Scorsese finally did it.
After five tries and the endless indignation of his fan base, Martin Scorsese won Best Director on Sunday night and the crowd instantly stood to applaud him.
"Could you double check the envelope?" he nervously asked, but the enormous smile on his face said it all. Scorsese has previously been nominated for films like "Raging Bull" and "Good Fellas" but wasn't even nominated for "Taxi Driver."
Now, all is forgiven. In the end, "The Departed" was the biggest winner of the night, also picking up Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Editing. It was a fitting celebration for a director who has been long overdue for recognition by the Academy.
This, as the peak to the 79th Annual Academy Awards, came nearly four hours in?but you wouldn't have known it. This was a well-produced, entertaining Oscars, and much of the credit should go to the host Ellen DeGeneres.
DeGeneres was engaging in her opening monologue and kept the energy going throughout the night with gags like "Ellen's Oscar Bjorn," which she designed so the stars could keep their hands free and still carry around their Oscars. Much credit is due to her impeccable comedic timing. For her success on Sunday, DeGeneres deserves to be asked back again in the coming years.
Entertaining vignettes added to the proceedings, like Jack Black and Will Ferrell's skit on how comedy isn't respected, the fantastic dance troupe Pilobolus that made human sculptures of this year's iconic film symbols, and the Sound Effects Chorus.
In the acting categories, most of the expected winners were victorious. In her first film performance, Jennifer Hudson won Supporting Actress as a struggling singer in "Dreamgirls." Forest Whitaker earned a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in "The Last King of Scotland," about Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda. Hudson is only the third African-American and Whitaker the fourth to win in their respective categories.
Helen Mirren reigned supreme on Sunday as she had all year long, winning Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth II in "The Queen." She is the first actress in her 60s to win the award since the late '80s.
Alan Arkin also is one of the oldest winners of the Best Supporting Actor award. He won for his performance as the foul-mouthed grandpa in the indie crossover hit "Little Miss Sunshine."
Upon winning the award he remarked, "I'm deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the possibility of innocence, growth and connection." "Little Miss Sunshine" also won for Original Screenplay.
Though none of them came away with an Oscar in the Best Director category, the three Mexican directors led the international contingent at this year's awards. "Pan's Labyrinth" garnered the next most Oscars of any film, with three wins in technical categories. However, "Pan's" lost in Foreign Film to Germany's "The Lives of Others." "Babel" picked up an Oscar for Original Score.
Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" led the socially conscious portion of this year's Oscar telecast and garnered two Oscars, including one for Best Documentary. Onstage with Leonardo DiCaprio, Gore announced this is the first "green" Oscars ever, applauding Oscar organizers for using environmentally friendly practices to produce the show. Upon winning for Best Song, Melissa Etheridge reiterated this, saying "Caring about the earth is not Republican or Democrat. It's not red or blue. We are all green."
But the night still belonged to Scorsese. If only every Oscars could end with a moment this satisfying.
If you're going to be in the area during spring break, the 10th annual Maine Jewish Film Festival will be happening in Portland from March 17-25. The festival includes both short and feature-length films, and includes fiction documentary features. There's sure to be something worth checking out. Look up www.mjff.org to find out more.
"Little Children," an Oscar-nominated film, is now open at the Eveningstar Cinema in the Tontine Mall. Starring Kate Winslet, Jackie Earle Haley (both nominated), and Patrick Wilson, it tells the story of Sarah and Brad (Winslet and Wilson), adulterous suburban parents struggling with the social conservatism of their community. Directed by Todd Field ("In the Bedroom"), this one is worth a look. Now playing at 3:20 and 7:50 p.m. Check out www.eveningstarcinema.com for more information.