It is a very rare moment in Academy Awards history when my own tastes and those of the Academy align, so please, permit me a moment of happiness; I loved The Departed and truly believe that “in the universe of Hollywood movies that earn this type of industry recognition, the film is…the superlative piece of work this year.” Martin Scorsese makes movies for people who love movies; He is an absolute cineaste whose dazzling virtuosity and ability to tell a story in the visual medium are unrivaled in Hollywood. Yes, I know that isn’t a fashionable opinion; It’s better to be snarky and defend small films (but I love those, too.) And yes, I know that a cadre of naysayers will be bitching and moaning about how Infernal Affairs was a better movie and how this is nowhere near Scorsese’s best work and shouldn’t the real Best Picture, say The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu have, in the best of all possible worlds, won the Oscar and blah blah blah. These ridiculous and intellectually dishonest arguments, pitting Scorsese and The Departed against the exclusionary policies of the Academy and the Director’s own history of unrecognized (by the Academy, anyway) greatness, well, it simply isn’t fair to this terrific movie and one of my favorite filmmakers; You can only win the race you’re in and tonight, somehow, Martin Scorsese and The Departed beat the odds and were rightly awarded Best Director and Best Picture of The Year.
Scorsese, DiCaprio and Damon on the set of The Departed
The Best Director presentation on stage tonight was perfect; Spielberg, Lucas and Coppola, walking out together with envelope in hand, were ready to honor their friend and colleague. It was a great moment and reminder of the incredible time in the 1970’s when these guys were literally each redefining the Hollywood film; There stood the makers of The Godfather I and II Jaws, Star Wars, American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now and Close Encounters of The Third Kind, movies that defined a generation, awarding perhaps the most consistently accomplished filmmaker of the bunch with his much-deserved Best Director honor. After that moment, I was happy enough and was ready to accept that some other film would win Best Picture. But when The Departed was announced, I was thrilled.
Congratulations, Martin Scorsese. Your work has been a cornerstone of my own love and appreciation of the movies and The Departed blew me away; No movie this year riveted me to my seat (with a huge smile on my face) like your film. That is a MOVIE. I am so happy for you and I can finally say, with a clear conscience, that tonight, the Academy got it right.