The 92nd Academy Awards are quickly approaching, so very soon we’ll know who will be taking home those treasured Oscars.
In this series, our team of writers take a look at each nominee for Best Picture, stating their case for why their choice should win.
That Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has been nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars comes as no surprise.
A prestige picture from one of America’s most revered auteurs, and an unapologetically gushing love letter to Hollywood and cinema itself, Tarantino’s movie is a tour de force.
However, heading into the ceremony, initial critical buzz appears to have waned in favour of contenders such as Sam Mendes’ war epic 1917 and Bong Joon-Ho’s wickedly subversive Parasite.
With so many staggering works of art on offer, it could be something as simple as a single character that splits the difference between the nominees. And if the margins become as narrow as that, then Tarantino may just take the victory, as his latest movie features the powerful character Sharon Tate.
The devastation of Tate’s death reverberates around every frame of OUATIH, as we witness a rapturous returning of life to a loved and idolized woman lost.
In Tarantino’s world, Tate is given back the one thing that was in scarce quantity for her… time.
This is the reason throughout the movie we see Tate doing ordinary things; dancing as the sun breaks through her bedroom window, and watching on happily as a packed audience laughs at her latest movie.
It isn’t poor writing or lazy storytelling, it’s generosity and empathy, quite unlike anything Tarantino’s filmography has conveyed before.
This is why, even in light of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s brilliant performances, the film’s most beautiful moments are those in which time slows down and Tarantino’s camera basks in the lightness of simply being.
And it isn’t just the way Tarantino frames Tate that is so powerful. Margot Robbie affects such a genuine, embracing warmth in her performance.
Robbie’s ethereal performance is grounded in a transformative physicality and a warmth of presence that respects the loss, whilst doing justice to the life lived.
It is heartbreaking and healing to watch in equal measure, and nothing short of a beautiful tribute to someone Tarantino clearly truly adores.
Though Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton get the lion’s share of the action, we nevertheless find ourselves returning to Tate as if nature wills it by the film’s conclusion.
It is Rick’s chance encounter with Tate that the film lands on in its final moments that saves him, and so much more besides, as if Tarantino is trying to convey how one single moment in time can truly change everything.
Had Tex Watson and his fellow Manson disciples ran into Cliff Booth – a machismo, charismatic salute to the unsung heroes of action movies – that fateful summer night, instead of Tate and her friends, then she could have had her child and lived the life she seemed destined for.
She could have spread her light to other waning stars and raised them up, keeping the glowing embers of that mythic Golden Age alight in the process.
With OUATIH, Tarantino feeds us a lie so tangible and cleverly constructed that it feels good enough to momentarily displace the truth that we know deep down, and until its last moment, the magic trick is upheld.
When the final title card appears however, reminding us that what we have just witnessed is a fairy tale, melancholy returns in place of the sheer, cathartic exhilaration caused by the movies scintillating final act.
Watching the movie we have the privilege of killing time with these characters for whom it seems time was truly the killer.
And what a fine time it is.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is Tarantino’s most mature and meticulously crafted piece of cinema yet, as entertaining as it is crushing, as lucid as it is loose.
For the love it holds for its lost star, and the way it brings the last summer of Hollywood’s Golden Age to life, this is surely the Best Picture.
The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will take place on February 9th.