Behind Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," which received seven honors, Quentin Tarantino's film was the second-most recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. "Django" tied Ben Affleck's "Argo," with five nominations.
"Django," about a slave-turned-bounty hunter, is up for best drama, director and screenplay for Tarantino. Its stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz will also vie for the supporting actor prize, though Jamie Foxx, who plays Django, was not nominated.
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The film centers around Waltz's character, Dr. King Schultz, who frees Foxx's Django, teaches him the ways of bounty hunting and helps him rescue his enslaved wife from brutal plantation owner, Calvin Candie, played by DiCaprio.
In a statement, DiCaprio described working on the film as a "remarkable experience," adding: "I consider myself lucky to work with Quentin and the entire cast on the film. I'm particularly proud to be named alongside my fellow 'Django' nominees.”
The movie's strong showing is especially impressive considering Tarantino only weeks ago finished editing it. The Weinstein Co., which financed the production, even discussed with Tarantino pushing the release of the film to March. Instead, the independent studio decided to roll the dice on its award chances -- a move that may be paying off now.
The film, which hits theaters on Christmas, is already earning robust critical reviews. As of Thursday, "Django" had earned a perfect 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with trade paper Variety calling it "an immensely satisfying taste of antebellum empowerment packaged as spaghetti-Western homage."