The Genius of Martin Scorsese Has Hugo a Winner for All the Right Reasons

Martin Scorsese.

“Happy endings only happen in the movies,” said the melancholy shopkeeper Georges (Ben Kingsley) in Hugo, the film by Martin Scorsese. Both Hugo and Scorsese were up for Oscar awards for Best Picture and Best Director, but the silent picture The Artist took home the gold in those categories.

That doesn’t mean Scorsese isn’t a big winner, because as Kingsley said, the brilliant film “takes us the closest to the heart of cinema.” And that was Scorsese’s goal in making his first 3D film, which honors movie pioneer Georges Méliés who made the fantasy film A Trip to the Moon in Paris in 1902.

Hugo actually won in so many important movie-making categories, such as Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. The winning Visual Effects team put it best saying, “We wouldn’t be here without the genius of Martin Scorsese.” And the other Hugo winners who paraded on the stage to pick up their trophies in those categories, all were praising Scorsese for being “the driver who took us through this wonderful journey.”

Recently I saw Martin Scorsese at the AARP’s Movies for Grownups Awards, where he did take home a trophy for Breakthrough Accomplishment. That breakthrough was doing a movie in 3D, which he said gives him enormous pride.

The high-energy and passionate director talked about the process being nerve-racking. Scorsese said, “Any film that’s worth doing is nerve-racking, scary, and exciting because the picture, at least in the beginning stages, is going to take you into very unknown territories, because it has to. You have to discover it, to surprise yourself. And there were lots of surprises for us in this picture. And along with surprising yourself, you hope you surprise the audience. It gives them something to discover, too.”

He related the experience he went through doing his film in 3D, to the beginning of movie making. Scorsese explained, “Doing a picture like this is like new technology, yet moving back to the origins of movie-making itself and we’re back to where the filmmaking pioneer Georges Méliés started. We are paying tribute to the great filmmakers of the past, and the stars of the past.”

He added, “This picture is my first film in 3D and high-def. It should be seen in 3D. This is a 3D film as you can see, and not a gimmick. People who have seen the film two or three times have told me that. To me it’s a giant new technology, and it was scary, nerve-racking at times. But that makes it exciting.”

This film has the past and the present come together, and Scorsese said, “The truth is, in making this film you begin to learn so much more every day about what is possible in creating cinema.” That’s what drives Scorsese more than awards. But it seems wrong that this genius filmmaker just has one Oscar in his lifetime of brilliant credits.

During his hosting chores, Billy Crystal’s best line about Hugo was: “It can’t be a Martin Scorsese picture, because no one got wacked.” Sorry Billy, Marty does more than mob stories. We all know he is much more diverse than that — just look at Hugo.