After watching the Oscars Sunday (a.k.a. getting highlights the next day because I passed-out somewhere in-between the awards for “Best Sock-Puppet in a foreign-short” and “Best Sock-Puppet Designer in a foreign-short”) it’s obvious that “make-up calls” aren’t exclusive to sports – they’ve made their way into the movies, too.
A make-up call in the sporting world occurs when “a referee makes an obvious mistake in penalizing a team or a player, and in an effort to rectify the irreversible screw-up, said referee arbitrarily hands-out an equally bad or worse penalty against the opposite team or player.”
Awarding “Best Picture” to The Departed and “Best Director” to its maker, Martin Scorsese, was a monster make-up call.
Starring Jack Nicholson (all-around bad guy), Matt Damon (bad guy pretending to be good guy) and Leonardo DiCaprio (good guy pretending to be bad guy), The Departed was an average mob movie at best. The plot had potential, the ending was pleasantly unpredictable, and the violence – not action – was definitely on par with Scorsese’s previous mob classics (i.e. Good Fellas and Casino). But two and a half hours of unconvincing and underdeveloped characters (giving everyone heavy and phony Boston accents doesn’t make them complex, it makes them annoying), pointlessly loud and vulgar dialogue (two unrelated conversations about menstruation, for example), and too many “Can you hear me now?” filler scenes spent talking on or looking at a cell phone made this one hard to enjoy.
A good actor or actress has to be believable. When you see Matt Damon, you don’t think “slick crooked-mobster cop,” you think, “Ben Affleck.” When you see Leonardo DiCaprio, you don’t picture “gritty undercover agent with a bad attitude,” you think, “wasn’t he on a few episodes of that show Growing Pains starring Kirk Cameron?” I would have rather seen Jack Nicholson re-do his role as “The Joker” from Batman for this one, because his portrayal of an Irish mobster with an Italian last name in The Departed was even weirder.
Other than looking sexy to the Academy, this movie looks like four pounds of big names (including Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Mark Walhberg) and big budget bulging out of a three-pound bag – with no space for the story or the acting.
So how come Scorsese won? Because he’s great, and he’s been ripped-off for “Best Director” five times before. Plus, with his name attached to that line-up of actors, doing the type of movie he does best – for Scorsese not to win would be like the Vatican telling the Pope that his services are no longer needed.
It’s a make-up call – I think. See, The Departed was the only Oscar nominated film I’ve seen this year, so I’m not even sure if the others are getting the shaft to correct a previous shafting, it’s just an assumption. But look at it this way, if those movies are better than this one, then there’s something to look forward to. If they are all worse – then in this case the least stinky of the bunch got the soap.