Scorsese rightfully earns 2006 Oscar

Kathlyn Hotynski

It is no secret that when the Academy Awards ceremony rolls around each year, someone is probably going to get the award based upon the fact that they were snubbed of an Oscar in the past. It is probably one of the worst things that Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science members could do because of the purpose of having the award.

The purpose, according to the Academy’s Web site, is to “represent the best achievements of the year in the opinion of those who themselves reside at the top of their craft.” The key word in this statement is “year.” The word in fact mentions nothing about last year or past years, and that is why awarding Oscars based on past snubbing is wrong.

Inevitably, this year’s awards will likely put this controversial subject into the limelight, as Martin Scorsese, director of “The Departed,” is going for his first Oscar for best Director after losing his previous five nominations.

Scorsese’s snubbing story starts in 1976 with the release of “Taxi Driver.” The movie received an Oscar nomination for best picture, and is currently at the top of the American Film Institute’s list of Best Movies and of Best Thrillers. But that year, Scorsese was not even nominated for best director for the film.

Fast forward five years to the release of “Raging Bull.” The film is still considered the best Scorsese film ever, and additionally regarded as the best movie of the 1980s. Unfortunately for Scorsese, that is the feeling now, and wasn’t the feeling then. Nominated for Best Director and Best Picture, the film and Scorsese end up losing both to “Ordinary People” and director Robert Redford.

Moving ahead nine years, Scorsese is nominated for best director for “Last Temptation of Christ.” The movie itself isn’t nominated for Best Picture, which essentially killed any shot Scorsese had of winning an Oscar that year.

As 1990 rolls around and Scorsese releases yet another masterpiece in “Goodfellas,” he and his picture are both nominated for Oscars for their respective categories, as are “Dances with Wolves” and its director Kevin Costner. This ends, as usual, with Scorsese losing out to the more deserving recipient.

“Gangs of New York” opened in 2002 to sub-par reviews from critics, was basically butchered by common viewers and didn’t make a lot of money at the box office. Despite this, Scorsese and his movie were nominated for Oscars. Most figured that “Gangs” would lose the Best Picture race. But many speculated that Scorsese would win because people would feel sorry for him for past snubbing and automatically vote for him.

However, neither the film nor Scorsese walked away with the golden man that night after losing to the more deserving Roman Polanski. The Academy’s decision to do this was a true reflection of the Award’s purpose.

Two years from the previously mentioned event, you will hear the same set up with minor changes. “The Aviator” opened to generally good reviews from critics and was well received by common viewers. The problem this go-around for Scorsese was the fact that “Million Dollar Baby” opened to even better reviews and was better received by common viewers. The general consensus was that despite Scorsese deserving an Oscar somewhere down the line, he was greatly outdone by Clint Eastwood, director of “Million Dollar Baby,” who went on to win the award.

Yes, Scorsese should have at least gotten nominated for “Taxi Driver,” but he didn’t deserve to win it that year, even if he had gotten nominated. Yes, he should have won in 1981 over the now forgettable direction of Robert Redford for “Ordinary People.” And by taking into account the competition that Scorsese had in the other years that he lost, it is clear that he wasn’t deserving of the award those times either.

Why Academy voters vote the way they do really is a mystery, and only they know the reasons why they cast their votes. I am sure that some of them are out there, right now, voting for Scorsese because of his unlucky past. Maybe every person that votes for Scorsese is voting for him simply because of his losing streak.

But I would hope voters would also see that this year is really the first year in about 25 years that Scorsese actually earned the award. Some may argue that his unluckiness alone should have earned him the award, but that isn’t what the award is about. The award is about whom did the best job of directing a film in a given year, and this year, that director is Scorsese.

If Scorsese wins, reports of the event will likely use words such as “finally,” “it’s about time” and countless others to emphasize how long it has taken for Scorsese to receive the award.

Reports like these will overshadow what should be the biggest reason that Scorsese wins the award. People need to keep in mind if they hear these reports that Scorsese may have actually won the award because he did the best directing this year and not because he did the best directing between 1976 and 2006.

Hansen is a freshman print journalism major and Showcase/Scene editor of`
The Spectator.