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Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” is his latest Oscar hopeful

As promised, I’m back writing again about filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s eighth cinematic outing this week. Whenever a new movie of his opens, it’s really an event, so this is no exception. Of late, Tarantino has been getting the attention of the Academy, so this is definitely a high profile release. Buzz had been steadily building for months now, with folks especially excited for the 70mm roadshow version being unveiled in select theaters. I’ve seen and dug the flick a great deal, so it’s a pleasure to be able to speak more about how good this film is. I praised Bruce Dern’s work in it a few days ago, but now I’m gushing over the whole thing, as well as speculating about its Oscar prospects.

hateful eight Kurt and Samuel
Once again, this is Tarantino’s eight film, centering on a group of less than savory characters convening on a single location, namely Minnie’s Haberdashery. There’s John Ruth (Kurt Russell), Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), and Bob (Demian Bichir), all trapped by a blizzard. Distrust turns to suspicion when murder occurs, with the plot becoming somewhat of a whodunit, before exploding into even more violence. QT writes and directs, with the cast, in addition to the aforementioned Bichir, Dern, Goggins, Jackson, Leigh, Madsen, Roth, and Russell, includes Zoë Bell, Dana Gourrier, Lee Horsley, Keith Jefferson, Gene Jones, Belinda Owino, James Parks, Craig Stark, and Channing Tatum. Robert Richardson handles the cinematography while Ennio Morricone composed the score.

What really works here for me is the sense of play that Tarantino is showing off. Is it absurdly violent? Sure, but in a cartoonish way that never goes over the edge. The filmmaker is showing that he’s a master of tension, using three hours and a confined space to make something really special. It’s brutal, funny, energetic, and unforgettable. The cast all find interesting notes to play, while the writing and directing is up there with the best that Tarantino has ever done. While I think this isn’t quite on the level of his masterpiece Pulp Fiction or Inglourious Basterds, it’s still really great, trust me. Especially in 70mm, it’s beautiful to look at too, with the aforementioned score likely the best I’ll hear this year.

Awards wise, this one definitely has a shot at nominations across the board, particularly with Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company in its corner. Campaigns are underway in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director (for Tarantino), Best Actor (for Jackson), Best Supporting Actor (for Bichir, Dern, Goggins, Madsen, Roth, and Russell), Best Supporting Actress (for Leigh), Best Original Screenplay (for Tarantino as well), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Right now, I think it’s looking good for The Hateful Eight to score citations in Picture, Supporting Actress (for Leigh), Original Screenplay (for Tarantino), Cinematography, and Original Score, with Director (also for Tarantino) potentially out there for the nominating as well.

Of course, anything is possible with Tarantino, and while Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds appealed to the Academy, aside from Pulp Fiction voters haven’t been all about QT. We’ll have to see what happens with this one, as Oscar is a fickle thing. Still, this is one of the best films of the year (right now hanging around my top dozen of 2015) and really a must see. Stay tuned to see what happens on nomination morning, but in terms of pure entertainment, you really can’t go wrong with this one, provided you’re able to stomach the violence, of course. It’s a bloody good time…

Be sure not to miss The Hateful Eight (especially if the roadshow version is available near you), in theaters tomorrow!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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