By John H. Foote
So yes, this got under my skin today.
Seems the Marvel groupies and purists are lashing out at Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola for saying what many of us have been saying for years. The superhero films from Marvel are in no way film art, with The Dark Night (2008) being an exception and not a Marvel film.
The latest attack is that Scorsese does not explore women in his films or offer them decent roles. Have these people even seen a Scorsese film? I ask the Marvel fans, no doubt geniuses in film history (insert sarcasm here) has a single actress from a Marvel superhero film been nominated? Nope.
Coppola and Scorsese are two of the greatest artists in film history and have earned their right to their opinion. When a Marvel film achieves the status of Apocalypse Now (1979), The Godfather (1972), or The Godfather Part II (1974) all Coppola masterpieces, or Scorsese’s extraordinary filmography, which includes Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), The Departed (2006), The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) and The Irishman (2019), perhaps then, their fans will have the right to attack these two titans. Until then, shut the hell up.
Following are the work of select actresses in Scorsese’s film, many of the Oscar-nominated.
Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
Burstyn won an Oscar as Best Actress as a recently widowed mom who hits the road to become a singer. In doing so she finds herself and her own independence. One of the seventies’ greatest performances.
Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver (1976)
Just thirteen when she wowed critics as a young prostitute being exploited by a vile pimp and saved by a crazed cabbie who slaughters her keepers. Foster was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Liza Minnelli in New York, New York (1977)
Though the film failed, Minnelli was luminous as a post-war singer who rises to stardom in spite of her husband and marriage. The actress was brilliant but nobody noticed.
Cathy Moriarty in Raging Bull (1980)
As the beautiful, battered wife of boxer Jake LaMotta, Moriarty was super. Her beauty becomes more and more fractured through the film as her life becomes desperately unhappy, the domestic abuse beating her down. In the end, she is haunting. Moriarty was an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress.
Sandra Bernhardt in The King of Comedy (1983)
Dangerously unhinged As Masha, a wealthy celebrity stalker who helps kidnap a popular talk show host with the intent on a night of passion. Bernhardt creates a woman who is truly frightening yet tragically alone and broken.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in The Color Of Money (1986)
In his sequel to The Hustler (1961), Scorsese cast Mastrantonio as the girlfriend of an up and coming pool hustler. Needed to manipulate him, she plays the game, knowing her importance and aware she is a pawn. Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Barbara Hershey in The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)
Hershey gave the book to Scorsese and years later was well cast as Mary Magdalene, the whore befriended by Christ. Hers is a powerful, seductive performance in a most controversial film.
Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas (1990)
Bracco is simply brilliant as Karen Hill, wife to monster Henry, aware of virtually everything he does, including murder. Though she often plays the lamb in the woods, Karen is aware of it all, which to the mob makes her dangerous and expendable. Another Oscar nominee.
Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear (1991)
Targeted by the vicious ex-convict who targets her family, Lewis is superb, coy and sexual as he flirts with her, turning terrified when she realizes who he is. Lewis and De Niro are electric in their big scene, creepy, dangerous, deeply unsettling. both were Oscar-nominated.
Michelle Pfeiffer in The Age Of Innocence (1993)
The finest performance of her impressive career, incredibly she was snubbed for her stunning performance. But then so was the film and Scorsese. Everyone knows how effective she was in the film, absolute genius. One of Scorsese’s finest however under-appreciated works.
Winona Ryder in The Age Of Innocence (1993)
Seeming dull-witted and silly, Winona Ryder’s character turns out to be the most cunning and ruthless of all. She is astounding in the film, quietly stealing every scene she is in, manipulating lives without their knowledge, all the way to an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Sharon Stone in Casino (1995)
The only Oscar nomination this fine film received was to Sharon Stone for Best Actress. As Ginger, the former call girl who marries Ace and slowly blows everything good in her life until she is a hopeless drug addict. Stone is sensational in the film, deserving of the praise and nomination though it should have been for supporting actress.,
Cate Blanchett in The Aviator (2004)
Astonishing as Katherine Hepburn, Blanchett nails the speech pattern, the walk, the air, and the confidence. It all looks so effortless! She won the Academy Award for Supporting Actress. She and DiCaprio, As young Howard Hughes have real heat, but she cannot deal with his mental illness.
Vera Farmiga in The Departed (2006)
Though a small part, the actress shines as a police department psychiatrist dating one man, seeing another, both deeply involved on both sides of crime. A superb performance among men.
Margot Robbie in The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)
This beautiful actress steals every scene in which she appears as the Duchess, who loves her husband but might love his hundreds of millions more. A stunning debut that should have earned her a nomination.
Fifteen, not bad. Nine nominated for Oscars, two winners. How many Marvel films have actresses nominated for awards? Let me tell you…none. Not one.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.