Nothing Without An Oscar

I was discussing this year’s Academy Awards and someone said, “At least Scorsese will finally get his Oscar.” That statement bugged me for many reasons.
I like THE DEPARTED quite a bit, but the film is a slick piece of genre a la CAPE FEAR, that’s been elevated to the status of being compared to GOODFELLAS. THE DEPARTED is not that good, and much of the blame lies with Scorsese.

I don’t like the songs that begin and end abruptly. The editing is often surprisingly choppy, while the general pacing is bloated. Parts on Nicholson’s performance rely on ticks that were tired years ago (like when he eats the fly). And some scenes, including Nicholson’s love life – “Stay there until you’re numb” – belong in the deleted bin.
[I won’t get into how THE DEPARTED was so much better when it was done in Chinese and called INFERNAL AFFAIRS.]

Maybe I’m being too hard on Marty. Much of THE DEPARTED is well directed. It’s just he’s done much better many times before. Even GANGS OF NEW YORK and THE AVIATOR were more deserving. I don’t want to deny Scorsese an Oscar he’s deserved many times over, but I want him to win for a film that compares to his classics, not because it’s his time.
And seriously, does Scorsese need an Oscar to be considered one of the greatest? This is the guy who made TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS. I think his legacy is secure. Besides, if he doesn’t win, he’ll be in the company of Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock, two of the most acclaimed directors ever.

I wouldn’t count on Scorsese to win just yet. Even this late in the year, we haven’t seen the full Oscar picture. What about DeNiro’s THE GOOD SHEPHERD or Eastwood’s LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA? I think it will be funny if Scorsese ends up competing against his former protégé and his former rival, both of whom are actors. (4 out of 5 times, Scorsese has lost to an actor/director.)

This will continue to happen. Fernando Meirelles will forever be chasing Oscar gold because the Academy passed him over for CITY OF GOD. If Scorsese wins this year, he’ll be screwing over Paul Greengrass, the man who truly deserves the statue for his astonishing work on UNITED 93.

Martin Scorsese didn’t get the Oscar for GOODFELLAS, one of the greatest pieces of directing ever. It’s too late to correct that mistake by honoring him for THE DEPARTED.


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