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THE DEPARTED - Scorsese Snags an Oscar

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

THE DEPARTED (Martin Scorsese, 2006); Screening on 5 July 2022

The year is 2007.

At the Oscars, a film about the crisis of climate change wins Best Documentary; Host Ellen Degeneres takes selfies with stars like Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg for her “Myspace;” And Best Picture goes to THE DEPARTED, a film that depicts a very thin line between cops and criminals. My, how things have… changed…?

One thing that has definitely stayed the same is how rare it is for Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest living American directors, to bring home a gold statue. He accomplished this feat for the first time with THE DEPARTED, which won Scorsese his first and only Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards.

Set in Boston with an ensemble of the Hollywood elite (Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg), this gangster crime thriller is actually a remake of INTERNAL AFFAIRS, a successful Hong Kong film about police officers leading double lives and high octane action and intrigue. THE DEPARTED’s Best Picture win made it the first remake to take home the honor since BEN HUR in 1959.

While most of Scorsese’s films are widely known and appreciated, when THE DEPARTED was released in 2006 the auteur hadn’t actually had a commercial success since GOODFELLAS in 1990. Earning 130 million at the box, THE DEPARTED was both a financial and artistic triumph, entertaining and allegorical/political.

Scorsese explains the film’s setting as a contemporary view of how Irish-American gangsters and police are engaged in “some kind of perennial war that has no foreseeable end. No one knows who they really are, or who anyone else really is. Institutions like the police, government, the church, offer no help. It’s a world that’s morally at ground zero.” The director further explains his motivation, “It comes out of an anger that’s really strong about the way things are, which I’m trying to harness, because I don’t want to be just nihilistic.”

Today, 15 years after the 2007 Oscars were telecast against a backdrop of massive upheaval and “forever wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan, distrust in our political institutions, a population just waking up to the realities of global warming, and the dawn of social media dominating our lives… much remains, undeparted.

[And Scorsese has yet to win another Oscar]

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