Awards Profile: The Wolf of Wall Street - AwardsCircuit.com - By Clayton Davis

Awards Profile: The Wolf of Wall Street

leo wolf of wall streetDirected By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Terence Winter (Based on the Jordan Belfort memoir of the same name)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner, Spike Jonze, Margot Robbie, Kenneth Choi, Joanna Lumley, and Ethan Suplee

Synopsis (From IMDB): A New York stockbroker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, corporate banking world and mob infiltration.

Why It Could Succeed:
Anytime the 21st century’s greatest actor-director duo team up for a motion picture, the world pays attention. At this moment in time, there is no 2013 release that’s as close to the Oscar® podium as The Wolf of Wall Street is. Leo and Marty have a proven track record that’s borderline unstoppable. Three of their four collaborative projects have all gone on to receive an Academy Award nomination for “Best Picture,” and the only film that failed to do so was Shutter Island, whose early release date damaged its awards contention status. The irony? Shutter Island became Martin Scorsese’s highest grossing film of all-time and one of the top earners to come from the dry month of February. The lesson when it comes to Scorsese and DiCaprio: you win some…and then you win bigger.

With 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, the hot-button topic of Wall Street corruption will certainly corral audiences interested in corporate coverups, crime dramas based on a true story, and Hollywood’s most beloved criminal organization: The Mob. The responsibility of adapting convicted stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s memoir lies on the Don himself, Terence Winter, creator of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and writer-extraordinaire of several legendary episodes of The Sopranos (including fan favorite, “The Pine Barrens”). As someone whose favorite show of all-time is The Sopranos, you better believe me when I say this man can write crime drama like no other screenwriter in the genre. It’s scary how sympathetic Winter can make his morally-corrupt protagonists, their unspeakable crimes forgiven by audiences within mere seconds. I firmly believe the trio of Winter, Scorsese, and DiCaprio is a collaboration like something out of a dream. It’s hard to imagine the best talents in the business — actor, director and writer — all working together on one film, but low and behold, it happened. Mix in a cast that includes big names like Jean Dujardin, Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill, and you’ve got plenty of moviegoers from all sides of the film buff community coming by the millions to see this motion picture event. Can The Wolf of Wall Street break Scorsese’s record at both the box office and The Academy Awards™? We’ll find out in a few months, so hold onto your breath.

Could this formidable twosome nab Oscars on the same night?

Could this formidable twosome nab Oscars on the same night?

Why It Could Fail:
It’s never fun riding this train of thought, but there’s always a slim chance that a big awards contender like The Wolf of Wall Street can be a disaster. The last time Leonardo DiCaprio frontlined a movie, he jumped into shoes that were way too big for him. J. Edgar represents one of DiCaprio’s biggest misfires despite some last-minute awards consideration. Whether DiCaprio was right for the role or not, the performance had a hard time shining through thanks to all that cumbersome, ugly makeup. And now with his success in Django Unchained as the villainous Calvin J. Candie, are audiences becoming accustomed to DiCaprio in supporting, ergo smaller, roles at the movies? I personally doubt DiCaprio is seen as anything less than a leading man, but I’m sure there are those who wonder if DiCaprio peaked in The Aviator and The Departed. Even in Blood Diamond, DiCaprio’s Oscar-nominated performance was as much reviled as it was praised (that South African/Aussie accent was cataclysmic). With all this in mind, the biggest fear is watching the film and finding that DiCaprio is again miscast or ill-suited to the role, thereby limiting the talent we all know is meant to flourish. I hope an experience like that won’t become a reality when screening The Wolf of Wall Street, but we should at least make note of the possibility.

As for Martin Scorsese, his last film wasn’t exactly the groundbreaking masterpiece it pretended to be (sorry, Mark Johnson!). While Hugo technically placed second at the 84th Annual Academy Awards with five wins, its cinephile attractiveness and international appeal was a marketing strategy unfulfilled. Ranging between $150 to $170 million to produce, Hugo’s domestic gross was approximately $74 million, with an additional $110 million overseas. The total haul barely exceeded the cost of production, and was the start of a new wave of 3D films with diminishing returns. That Ang Lee managed to turn this around for himself with Life of Pi only adds further to the embarrassment of Hugo.

On another note, it’s bittersweet that Scorsese is returning to his gangster roots with The Wolf of Wall Street. On the one hand, this is a genre that he excels at, but since Scorsese wasn’t allowed to shoot his movie on film like he and editor Thelma Schoonmacher had wanted, there could be some aesthetic or creative choices that might’ve been compromised in the movie. Every director wants their final cut of a film to be the one they envisioned since the beginning, but the use of digital against the wishes of Scorsese means we could have a product that’s tragically un-Scorsesean in form or intent. Detractors of digital filmmaking and fanboys of Martin Scorsese could easily become enraged by the end result, and you know bad worth of mouth will spread like wildfire if the film is not up to par. Produced for a whopping $100 million, let’s hope Paramount made the right call by switching from film to digital.

DiCaprio's finest work ever? This hawk glare is promising.

DiCaprio’s finest work ever? This hawk glare is promising.

Awards Speculation:
I’m going out on a huge limb with my speculation here. This day, 3/4/2013, I hereby proclaim 2014 will be the year Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio each win an Oscar® working on the same film (technically two, since they share producing credit). If Grant Heslov and George Clooney didn’t just produce the most recent “Best Picture” winner, Argo, I would be very fearful of Monuments Men. The aforementioned producers’ recent victory at the Academy Awards won’t likely repeat in 2014, thereby giving Leo and Marty the edge. I can already envision the narrative; I can envision Leonardo DiCaprio having his name read by Jennifer Lawrence, the audience up on their feet for a standing ovation, happy that one of the greatest actors in Hollywood has at last received an Academy Award twenty years after his first acting nomination for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. As for Scorsese — the great Scorsese, let’s be frank — he’ll join the company of Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, David Lean, Milos Forman, and Elia Kazan, to name a few, who’ve all received two “Best Director” awards. There’s not a more notable director out there who deserves to join this club than Scorsese, and I know the Academy wouldn’t disagree. It will be seven years since he won his last Best Director prize, which is enough of a time gap for The Academy to hand out one more directing award for the legend of legends.

To top it off for Leonardo DiCaprio, Kris Tapley, editor of Hitfix.com, reported earlier in the year that he spoke with the revered thespian, who admitted that the role of Jordan Belfort was the “best work” of his career. DiCaprio seems like a modest guy who doesn’t throw out these hyperbolic statements just for attention. No, I think he’s just incredibly passionate about what he offered to the role, and prides himself on what he’s accomplished in the film (he’s a drug addict, alcoholic, and lawbreaker — definitely Oscar bait!). Do I even have to mention the momentum supporting players Jean Dujardin and Matthew McConaughey have at this moment in Hollywood? Dujardin is a recent Oscar winner and McConaughey is now taken seriously. They are prime contenders in the supporting categories for next year, but I give the edge to McConaughey given the snazzy nature of his role, where apparently he mentors Belfort’s character. Also, never discount Jonah Hill, who surprised all skeptics with his nomination for Moneyball.

“Best Picture,” “Best Director,” and “Best Adapted Screenplay” are a cinch to nab unless the film totally bombs, which a Scorsese film never has when Leo comes aboard. Because of the high production cost and the huge talent attached to film, expect across-the-board nominations, above and below the line if the film is a hit. Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street will be distributed by Paramount Pictures on November 13th, 2013, wisely released neither too late nor too early for the Academy to screen. Bottom line: this is the film to beat at the 86th Annual Academy Awards, and my current frontrunner for “Best Picture.”

Oscar Potential:
Best Picture
Best Director — Martin Scorsese
Best Actor — Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Supporting Actor — Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler
Best Supporting Actress — Margot Robbie
Best Adapted Screenplay — Terence Winter
Best Film Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Original Score
Best Production Design
Best Sound Editing

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My name is Joseph Braverman. I am 24 years old and a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media. I love watching and analyzing films and television shows. I have a huge obsession with "Best Of" or "Top #" lists. I am currently living in Los Angeles, CA, trying to become enmeshed in the movie industry scene in any way possible. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @JBAwardsCircuit.
  • John H. Foote

    Good piece and I agree this could be the big Oscar winner of next year — Scorsese seems incapable of making a weak film, and this looks terrific — I disagree strongly with you about Hugo though my friend, thought it was a knockout of a movie that paid wonderful homage to the history of cinema — Di Caprio is among the finest actors working, and I doubt anyone that talented ever really peaks, I mean Jack Nicholson surprised us with About Schmidt (2002) did he not? — looking forward to this and Nebraska about all others….

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      I don’t think he’s peaked, but I’m trying to be objective when looking at both sides for and against the film’s success. Also, I too loved Hugo but I think Scorsese and his producer probably wished the film wasn’t such a financial bust. I’m sure they were shooting for a far higher number in the end, and the buzz just wasn’t there for the film. Thanks for your thoughts, John!

  • https://www.google.com/profiles/102770354308851478090 Mark Johnson

    I agree with you about DiCaprio winning finally – though it is way too early to know, of course. But he starts out in my #1 spot for actor. I think everyone wants to see it happen, and if he is good in Gatsby, it will only help his chances.

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      Of course it’s way too early — just the way I like it, so when it does pan out, you’ll be hearing me brag for daaaaayyyss. Just kidding, Mark ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/robert.macfarlane.35 koook160 (Robert MacFarlane)

    I’m hesitant to put him as the #1 predicted winner. We’ve been doing this for a few years now, and it never seems to pan out. Also, I’ve heard rumors Dujardin has the juciest role. Possible scene stealer?

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      I had DDL as my #1 at the beginning last year, but then I jumped ship for Joaquin Phoenix midway and that turned out to be a bad decision. Won’t steer away from the obvious again this time unless the awards season goes in another direction. Dujardin could easily get a nomination, but we’ll have to wait and see. Would be great for him to prove he isn’t just a one-hit wonder at the Academy Awards a la Christoph Waltz.

      • http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/robert.macfarlane.35 koook160 (Robert MacFarlane)

        I’l just put it to you this way; fool me once (Revolutionary Road) shame on you. Fool me three times (J. Edgar and Django Unchained), and I’m a fucking idiot.

        I’m not betting on DiCaprio. My gut is telling me not to.

  • moviewatcher

    Oh god… I would melt at the sight seeing Scorsese, DiCaprio and Winters winning oscars on the same night…

    2012 was the year of the big directors’ new movies: PTA, Tarantino, Spielberg, Bigelow, Lee all had their new movies out. 2013 looks like it will skew much more indie. If you take out Scorsese and mayyyybe the Coens, who do you have? Cuaron (OMG!!!), Linklater, Allen, Greengrass, Luhrman, Reitman, Clooney, Payne, Bennett Miller, Malick and Almodovar. A lot more “unknowns”, but still promising… If 60% of these director’s movies pan out I will be happy…

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      Nice logic there! Scorsese is competing with second tier directors as far as recognition is concerned. Clooney is probably going to be the biggest competitor to Scorsese, as I’m sure Affleck is already going to start campaigning his buddy once the season lifts off again.

  • Jeremy DC

    I think it will get a lot of nominations on pedigree alone but probably won’t win anything. There are some colorful characters so it depends on how good the performances are. I’m also a big fan of Terence Winter’s work on The Sopranos but unless there have been changes, I wasn’t all that impressed by his screenplay for The Wolf of Wall Street.

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      Interesting…we’ll just have to wait and see how those words translate on film.

  • Josh P.

    It is interesting how for the last two years, DiCaprio has been mentioned as possibly getting nominated for an Oscar and he’s missed out both times (though you could fault miscasting and poor studio campaigning on those omissions). The reason I feel more certain about this one is that since DiCaprio has confidence that this represents some of his best work, it may give him initiative to sell the film a little bit more than he has in the past, which could keep him in the public eye. I know we do this every year, and we of course have yet to see the movie, but it does feel like the right elements coming together for him to finally win. I’d definitely call him the favorite at this point.

    I don’t know if Scorsese will ever win another Oscar. “The Departed” was already a pity vote for all the times he missed in the past, and after that, it doesn’t seem like there’s any need to reward you ever again. But as for DiCaprio, I’m willing to call it right now that he will win Best Actor (until I’m proven completely wrong later).

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      I thought ‘The Departed’ was the best film of that year, so I have no problems with it. It was more about the acting than directing, I’ll give you that, but Marty was certainly overdue by that point. It certainly looks like DiCaprio’s early confidence in his acting means his competitors better watch out come Oscar season. I sense we’re in for a performance for the ages (that gets recognized as such this time *cough* Joaquin Phoenix *cough*)

      • Josh P.

        I also agree that “The Departed” was the best film of the year, and Scorsese should have won, but with a career that included “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull” and “GoodFellas”, this was obviously a makeup for all the times he missed in the past. Once they finally give you the pity vote, it’s hard to come back from it. Hell, look at Spielberg. They finally gave it to him for “Schindler’s List” and he has yet to win another Best Picture award (granted he did win another Best Director Oscar).

  • Steve

    As long as DiCaprio doesn’t have an accent in the movie he could actually be a contender for it this time.

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      As soon as the announcement was made that DiCaprio was nominated for Blood Diamond instead of The Departed, I was livid. I’m sure DiCaprio himself was confused as well.

    • Hamm

      Steve,

      I’m sick of hearing all this crap about DiCaprio’s accent. It’s bullshit. DiCaprio’s accents are far better than any other actors. Ask anyone from the Region in question and they will tell you that DiCaprio does an authentic accent. I look at reviews from South Africa and they are constantly praising his accent. (i know the character he played in Blood Diamond came from Rhodesia) and I myself an Irish so i know that his Boston accent was spot on (It was actually better than Mat Damon’s even though he grew up in Boston) The people who criticism his accent are people who don’t know what the accent sounds like.

  • JamDenTel

    I’m a little more hesitant about this one, at least until I see a trailer. This has plenty going for it, yes, but there a few things which temper my enthusiasm:

    – I thought HUGO was overpraised (still a very good film, but no masterpiece).
    – I don’t like the title. A minor point, but not a negligible one.
    – Do we REALLY need more financial shenanigans films? I’m not hugely interested in the subject matter, per se, but done right it could bear much fruit. Hopefully the film can make it over that hump, but I think it’s a BIT too soon to call.

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      Word of caution: be wary of the deceptive trailer. Many pundits hated the trailer of Silver Linings Playbook and didn’t have it on their Best Pic predictions until the reactions from Toronto came to light. Still, I don’t think Paramount will drop the ball on the trailer, although per my New Years resolution, I sadly won’t be watching unless forced to at a movie theater. Also agree about ‘Hugo,’ a film I cherished at the time but whose quality waned the more I thought about it in my head.

  • http://gl21.livejournal.com/ GL

    Awesome Piece JB! I would love to see DiCaprio finally win!

  • http://www.awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

    koook160 (Robert MacFarlane),

    Revolutionary Road was a boring disappointment aside from Michael Shannon, and Harvey screwed over Leo with his campaign strategy. Both of those films also weren’t Scorsese pictures. You could be right, but I think this will be Leo’s year. Call it a hunch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/robert.macfarlane.35 koook160 (Robert MacFarlane)

      Joseph Braverman,

      Well, I certainly agree that Michael Shannon was the only thing good about it.

  • http://www.awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

    GL,

    Thanks, bud! Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • JulieFe

    I’d be very happy if this won. I’m already getting excited for it, and I put the book on hold at the library to find out a little bit more about Jordan Belfort.

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      I’ll be checking out the novel really soon, I’m sure. Enjoy!

  • Kevin!

    greatest duo? no. Fassbender/Mcqueen I would say are much better or are bound to do greater things than Scorsese/Dicaprio

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      That is my second favorite duo, but you could easily be right. I’m now almost to the point where it’s difficult for me to see Scorsese without DiCaprio, vice versa. I’m a lot more comfortable with Fassbender leaving the nest on occasion.

  • Caddie

    I think it’s poor artistic strategy for Martin Scorsese to get on a run of making movies with the same actor. They get into too much of a comfort zone, and there’s no challenge of the unexpected. I’d rather Scorsese made a movie with Joaquin Phoenix. ( or Michael Shannon, or Tim Roth). Or better yet, some tough uncompromising actresses as leads, and discovered something new.

    • http://awardscircuit.com Joseph Braverman

      Scorsese jumped from DeNiro to DeCaprio, but now I think maybe he’s too old to team up with a brand new actor and try to replicate that same perfect chemistry. I’d rather Scorsese just keep popping out great film after great film. To each his/her own, but you have a very strong point. Joaquin Phoenix would be interesting but I think his onset antics might conflict with Scorsese’s warm yet focused filmmaking atmosphere. Admittedly, I’d like to see what Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be like under Scorsese’s direction. He flopped under Spielberg even though that seemed such a perfect match.

  • missionstatement1224

    I agree that J. Edgar had its flaws, but I thought DiCaprio really shined in that role and was a little shocked when he got all those precursor nominations and failed to grab an Oscar nom.

    Blood Diamond- I love the movie, and I love DiCaprio’s performance in it. His accent has been criticized by a lot of people, but how many of those people are South African? Can you or any other of those critics actually know if it’s authentic or not? Or do you just not like the way it sounds, and therefore believe it to be an awful portrayal?

  • Will

    Never been a big Scorsese guy, but DiCaprio gave him a much needed relevancy this millennium and revitalized his creativity. Still, I’m excited for this and I hope DiCaprio can get his Oscar off his own steam, not love by critics trying to convince themselves Scorsese’s new movies are still masterpieces.

    Also, DiCaprio’s absolute best performance was in Blood Diamond. Different than anything else he has done, and his accent was spot on. I had a coach from South Africa when the movie came out and DiCaprio sounded exactly like him. It’s a difficult accent to pin down and he did an incredible job.

    • http://filmactually.blogspot.com Squasher88

      Will,

      I can vouch for Leo too. I studied in South Africa for 2 years and he did a very good accent. Especially considering how difficult it is.

  • Steve

    Scorsese is my favorite director, so I am highly looking forward to this. I think he’ll get something great from DiCaprio. I am predicting McConaughey to get a supporting actor nomination for this. I also am looking forward to seeing the job Rodrigo Prieto does with the camera and lights, especially since Michael Ballhaus has retired.

  • Sheila Kind

    Agreed with some folks who feel DiCaprio’s accent in Blood Diamond was spot on. A very hard accent to pull off, btw. If it sounded strange to you, you evidently have a tin ear. I have friends who say he knew exactly how to speak the talk. The accent, however, was mostly the performance. The movie wasn’t that good overall, although DiCaprio had some moments that were. He was especially good when he shot two guys. The look in his eyes was extraordinarily convincing as he picked them off. He was a mercenary, you know. I think this is one film where I felt I wasn’t watching DiCaprio, but some south african dude. Nonetheless, he should have been nominated for The Departed and WON. What are you gonna do with all those old white Academy guys???