andrew Cooper / The Weinstein Co.)

Can a movie that New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick called “basically a three-hour homage to ‘Blazing Saddles’” manage to pull in a few Oscar nominations? Time to check in with the Oscar 8-Ball, that magical portal into the minds and hearts and, in the rare, applicable instance, the souls of academy members and how they’ll be voting this awards season.

Signs point to yes: “Django,” the last movie to start screening for awards consideration, could come away empty-handed, as it did with SAG voters. Or the academy could go for Tarantino’s latest over-the-top, alternative history lesson in much the same way it did for the bloody “Inglourious Basterds,” the 2009 movie that won eight nominations, including best picture. Its most solid shot appears to be for Tarantino’s audacious screenplay, which would give him a third nod for writing. Crafts recognition for sound editor Wylie Stateman, a five-time Oscar nominee, and the great Robert Richardson, who won the cinematography Oscar last year for “Hugo,” wouldn’t at all be surprising.


Ask again later: Oscar pundits penciled in Leonardo DiCaprio’s name in the supporting actor category months ago. And indeed, he brings a relish to his work as the film’s self-entitled, foppish white devil plantation owner, but many see him as the third-best player in the movie, behind Christoph Waltz’s bounty hunter and Samuel L. Jackson’s power-hungry head house slave. The SAG snub could indicate trouble. Verbal virtuoso Waltz, not DiCaprio, could be “Django’s” nominated supporting player. It’s hard to see both making it in. And the fact that there are three worthy candidates doesn’t particularly help anyone’s chances here.

Don’t count on it: Some prognosticators are leaning heavily on recent history, believing “Basterds’” best pic nomination forecasts a similar outcome for “Django.” One problem: The academy has a long track record of rewarding movies dealing with the Holocaust. Films with racial themes? Not so much. Factor in all the flying bits of brain matter, the horrifically cruel violence in the plantation scenes and the 100-plus times the N-word is dropped and you have a movie likely to alienate a significant portion of voters. One other relevant factor: The discursive “Django” simply isn’t as good as “Basterds.”



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