Grab some popcorn and a ten-gallon hat, because this Oscar Rodeo is kicking into high gear. Next up is Martin Scorsese's tale of cops and robbers in South Boston.
Nominations: 5 total. Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, and Best Supporting Actor (for Marky Mark).
Plot Summary: Leonardo DiCaprio is a police mole on Jack Nicholson's Irish mob, while Matt Damon is Nicholson's mole in the police department. DiCaprio and Damon start looking for each other, Nicholson makes up a lot of his own dialogue, and Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg dominate every scene they're a part of. Many people get shot in the head.
Plot Summary from Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch:
Jack Nicholson became another victim of homicide
Because he chose to walk - on the Wildside
Title of the porn version: The Deflowered
Strengths: It's a Scorsese movie about gangsters. The Memorable Quotes page at IMDB is massive. The movie is rarely boring, the acting is good across the board, and the movie features the best use of the Dropkick Murphys since the 2004 Red Sox season. While I have reservations about the devoted partnership between Scorsese and DiCaprio, the end result is a huge increase in the number of big-budget sprawling films about Irish people. Also, there are a few stunning shot-in-the-head scenes.
Weaknesses: DiCaprio is not completely convincing as tough guy, or a resident of South Boston. I got the impression that Nicholson was improvising a lot, and as usual in a movie, it probably would have been better if they decided on the dialogue in advance. I wish there'd been more about how Damon disguises the constant stream of information he feeds to Nicholson about police movements, because it looks like he would be easily discovered. The ending strains plausibility because it requires such amazing sloppiness from Damon.
Drug use: Nicholson both sells and uses a ton of cocaine. DiCaprio is addicted to painkillers, and I'm not exactly sure where that came from. His hand injury earlier in the movie, I guess? I suspect the Vicodin addiction came from the filmmakers' need to make his character more complex.
Physical or mental impairments: None, although Marky Mark thinks the majority of the police deparment is fuckin retahded.
Portrayals of real people: None.
Cute children: No kids except the child version of Matt Damon.
Physical transformations: Nicholson has crazy long hair, but I get the feeling he looks like that in his daily life. It's likely that Jack Nicholson is a really gross guy. I wouldn't be surprised if Nicholson is wearing his own clothes, writing his own lines, and even providing his own rubber dildos for this film. More on that later.
Does a man cry?: If so, only because he's been shot.
Box office: $129 million versus a budget of $90 million.
Running time: 151 minutes.
Feels like: 146 minutes.
Favorite scene: There are so many great Wahlberg moments in this film, but I think my favorite one comes when Baldwin introduces him to the police task force:
Baldwin: Go fuck yourself.
Wahlberg: I'm tired from fucking your wife.
Baldwin: How is your mother?
Wahlberg: Good, she's tired from fucking my father.
Least-favorite scene: DiCaprio secretly follows Nicholson to his meeting with Damon at an adult movie theater. This scene should be extremely tense, but it's ruined when Nicholson surprises Damon by lunging into him with a rubber dildo strapped to his crotch, and then laughs at Damon's surprise. It's not funny, it's weird, and it's sort of gross. It also ruins the tension of the scene, since waving around a rubber dildo destroys the secrecy of the proceedings.
The DiCaprio Counundrum: I don't think DiCaprio is a bad actor, but in this movie, he's miscast. He doesn't convince me as a tough guy, and his accents suck. This was true for Gangs of New York, and it's true again for The Departed. I also get bored watching him. Is this because I only see him in three-hour epic Scorsese Oscar-bait dramas? Maybe.
In case you're wondering, his dialect work doesn't improve much with Blood Diamond.
A Mark Wahlberg quote, just for the hell of it: "You may play a tough guy for your gangster friends, but you don't get nothing past me, you lace-curtain Irish fucking pussy."
And one more: "Blow me. Not literally, though, unfortunately there's no promotion involved."
Overall theme: There's a lot about loyalty, and keeping one's identity while pretending be someone else, but ultimately, this is an art film about being shot in the head.
Prediction: Martin Scorsese is a lock. I also think it will win for Editing, and Adapted Screenplay. Best Picture is a total crapshoot this year, but The Departed still has to be considered the favorite. Little Miss Sunshine might take it, but I think The Departed will ultimately finish with four Oscars.
Deserves: I would vote for Wahlberg,
Scorsese, and Editor Theresa Schoonmaker (not that I know editing) for a total of three two Oscars.
(Edit, 2/25/07: Changed my mind about who deserves Best Director. Scorsese deserves a time machine Oscar for Taxi Driver or Goodfellas, but The Queen is simply a better movie than The Departed. If it was Best Director Of Gunshots To the Head, I would vote Marty with no hesitation.)