Tarantino Is Not Campaigning for an Oscar

Tarantino and Toback at the Black Tieless Event.

Last week, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Weinstein, Christoph Waltz, and their assorted friends and admirers gathered in the fantastically opulent Upper East Side townhouse of director/rich person Katarina Otto Bernstein to pretend they were only sort of campaigning for Oscars for Inglourious Basterds. “Campaigning, I don’t know what that means!” said Tarantino, standing near the waterfall in the townhouse’s downstairs sitting room. “I just show up at these things and meet a bunch of groovy people and see people I haven’t seen in a while.” Indeed, he stuck around until the caterers packed up, talking to a key person he hadn’t seen in a while: his ex, Mira Sorvino. She had come with her tall, skinny, very un-Tarantino-like husband. We left to the fading sounds of Tarantino enthusiastically recounting to Sorvino Basterds’ entire plot: “And that’s why you don’t show up at a Nazi premiere, baby!”

Years ago, when Pulp Fiction was in the Oscars hunt, Tarantino admits he felt much more urgency to win. Of the 1995 Golden Globes, he said, “If we hadn’t won, we would have jumped the Shawshank Redemption table!” This year, he knows he won’t win Best Director and he’s fine with that. “What the fuck can I do about it?” he said, laughing. Anyway, “all the directors, we’ve become such good friends during this process, we’re not even thinking like that. James Cameron was very nice to me through my whole career. In ‘92, he saw Reservoir Dogs at the Cannes Film Festival and he took me out for an evening when I was just a nobody. It was really lovely. Kathryn [Bigelow], she’s been a hero of mine forever. And, uh, I’ve got a crush on her.”

His master campaigner patron Weinstein also concedes that Tarantino probably has no shot at Best Director. “I think Kathryn will win Best Director and Basterds wins screenplay,” he predicted. About the directing award, said Weinstein, “We don’t care. Kathryn is great. We all love her. I love her. Quentin loves her. Everyone’s attitude is it’s amazing a woman’s never won before, so it’s almost like, ‘That’s ridiculous. Let’s correct that injustice.’ And she’s so talented.”

Of the many Oscar voters present, only Amelia director Mira Nair seemed to suggest Tarantino didn’t have her vote. “The big thing for me is how long it stays with me,” she said. “I enjoyed Basterds, but The Hurt Locker stayed under my skin.” The rest, unsurprisingly, were openly prejudiced. James Toback’s voting process? “I take the people I like, see if their work is nominated, and I vote for them. Quentin is my favorite. Last year he did a great tribute at the New Beverly, which he owns — a double-bill of [my films] Exposed and Fingers — so that alone would mean I would vote for him for president, not just for an Oscar.” Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs alumnus Harvey Keitel put it more succinctly: “It’s like asking somebody, ‘Do I care more about my mother than yours?’ Probably. But I do care about your mother also. Tell Quentin I said that.”

Tarantino Is Not Campaigning for an Oscar