LOS ANGELES (February 25, 2007) — It took 26 years, six directing nominations and two screenplay nominations, but Martin Scorsese finally has his Oscar.
Righting an injustice that had seemingly swelled to the ranks of poverty in Africa, on Sunday night the Academy Awards bestowed a best-directing Oscar on Scorsese for “The Departed.”
The great director had lost in his previous five nominations for best director. He had clearly sought the statue, and seemed likely to finally get it two years ago for directing “The Aviator.”
But he lost to Clint Eastwood, whose “Million Dollar Baby” also won best picture. Some wondered if Eastwood would again spoil Scorsese’s chances this year. Eastwood was nominated for directing the esteemed but little-seen “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which was also up for best picture.
Round two of Scorsese-Eastwood went to the 64-year-old New York native.
Eastwood has never enjoyed the comparison — and has frequently praised Scorsese effusively. “I voted for him back in the `Raging Bull’ days as an academy member,” Eastwood said earlier.
“Everybody thought that would be his moment. It still is one of his defining films.”
Though the Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator” seemed more the kind of fare the Academy often honors, Scorsese finally broke through with a film in the blood-soaked crime genre that he proved himself a master of with “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas.” “The Departed,” which also won Oscars for best adapted screenplay and best editing, is the story of rival mob and police moles, remade from the Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs.”
Scorsese’s first directing nomination was in 1981 for “Raging Bull”; Robert Redford won that year for “Ordinary People.” Then came his nom for 1988’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” where he was bested by Barry Levinson for “Rain Man.” He lost to Kevin Costner (”Dances with Wolves”) in 1991 with “Goodfellas,” and to Roman Polanski (”The Pianist”) in 2003 with “Gangs of New York.”
“The Departed” was the most popular film at the box office ($128.6 million) among the best-picture nominees. “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator” all lost their best picture bids.
Scorsese also shared screenplay nominations for co-writing “Goodfellas” and 1993’s “The Age of Innocence,” losing both times.
Previously, Scorsese had been tied with four other filmmakers — Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Altman among them — for the best-director futility record — five nominations, no wins.
Last fall, as “The Departed” arrived in theaters, he said of his Oscar shutout: “I guess it’s all right. I’m disappointed, of course. But you don’t make pictures to win Oscars.”