Hollywood’s most glamorous day is almost upon us. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates 85 years of Oscar® and while predictions on the big winners roll-in last minute, we invite you to enter own official ‘Oscar® Ballot Challenge’ by submitting your ballot online here.
Join us all week as we’ll also be revisiting Oscar’s® history, starting with this year’s nominee and past winner, Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino’s Django Unchained is nominated for five Academy Awards®, including Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz and Best Picture. Tarantino has already picked up a BAFTA and Golden Globe award in this category for Django. Previously, Tarantino was nominated for his Inglourious Basterds screenplay and won the Oscar® for writing Pulp Fiction.
Vanity Fair’s The Making of Pulp Fiction discusses a little trick played on Tarantino by his writing partner, Roger Avary as the announcement was made that Pulp won Best Screenplay.
At the Oscars®, on March 27, 1995, the award for best original screenplay was announced early in the evening. When the presenter, Anthony Hopkins, said the winners were Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, television screens went black for a moment, which Avary says was payback for pranks Tarantino had played on him in the past. “I paid off a cameraman 500 bucks to have the camera turned off on Quentin when they announced the award,” claims Avary. “So if you watch it online, you’ll see it cuts to black briefly, and then they cut to me. Gotcha.” The two former video clerks hugged onstage as Pulp Fiction’s opening-credit music boomed through the Shrine Auditorium. Avary thanked his wife and then told the audience, “I really have to take a pee right now, so I’m going to go.” Tarantino said, “I think this is probably the only award I am going to win here tonight.”
Watch the aforementioned clip.
Back to this year’s nominee, Django, Tarantino was honored at this year’s Santa Barbara Film Festival where he talked about his writing process, starting with the fact that he writes his scripts by hand, “I can’t write poetry on a computer, man!”
He said he feels more like a novelist than a screenwriter because he goes on a journey and only finds out about his characters and where they are going, as he writes – it’s not planned out. “I work in genre, so there is a bit of a roadmap,” he granted. But he also emphasized, “The journey is everything. The journey makes the destination worthwhile.”
My problem is not writer’s block, my problem is I can’t stop writing. And when you’re writing movies, that’s not the greatest problem to have. I can tend to go long…If you think it’s long when you’re looking at it, imagine me writing it! But,I trust myself. If I didn’t write in genre, all of my movies would be five hours long. Genre keeps me disciplined.
Like many writers, Tarantino, as one can imagine when his soundtracks are released, writes to music. “Seeing the movie in my head and playing the music cuts through a lot of the creative process. I imagine people who know me — who dig on me — cheering it.” As for actors improvising his script – he only makes rare exceptions.
Actors aren’t there to riff; they’re there to say my dialogue. If their riffing is genius, I’ll take credit for it! Now, there are exceptions to that. Sam[uel L.] Jackson is an exception. Sam is a terrific writer. Sam writes like I write. When Sam is writing in character, he’s writing as good as I could write in character.
Tarantino thinks Jackson’s character in Django is one of his best so far. “I think Stephen is actually one of the best characters I’ve ever written.” If that’s the case, he could be taking home another golden statue.
Do you think Tarantino will take home another Oscar® this year? Come back to our site at Midnight, submit your ballot and make sure to watch The Oscars, this Sunday, February 24 7e/4p on ABC.
Watch Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Inglourious Basterds as part of The Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection, which celebrates Tarantino’s 20 years of filmmaking. Pick up yours today.