Tomorrow’s 17th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards ceremony just went electric.
The Broadcast Film Critics Association has announced that singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Olivia Harrison (widow of Beatle George Harrison), will participate in Martin Scorsese’s Music+Film Award tribute. DiCaprio and Harrison will present the award, while Dylan (who was featured briefly in Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz” in 1978 and in depth in the 2005 documentary “No Direction Home”) will toast the director with a performance.
Scorsese was announced in December as the second recipient of the award, which was inaugurated last year when it was presented to filmmaker Quentin Tarantino at the 2011 CCMA ceremony. The award honors “a single filmmaker who has touched audiences through cinematic storytelling and has heightened the impact of films through the brilliant use of source and original music.”
Scorsese’s film, “Hugo,” meanwhile, was nominated for 11 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards by the BFCA, including Best Picture and Best Director. His documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” was also nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category.
It’s obviously an inspired selection, and a more apt choice for the honor than even last year’s recipient, I’d wager. But it all dovetails nicely with Scorsese’s work this year. And it will be a real treat to see Dylan offer up what’s sure to be a fantastic tribute performance.
What follows is an essay I contributed to the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards program in honor of Scorsese’s receiving the award:
From the famous bass drum intro of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” to open 1973’s “Mean Streets,” to the melancholy intermingling of Dinah Washington’s “This Bitter Earth” and Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” to close 2010’s “Shutter Island,” the films of Martin Scorsese have been as much a musical education as they’ve been a cinematic one.
Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” is forever wedded to images of a strung-out Henry Hill scoping the skies for surveillance helicopters in “Goodfellas.” Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo” takes on a whole new meaning when laid over a silhouetted, ballerina-like Jake La Motta sparring with the air in “Raging Bull.”
There have been times, like this year’s collaboration with Howard Shore on “Hugo,” when Scorsese has seen fit to work with a film music composer for an original score. And those moments have been no less memorable: I can’t ride the streets on a rainy New York night without the building horns and crashing cymbals of Bernard Herrmann’s contribution to “Taxi Driver” creeping into my mind. The eerie cry of strings giving way to celebratory synth bells sounding at the end of “The Last Temptation of Christ,” meanwhile, never fails to stir a collision of emotions in my heart.
Documenting musicians and their work has been just as integral to Scorsese’s explorations on the screen as using their music to further narrative. Beginning with his involvement in Michael Wadleigh’s lightning-capturing “Woodstock” in 1970 on through concert films featuring The Band and The Rolling Stones, as well as in-depth studies of towering icons like Bob Dylan and George Harrison, Scorsese’s reverence for lyric and melody is as defining a characteristic of the artist as his often celebrated reverence for film.
And now, whether it’s Peggy Lee (“After Hours”), Philip Glass (“Kundun”), Van Morrison (“Bringing Out the Dead”), Johann Sebastian Bach (“Casino”), Bob Dylan (“The Last Waltz”), Elmer Bernstein (“The Age of Innocence”) or the Dropkick Murphys (“The Departed”), the moments flash as memories of the overall tapestry when we hear the tracks today.
That’s the power Scorsese wields as a constructionist, building story with what we hear, as much as with what we see, cementing those moments as classic, instantly and forever.
I was happy to contribute that to the program because, indeed, Scorsese’s work with music is very much a part of my cinematic upbringing, as I’m sure it is many others. The two elements are really inseparable.
The 17th annual Critics Choice Movie Awards, hosted by comedians Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel, will air live for the fifth straight year tomorrow on VH1 at 8pm ET/PT. It was announced this week that George Clooney will be on hand to present Sean Penn with the Joel Siegel Award for humanitarianism.
Meanwhile, Ty Burell, Vin Diesel, Kirsten Dunst, Donald Glover, Mindy Kaling, Ben Kingsley, Diane Kruger, Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, Jason Segel and Owen Wilson have all been confirmed as presenters.
You can refresh yourself on the CCMA nominees here.
For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.
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