By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News
Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds has eight Oscar nominations
Quentin Tarantino wants to cause an Oscars upset.
"That would be damn nice," he grins. "I think we're definitely in the race, I think it's anybody's game."
Pundits have focused on the big battle between Avatar and The Hurt Locker - with nine nominations apiece.
But Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds - with eight nominations - is well positioned to cause a shock in the best film category on the big night.
His World War II fantasy has already won a string of awards including the top prize from the Screen Actors Guild.
And Christoph Waltz, whose chilling but charismatic Nazi officer Hans Landa has garnered Golden Globe and Bafta glory, is hotly tipped to take the Oscar for best supporting actor.
Tarantino says that Landa was the first character he tackled when he started writing Inglourious Basterds more than 10 years ago.
Watch a clip from Inglourious Basterds
"He wasn't the first character I came up with," Tarantino explains quickly. "I came up with Aldo and the Basterds, and even Shosanna, in terms of conjuring up the story.
"But I always write from the beginning to the end - so Landa and the French farmer were actually the first when I put pen to paper."
Tarantino is adamant that character should come first in a story.
"If we were doing a Q&A three years ago and you asked me would I like to work with Brad Pitt I'd say 'hell yeah, I'd like to work with Brad Pitt' but it doesn't work that way.
"I have to write the perfect role for Brad Pitt where I think he's the only person to play it. Now that ended up happening, but that is how it works. If there is something magic about the collaborations I have with actors it's because I put the character first."
He adds: "I could spout a bunch of different actors I'd like to work with, but it might never happen because I might never write a role that's perfect for them."
After picking up an honour for outstanding contribution to cinema from the London Film Critics' Circle in February, Tarantino described himself as "in the middle of my career".
He said: "As a 14-year-old boy I remember saying to myself when I am a director I want to make movies that will make other people want to make movies.
"That's why I wanted to be a director - because other people made movies that made me want to make them.
"That has been a goal that has been achieved, and that's very gratifying."
Kill Bill 3D?
The dyslexic Tarantino dropped out of high school aged 14
His surname comes from the city of Taranto in southern Italy
He played an Elvis impersonator in an episode of Golden Girls
He honed his film knowledge while working in a California video store
He was named after Burt Reynold's character Quint in Gunsmoke
In the post-Avatar era, is Tarantino thinking of going 3D?
The director of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction is quick to point out that James Cameron wasn't first off the blocks with three dimensional cinema.
"I was thinking 3D after I saw House Of Wax!" he enthuses. "I was thinking 3D after I saw Friday The 13th 3D!
"I've always liked 3D - and let's put this in perspective - Robert Rodriguez was the first person with Spy Kids 3D to actually bring 3D back in a big way.
"And I remember thinking 'Oh wow Robert's done a 3D movie - now he can teach me to do it so I can do one.'
"If I had the right story - for instance if I was doing Kill Bill all over again - I'd be tempted to do it in 3D, at least Volume I."
Tarantino also has kind words for the British film industry.
"When I first came here in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs the film industry was very dire. The movies were Enchanted April and crap like that.
"But that has changed, and this year has highlighted how it's changed.
"You guys actually have a genuine, honest-to-goodness, bona fide film industry again, and that is fantastic."
The depth of Tarantino's film knowledge is the stuff of legend.
Christoph Waltz says: "He's seen every movie, not just the famous ones... and he also remembers them."
Which begs the question, what would Tarantino do if he wasn't making movies?
"I'm a big fan of film criticism," he says. "Not necessarily the people who practise it, but the idea of film criticism.
"If I wasn't a film-maker, I'd be a film critic. It's the only thing I'd be qualified to do."
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