Scorsese and The Departed
Update: The next morning, and I've enjoyed reading all the coverage of the Oscars, and specifically Scorsese's win. I've been trying to figure out why it matters to me that Scorsese won Best Director and that his film won Best Picture. I mean, ultimately, who cares about this stuff? Does it make the film different or better? No, of course not. Does it change my opinion of Scorsese? Do I like him more now? No.
I haven't come to a full and complete answer as to why this matters to me, but I think it's partly related to this: it feels a little like vindication, like I believed in and was inspired by someone who, it turns out, inspired so many others. (Scorsese's films, I should note, aren't inspirational in any classic sense; rather, his filmMAKING is inspirational).
To try and explain: when I was a kid and a big NBA fan (this was a long time ago; I can't sand NBA hoops now), I loved Dominique Wilkins and the Atlanta Hawks. But the Hawks and Wilkins could never overcome Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. People always talked about how Jordan was the greatest player ever, and Wilkins was just a show-off ball hog.
And they were right -- about Jordan. Clearly, history has shown that Jordan was a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. But I always felt that, even though Wilkins got a lot of respect in some quarters, he wasn't considered great. To this day, Dominique has had to claw his way back into the game, even just to get a little respect from the team he led to the playoffs so many times in the 80s! It feels a little like picking the wrong horse in a race. For the record, I still think Dominique was a great player with amazing skills, but someone who got saddled with a franchise that couldn't put all the pieces together, which is a common thing in Atlanta professional sports history.
But back to the movies: I always felt a little like that about Scorsese. For a long time, even though he was considered "the greatest living American filmmaker" (or "the greatest living American filmmaker WITHOUT AN OSCAR), there was always some criticism -- that he only made crime films, or twisted films, that the way he moved the camera was too showy, that he was grubbing for an Oscar, etc. And though I agree with critics who say that The Departed wasn't his best film, I think it's fitting that he won his Oscar for a crime saga, and for a film that deals pretty explicitly with the shifting nature of identity (if you're undercover, when do you stop being a cop and start being a criminal?).
So Scorsese's win feels like vindication, in some way. And having Coppola, Speilberg, and Lucas give him the award -- while it was a dead giveaway -- was a sweet touch, so you have to give a nod to the show's producers for caring a bit about film history. And allowing Coppola and Speilberg to rib Lucas for not having won an Oscar was also pretty hilarious.
And it's an interesting coincidence that the camera my department ordered for me to use on my next film arrived this morning. Kind of like the universe telling me to use all that creative inspiration and get to work.
Anyway, I've rambled too long about this -- it was just an interesting swell of emotion for me. I'm sure my wife was wondering why I was pumping my fist every time The Departed won an Oscar. And, truth be told, so was I.