Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Produced by Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, and Pilar Savone
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L Jackson, Walter Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks, and Don Johnson
Quentin Tarantino's western epic is a triumph in style, storytelling, and ballsiness. Set two years before the Civl War, it chronicles the journey of a slave named Django (Foxx) and a former dentist turned bounty hunter called Schultz (Waltz) to find Django's wife Broomhilda (Washington). When Schultz tracks Django down at the beginning of the film, the two men strike a bargain: in exchange for Django helping him kill three wanted men (who Django knows from the past), Schultz will help Django will find his wife. This quest leads them to Candieland, a Southern plantation run by the smarmy, sadistic Francophile named Calvin Candie (DiCaprio). Candie, backed by his house slave Stephen (Jackson), has a hold on Broomhilda, and Django and Schultz have their hands full trying to get her back. Of course, there's a lot more that happens, but I won't spoil it.
Now, a film thus described doesn't sound that audacious. Of course, Tarantino really goes for it, which will no doubt put some viewers off. This is a gorgeously shot, bloody affair set to blaring outbursts of (partially original) hip hop music, with Tarantino's wicked sense of humor shining through in his impeccable dialogue. If you liked Inglourious Basterds, you'll probably like this. It's very heavy on dialogue, exceedingly brutal at times, and quite hilarious in others. On top of that, it has a terrific ensemble. Foxx gives one of his best performances as the freed slave who becomes empowered, and Waltz turns in another delightful performance as the charismatic bounty hunter. In addition, DiCaprio does some of his bravest work here, and Washington is tremendously effective in a thankless role. And I haven't even mentioned the always great Samuel L. Jackson or the fantastic Don Johnson. As always with Tarantino, there is controversy over the content of this film, which I hope won't dissuade anyone from watching it. Some scenes are hard to watch, but the mounting tension and the payoff that comes from it are worth the struggle. Easily his best film since Jackie Brown, Tarantino is back with one of the best (and bravest) films of 2012.
Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Waltz), Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing