The Hateful Eight is rated R for “strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language, and some graphic nudity.” The Revenant is also rated R, for “strong frontier combat and violence, including gory images, a sexual assault, language, and brief nudity.” They’re extremely violent movies about violent (mostly) men, although only one has strong frontier combat (unfortunately). They’re also both in the running for Best Picture. Three of the contributors at Gold Derby have The Revenant winning the award, and many include The Hateful Eight among the 10 nominees.
Variety considered both Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar chances in a report that asks, in these tragically violent times of ours, do these two films have a chance? In a word, yes. Just ask Tarantino.
“If I was directing 24: The Movie, yeah, I might be a little worried,” Tarantino [said]. “But I don’t think there’s any correlation between my Agatha Christie Western and what’s going on in Paris with ISIS.” (Via)
The Hollywood Reporter has a similar article, comparing The Hateful Eight and The Revenant‘s “attempt to out-do each other in the brutality stakes this awards season — and just how willing Oscar voters are to tolerate their extremes may go a long way toward determining whether they emerge as frontrunners in this year’s extraordinarily heated competition.”
Leonard Maltin, the film critic and Doug Loves Movies game inspiration, said that senior members of the Academy can tolerate a certain amount of blood and guts, “but if, as they leave the theater, the lingering thought is how violent it was, that can be a detriment.” Unlike naked people being dragged along the cold, unforgiving ground, which can only increase a movie’s chances. But let’s say The Revenant or The Hateful Eight wins Best Picture — would either be the bloodiest film to do so?
The nature of the question effectively rules out every movie released before circa 1970. There are war epics (All Quiet on the Western Front, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gone with the Wind) and Nazis (Casablanca), but most of their violence was implied or clean, if a little dusty. The first “gritty” Best Picture winner is 1971’s The French Connection, and throughout the rest of the decade, filmgoers saw gallons of blood in The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Rocky, and The Deer Hunter. They’re savage, in a sweaty sort of way (especially The Godfather‘s famous baptism scene), but can’t compare to 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs or 1995’s Braveheart. (The winners of the 1980s are largely a wash of romantic comedies and period pieces, with the exception of Oliver Stone’s no-holds-barred Platoon.) Hannibal Lecter is one of the most sinister villains in movie history, but much of his destruction is off-screen; and in Braveheart, it’s the facial expressions and sound effects doing the most work.
Things pick up, violence-wise, in the 2000s and 2010s, when Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Million Dollar Baby, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker, and 12 Years a Slave all took home the gold. These are extremely violent movies, with in-the-ring sword fights, Orcs slain by the thousands, boxing brawls, bolt guns, bomb blasts, and whippings. But none are as gory as 2006’s The Departed, whose brutality is only rivaled by its profanity. Take a look at its Parents Guide page on IMDb (“A man is roughing up another man around the face before a man is punched once, with two teeth knocked out”).
There are more deaths in Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King (836!), but because so many of the slain aren’t human, there’s a comforting distance to the violence. Meanwhile, I still remember the horrified movie theater shouts when this happens in The Departed.
Violent movies aren’t immediately out of the running for Best Picture. And considering everything we’ve read about what Leonardo DiCaprio put himself through and Quentin Tarantino’s track record, there’s a chance either film, especially The Revenant, usurps The Departed as the bloodiest winner yet. Then again, Saving Private Ryan and Pulp Fiction lost to Shakespeare in Love and Forrest Gump, respectively, so yes, the Academy hates violence.