Friday, January 26, 2007

The Scorsese Dilemma!

Is it just me, or is there an almost schmaltzy pro-Scorsese sediment in the academy these days?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of director Martin Scorsese, and put him right up at the top of the heap of American directors over the past quarter century. But that being said, I feel the Academy (I.E. …those who vote on the coveted Academy Awards for motion picture excellence) is trying to make up for their almost comical (if it wasn’t so tragic) snub of the directors work over the decades, by now nominating everything he does in the hopes that one will win an award, before they have to really eat some crow by giving him a lifetime achievement award (in Lieu of an Oscar for an individual work).

The Departed is a fine film. It has a fine cast that rates right up there with any film Scorsese has done. It is very entertaining, moves nicely and has a wonderful tension throughout. But, was it truly one of the best overall films of the year, or one of Scorsese’s best?

When I went to see past Scorsese masterpieces like, Good Fellas, Casino, Raging Bull and even Gangs of New York…I was riveted to my chair. It was the rare movie experience where you wished a three-hour movie could be extended to a four-hour movie, because simple put…it was so entertaining to watch and the time went by too fast. In Departed I didn’t get that feeling. It felt like the film was “trying to hard to be a Scorsese mob-masterpiece”. I got that feeling like I was watching wonderful actors act in a wonderful story, rather than being pulled into the characters and story itself (maybe that’s more of a consequence of casting Nicholson, but that’s another issue) which for me, is always the benchmark of a great movie.

So, it would not surprise me one bit if this was the year for Mr. Scorsese to finally receive that overdue Oscar. The Academy has a history for rewarding its box office juggernauts and visionaries after the fact, since they tend to be more conservative in their assessment of film. In other words, for decades Scorsese made movies his way, in his unique style which was a bit too flamboyant for the academy 10 or 20 years ago. But that same style is now most likely standard teaching fare in most film schools around the world…”so we (the Academy) better honor this genius while he is still making films, even though his best ones might be behind him to save face”?

It's not like this is a first, as many a Hollywood great has been snubbed during their best years of work and been awarded through the lifetime achievement root. Let's hope Scorsese does not have to suffer that same fate, and can go out with his boots on, so to speak...being rewarded for a great film.

R.J. Luedke

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