Would earlier release date for ‘Django Unchained’ have boosted Oscar odds?

One of our top posters, Trent, raised this provocative question about the Oscars fate of “Django Unchained.” As he writes in the forums:

This year, with the earlier voting schedule, many films that were released closer to the new year were, essentially, screwed. The film was divisive on this board but, in general, “Django Unchained” was very well-received both critically and commercially. It had Harvey Weinstein on its side and was very technically well-done. But it was a Christmas release, and many voters were probably unable to see it in time.

Which leads me to the big question: If “Django” had been released around the same time as “Lincoln,” and had enjoyed the same popular and critical success, would it have been able to build more momentum?

In my opinion, had this happened, Samuel L. Jackson would have emerged sooner as a supporting actor contender and Christoph Waltz would have remained in his lead campaign. I’m not quite sure about the tech categories, but it is possible that more guilds would have been able to see the film as well.

Any thoughts? Did this happen to any other films besides Django?

The film did reap five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Waltz), Original Screenplay, Cinematography and Sound Editing. Would it have done better had it been released earlier? Add your voice to the debate here

Currently, “Django Unchained” is tied for last place with “Amour” among the nine Best Picture nominees. Waltz, the 2009 Supporting Actor champ, is in the middle of the pack this year. Quentin Tarantino, who won an Oscar in 1994 for his original script for “Pulp Fiction, is running second to 2009 Oscar winner Mark Boal (“The Hurt Locker”) for “Zero Dark Thirty.” And both the lensing and sound editing award are the longest of shots. 

In reply to Trent, Renaton says:  

As I understand, Tarantino was deep into the editing process just little before the film opened, so an earlier date was never gonna happen. But I think this is one Oscar momentum sacrifice that makes sense in the long run. Putting it directly against “Lincoln” would’ve made the film even more divisive in regards to how it deals with race, and it probably wouldn’t have been as successful as it is now had it opened in any other date than Christmas (I might be wrong, but I think first week grosses still represent more than half of what the film has made so far in the U.S.). With the reviews and box-office and Tarantino’s passionate following, “Django” will likely be remembered as an iconic cult hit film and probably one of Tarantino’s most representative films, and the precision in timing had a lot to do with it (even if the same timing affected it’s Oscar chances). 

However, Icky thinks:

While an earlier release wasn’t possible I do think it would have been helped by it. No, it probably wouldn’t have won directing or BP, but I think it would have acquired more nominations and possibly had more momentum. It’s important for a non Oscar friendly movie to be released earlier to have a shot. So, maybe a few more nominations. Wins, probably not.

And Beastialg says:

I don’t think it would have helped. “Django” is a VERY good movie, worthy of its noms but not perfect, and I think “Pulp Fiction” & “Inglourious Basterds” are much better Tarantino movies (I also like “Kill Bill Vol I” & “II” more). Still, I think Samuel L. Jackson was excellent (DiCaprio too), and a much better choice for supporting actor than Alan Arkin for example. I would vote for Samuel in supporting actor without a doubt. Kerry Washington was solid but not awardworthy in my opinion.

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