Legendary Director Martin Scorsese Still Pained by These 2 Oscar Snubs, Despite 50+ Year Illustrious Career

Published 09/26/2023, 3:26 PM EDT

via Imago

Martin Scorsese is a name synonymous with cinema. Ever since his arrival 56 years ago with Who’s That Knocking At My Door, he has told his stories in a distinctive style. The auteur’s efforts have seen him earn 9 directorial Oscar nominations (one win). The many defeats may have stung, with him only having to graciously smile in defeat at home or applaud the winner as a losing nominee. However, from all the setbacks, two four-decade-old snubs remain fresh.

The Academy has been kinder to Martin Scorsese since the turn of the century, with six directorial nominations. This is something the 80-year-old appreciated, but it is the initial snubs that served as an important learning

Martin Scorsese learned something in the 70s and 80s


Article continues below this ad

Martin Scorsese did not earn Academy recognition quickly. Following films like Mean Streets, and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, his stock rose. And then came 1976 when his Taxi Driver hit cinemas. While Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster got nominations, Scorsese did not. Four years later, the director received the nod for Raging Bull and lost. Over 42 years and 18 films later, and after 13 nominations (8 director, 2 Screenplay, 3 film), Martin Scorsese opened up on a takeaway from these losses.

In a chat with GQ, Martin Scorsese said, “I always liked being nominated at the Academy, even though knowing, especially the fact that they didn’t nominate us for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, when I didn’t get the Oscar, I understood that that wasn’t my lot in life…You can’t make a movie for an award. Sure, I would’ve liked it, but like, so what?”

Martin Scorsese may have been eager to convert his first nomination to a win, but Ordinary People‘s Robert Redford took the prize. Over time, though, he understood that a lack of nominations shouldn’t be a factor. Hence, the auteur continued to tell the stories he wanted.

In a glorious spell of over 50 years, names like Silence, Casino, Kundun, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Hugo come to mind. Audiences remember Scorsese’s work despite them not having earned him golden statuettes. This is something the director does not mind, as he had learned another important lesson. 

Scorsese once claimed all he could do was make more pictures 

Numerous directors and actors have retired without an Oscar. Names like Jean-Luc Godard, Stanley Kubrick, and Ingmar Bergman come to mind. Martin Scorsese has one win for his work in The Departed. Widely considered as a career award, the 2006 film isn’t the auteur’s greatest work. Years before that win, in a 1991 chat with David Rensin for Playboy magazine, he shed light on this very concept. 

“I get chills now thinking about the Academy Awards televised in black and white in the early Fifties. But as I grew up, I understood that when they give you an Oscar, it doesn’t mean it’s always for your best picture. Howard Hawks never got one. Alfred Hitchcock never got one. Orson Welles never got one.” 

“If I win, it doesn’t mean that GoodFellas is better directed than Raging Bull or Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. I think a great deal of the Academy, but much of it has to do with timing. The only thing you can do is make more pictures. In other words, it’s the old story: You keep proving yourself time after time after time.”


Article continues below this ad

It is indeed all about timing, with several examples of a good film getting nominated in the wrong year. Brokeback Mountain and The Power of The Dog are recent examples. 


After Steven Spielberg’s Netflix Deal, Martin Scorsese and His Movie on the OTT Gets a Release Date and a Teaser

4 months ago

In 1991, Scorsese’s Goodfellas lost the top prize and Best Director to Dances with Wolves. Unperturbed, he went on creating cinema and proving himself. That will have been the driving motivation that allowed him to be a director who pushed for longer films in the present age. Martin Scorsese even joined hands with the streamers as they gave him the canvas to present his unblemished masterpieces to cinephiles. 


Article continues below this ad

Scorsese’s 27th feature film directorial (Killers of The Flower Moon) made its debut in Venice and will hit select cinemas before releasing on Apple TV. It is a rarity in the present day, as a standalone, non comic-book and a runtime of over 200 minutes. 

What do you make of Martin Scorsese’s learnings from two painful snubs?



Reubyn Coutinho

42 articles

Reubyn Coutinho is an Editor and Film Critic at Netflix Junkie. This Mass Media Graduate from St. Xavier's has attended MAMI (2019) as a film critic.