Quentin Tarantino, the maverick director behind Oscar-winning classics like Pulp Fiction, has won a lot of awards in his time. Probably more than he’s missed out on, but he’s still not quite mastered the noble art of failing gracefully.
Last night, at the very long, quite boring BAFTAs, Tarantino was nominated for Best Director, Best Film and Original Screenplay, while his nostalgic comedy-drama Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood was in the frame for a shedload more. In the end, Brad Pitt (who didn’t even attend) won the movie’s only BAFTA, for Best Supporting Actor, leaving Tarantino empty-handed.
To make things even worse, a camera was fixed on the filmmaker’s face during the live broadcast, just to make sure that the audience could see every moment of his loss.
Those watching at home were quick to point out how grumpy Tarantino looked about losing.
bong joon-ho laughs quentin tarantino watches angrily pic.twitter.com/nAKRnELVfA
— ????? (@thenightwindow) February 2, 2020
— Dan (@danielpope84) February 2, 2020
Quentin Tarantino’s face as Parasite wins best screenplay is worth staying up for ??… what a miserable git.
— @austennerd (@austennerd) February 2, 2020
Tarantino with a face on him like mine when I was watching Once Upon A Time In Hollywood pic.twitter.com/7jE7NuhvtB
— Prork (@Prork) February 2, 2020
— Rich Stanley (@executiverocker) February 2, 2020
— Alan Lambo Lambert (@alanlambodublin) February 2, 2020
To be fair, NME reported from the red carpet on the night and we had to be there from 3:30pm, so like us Quentin was probably just zoned out after a long day and one too many glasses of champagne. He does need to work on his ‘gracious loser’ face though – or the memes are gonna keep on rolling in.
Another thing he could do with taking a closer look at is the treatment of female characters in his movies. In Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood Margot Robbie is third-billed after Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, but Tarantino’s scenes of her character Sharon Tate are mostly dialogue-free.
When asked about the lack of speaking roles for women in the film during a press conference in Cannes, Tarantino said bluntly: “I reject your hypothesis”.
Of course, the NYC-born auteur has written a number of substantial female roles over the years, but that didn’t stop the incident from reigniting the debate around Tarantino’s portrayal of women – including regularly subjecting them to extreme violence (see the bloody ending of OUATIH and the bruised and battered Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, in The Hateful Eight).
Tarantino’s also been criticised for his decision to use rape as a catalyst for vengeance in the Kill Bill series, which sees a former assassin wreak vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her.
Critics of the film have argued that while sexual assault is worthy of in-depth exploration on screen, these types of rape and revenge films fetishise the act and use it as motivation for unabashed gore and violence. Coming from a male voice, the effect is merely exacerbated.
It didn’t help Tarantino’s case that the film’s lead, Uma Thurman, later told the New York Times that she felt like “a broken tool” during production. She would go on to detail abuses she suffered at the hands of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (the film’s executive producer), as well as “dehumanising” treatment from Tarantino involving a car crash while filming a stunt on set.
The debate continues to rage over Tarantino’s depiction of female characters, but given he’s only got one more feature left to go before he retires – Tarantino has vowed to stop after 10 films – there’s little hope of the director addressing his critics. What’s certain, though, is he has a fair amount to answer for besides resting bitch face.