Martin Scorsese's THE AVIATOR is a lavish spectacle of a motion picture that harks back to Hollywood's Golden Era in telling the story of Howard Hughes, one of 20th-century America's most pioneering and influential figures. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the eccentric billionaire, Scorsese's biopic concentrates on Hughes's life between the 1920s and '40s, when he made striking contributions to both the film and aviation industries. At only 25 years of age, Hughes directed the most expensive film ever made up to that point, HELL'S ANGELS (1930), which Scorsese gleefully recreates here in all its sprawling, audacious glory. At the same time, he became known as an unabashed playboy, bedding the likes of Jean Harlow (singer Gwen Stefani), Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), and Katherine Hepburn (a brilliant Cate Blanchett). In the mid-'30s, he turned his attention to the aviation industry, where he quickly became world-renowned for shattering speed and distance records. He also continued to test the limits of flight technology, building bigger, faster, and stronger aircrafts. All the while, he struggled with an obsessive-compulsive disorder that sent him into a full-fledged tailspin after a near-fatal plane crash. The film concludes with Hughes being called before the Senate in 1947 to defend himself against the nefarious Senator Owen Brewster (Alan Alda), who accused Hughes of taking money from the United States government during wartime.
Stunningly photographed by Robert Richardson, Scorsese's nearly three-hour drama features an impassioned performance by DiCaprio, who is also credited as an executive producer. Although she appears in less than a third of the film, Blanchett delivers a performance that cements her status as one of the finest actresses ever to appear on the big screen.
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress 2004 Cate Blanchett Australian Actress
Academy Awards Best Cinematography 2004 Robert Richardson Director of Photography, CASINO (1995)