Director: Quentin Tarantino
Nominated: Best Supporting Actor; Best Original Screenplay; Best Picture; Cinematography; Sound Editing
I’ve found with Tarantino that you either love him or you hate him … he’s very much a Marmite person. I happen to love him and hold his early work to be some of the best films made. And Django sees him starting to return to that brilliance. I say starting because while it’s an excellent film I found that it was still missing that spark of brilliance he had in Pulp Fiction (1994) and Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Jamie Foxx is awesome as the eponymous Django (the d is silent!) cutting a mean yet sophisticated figure of a freed slave. He is, as Schultz says, a natural at the bounty hunter business that becomes his means to rescuing his wife, Broomhilda, played by the stunning Kerry Washington. A man of few words but when he does use them he uses them to full effect, managing to talk his way out of almost anything.
Samuel L. Jackson is back on form – he does his best work with Tarantino (with the exception of Nick Fury) – and hysterical as the cantankerous Stephen. He has a very unusual relationship with his owner, Candie, which makes the film all the more interesting to watch. It’s almost as if he has forgotten that he himself is black, and for the most part is treated almost as an equal with Candie listening to his advice and observations.
On the subject of Candie it’s yet another outstanding performance by Leonardo DiCaprio in a career packed with such performances. He’s sumptuous in his affluent lifestyle and slightly eccentric mannerisms but then all the best wealthy people have a bit of insanity in their personalities. DiCaprio is definitely getting better with age.
Christophe Waltz is another actor who does his best work under Tarantino’s guidance. His character, the fast-talking bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz, is the one that is most like Tarantino himself. A brilliant performance and definitely worthy of his nomination. I like the fact that he has a very different outlook to every one else in the era and sees Django as an equal rather than a slave. He frees Django and actually treats him as a freed man, doing everything in his power to help Django on his quest to free Hildie.
The film was a bit on the long side for me but packed full of all the things that make Tarantino’s films instantly recognisable … particularly a very dialogue heavy script delivered in a fast paced, almost frenetic manner. And for all his reputation for creating violent films I didn’t find this one so bad. I think the fact that the blood and wounds were so exaggerated lessened the credibility of the violence. I mean you literally had bodies exploding in blood from gunshots, not the most realistic of his films. I still find the infamous ear-cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs more disturbing to watch then this was. I really enjoyed Django Unchained and love the fact that Tarantino appears to be on the track to recreating the genius of his early films.