We’re counting down to the Oscars by introducing you to some of the best and sometimes overlooked performances of this year's Oscar contenders. Today’s episode: C’mon! Give it to Marty!
It's the rallying cry of almost every cinephile in the world. This year really and truly honestly feels like it’s his year. Scorsese is well renowned as the single most robbed director since Hitchcock, having directed a number of modern classics that always find their way onto top 10 and top 100 lists the world over. And while I would argue that the best thing that could happen to Scorsese is to NOT get it, keeping him hungry and grasping at the gold (to see what happens to a great, deserving director who finally gets it after decades of waiting, just look at Spielberg circa 1993 to 2001), I think that’s a pipe dream. Everyone, short of the other directors’ immediate families, wants to see Marty finally take home the gold. And here’s why.
Taxi Driver. Come on. Everyone reading this, at some time in their lives, has looked into a mirror, squinted and uttered the phrase, “Are you talkin’ to me?” Deny it all you want. But you’ve done it. Whether to amuse your friends or just yourself, it has become one of the world's most famous cinema moments, enjoyed in the privacy of their own home by millions. Travis Bickle is probably the single most beloved cinematic anti-hero of our time, and this film, as complicated, gritty and hard to watch as it is at times, stands as one of the greatest ever made. But what are you gonna do? In 1976 it was up against Rocky, All the President’s Men and Network. Hardly an easy call.
Raging Bull. Another in a long line of team-ups with Robert De Niro, Scorsese tackled the biopic with panache. I can’t think of a single biopic as well regarded as this one. Telling the story of boxing legend Jake La Motta, this film has done more to preserve the man’s legend than even his own career did. This is how you go about making a biopic.
Goodfellas. Easily one of the top ten most important films of the '90s, this one generated a whole series of memorable lines, but most importantly propelled Joe Pesci into superstardom. When people talk about the greatest gangster or mobster films ever made, first they mention The Godfather, then they mention Godfather 2. Then they talk about Goodfellas. Hardly terrible company to be found in. Of course this was the year the Oscars went crazy and started handing out awards willy-nilly to folks like Whoopi Goldberg. Instead of Scorsese the Academy gave Best Director to Kevin Costner. Nothing has to burn like losing to the Costner.
Gangs of New York. Twenty-four years ago Scorsese found his muse in Robert De Niro. Twenty years later he found another in Leonardo DiCaprio. Merging several of Scorsese’s loves – the criminal underworld, New York City and historical epics, Gangs of New York was a visionary crime film unlike any ever undertaken. Highlighting an era rarely dealt with when not showcasing the fighting of the Civil War, Scorsese found his own unique story to tell, cementing him as the reigning king of organized crime films. He would then go on to work with DiCaprio in the same way he did with De Niro, time and again.
Why he probably shouldn’t get the gold: Because I want to see him continue to try to get one. The worst of his films over the last twenty years are still pretty great. Guys like Scorsese absolutely, positively do not need this kind of validation. Everyone knows he is one of the single greatest directors of all time – one of those rare artists whose work will be discussed long after he is gone. He’s the John Ford of crime films. And while guys like that are exactly the ones who deserve the gold – they don’t benefit from it one bit. If he gets it now, it won’t really be for The Departed. Sure, The Departed was great (especially for a remake) but come on. It’s no Goodfellas or Raging Bull or Taxi Driver. Because, really, that’s why he’ll be getting this award.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me
Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD two times a week.
This is part of Film.com's coverage of the 2007 Academy Awards. For more Oscars articles, analysis, news, and red carpet photo galleries, visit our Oscars page.