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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 14:37 GMT
Martin Scorsese: Hollywood giant
Martin Scorsese
The Italian-American director emerged as a talent in the 1970s
Director Martin Scorsese's The Aviator is up for 11 Oscars, including best film and best director, and has already won three Golden Globes.

Scorsese has stood astride US cinema for three decades and his films such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas are now considered classics.

The Italian-American director is often mentioned in the same breath as legendary film-makers John Ford, Billy Wilder and Orson Welles.

Despite the critical acclaim, he has never won an Academy Award despite seven nominations for best director.

Raging Bull lost out at the Oscars in favour of Robert Redford's Ordinary People while Goodfellas was similarly ignored in 1991 when the Academy Award went to Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves.

Films such as 1993's The Age of Innocence and 1999's Bringing out the Dead were not given the critical praise of his earlier work.

SCORSESE HIGHLIGHTS
Mean Streets (1973)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Raging Bull (1980)
Goodfellas (1990)
Casino (1995)
Gangs of New York (2002)

But the recognition received by The Aviator, and Gangs of New York before it, marks a return to form for a director many felt had lost his way.

The 62-year-old director from Queens, New York, emerged as a talent in the 1970s.

The diminutive film-maker was one of a crop of directors who wanted to challenge Hollywood sensibilities.

Individual vision

Along with William Friedkin, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and Sydney Pollack, among others, Scorsese wanted to make films differently - to create an individual vision much in the same way as French directors had done in the past.

After flirting with the priesthood, Scorsese caught the eye of cult director Roger Corman after graduating from the film school of New York university.

His first major film, 1973's Mean Streets, established Scorsese's visceral style. It featured loners with style and attitude and a penchant for violence, set in rough neighbourhoods and filmed with an operatic verve and accompanied by powerful popular music.

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of The Aviator
Scorsese's film The Aviator has already proved a success
It also marked his relationship with two actors who helped define the Scorsese style - Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, who resembled the living embodiment of his movies.

Scorsese has frequently tried to work against type and direct films considered outside his field, making a musical, a Disney film, a music video and period drama - but with little success.

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, The King of Comedy, Kundun, The Age of Innocence and New York New York have all been considered major failures amid the classics he has produced.

He also directed the video for Michael Jackson's 1987 single Bad, something he almost certainly does not highlight on his CV.

Body of work

Academy voters tend to reward directors not only for achievement in one film but for a body of work, and Scorsese's back catalogue is stuffed with classics.

His previous Oscar hope, Gangs of New York, was dogged with problems.

Scorsese worked on the project for many years and filmed it at the Cinecitta studios in Rome, where many of the films made by his directing heroes were shot.

Gangs of New York
Scorsese directed Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York
The film was set between the 1840s and 1860s, a time when Irish and Italian gangs fought for control of the city's underworld.

It featured a bravura performance from actor Daniel Day-Lewis the film, who Scorsese coaxed out of retirement to star as gang leader William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting.

The film went head-to-head with heavyweight musical Chicago in 2003's Golden Globes - and lost.

In that year's Oscars it also lost out to Chicago for best picture and best director.

But the veteran director bounced back. Scorsese's The Aviator is an epic retelling of the life of one of America's most eccentric figures - the industrialist, aviation pioneer and film-producer Howard Hughes.

Again starring Scorsese's most recent muse Leonardo DiCaprio - who has also starred in Gangs of New York - the film scooped three awards at January's Golden Globes.

The Aviator was named best film, there was a best actor prize for DiCaprio and it took the best original score prize.

It has given a massive boost to Scorsese's chance of what many consider long-overdue Oscar recognition.


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Watch a clip from The Aviator



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