I've been watching all the movies that won the Oscar for Best Picture. Next on my list was the 2005 winner, The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson.
The Departed is a crime drama that delves into the Boston underworld, following both a police informant and a shady detective.
The other nominees for Best Picture that year were Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen. In addition to Best Picture, Crash also won Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay).
The Departed bears the distinction of being the first of Scorsese's many nominations to earn him the Best Director and Best Picture honors. While it might not be his most memorable, in terms of quotable moments, it is a well-balanced film, with the dialogue, cinematography, editing and acting all coming together to tell two interlacing stories.
Two sides cross paths in this movie: the Boston Police Department, where a crooked cop, Collin Sullivan, played by Matt Damon, takes advantage of promotions in order to better help his mobster benefactor, Frank Costello. The underworld is represented by Costello, played by Jack Nicholson. Meanwhile, a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, Billy Costigan, played by Leonard DiCaprio, accepts an offer to leave police training and become an undercover informant on the police payroll. His assignment: infiltrate Costello's gang and intercept a massive international shipment of highly sensitive materials.
As the story unfolds, the viewers are kept guessing: what will happen next? Will Costigan (and therefore the forces of good) ultimately succeed? Things become even more complicated when a love triangle develops, putting the love interest in danger.
The movie delivers both intrigue and surprises, and it is an extremely competent movie. But ultimately, it is unlikely to be the movie for which Scorsese is remembered.
Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)
Master filmmakers don't always win for their best work.