Thelma Schoonmaker Says It Was “Devastating” To See ‘Raging Bull’ Lose Best Picture, Says Martin Scorsese Should Have “At Least Seven” Oscars

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There isn’t a director-editor relationship in Hollywood more fruitful than Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker. The pair have worked on every single one of Scorsese’s films since 1980’s “Raging Bull,” and first worked together on Scorsese’s 1967 debut, “Who’s That Knocking On My Door?” That’s twenty one movies in all, with Schoonmaker winning Oscars for Best Editing for three of them: “Raging Bull,” “The Aviator,” and “The Departed.”

But despite Schoonmaker’s three Oscar wins, a record for female editors, Scorsese only has one: for Best Director on “The Departed.” And as far as his longtime editor is concerned, he deserves many more than that. In a new interview with Esquire, Schoonmaker talked about Scorsese’s lack of Oscar victories, and laments that he didn’t win Best Picture or Best Director for “Raging Bull.” “Yeah, we’re not very lucky with the Oscars,” she said, “I mean, Marty has deserved many.” Scorsese’s 1980 film lost to Robert Redford‘s “Ordinary People” for both prizes at that year’s Academy Awards. It was the first of nine times he was nominated for Best Director at the ceremony.

When her interviewer said Schoonmaker has been luckier than Scorsese at the Oscars, she replied, “I know, and that’s not fair. Because they’re really his as well as mine. But Marty should have won at least seven, as far as I’m concerned. But we’re very unlucky at the Oscars.” When asked why Scorsese doesn’t win more often, Schoonmaker responded, “because the films are sometimes very unusual. And people are sometimes not used to it, or they resist it, or [resist] voting for it.”

Schoonmaker thinks that’s what happened when Scorsese lost to Redford at the 53rd Academy Awards in 1981. “I think he would have liked to win for “Raging Bull,”” the editor continued. “When we were standing there, those of us who did win, I was waiting for Marty to come with his Oscar. And he didn’t. It was the worst night of my life. It was devastating that he didn’t win. A movie like that, that is so brilliantly directed. But it was a tough movie.”

But Schoonmaker couldn’t disparage Redford’s double win that night. “And “Ordinary People,” I understand it’s a very good movie, I’ve never seen it,” she said of Redford’s film, a drama about a family coping with the suicide of one of their sons. “But people were maybe a bit put off by the toughness of “Raging Bull.” But look how it’s lasted. It’s a benchmark movie.”

It’s almost a certainty that Scorsese and Schoonmaker will received Oscar nods for their latest movie together, “Killers Of The Flower Moon.” And given its critical reception, the film could be a favorite at this winter’s ceremony for Best Editor, Best Director, and Best Picture. But even if Scorsese’s new movie wins anything this year, Schoomaker will still think the director deserves more. And Scorsese’s fans think so, too, for “Raging Bull” and so many of his other masterpieces.

Thelma Schoonmaker Says It Was “Devastating” To See ‘Raging Bull’ Lose Best Picture, Says Martin Scorsese Should Have “At Least Seven” Oscars

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