As the announcement of Oscar nominations grows closer, it looks like this could finally be Martin Scorseseâs year… or could it?
JAN 23, 2005 – WHEN THE 77th ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS are presented on February 27, 2005, Martin Scorsese could find himself entering an exclusive club â because heâll most likely get the Oscar for Best Director, and be counted among some of the greatest filmmakers of his era. And on the same day, he could also find himself exiting an exclusive club â because, with this win, heâll no longer be counted among some of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
Over time, the Academy has so consistently awarded the popular over the profound, the entertaining over the edgy â this isnât criticism, just a comment; the Oscars are, after all, like our own Filmfare Awards, maybe a tad more refined (they donât have a âLux New Faceâ category) â that not winning the little gold man has become something of a gold standard. Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Akira Kurosawa… Theyâre all non-winners â so if youâre a filmmaker, wouldnât you rather belong to this club instead?
But Scorsese, it appears, has no option this year. The Aviator, his biopic of Howard Hughes and Golden Globe winner for Best Picture (Drama), has left American critics so dazzled, their reviews have all but prompted theatres to hand out free pairs of sunglasses along with tickets to the movie. In a four-star rave, Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gushes, âThis is one of the yearâs best films.â? And even the naysayers are saying nay with praise, like Manohla Dargis in The New York Times: âThere are moments in The Aviator that speak to Mr. Scorseseâs genius… [even if heâs] compromised his dark gifts for commercial palatability.â?
âCommercial palatabilityâ may be too lofty a term to describe a box-office take of some $50 million since a mid-December release â youâd expect bigger grosses for a film about an aviation pioneer and movie mogul, considering that Troy, a film about Brad Pitt in a miniskirt, amassed a similar amount in its first three days â but these numbers are likely to climb once Oscar fever begins. And by the time the awards are announced, this Scorsese movie could well have become a successful movie.
But, mainly, this may finally be Scorseseâs year because he is over 60, and his name isnât Clint Eastwood (who, at a ripe 74, has earned raves â and the Golden Globe for Best Director â for his latest, Million Dollar Baby). Who knows when next heâll make something with the scope and the seductiveness of The Aviator? What if he ages like Kubrick instead, who ended his career â in every imaginable sense â with a movie where Nicole Kidman dried herself with toilet paper after going to the loo?
After all, they could have given Scorsese the Oscar the first time he was nominated, for Taxi Driver (remade as Sadak by â who else? â Mahesh Bhatt, who thought it fit to transform Harvey Keitelâs pimp into a eunuch brothel-owner named Maharani) â but John Avildsen got it for the crowd-pleasing Rocky. Thatâs got to be the Academyâs most embarrassing moment, overlooking the man whoâd go on to make The Last Temptation of Christ for the man whoâd go on to make The Karate Kid, Part III.
Scorseseâs next nomination came for Raging Bull, which, today, is to film buffs what a Playboy centrefold is to a fourteen-year-old. Itâs certainly some kind of great movie, even if a thoroughly unappealing one, thanks largely to Robert De Niroâs unsympathetic character. Thatâs probably why the winner that year was actor-turned-director Robert Redford for his appealing and hugely sympathetic Ordinary People.
Scorseseâs third nomination came up for the terrific GoodFellas, a film so stylish, so devilishly smooth, it all but came on screens puffing a Havana, sipping a single malt, a supermodel by its side â but the winner that year was another actor-turned-director, Kevin Costner, for his stirring Dances With Wolves. Then recently, when the great-moviemaking-but-not-so-great-movie Gangs of New York garnered 10 nominations, everyone felt that was it, but Roman Polanski, another Oscar-bridesmaid-never-a-bride, won for The Pianist.
So, this year, will the Academy finally honour someone they should have nominated at least five more times â for the heartbreaking-yet-unsentimental single-woman saga Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the is-it-black-comedy-is-it-drama see-saw of The King of Comedy, the riotously nightmarish roller coaster After Hours, the spiritual-yet-sceptical The Last Temptation of Christ, and The Age of Innocence, a touching story of love in touch-me-not times?
They probably will… Unless they decide an individual directing Oscar is too little, too late, and instead wait a while to give him one of those Lifetime Achievement biggies they gave to Satyajit Ray and Federico Fellini â in which case, Scorsese would find himself in another truly exclusive club, among the greatest filmmakers in the world.
Copyright Â©2007 The New Sunday Express