It took 26 years, six directing nominations and two screenplay nominations, but Martin Scorsese finally has his Oscar.
Righting an injustice that had swelled with each snub of his illustrious career, on Sunday the Academy honored him with the best-directing Oscar for "The Departed." The movie also won best picture.
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After receiving a rousing standing ovation from the Kodak Theatre crowd, the fast-talking filmmaker did not 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," Scorsese said before rattling off encounters with strangers in elevators and dentist offices. "And I'm saying thank you."
Still, after Scorsese accepted the statue from presenter Steven Spielberg, he joked in disbelief: "Could you double-check the envelope?"
One of the stars of the film, Jack Nicholson, waited offstage to emotionally hug the director after his speech.
It was a matter of minutes before Scorsese experienced another first - a best picture win. While Scorsese looked on from the wings, "The Departed" was announced as best picture.
The story of rival mob and police moles remade from the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs" was the most popular film at the box office ($128.6 million, or EUR 97.9 million, in the U.S. and Canada) among the best-picture nominees. It also won for best adapted screenplay and best editing.
In years past, Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas," "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" all lost their best-picture bids.
As the losses mounted, Scorsese had clearly sought the statue, and seemed likely to finally win it two years ago for directing "The Aviator." But he lost to Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby," and 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."
Scorsese's first directing nomination was in 1981 for "Raging Bull"; Robert Redford won that year for "Ordinary People." Then came his nom for 1988's "The Last Temptation of Christ," but he was bested by Barry Levinson for "Rain Man." His "Goodfellas" lost to Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves" in 1991. In 2003 he was nominated for "Gangs of New York" but lost to Roman Polanski and "The Pianist."
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."
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969