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Martin Scorsese takes the centre stage, finally

Martin Scorsese takes the centre stage, finally
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First Published: Mon, Feb 26 2007. 12 01 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Feb 26 2007. 12 01 PM IST
It took 26 years, six directing nominations and two screenplay nominations, but Martin Scorsese finally has his Oscar.
Righting one of Hollywood’s biggest oversights, the Academy Awards bestowed Martin Scorsese with a best-directing Oscar on Sunday night for The Departed. The movie also won best picture.
Scorsese was received with a rousing standing ovation from the Kodak Theater crowd. The fast-talking director didn’t make a fuss about his long-awaited Oscar win, but acknowledged the sentiment.
“So many people over the years have been wishing this for me, strangers,” Scorsese said before rattling off encounters in elevators and dentist offices. “And I’m saying thank you.”
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 nomination 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, or euro97.9 million, in the U.S. and Canada) 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.”
Helen Mirren, who won her first Oscar for her stoic portrayal of Britain’s monarch in The Queen, began her career as a sex symbol but has attracted equal attention playing strong, resilient women.
Long considered the favorite to take home the coveted Oscars statuette, Mirren fought off stiff competition from Penelope Cruz (Volver), Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) and fellow Britons Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal) and Kate Winslet (Little Children).
Though she once dismissed the Oscars as “the creme de la creme of bullshit,” Mirren, 61, has caught the Academy’s eye twice before, with nods for The Madness of King George (1994) and 2001’s Gosford Park.
In her Academy Award-winning turn, Mirren depicts Queen Elizabeth II as a resolute sovereign, bound by tradition and protocol, who wrestles with public pressure to shed her veneer of propriety and grieve alongside her nation after Princess Diana’s death.
The role also garnered Mirren a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.
“You know, my sister told me that all kids love to get gold stars, and this is the biggest and the best gold star that I have ever had in my life,” Mirren said.
She also delivered a tribute to Queen Elizabeth as a woman who, for half a century, “has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle.”
“I salute her courage and her consistency. And I thank her, because if it wasn’t for her, I most certainly would not be here,” Mirren said, hoisting her Oscar and proclaiming, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the queen!”
Mirren recently told the entertainment website IGN.com that she gained some special insight into Queen Elizabeth II over tea, after the monarch elevated Mirren to damehood in 2003.
“There is a twinkle to her and a relaxation about her that you don’t really see in her formal moments,” she said.
An Inconvenient Truth,” the big-screen adaptation of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s slide-show lecture about the perils of global warming, won the Academy Award on Sunday for documentary feature. Forest Whitaker won the best actor Oscar for the Last King of Scotland that firmly re-establishes him as one of Hollywood’s biggest talents after he faded from view following a meteoric start to his career.
Music from politically-themed films were top Oscar winners on Sunday.
Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla took home his second Oscar in as many years for his score for Babel, a tale of the globalization of pain and suffering, while Melissa Etheridge’s global warming anthem, I Need to Wake Up, took home the gold at the 79th annual Academy Awards for best original song.
Santaolalla, who won the Oscar last year for his haunting score for Brokeback Mountain, said he was proud to work on Babel, which addresses the theme of global miscommunication after a random shooting in one country has tragic consequences for four families around the world.
“In our soul rests, I think, our own true identity beyond language, countries, races and religions. I’m so proud to have worked on ‘Babel,´ a film that helped us understand better who we are and why and what we are here for,” he said.
Also vying for best score were modern American composer Philip Glass for his work on Notes on a Scandal, Thomas Newman for The Good German, Javier Navarrete for Pan’s Labyrinth and Alexandre Desplat for The Queen.
Etheridge’s song, I Need to Wake Up, beat out three separate nominations in that category from Dreamgirls, and Randy Newman’s Our Town from the animated film, Cars was also nominated.
Etheridge’s win was the second big victory of the night for An Inconvenient Truth, the big-screen adaptation of former US Vice President Al Gore’s slide-show lecture about the perils of global warming, which won the Academy Award on Sunday for documentary feature.
After thanking various people involved in making the film, and, “my incredible wife, Tammy, and her four children,” Etheridge thanked Gore.
“Mostly I have to thank Al Gore for inspiring us, inspiring me and showing that caring about the Earth is not Republican or Democrat. It’s not red or blue. We are all green. This is our job now, we can become the greatest generation, the generation that changed, the generation that woke up and did something and changed,” she said.
An honorary Oscar was also given to Italian Ennio Morricone, who has composed the scores of more than 400 films including “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
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First Published: Mon, Feb 26 2007. 12 01 PM IST