There were three joyous things about this awards season: 1) it was short. I know this was hard on the nominees/participants, but for everyone else the brevity was a bonus; 2) Bong Joon-ho and Parasite are the feel-good entertainment story of the year. It’s so fun and wonderful when the Best Picture actually is the best picture, and when someone as kind and thoughtful as Bong is rewarded; and 3) there was lots and lots Taika Waititi. He was nominated everywhere for Jojo Rabbit, and despite having the actual most controversial and divisive film in the Oscar race, he was never spiky or leaned into the controversy or otherwise made his campaign about how “edgy” his film is. And Taika can be spiky, he has an edge for sure, but he came through the award season with a sort of “this is all a little silly, let’s just have fun” attitude.
Now that it is over, and he is officially an Oscar winner, Taika is not taking a break. He’s in post-production on soccer comedy Next Goal Wins, and pre-production on Thor: Love and Thunder. He says in a post-Oscars interview with Variety that they’re aiming to have Next Goal Wins ready for the end of the year, but he’s supposed to make Thor 4 (Th4r?) this summer, so it’s all happening at once. That’s a lot. But Taika seems to hold it together. There’s a little tiredness present in this interview, but Taika is also an admitted power-napper. His producer, Carthew Neal, says he builds in twenty minute naps for Taika in the production schedule. I can’t nap. I am SO jealous of people who can, because it does seem to work to refresh for the afternoon, but if I go to sleep I am out for at least four hours. Is the secret to Taika’s seemingly boundless energy his ability to nap?
Another thing featured in this interview is some rumor-wrangling. Taika shoots down the rumor that someone—anyone—at Disney was worried about Jojo Rabbit being too edgy for the Mouse House. He says, “I heard a thing: ‘Someone from Disney’s nervous about Jojo Rabbit.’ I suspect that’s a lie. Because the people who’ve run Disney have always been very supportive. They’ve watched the film, and they love it.” Disney inherited Jojo in the Fox merger, but they stood by it and gave it a solid Oscar campaign. If anyone really was “nervous” about Jojo, it didn’t affect support for the movie at the studio level.
The second rumor shot down is that Taika is developing a Star Wars movie. Lainey asked me about this rumor last month and I said we should hold off on reporting, that there was nothing really serious to it. And sure enough, here is Taika confirming he is not currently working on Star Wars: “Are there discussions about the Star Wars film? Like, yeah, I discussed with my friends in 1996 how cool Star Wars was. That’s what they’re going off.” Lucasfilm would be insane not to invite Taika to pitch eventually, but right now he’s tied up with Marvel and Next Goal Wins.
Also, I must note that Taika, an Oscar winner, is not afraid to admit he campaigned for the trophy. He straight up calls it a campaign: “It is what it is: It’s a campaign. By the end of it, if someone had handed me a baby, I would have totally taken a photo with it and kissed it.” None of this “I’m not campaigning but all my funny friends are helping with my acceptance speeches” bullsh-t; Taika acknowledges this is a campaign, he campaigned, and it worked—he won. Maybe he can teach a workshop for nominees about how to campaign gracefully without pretending like you’re not campaigning. And then maybe he can get some sleep, because this guy has a lot to do over the next year.