Quentin Tarantino Recalls The Time Steven Spielberg Prophesied Which Oscar Pulp Fiction Would Win While Duck Hunting

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Quentin Tarantino is a man who has become a regular visitor to the Academy Awards. He’s been nominated eight times and won the award twice, both for his writing, Though Tarantino believes he should have won at least once more. The first time he did it was for writing the screenplay to his breakout hit, Pulp Fiction, and it turns out that Steven Spielberg predicted to Tarantino that he would win, before there was even a nomination.

Tarantino recently appeared on The Howard Stern Show and talked about his friendship with Steven Spielberg. He told a story about a time he got a call from Steven Spielberg to invite him to go duck hunting with himself screenwriter John Milius and Robert Zemeckis. Part of Spielberg’s thoughts, was that he wanted Tarantino and Zemekis to meet and get to know each other, because the two were about to go head-to-head in awards season, with Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Zemekis’ Forrest Gump both expected to compete for top awards.

It was apparently in the middle of the duck hunt that Spielberg turned to Tarantino and explained how he thought the Academy Awards would go for both Zemeckis and Tarantino. And as it turned out Spielberg knew exactly what he was talking about. Tarantino said…

I knew that when it came to the Oscars for best original screenplay that we were probably the most likely ones to win for Pulp Fiction at that time. Spielberg prides himself on understanding the business, so he’s talking to me very pragmatically. So, we’re walking through a forest or something and he’s right in front of me, and I’m following behind him. He’s like, ‘So, here’s what’s going to happen at the Oscars’ — and we haven’t even been nominated yet… ‘I don’t think you’re going to win the Oscar. I think it’s going to be Bob who’s gonna win Best Picture. And I think it’s going to be Bob who’s gonna win Best Director — in fact, I’m pretty sure of it. But, I do think you will win Best Original Screenplay.’ And then he stopped and turned around and looked at me: ‘Second movie, little gold man — not too bad.’ And started walking again.

This would be exactly how things went on Oscar night. Forrest Gump was the night’s big winner. Pulp Fiction was well represented, but it lost most categories and many of the awards that the movie lost that night, were lost to Gump. The one award that Pulp Fiction did win was for Best Original Screenplay, an award Forrest Gump was not up for, because the movie won the award that night for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Tarantino appreciated Spielberg’s words. He said it helped him put the entire awards season in perspective. Even calling the Oscar the “little gold man” helped him not get too invested in the experience. 

Tarantino says that Spielberg prides himself on knowing the business, and here he certainly showed that he did. One has to wonder where the director might predict next year’s Oscars to go, considering he has his own film, The Fabelmans, which is very likely to be competing.