Today! Because if I don’t pick up this phone right here, you may very well get all four, and if you get all four, you’ll end the war – tonight –
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x4)
Starring Brad Pitt (x3), Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz (x2), Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender (x2), Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl (x2), B.J. Novak, Mike Myers (x2), Til Schweiger, Gedeon Burkhard, Jacky Ido, Omar Doom, Denis Menochet, Julie Dreyfus, Martin Wuttke, Lea Seydoux (x3), Samuel L. Jackson (x9)
Every Tarantino movie is an event, but Inglourious Basterds was something special. It was his first full length movie in five years – skipping the whole gimmicky Grindhouse thing, which was fine. I mean, come on, you don’t count Four Rooms when jumping from Pulp Fiction to Jackie Brown, do you? Of course not! So it had been since the second part of Kill Bill in 2004 – the rare Tarantino film that didn’t make this list – and this one was coming in a summer. How weird was that? Figure, Quentin hadn’t had a film with serious awards attention since ’94, so to take this movie out of the season for statues and drop it into August – that had to be something else, right? And man, it was.
Now, some issue is taken with the ending – twisting history to reform the universe of his films – but I’m kinda fine with it. Sure, if the world’s greatest villain was killed at the picture show, maybe the whole world would become pop culture/movie obsessed. It’s possible, I guess. But obviously I don’t believe this was planned – I rarely buy that filmmakers or television scribes have super long term visions for things (get fucked, Lost!) – but I guess ending WWII in this hyper chaotic theater inferno massacre can sort of fit an overall plan for his movies. I don’t buy it, necessarily, but there’s nothing ostensibly wrong with it. These theories just don’t really interest me. The internet is terrible.
But why not come up with a fictional end for Hitler? I mean, you’re already introducing wildly fictionalized events into the most chronicled war ever – what’s the harm in rewriting the ending? At least it didn’t open the door for some sort of alternate future where everyone is speaking German in Reservoir Dogs, right? That would’ve been confusing! Plus it’s entertaining and satisfying, in terms of the film and world history. We didn’t get true Hitler comeuppance in real life, and so were making due with that pineapple part of Little Nicky all these years, until Inglourious Basterds.
This movie is also responsible to introducing to the world at large not only Oscar winner Christoph Waltz – playing the best malevolent Nazi since Ralph Fiennes’ Amon Goeth – but also future Magneto Michael Fassbender, future Alienist Daniel Bruhl, and to the acting talents of horror director turned awesome Bear Jew – film MVP Eli Roth!
And this is not a film lacking for MVPs – from Til Schweiger’s dynamite Basterd Hugo Stiglitz to the avenging angel herself, Melanie Laurent’s Shosanna – but Donny Donowitz nearly steals the whole game as the baseball bat wielding destroyer of Nazis. It’s gruesomely over the top at times, but come on, it’s a Tarantino movie, and I would argue the last really great one we’ve gotten, as of this writing. As much as I like Django Unchained – the ending is almost equal to this in total chaos – and The Hateful Eight – hugely underrated, but sure, its got issues – neither are what I’d describe as great great. But you’ve seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, right? It didn’t get delayed? Is it awesome? Probably, right?
Tarantino becomes the 14th Four-Timer director, following #252 Reservoir Dogs, #131 Jackie Brown, and #96 Django, for this, his second film up for Best Picture at the Oscars. It picked up eight nominations in total, including directing, screenplay, cinematography, and film editing, but only won for Waltz, roundly beaten out in the other categories by Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Still, it clawed its way to the top of the heap on this list for 2009 – that’s right, #72 brings down the curtain on the eleven-film pack from ’09. Way to go, Inglourious!
We also finally have our first Nine-Timer! Sure, Sam Jackson isn’t on screen in Inglourious Basterds, but he does get in a brief shot of narration, which is more than enough to qualify on the acting side. Nine! It’s about time! But can he win the whole thing come September? Stay tuned to find out!