79's the charm: a fresh face for the Academy, a well-deserved Oscar for Scorsese

I really don’t enjoy the Oscars. At all, actually. The entire thing just seems a ridiculous sham. I hate the endless, asinine toting of mediocre films. I hate the way critics praise every half-decent movie or performance as “Oscar-worthy.” I hate Pat O’Brien, his mustache and his stupid, stupid face. But above all things, I hate the way the Academy awards the most ordinary of films, while completely ignoring the modern masterpieces.

What began as a gathering of talent, passion and vision has descended into a maddening horse-race of a popularity contest. What kind of institution would recognize “Crash” over “Capote” or “Brokeback Mountain,” “Chicago” over “The Pianist,” “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan?” And what sort of crazy, Bizarro world do we live in when Martin Scorsese, one of American cinema’s last great auteurs, is snubbed five times?

I heaved myself onto the couch with a heavy sigh as the 79th Annual Academy Awards began, fully expecting the worst. Would Scorsese be ignored for his best film since “Goodfellas” (and arguably the best film in recent years)? Would “Babel” be this year’s best picture upset? Would Michael Moore alienate himself further by running across the stage during an acceptance speech screaming, “The administration is lying to you! The administration is lying to you!” before being close-lined by Mark Wahlberg?

To my delighted surprise, none of these things took place on Sunday night (though it would have been cool to see Marky Mark take Moore down). In fact, the Oscars felt different. The event felt refreshed, revitalized. It was classier, and yet the mood remained lighthearted and friendly. The ridiculous song and dance numbers of Oscars old were replaced with intriguing film montages and performance art. Celebrities joked, smiled and reveled in each other’s achievements.

This year’s nominees were a diverse, eclectic bunch, and the event is being heralded as “the most international Oscars ever.” Penelope Cruz, from Spain, was nominated for best actress; Djimon Hounsou, an African, was nominated for best supporting actor; Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi, from Mexico and Japan, respectively, both received nominations for best actress in a supporting role. This varied bunch of talents, along with the excellent bunch of nominated foreign films and Al Gore’s statements concerning global warming, made for a splendidly world-conscious award-show.

Oh, and did I mention that Scorsese finally won an Oscar for achievement in directing after a 37-year career in filmmaking? A passionate director, producer and screenwriter, Scorsese is respected and beloved for his unyielding dedication, distinctive style and masterful application. The man is responsible for a score of classic films, including “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Goodfellas,” “Cape Fear” and “Casino.” He is a visionary, a true master of film and of storytelling.

And, up until last night, he was the only great American filmmaker without an Oscar. But the Academy, whom I had lost all but a faded shred of faith in after last year’s “Crash” debacle, saw fit to finally give the genius his due. Seeing Scorsese up there, hoisting his long-awaited and well-deserved statuette and flanked by his friends and fellow auteurs Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, honored with a lengthy standing ovation, was the highlight of the night for me, a truly poignant moment.

As if this momentous occasion wasn’t enough, not five minutes later, “The Departed” was presented with the Oscar for best picture. I was on my feet, hooting with unbridled joy. I felt like my team had just won the Super Bowl. Scorsese had won. “The Departed” had won. All was right with the world, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had redeemed itself.

This time last year, I was stewing bitterly, vowing never to watch the Oscars again. Now, I’m content, my faith restored in a business I had thought lost sight of the true art of film a long time ago. You’re good in my book now, Academy: don’t screw it up next year.


  1. I can honestly say that I was happy The Departed won. It was a great movie.

    I can equally honestly say that it is nothing like my team winning the Super Bowl. Nothing is like that. You should be slapped.

    Just kidding.

    Sort of.

  2. Nusser, the Oscars are my Super Bowl. =p

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the awards this year as well. While at little uncaring on who gets best picture/actor/director 99.9% of the time, I do watch just to find out who did win. (Curiosity and the cat you know.) Unfortunately, I generally spend about 87.934% of my time sleeping/bored as hell through the oscars. Let's face it. Awards. 3+ hours long.

    DeGenerous sure helped that alot; and Will Ferrell and Jack Black's humorous ode to the comedian actor broadway styled song didn't hurt either. So I guess the Academy suddenly received a surprise visit to reality; humor, well-given awards, and multi-cultural. Dare I say I was entertained? (Don't hurt me Matt! I have a rocket09 pin now! xD [Little did you know that it is actually quite the nifty force shield lemme tell you.]) ^_~

    But trully, Martin's speech made me cry, (so did Whitaker's but maybe you'd feel better about yourself if I left that out.)

  4. to Marilyn:

    Hey, I'll be the first to say the Oscars bore the hell out of me. I have no reservations about that. But they did feel different this year.

    And it's good to hear that you bought a pin! That makes me happy.

    And I did get a little teary-eyed during Martin's speech. Seriously, how could you not? It was a friggin' historical moment!


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