Finally, After All These Years, It's Marty's Party

It's been a long time coming -- Marty meet Oscar!

The seventh time's the charm for perennial nominee Martin Scorsese, who finally won his Best Director award for Boston mob thriller "The Departed" at the 79th Annual Academy Awards tonight.

"Could you double-check the envelope?" Scorsese quipped when he took the podium. After 26 years of frustration and six directing nominations going back to 1981's "Raging Bull," the fast-talking film maker had the night he's been waiting for all his life.

As the star-filled crowd at the Kodak Theater stood up and gave him a standing ovation, Scorsese hugged his presenters, the trio of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, and thanked his family, making light of his long quest.

"So many people have been wishing this for me -- strangers," said the diminutive director, describing how everywhere he goes, from elevators to doctor's offices people say they're rooting for him. "I go for an X-ray - 'I wish you would win one.'"

Waiting in the wings was the film's star, Jack Nicholson, who gave the director a bear hug. And the pair got another surprise when the film won Best Picture a few minutes later.

Scorsese seemed to relish the moment -- just two years ago, he seemed likely to win it for directing "The Aviator," but he lost to Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby."

This time around, Eastwood, who was also nominated for directing the World War II drama, "Letters from Iwo Jima," was the also-ran.

Scorsese made his mark with the gritty realism of "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver," which spotlighted his longtime collaboration with acting legend Robert De Niro.