“Start the Marty party!” roared Tom O’Neil after Martin Scorsese’s Directors Guild of America triumph this weekend. O’Neil, the webmaster of The Envelope, the L.A. Times’ awards blog, was right in sync with Movie City News, OscarWatch, Hollywood Elsewhere and the other Oscar oracles in seeing the DGA win as the ticket to Best Director glory on Feb. 25.
|AP PHOTO/MATT SAYLES|
|Martin Scorsese with his Directors Guild of America Award for outstanding director on Saturday. Does this mean we can finally start the Marty Party and see him win an Oscar at last?|
Scorsese, the man who helmed the superior crime story The Departed, wrestled to the mat Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel), Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) and Stephen Frears (The Queen) to get his first win at the DGA, which has predicted the eventual Oscar winner 52 out of 58 times. No mean feat for a guy who stands just 5’4”.
I’m in agreement with my fellow prize prognosticators that Scorsese will likely take this year’s Best Director trophy. And there’s no question he deserves the Oscar, after five previous attempts where such classics as Goodfellas and Raging Bull were passed over in favour of lesser works.
But aren’t we forgetting something? As much as we like to think that the Academy wants to do the right thing — even though it didn’t do that for Do the Right Thing in 1989 — there’s no proof that the 5,830 voting members of the Academy have a collective conscience. The opposite would hold true, given their abysmal track record in giving credit where credit is due.
This is the same outfit that five times passed over Alfred Hitchcock for Best Director and which didn’t even nominate him for Vertigo and North by Northwest, his greatest films. The Academy has also passed over Canada’s Norman Jewison seven times: three times for Best Director and four times for Best Picture. Scorsese could easily get the Oscar shaft yet again, no matter how wrong we may all declare that to be.
He’s facing a dramatically different group of voters than the DGA membership, a group that no longer takes the DGA win as gospel. And in the Academy contest, Scorsese is up against a formidable old rival who wasn’t in contention in this weekend’s kudos: Clint Eastwood, whose late-breaking Letters From Iwo Jima could prove to be the Oscar spoiler.
Eastwood is a clear favourite with the Academy, something that Scorsese obviously isn’t.
I suspect there might be a West Coast vs. East Coast thing happening here, the same kind of street rumble that rappers get into. Scorsese is very much a New York guy. Eastwood is West Coast all the way. Most Academy members live and work on the west coast.
Those other five times that Scorsese was nominated for Best Director and lost? He lost to a Westerner on three of those occasions: Robert Redford in 1980 (Ordinary People), Kevin Costner in 1990 (Dances With Wolves) and Clint Eastwood in 2004 (Million Dollar Baby). Barry Levinson (Rain Man) beat Scorsese in 1989. Levinson is from Baltimore, but he lives in California.
The only true Hollywood outsider to win against Scorsese is Roman Polanski (The Pianist) in 2002 and he was living in California before involuntarily relocating to Paris.
Maybe Scorsese should be talking to Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre on how to crack the West Coast posse.