Movie: The Hateful Eight
What it’s up for: Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Score

This is the first Quentin Tarantino film I’ve actually seen. I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s the truth. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. It was quirky and complex without creating confusion.

In a post-Civil War American West, two bounty hunters (Samuel L Jackson and Kurt Russell) meet up on a snowy road with bounties in tow. One of those bounties is a woman named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), alive but in the custody of John Ruth (Russell) who intends to see her hanged. On the way, they meet Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new sheriff of the town where the hanging will take place. A blizzard descends and they get stuck in a cabin along with a slew of other suspicious characters.

I knew very little about the film going in which made it all the more interesting as the story unraveled. I’m not entirely sure why The Hateful Eight wasn’t nominated for original screenplay. But the screenplay decisions seem quite odd this year considering Steve Jobs won the Golden Globe but wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar. It had a slow pace, which apparently is a Tarantino staple, but it didn’t hinder my interest level in what was happening. I enjoyed how it was divided into chapters and the slow reveal of character development. Each character played perfectly into the overall storyline and kept things unpredictable. It felt like a classic Western, but with a smooth modern flow. It didn’t feel like a modern Western. There is a difference but it’s hard to put in to words.

The score obviously played a significant role in the Western feel of the film. It was a classic Western score…with a twist. There’s an almost seamless integration of classic score with modern music that helps keep things interesting through the slow pace of the film. Personally, I found portions of the Western themes to be grating. However, the score as a whole is effective and well-built.

The cinematography was striking and quite beautiful at times. They took advantage of the whole 70mm film thing by providing broad landscapes for the characters to travel along. Even on a projection system NOT using the 70mm film, it still felt much bigger than your average widescreen display. Certainly the most obvious effect of the cinematography was how it made the movie feel old. The outdoor scenes felt the most like a classic Western. The indoor/dialogue scenes structured the story. For this tall tale, attention to detail was imperative. That played out in every aspect, including the cinematography.

I saved the best for last: Jennifer Jason Leigh. Not only is Daisy Domergue an atypical female character, but she spends a significant amount of time not even talking. Even in those moments, her presence weighs heavily on screen. Her versatility is astounding and Daisy is SO interesting. It’s hard for me to eloquently put in to words how I feel about Leigh’s performance. It was memorable and unique.

Supporting Actress – I haven’t seen all of them yet, but I’d say she’s a probable win
Cinematography – The whole 70mm film thing makes this probable but there’s Revenant to think about…
Score – I’m going to say “no” right now, but I can’t pinpoint why.