Awards Profile 2019: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ from Sony Pictures

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material.  Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success. If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
PRODUCERS: Quentin Tarantino, David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh
WRITER(S): Quentin Tarantino
CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Scoot McNairy, Kurt Russell, James Marsden, Tim Roth, Emile Hirsch, Damian Lewis, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Damon Herriman, Lena Dunham, Clifton Collins, Jr., Rumer Willis
SYNOPSIS: A faded TV actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.. (IMDB)



Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter Quentin Tarantino has been a staple in the cinematic community for both critics and casual movie-goers.  Rising through the ranks of independent cinema, the iconic writer/director has transitioned into a bankable, profitable filmmaker.  Of his eight solo directorial ventures, three (“Pulp Fiction,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “Django Unchained“) have grossed more than $100 million at U.S. box office.

Taking on old Hollywood has been a magnet for awards and critics, and as the film explores the era of the late 60s, with familiar classic film subjects (i.e., Sharon Tate, Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee), you can expect interests to be piqued.  Sprinkle in the diabolical serial killer Charles Manson as an angle, a gruesome, grotesque interpretation of stardom will be palpable to many who view.

Maneuvering through the subject, Tarantino has assembled a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood celebrities to fill in these meaty parts.  Oscar-winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are in the leading roles, likely to chew up the scenery and maximizing their chemistry.  DiCaprio, crowned for “The Revenant,” is exercising his second outing with Tarantino following “Django.”  Though overshadowed by his co-star Christoph Waltz, who won his second Oscar for the film, DiCaprio’s performance was well-received, and cinephiles are excited for the collaboration again.

When it comes to Oscar-winner Brad Pitt, he’s an actor that has shown a wide range of his acting depth.  With three Oscar nominations for acting, (“Twelve Monkeys,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “Moneyball”), he’s shown discipline in his craft, even when he’s passed over for awards (i.e., “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and “The Tree of Life”).  An interesting note that since Pitt’s received his Oscar for co-producing “12 Years a Slave,” he’s still been labeled in promos and marketing as “Academy Award Nominee Brad Pitt.”  It seems his team is still reminding the world that he is still Oscar-less (in acting) and that AMPAS should act accordingly.

Nominee or Winner?

As with all Tarantino projects, a strong technical team is constructed including the impeccable cinematographer Robert Richardson, the luscious costumes of Arianne Phillips, and eye-popping set pieces of Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh.



For every “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglourious Basterds” in a Tarantino resume, there’s a “Kill Bill” and “The Hateful Eight” that are passed over by the Academy.  The writer/director doesn’t have a perfect filmography, and people have resisted along the way.  There are times that his film doesn’t resonate at the moment, and time has been kinder (i.e., “Jackie Brown”).

As we look into this old Hollywood tale, there’s potential for Tarantino to make errors along the way.  With Sharon Tate, the murdered wife of Roman Polanski, Tarantino may choose to make her husband a sympathetic figure.  Polanski was convicted of statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977, and since then, has lived mostly in France with charges pending and time still to be served.  In this era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, if Polanski is depicted as a figure we should feel compassion, it will likely not be met with embracement.

And then we have Tarantino’s runtime issue he often runs into.  “The Hateful Eight,” despite some strong moments, is far too long, and doesn’t sustain or earn its length.  With a cast of characters this large, he could go into tangents and under or overdeveloped building of scenes of people, that won’t add value.  And with the subject matter of old Hollywood being a slam dunk, it may be too much “on the nose” to be considered new or innovative.

Lastly, this is Tarantino’s first film to be released not under the umbrella of Harvey Weinstein.  With new partners, comes new responsibilities and expectations that the writer/director may not be ready for, despite having final cut.


  • Motion Picture (Quentin Tarantino, David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh)
  • Director (Quentin Tarantino)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio and/or Brad Pitt)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Brad Pitt, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Margot Robbie, Dakota Fanning, Margaret Qualley)
  • Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino)
  • Production Design (Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh)
  • Cinematography (Robert Richardson)
  • Costume Design (Arianne Phillips)
  • Film Editing (To be announced)
  • Makeup and Hairstyling (To be announced)
  • Sound Mixing (To be announced)
  • Sound Editing (To be announced)
  • Original Song (Possible song to emerge)


  • Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble (SAG Awards): Large and famous cast is one of the prerequisites for the guilds top prize, and this has it.
  • Best Motion Picture, Drama (Golden Globes): HFPA loves Tarantino films, receiving seven nominations, and two wins in his career.
  • Directors Guild of America (DGA): If this is the agreed upon moment for Tarantino and one of his films to win Best Picture, DGA will be essential.

Are you excited or skeptical about Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!