Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, Maria de Medeiros, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Walken
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Summary: The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption
Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Travolta), Supporting Actor (Jackson), Supporting Actress (Thurman), Original Screenplay*, Film Editing
It’s hard to overstate how much of a game changer this movie was when it came out: it was the first independent film to make $100 million in the U.S., which changed the industry in terms of distribution for indies; it was the defining role for Jackson, a breakout one for Thurman, and it revived the careers of Travolta & Willis, all of whom give strong performances; but most importantly, it along with Clerks from the same year changed the way young filmmakers looked at movies-it was so much cooler, hipper and different than anything else widely seen before and the next decade would see numerous imitators trying to tap into that same style with diminishing results.
It feels like a response to the relatively “safe” movies Hollywood had been putting out in the 80s, trying to bring movies back to the anarchy of the late 60s-late 70s New Hollywood period with its style, witty pop-culture laden dialogue, unusual structure and “cool” criminal protagonists. The screenplay is an obvious standout. It introduces numerous characters and plots, but makes all of them memorable, while also having a unique structure where we bounce around from one story to another, backwards and forwards, and sometimes the stories intertwine; this is something that you see sometimes in books, but is rarely executed effectively in a movie like it is here. On its own merits as a film, it’s an extremely enjoyable ride that I didn’t get any sort of deeper meaning out of, but there’s nothing wrong with that.