Is Scorsese Oscar Poison?

"Last Temptation" might be the best example of a Scorsese movie that's highly respected but too controversial to win. Scorsese's best chance may have been with "Goodfellas." Certainly, in the years since, Costner has seen his career plummet.

Scorsese's other Academy Award nominations came for co-writing the screenplays to "Goodfellas" and "The Age of Innocence," which came out three years later. Neither prevailed on Oscar night.

Stanley Kubrick: Four Directorial Nominations
For "Barry Lyndon" in 1976. Winning director: Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest")
For "A Clockwork Orange" in 1972. Winning director: William Friedkin ("The French Connection")
For "2001: A Space Odyssey" in 1969. Winning director: Carol Reed for ("Oliver!")
For "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" in 1965. Winning director: George Cukor ("My Fair Lady")

It's interesting to note that the first two times Kubrick lost, Oscar voters were clearly going for feel-good family entertainment. But in his last two Oscar bids, he was beaten out by directors with gritty, R-rated films.

Together with nominations for best picture, screenwriting and other achievements, Kubrick has been an Oscar contender 13 times. But his only award came for best visual effects for "2001."

Sidney Lumet: Four Directorial Nominations
For "The Verdict" in 1983. Winning director: Richard Attenborough ("Gandhi")
For "Network" in 1977. Winning director: John G. Avildsen ("Rocky")
For "Dog Day Afternoon" in 1976. Winning director: Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest")
For "12 Angry Men" in 1958. Winning director: David Lean ("The Bridge on the River Kwai")

Sweeping historical epics tend to be winners. And "Gandhi" and "Bridge on the River Kwai" fit the bill. Like Kubrick, Lumet lost to "Cuckoo's Nest" in 1976. "Rocky," the film, turned out to be much like Rocky, the character -- an unknown that came out of nowhere to score 10 nominations and win three Oscars

Lumet was also nominated for co-writing "Prince of the City," but his honorary award this year is his only Oscar.

Orson Welles: One Directorial Nomination
For "Citizen Kane" in 1942. Winning director: John Ford ("How Green Was My Valley")

"Citizen Kane" earned nine nominations and won for best original screenplay. Welles, who had a hand in writing the movie, shared that award with Herman Mankiewicz. While "Citizen Kane" is often spoken of as one of Hollywood's greatest achievements, its failure at the Academy Awards can be explained. It was a commercial failure, losing $150,000.

By 1948, Welles had moved to Europe, and even some of his best films, such as "Touch of Evil," were more popular abroad. When the academy gave him his honorary Oscar in 1971, he was not at the ceremony, accepting the award with a pre-recorded speech.

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