Hollywood’s big party is now over, and the town can put the Oscar race of 2006 behind it.
There is no doubt that the best film win by Martin Scorsese’s crime thriller “The Departed” left many movie fans happy. Scorsese, who has helmed movies such as “Raging Bull” and “GoodFellas,” also won the Oscar for best director, finally taking the prize after losing five times previously.
“It was an overwhelming moment for me,” Scorsese told reporters backstage at the Oscars on Sunday. “This comes as an extraordinary surprise and quite frankly the best picture was a big surprise … I’m just not used to winning.”
There also is no doubt the big night for “The Departed” left many other fans disappointed, and that is because the race for best film was so wide open. Each movie, “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Babel,” “The Queen,” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” had their ardent fans.
But is “The Departed” really the best movie of 2006? Very simply, no. It is, by the way, absolutely the best movie for the dominant block of voters at the roughly 6,000 member Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but that does not mean it is the best movie.
Any critic and any moviegoer will tell you that enjoying movies is a subjective notion. The same thing that makes some people cry in “Little Miss Sunshine,” makes others laugh. The structure of the disparate stories told in “Babel” intrigued many audiences while others simply grew confused.
It’s been that way throughout movie history, and it’s been that way through the 79 years of the Academy Awards. Quick, what was the best movie for 1939, “Wizard of Oz,” or “Gone With the Wind”? Both remain popular today, so they have stood the test of time. Yet only one could be chosen best film Oscar winner that year. It was “Gone With the Wind.”
Why can’t “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” be the best film of 2006? After all, it was No. 1 at box offices with $423 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales. That’s pretty good. “The Departed” had $131 million.
Scorsese and “Departed” won because the master director was long overdue for his record of classic movies, and the Academy finally gave him his just reward, the experts say. There is nothing wrong with that. The Academy is a club for all intents and purposes, and that club can do what it wants.
Filmgoing depends on many things, including the viewers’ mood at the time they see a film, their expectation of what story they will be told and how that story is told. Don’t let others decide what movie is good or bad, especially not a clubby group based in Beverly Hills with a highfalutin’ name like The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Meanwhile, as some of you may know, Pascal Pinck and I were on the red carpet Sunday night, and many of you sent us questions. We regret that we got to few of them because of the hectic pace. We do, however, hope you watched and enjoyed. Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming.