Nominated for best director five times without winning, Martin Scorsese at last captured the director Oscar for “The Departed.” With a “Departed” victory for best picture, double whammy makes it the first time one of his movies won the top honor as well.
Film also won the editing and adapted screenplay trophies for Thelma Schoonmaker and William Monahan, respectively.
In addition to “The Aviator,” Scorsese was nominated in the director category for “Gangs of New York,” “Goodfellas,” “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Raging Bull.”
It was three of Scorsese’s peers that opened the envelope for best director — Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, his colleagues from the “film school” generation. Whistles and a standing ovation followed, naturally.
“Thank you, thank you,” The intense, bespectacled director said. “Could you double check the envelope?”
He went on to say, “So many people have been wishing this for me over the years…doctors, strangers…this is for you.”
Scorsese laid low this awards season after losing the director prize two years ago for “Aviator.” (The Oscar went to Clint Eastwood for “Million Dollar Baby.”) He also did a major push when nominated for “Gangs of New York.”
Nor was “Departed” a passion project for Scorsese, who boarded the Warner Bros. film as a director for hire. The pic is the most commercially successful of Scorsese’s career, having earned $278.2 million at the box office worldwide.
With his career enjoying a strong shot of adrenaline thanks to “Departed,” Scorsese recently inked a lucrative first-look, three-picture producing and directing deal with Paramount.
Scorsese is better off than Robert Altman and Alfred Hitchcock, who were each nominated as director five times without a win. Altman received an honorary Oscar last year. Hitchcock also was awarded an honorary Oscar.
Hollywood’s history books are replete with other revered directors who never heard their name being read the winner, including Stanley Kubrick and King Vidor.