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2.7.17

DWA Award: Quentin Tarantino v M Night Shyamalan

Quentin Tarantino and M. Night Shyamalan. 
I have long wanted to know who is the better DWA (Director slash Writer slash Actor). 



Two distinct filmmakers with quirky names with certain reputations.  Mr. Tarantino is known for questionable violence, gore, non-linear storyline, long and winded dialogue and resurrecting acting careers. Mr. Shyamalan is known for works with the supernatural, horror, twist endings, thrillers and resurrecting dead directing careers. 

Both tend to direct and write their films, with occasional acting and producing in them altogether. Both love Samuel L. Jackson, and some Bruce Willis. Both were nominated and have won awards in various festivals, albeit only one has consistently won in the Razzies, an actual recognition of the film's worsts.

It's like vodka and coffee. 

They're not for all, such as minors and the frail and weak of heart. Both are drinkable: one can leave you feeling punch-drunk and regretful in the morning after; the other can keep you wide awake and get your heart palpitating any time of day. I can't be sure which of them directors are Vodka and coffee, they could very well give both results at the same time. 

Is there a need to compare the body of work for these two like a Celebrity Death Match? Well, why not? 


Now, to make this head to head comparison a little interesting, I have reduced their number of films wherein they all: mainly directed, originally written and acted on. I call it the DWA nomination rule. 


This self-made rule excludes Shyamalan's After Earth (2013), and sadly for his case Wide Awake (1998) and 2015's The Visit which was hailed as his 'comeback' film, all of which he did not act on. This will exclude Tarantino's Kill Bill 2 wherein he did not act, although a sequel, many thought it is indeed an extension of the phenomenal first film. Quentin worked in Death Proof, but he co-directed it with a double feature with Robert Rodriguez, thus disqualified.

But this self-made rule will also save Shyamalan some fighting grace in excluding The Last Airbender. Yes, he directed and wrote this horrible adaptation with an acting credit. However, this was entirely based on an animated series of the same name wherein the film was so inconsistent and far from the original that it rightfully won a number of Razzies, therefore, I respectfully disqualify that hot mess. Quentin's Jackie Brown is a novel adaptation from Rum Punch, but having won awards and nominated for the best adapted screenplay, it makes the cut. 


Quentin Tarantino is known for action, crime noir fiction, violence and dialogue-heavy scenes.
These are Quentin's 8 films after the purge as per DWA rules:

1 My Bestfriend's Birthday (1987) 
2 Reservoir Dogs (1992) 
3 Pulp Fiction (1994)
4 Jackie Brown (1997) 
5 Kill Bill 1 (2003) 
6 Inglourious Basterds (2009) 
7 Django Unchained (2012) 
8 The Hateful Eight (2015) 


M. Night Shyamalan both earned praise and negative reviews on his films which are mainly supernatural and has a thriller theme.
Here are Shyamalan's 8 films after the purge:

1 Praying with Anger (1992)
2 The Sixth Sense (1999)
3 Unbreakable (2000) 
4 Signs (2002)
5 The Village (2004) 
6 Lady in the Water (2006) 
7 The Happening (2008) 
8 Split (2016) 

Now the real fun and fight begin as I try to match and pair up the films chronologically as per their release years from the 2 lensmen (i.e. 1 vs 1) and judge them based on certain subjective reasons, unrealistic critique, and personal viewing experience. Whoever scores more on better work on films, will be declared the victor. These pairings pains and excites me at the same time, such as the match numbers 2 and 3. It was NOT easy!

Quentin Tarantino (QT) v M. Night Shyamalan (MS)

1 (QT) My Bestfriend's Birthday v (MS) Praying with Anger
2 (QT) Reservoir Dogs v (MS) Sixth Sense
3 (QT) Pulp Fiction v (MS) Unbreakable
4 (QT) Jackie Brown v (MS) Signs
5 (QT) Kill Bill 1 v (MS) The Village
6 (QT) Inglourious Basterds v (MS) Lady in the Water
7 (QT) Django Unchained v (MS) The Happening
8 (QT) The Hateful Eight v (MS) Split 

Warning, potential spoilers may be given. I will try to keep it the descriptions and details very brief and in general. Key word: TRY.

1 (QT) My Bestfriend's Birthday v (MS) Praying with Anger

I have not personally watched these two films. My Bestfriend's Birthday was a 36-minute short film mainly about the title itself. Praying with Anger portrays a man divided by Western upbringing and his Indian roots. Both films were shown in festivals. 

I shall score this round a draw due to a short film technicality (36 minutes).

2 (QT) Reservoir Dogs v (MS) Sixth Sense

This is where the juggernaut matchups begin. Two iconic films with distinct style and genre that defined their works. Reservoir Dogs is a crime thriller film drenched in blood and dialogues. Sixth Sense is synonymous to MS, and the hype and success of the film are both a curse and a gift of his works later on. 'I see dead people' is such an iconic line for movie fans. 

I personally love both of these films, but I would give this to MS. 



3 (QT) Pulp Fiction v (MS) Unbreakable

Another unfair, massive matchup of outstanding filmmaking and writing. And both featuring Bruce Willis. Pulp Fiction is one of the most iconic films of all time laced with crime, thriller, unconventional non-linear storytelling and a relevant John Travolta. Unbreakable is a superhero film disguised as a thriller film with an unassuming ending twist. This work by MS has been an exceptional follow-up film from Sixth Sense and this kickstarted his 'superhero/supernatural' cinematic universe. 

Unbreakable would have easily won this round on any other film, but it was unfairly matched with a behemoth on this round. QT takes this round.




4 (QT) Jackie Brown v (MS) Signs

Signs is a science fiction thriller with a great premise on his take with extraterrestrial life forms starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. Jackie Brown is an adapted story from the novel Rum Punch that tackles a female lead on a crime thrill ride. QT may or may not have intentionally paid homage to blaxploitation films but as always he had the guts to deliver. Jackie Brown has won awards, however, the sheer thrill, tin foil hats, religion and plot twist of Signs take this point edging out Jackie Brown closely.

5 (QT) Kill Bill 1 v (MS) The Village

QT is a big fan of classic Asian martial arts flicks with samurai, revenge and fantastic fight scenes. This is heavily consistent and felt throughout Kill Bill with the heroine of the Bride played by Uma Thurman. The Village by MS starring Joaquin Phoenix is again a creepy thriller with a twist. This is where the plot ending twist has hurt MS film rather than help it. Kill Bill easily wins this.

6 (QT) Inglourious Basterds v (MS) Lady in the Water
7 (QT) Django Unchained v (MS) The Happening

I have combined these two pairings as this is where bloodshed happens and as a judge and referee, this is a technical knock out. QT's Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained both have been box office success with big name stars, big budget, nominated and won awards in various academies. MS' Lady in the Water and The Happening were both nominated and have won in the Razzies Awards, which no one should be proud of. 

Easiest 2 points for QT. 

8 (QT) The Hateful Eight v (MS) Split 

The Hateful Eight is a Western action film closely linked to the events and themes of Django Unchained in the American civil war-era. Split is a psychological thriller film portraying a man with 23 personalities. James McAvoy had a tour de force performance acting out multiple convincing personalities constantly keeping you glued and guessing. This film is linked to Unbreakable and will lead to another film. This has shown MS' strength in tight, small-budget, strongly-written thriller where he is really good at. 

This point goes to MS. 

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As for the results:

MS:3 (Sixth Sense, Signs, Split)
QT:4 (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained)

After a tight deliberation, it was a surprisingly close fight.
The winner of the Best DWA Award is Quentin Tarantino!

I shall be posting his award soon at an undisclosed time, event and place. Happy with the whirlwind process and results? Any over the top violent reactions? Any supernaturally inclined visions on the results? Which films would you rather choose, and which future potential head to head deserve a DWA-like matchup?

Please comment and let me know!







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