Is this finally, at last, Martin Scorsese's year? Is it possible that the director of "The Departed" will be recognized for his work and for his movie, get his Oscars and finally be able to let go a sigh of relief?
It sure looks better now than ever.
Scorsese's "The Departed" is a hit, a bona fide, solid hit, raking in more than $60 million and holding the No. 1 slot down for 12 days. And with that domestic take and $17 million in international sales, "The Departed" will not just break even but make some money.
Of course, ironies abound in this story. Not the least of which is that Harvey Weinstein tried like crazy to get Scorsese hits (and respect) with his two previous films, "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator."
He came so close, it's almost painful now to see all that work — and it was a lot of work — pay off. When Scorsese arrived at Weinstein's doorstep in 2000, his career was not at its best.
After the back-to-back successes of "Goodfellas" and "Cape Fear," Scorsese lost his way a little. "Casino" is considered a great mess of sorts, which was followed by "Kundun" — a movie no one other than Scorsese really wanted to see — and "Bringing Out the Dead," a lesser film for a director who'd reached new heights with classics like "Raging Bull," "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver" and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore." Even "After Hours" (a personal favorite) seemed more focused.
With Weinstein, Scorsese came raging back with a one-two punch: the dark, violent and memorable "Gangs" and the more sedate, epic and beautiful "Aviator." Each garnered numerous Oscar nods.
It could be said that Daniel Day-Lewis was robbed of an Oscar for his extraordinary performance in "Gangs." "The Aviator," as a whole, was considered a better movie than "Million Dollar Baby" by many. But both films fell short, and Scorsese continued to be at a loss Oscar-wise.
Now here's "The Departed," with so many strong actors that word has not yet come down about who will be tapped for lead and supporting Oscar nods.
Is Jack Nicholson's crazed villain supporting? Yes. But he's on screen at least as much as Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, both of whom deserve shots at the lead awards. Then there's a host of supporting players, starting with Alec Baldwin, who do great work.
And there's one other thing: Everyone likes "The Departed." There's no debate about it. Audiences love it. Strangers and people outside of the business talk about it. Scorsese has not had a popular hit on this scale since "Goodfellas," which was some 16 years ago.
If Warner Bros. plays its cards right, "The Departed" will be its Oscar entry for Best Picture, along with Bill Condon's "Dreamgirls" and three others from a list that still includes Emilio Estevez's "Bobby," Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center," Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" and Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers."
The "B-list" of best picture nods includes "The Queen," "Notes on a Scandal," "The Last King of Scotland," "Blood Diamond," "The Good Shepherd," "The Painted Veil" and "The History Boys."
But even "The Departed" is not all of what it seems. To wit: Now that the movie is a hit, sources say look out for who takes credit for what. This could be slightly bloodier than what goes on in the film.
According to the Internet Movie Database, 13 producers are listed as being involved with the film. Not all those names made it to the screen, however, and some of those that did are not in the right place.
For example: Jennifer Aniston's name has been erased from the list of producers since she and Brad Pitt split. It was their company, Plan B, that was originally involved, along with producer Brad Grey before he left to run Paramount.
The result is that Grey and Pitt's names stayed on, even though they did nothing to make the movie, and Aniston's was dumped. However, Kristin Hahn, known for being a bridesmaid at the Aniston-Pitt ill-fated nuptials, remained.
"Brad controlled the credits," a source says, which explains a few other things.
Short shrift has been given, I am told, to the two producers who actually made "The Departed," oversaw its daily schedule and did the hard work: G. Mac Brown and Rick Schwartz.
Somewhere along the way, in fact, they were demoted, although Scorsese, sources say, "knows who did what and he's not likely to forget."
Schwartz — who also oversaw "Gangs" and "The Aviator" — has since ended his partnership with another "Departed" producer, Graham King, and gone out on his own.
Meanwhile, everyone who loves "The Departed" will want to see a director's cut one day with DVD outtakes. There were many significant changes made before the film was deemed releasable by Warner Bros.
Apparently, Vera Farmiga's character of a police shrink torn between a cop and a criminal was greatly watered down.
"In the original, Vera cursed a lot," one insider says. "She used the f-word constantly. They went back in and took them all out."
Another scene, devised by Nicholson, in which he has a threesome with two lovelies, also had to be drastically altered. Viewed now, it's almost unclear what's happening. That wasn't always the case.
"[Warners chief] Alan Horn went green when he saw [the scene]," a source says. "It featured one of the female participants with a ball in her mouth like a bit, and she was bent over the bed."
The scene instantly became "The Departed" ... literally.
Heather Mills McCartney isn't satisfied with taking a nice sum (maybe as much as $30 million) for her four years with billionaire husband Paul. Yesterday she released her 13-page divorce action, which is full of truly nasty accusations against the ex-Beatle.
Mills has not done herself much of a service here, other than to make more enemies. Already disliked by McCartney's family and millions of Beatle fans, Mills should have just taken the offer. Does she really think the world is going to believe the picture she's described of a cruel, vindictive husband abusing her and vomiting on himself? It's not bloody likely.
Mills has simply proven what everyone said from the beginning: She was in it for the money ...
Were your ears burning last night? Too many gossip columnists gathered at Nello's on Madison Avenue to celebrate publication of Trevor White's "Kitchen Con" (Arcade Books). There was so much dishing, there was nary enough time to sample Nello Balan's delicious Italian dishes.
Everyone was talked about, including missing columnists like former Daily News scribe Lloyd Grove, said to be first in line to run the East Coast division of Web site www.tmz.com ...
Also buzz-worthy: Don't believe what you hear about the Anthony Pellicano case being "over" in regards to certain individuals in Hollywood. Prosecutors are not done with this case, and they're still investigating all the parties involved or previously mentioned ...