Awards Profile: The Great Gatsby


Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Written by: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Amitabh Bachchan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Brendan Maclean, Callan McAuliffe

Synopsis: Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy. (Provided by

F. Scott Fitzgerald had his novel “The Great Gatsby” published in 1925. He began writing it two years earlier and in his wildest dreams could not imagine, the effect the book would have not only on the literary world but its many attempts at translating it to the world of cinema.

In 1974, Jack Clayton directed the most famous adaptation of the story to date starring Academy Award winner Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. The film was nominated and won two Oscars at the 1975 ceremony for Best Costume Design and Best Music. The film made an impressive run on the awards circuit after being nominated for four Golden Globe awards and winning one for Supporting Actress, Karen Black. The film was also nominated and won three BAFTA awards for Art Direction, Costumes, and Cinematography.It was first attempted to the cinematic world in 1926. The film starred Warner Baxter and was directed by Academy Award Nominee Herbert Brenon. The film was a moderate success but didn’t leave an impression like Brenon had hoped. Elliott Nugent took another stab at the story in 1949 with stars Alan Ladd and Betty Field as Gatsby and Daisy. The film, unfortunately did nothing for the story and was not received with the highest praise.

Could the remake be headed for the same track record or will it elevate the resume that the story has garnered thus far?

Why It Could Succeed:
When it was announced that the acclaimed director of “Moulin Rouge” and “William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet” Baz Luhrmann would be helming this remake to the big screen, the visual aspects that have elevated his past endeavors seem to fit the spectrum of “The Great Gatsby” like a glove. Luhrmann has had decent citations from critics groups and the Academy in regards to technical aspects of his films.

More than the techs, the cast encompasses some of the finest actors working today. Three-time Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio has landed the lead role of Jay Gatsby. There are many who find his casting one of the most brilliant in a long while. DiCaprio has come close to pigeon-holing himself into a specific type of character where they are either clinically insane or have a tortured soul of some sorts. Perhaps Jay Gatsby can breathe some fresh air into his acting arsenal.

Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan, who just gave two terrific turns last year in “Drive” and “Shame,” has landed the pivotal and complex role of “Daisy,” the attractive and shallow woman who dominos a whirlwind of trouble of our characters. Mulligan has shown tremendous promise since her performance in Lone Scherfig’s “An Education.” She continues to challenge and push herself into multifaceted and demanding roles that showcase every element of her talent.

Tobey Maguire has been an actor who has remained on Oscar’s backburner for quite some time. Maguire has delivered some terrific work in Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers” where he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor (Drama), and some would call his turn in Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys” one of the unforgivable snubs of the 2000 season. Landing the role of Nick Carraway, an intricate and delightful character in the story that will provide Maguire with plenty of substance for performance value. From this far out, Maguire seems like the most viable contender to be recognized from the film.

Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan are two roles that could find themselves in Oscar talks given the nature and outcome of their roles. Fisher seems fully capable of such a damaged character while Edgerton will command and provide an authoritative-type man that will mirror his similarly to his Brendan Conlon from “Warrior,” one of the forgotten works of 2011.

Why It Could Fail:
Luhrmann is a completely capable director, concentrating on the beautiful details of his fast features like “Australia,” Luhrmann can paint a beautiful canvas for his audiences. When it comes to “The Great Gatsby,” where many of the details are already outlined for him unlike his other original works, Luhrmann will need to rely on his storytelling ability and make it feel as cohesive and as non-copycat as possible. It can be argued that Baz has struggled with his storytelling ability which would explain the mediocre reaction to “Australia.” Can he pull back when necessary and soar when able? We’ll see.

The cast has a hurdle in front of them by attempting to revolutionize roles that are familiar to fans of the book and the past film endeavors. DiCaprio, Maguire, and Mulligan, who will naturally have the most scenes to chew through, will need to express something new and authentic for its audience to engage with. Anything less will likely not be received well by critics. Many consider the book not the most exciting, Luhrmann will need to change that perception.

The film opens in theaters December 25, 2012 and will be distributed by Warner Brothers.

Oscar Potential:
Best Motion Picture
Best Director
Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan
Best Supporting Actor – Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton
Best Supporting Actress – Isla Fisher
Best Adapted Screenplay – Craig Pearce & Baz Luhrmann
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing
Best Makeup
Best Sound Mixing and Editing

  • Eric McCainley

    Potential for fourteen nominations? A bit hard to believe. I can see this getting mediocre reactions…but we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Joey Magidson

    I can’t decide if this is a giant contender or a bomb in waiting…but that’s the exciting part, I guess.

    • Thomas

      Joey — It is Geisha, Dreamgirls, Atonement, etc.

      It is the lavish, epic and possible contender … or the not-so-much. It can go either way — just like those other movies proved (Atonement being the only one going on to garner a BP nod with the Academy).

      I LOVE this book — but I do believe a proper film translation is impossible. You can put a story up there on screen — but the details of the writing and the symbolism (clocks, the color green) come into play so much more than one would realize. There are sooooo many references to clocks and time in that work. It is a fascinating and marvelous read. I think part of what “gets” a reader is the read (if that makes any sense) and part of that connection is lost when watching this story unfold on a big screen. If Baz can capture the magic of the novel than we have something special … if not, we’ll have something pretty to look at.

      The same goes for the book, Lolita. Oh my … one of the BEST books ever written and as much as I loved Lyne’s remake of it in 1997 — part of it was still lost in the translation (but he did capture the feeling of one’s heart being ripped out of his chest — so that was good 🙂 ). It was gorgeous to look at without a doubt; the the experience of the page is (I guess) sometimes more powerful than that of the screen.

      • Sam

        Atonement was a great film and won the Golden Globe and BAFTA.
        I would put Cold Mountain, Gangs of New York, Moulin Rouge or even Avatar on that list instead of Atonement.

  • Clayton Davis

    There’s potential. Doesn’t mean that’s what it will get. If it were to be a big embrace, that’s what COULD happen.

  • Isaac

    This has Baz Luhrmann at the helm and that guarantees one thing. If it’s a failure, it will at least be an interesting failure. I really want to see this film because even when Luhrmann doesn’t completely win me over, he’s a very unique voice and I’m interested to see what he does with the material. I also think the cast is very promising. I love it that Joel Edgerton is getting so many interesting roles (I thought he was fantastic in Warrior and want to see what he does next), and I’m one of those people who thinks Leo needs a different type of role to chew on for a change (I just hope they don’t suddenly turn Gatsby into a tortured soul to accommodate him…)

    • Thomas

      Isn’t Gatsby somewhat of a tortured soul, though? His wealth hasn’t bought him happiness and even when a party-of-the-century is going on at his home he’s out strolling the lawn.

      • Isaac

        In a way, yes, but Gatsby is also very charming. That’s something DiCaprio hasn’t played in a while, someone who hides his torture under the facade of a lively host, and I really want to see what DiCaprio does with that. He might be out strolling the lawn, but you don’t see him with a constant frown on his face, especially when he’s around Nick. All I’m saying is, DiCaprio’s characters have been very dark of late and this is a chance for him to do something lighter, maybe not as light as Catch Me If You Can, but something in-between.

  • WillQ

    Amazing book with a great cast and inventive director at the helm. I really fell in love with Luhrmann’s first three movies, but Australia disappointed me quite a bit. DiCaprio looks perfect here, and I hope this can live up to my wild expectations.

  • sc62788

    If DiCaprio is doing an accent of any kind…this performance will suffer. Looking forward to seeing what Mulligan and Maguire do with their parts though. Maybe I’ll re-read the book again soon. Hoping Luhrmann doesn’t go overboard since this is something that requires a little bit of restraint. But the fact that it’s in 3D is already worrying.

  • Nathan James Mitchell

    I imagine just like the book, there will be a LOT to admire about the film, but at the end audiences will be left wondering what all the hype was about.