(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: The Departed (2006)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Leaning heavily on the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, a group of actors decide enough is enough and get Martin Scorsese his fucking Oscar
Why It’s on the List: I don’t think this is actually Scorsese’s second or third best film, but I can’t really call Taxi Driver or Raging Bull favorites. I think this is another entertaining epic crime drama from the master of them. Even though Scorsese is older, he is still able to maintain tremendous pacing (Thelma Schoonmaker undoubtedly deserves a lot of the credit too for her continued fantastic editing) in a 2.5 hour movie, something that’s not easy.
Although Jack Nicholson did a couple movies after this one, this came across like a bit of a last hurrah. Nicholson had somehow never worked with Scorsese, and it was great to see him cut up. Like Pacino, there are points when Nicholson devolves into a parody of himself, but in a movie like this, it works because gangsters are larger than life characters. Leonardo DiCaprio continued his collaboration with Scorsese and got to spend a lot of time acting against Nicholson. Matt Damon got to play more of a sleaze, something he often doesn’t get to do. If the top line wasn’t enough, you’ve got Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg in supporting roles.
This felt pre-destined to win Best Director and eventually Best Picture. This was a really weak year, and I would argue it was much better than any of the nominees. As much as people want to criticize certain make-up awards, I’d argue you could do a lot worse than a movie with the quality of actors and director. There are some great twists and turns. This is a great story just on the surface because you’ve got the main protagonist hanging around a gangster and the main antagonist hanging around the cops. This is a small thing, and probably unrealistic, but I really enjoyed the way texting is used.
The Departed is a great artefact, and even it’s not the best of Scorsese’s best, it’s one of his most entertaining.
*The visual of Jack Nicholson hitting on the underage daughter of a store owner is pretty gross.
*Some definite casual homophobia thrown around.
MVP: Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all-time, and he should have won the Best Director Oscar on so many other projects. This is a historical project because Scorsese did finally get his statue. Winning a statue does not make a great director. However, this was the culmination of a 30 year career. He’s gone on to make even more great films and continues to remain relevant. Many of his peers like Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas are no longer active filmmakers. Robert Zemeckis and Michael Mann have struggled in modern times. Scorsese has struggled to get his movies financed but any movie he does is still relevant and continues to get nominated (even if The Irishmen got shut out)
Best Performance: I don’t know if Mark Wahlberg is acting or not. It’s possible he’s just playing himself, not with the volume turned up. I’m almost convinced Wahlberg is just this way. In a movie featuring some of the best actors of multiple generations, Wahlberg steals the show. He doesn’t have to carry a lot of the emotional weight, but comes in, behaves like a smart ass, and peaces out. The fact that Dignam gets the last laugh so to speak is quite the twist, and I’m still not sure about the ending 14 years later.
Best Quote: “You sit there with a mass murderer. A mass murderer. Your heart rate is jacked, and your hand… steady. That’s one thing I figured out about myself in prison. My hand does not shake… ever.” – Billy Costigan
Is there a sequel? Technically no. Infernal Affairs did though.