That’s the section that’s getting the attention, so let’s look at it in its entirety:
Tarantino: The movies that used to be treated as independent movies, like the Sundance movies of the ’90s — those are the movies that are up for Oscars now. Stuff like The Kids Are All Right and The Fighter. They’re the mid-budget movies now, they just have bigger stars and bigger budgets. They’re good, but I don’t know if they have the staying power that some of the movies of the ’90s and the ’70s did. I don’t know if we’re going to be talking about The Town or The Kids Are All Right or An Education 20 or 30 years from now. Notes on a Scandal is another one. Philomena. Half of these Cate Blanchett movies — they’re all just like these arty things. I’m not saying they’re bad movies, but I don’t think most of them have a shelf life. But The Fighter or American Hustle — those will be watched in 30 years.
Vulture: You think so?
Tarantino: I could be completely wrong about that. I’m not Nostradamus.
Now. You can take this as a fairly sexist bit of cinematic dismissal by Mr. Tarantino (and some have); of the five films he mentions by name, four are about women, two directed by them. That’s a totally legitimate read! (Worth noting: in a just-released “outtake” from the interview, he boosts the work of Pedro Almodóvar, one of the most female-centered filmmakers in the world.) But it’s at least worth considering that this little rant has less to do with his dislike of films about women than his dislike of quote-unquote Art Films. This is someone who came of age, literally and cinematically, in the 1980s (“when movies sucked,” he notes, in welcome contrast to some younger filmmakers), an era when your choices were either braindead blockbusters, turgid serious films (like Chariots of Fire, Out of Africa, and the aforementioned Merchant-Ivory oeuvre), or genre pictures and cheap-o exploitation flicks. Tarantino went for the latter, the less popular choice, and that preference has remained —to the benefit of his work.
In other words, he just prefers genre movies, so his dismissal of female-fronted indies is just that — a preference, a personal taste (“I’m not saying they’re bad movies”), and he’s the first to admit that his predictions about what films have staying power is pure guesswork. That’s certainly true; what Quentin Tarantino considers a memorable movie rarely matches up with the common wisdom, and if you don’t believe me, ask around for opinions on Switchblade Sisters or Mighty Peking Man.
If anything, the fact that his reach for examples of “arty things” landed on so many films about women speaks to the fact that movies about women usually land in that space, and that there aren’t enough women fronting the kind of genre movies that he prefers — a problem he’s done his level best to address by writing roles like Mallory Knox and Mia Wallace and Jackie Brown and The Bride and O-Ren Ishii and Shoshanna Dreyfus and pretty much everybody in Death Proof.
Is Tarantino a sexist? Probably, at least a little bit; most men have some gender bias, consciously or not, and there’s certainly no arguing the presence of the male (specifically, the male foot fetishist) gaze in his films. But in this specific case, in the throwaway mention of some movies that just didn’t do it for him, maybe we can give QT the benefit of the doubt.