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Snub sequel or salute

London, Feb. 25: One of the more intriguing sub-plots at this weekend's Oscars will be whether the American Academy can maintain its less than noble record of denying an award to Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese, arguably the most-admired American director of recent times, has been nominated as best director this year for The Aviator ' his sixth nomination after Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993) and Gangs of New York (2002). All five lost to other contenders.

Add to this that he failed even to receive a directing nomination for two outstanding films, Taxi Driver and Casino, and it starts to look like a personal slight against Marty.

In overlooking him, the Academy also finds ways of rubbing salt in the wound. His masterpiece Raging Bull lost out to the drab Ordinary People. The year Casino was ignored completely, the Oscar for directing went to ... Mel Gibson for Braveheart, which was this week voted the worst film ever to win an Oscar.

Why has Scorsese been snubbed over the years' One theory is that many of his films (Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver) feature low-lives, bad guys and foul-mouthed reprobates: characters that Academy voters, who often exhibit a prissy, conservative streak, have no wish to honour.

Whatever the reason, at least the Oscar-less Scorsese has been able to console himself that he is in excellent company. A long list of actors criminally ignored by the Academy includes Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum. That's before we get to the filmmakers: Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for directing.

That's not to say that some of the above names have not received awards at Oscar ceremonies. The Academy doles out honorary career awards to correct its embarrassing oversights. Anthony Holden, who wrote a book on the history of the Oscars, calls these 'Whoops, We Forgot You' awards.

This weekend The Aviator gives Scorsese a chance of finally receiving his due. It would only add to the long list of Academy blunders if he has to wait a few more years for a 'Whoops, We Forgot You' award.

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