Which Martin Scorsese Movie Won the Most Oscars?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t always get it right. However, the institution’s members have a way of making up for Oscar snubs (accidental or otherwise) in later years.
That’s probably the best explanation for Al Pacino winning the Best Actor Oscar for Scent of a Woman (1992) rather than four or five of his best performances from the 1970s. But legendary director Martin Scorsese had an even more bizarre path to his first Academy Award.
After not receiving directing nominations for classic films including Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and King of Comedy, Scorsese became the Academy’s favorite director from 2002-06.
With Scorsese’s The Irishman coming to theaters prior to making its home on Netflix, let’s take a look at the great director’s career as seen by Oscar voters. As you might expect, Scorsese’s most-admired films didn’t come close to later films in terms of Oscar count.
‘The Aviator’ and ‘Hugo’ top the Scorsese list for Oscar count.
While the 1970s rank among Scorsese’s finest decades as a filmmaker, he didn’t receive any Oscar nominations for his writing or directing. Taxi Driver, with a Best Picture nod and four altogether, did attract some notice.
However, it was nothing like the recognition lavished upon Gangs of New York (2002), which is among Scorsese’s weakest efforts (Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance aside). That film received a total of 10 nominations (including Best Director), though it didn’t win in any category.
Two years later, the Academy found itself wowed by Scorsese’s latest film, The Aviator. That picture, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, garnered a stunning 11 nominations and five wins — easily the high-water mark for any Scorsese film to that point.
In 2007, the Academy decided it couldn’t keep Scorsese out of the winner’s circle following The Departed. Scorsese took home the Best Director statue — and The Departed four altogether — at the 79th Academy Awards.
In 2012, Scorsese’s Hugo received 11 nods and won five Oscars, putting it in a tie with The Aviator for the most for any Scorsese film.
Prior to 2000, Scorsese’s most recognized film was ‘Raging Bull.’
Most film fans and critics believe Scorsese’s best work came prior to the flurry of nominations (and his sole win) in the new century. But the Academy apparently saw it differently. Though Joe Pesci did win Best Supporting Actor for Goodfellas (1990), Scorsese lost in all the big categories that year to Kevin Costner and Dances With Wolves.
That followed a familiar pattern set with Taxi Driver (Rocky won), The Last Temptation of Christ (Barry Levinson won Best Director for Rain Main), The Age of Innocence (Schindler’s List won for writing), and The King of Comedy (zero nominations).
Raging Bull, Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece, did get two Oscars (for Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing and De Niro’s performance as Jake La Motta). All told, it received eight nominations, which would be by far the most for a Scorsese picture until Goodfellas (six).