Sunday, February 09, 2014

Best Picture Primer: The Wolf of Wall Street

Let's get this out of the way right way - The Wolf of Wall Street is not going to win Best Picture.  There is no way the Academy is going to let a film filled (FILLED) with booze, drugs, sex, the word "fuck", and Jonah Hill's fake teeth walk away with the top award. Frankly, it may turn out to be one of those films that winds up, at the end of the night, going home empty-handed.  Scorcese probably has the best chance of preventing a shutout, but even that should be a tall task.

Now, all this being said, The Wolf of Wall Street is a pretty fantastic movie.  The final film based on a "true"1 story, the film crams more decadence into its 180-minute runtime than I could have possibly imagined.  Leonardo DiCaprio is monumentally engaging as lead Wolf Jordan Belfort, and, despite being a deeply flawed, easily despised character, the viewer finds he cannot takes his eyes off him.  Somehow, he makes the audience feel as though they were simply an expensive suit away from a lavish Manhattan lifestyle.  Even as he is - repeatedly - arrested, there is still the desire to see him pull through and prove everyone wrong.

Jonah Hill, nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, plays what can only be described as DiCaprio's sidekick.  Constantly trying to keep up with his boss, Hill never experiences a cathartic moment in the film, instead living his life in a way someone that married his own cousin would never have dreamed possible.  He seems intent on self-destruction, and seems perfectly happy along the way.

Like he did with Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York, Scorcese took the reins completely off DiCaprio, and let him fill the role of Belfort, something which DiCaprio probably didn't have too much trouble doing. 

As I said, it would be a miracle if this film walked home with Best Picture, but DiCaprio and Hill's Quaalude-delayed fight and First Aid course deserved to be in a category all its own.

Other Nominations

Best Actor - Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Supporting Actor - Jonah Hill
Best Director - Martin Scorcese
Adapted Screenplay - Terence Winter

1 - From what I've read, Jordan Belfort is not exactly accurate, per se, in his autobiography.

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