OSCARS: Scorsese And DiCaprio Back In The Race As 'Wolf Of Wall Street' Makes A Raucous Debut

The last shoe to drop in the 2013 awards race hit Saturday as Martin Scorsese‘s much-awaited The Wolf Of Wall Street was unveiled to SAG voters at a couple of screenings at the WGA theatre in Beverly Hills. I caught the film earlier at a small 10 AM screening for some of the cast members on the Paramount lot and then moderated the Q&A following the 6:30 PM screening of the 3 hour film. Leonardo Dicaprio in The Wolf Of Wall StreetTo say it was rapturously received would be an understatement. Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation when I introduced him, and co-star Jonah Hill also won huge applause from the packed-to-the-rafters house who also enthusiastically cheered co-stars Rob Reiner (who plays DiCaprio’s dad and stole the show at the Q&A), Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne, Ken Choi and Cristin  Milioti. I heard the film also received the same kind of enthusiastic response at the earlier screening too. Paramount also threw a party to kick things off in style. Celebration was in order since Paramount at one time wasn’t even sure the film would be ready as Scorsese has been editing to make a 2013 date. Originally it was scheduled for a November 15 release but moved to Christmas bumping Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit into January to make room for Wolf‘s wide release awards run.

15-outrageous-scenes-in-martin-scorseses-wolf-of-wall-street-we-cant-wait-to-seeFormal reviews are embargoed but as an initial observation I would label the movie “Scorsese’s Satyricon,” a wild ride full of contemporary debauchery to say the least (DiCaprio compared some of it to Caligula), with a fine ensemble and a frenetic pace that belies its three hour running time. Even at that length it never lags. It is the perfect companion piece to Goodfellas and puts Scorsese right back in the thick of the Oscar race, if Academy members, particularly older ones, can deal with the almost non-stop parade of sex, drugs, nudity and rock and roll.  Violence, a Scorsese staple in this type of film, is missing but there are a number of remarkable set pieces including a storm-driven yacht voyage that has to be seen to be believed (Rob Legato supervised the special effects team). An NC-17 was avoided by some reported judicious cutting but it’s hard to imagine the stuff that didn’t make it in considering the edgy material that did.

There are also the performances, including two sure to gain Oscar recognition, for DiCaprio and Hill. The_Wolf_of_Wall_Street_39547As many observers I talked to noted, DiCaprio has simply never been better in the signature role of his career as Jordan Belfort, the out-of-control Wall Street hot shot at the center of this story. Leo just knocked someone out of the Best Actor lineup making an impossibly difficult year even more difficult. It would be unthinkable to imagine he won’t be in the top five.  And Hill, hilarious and memorable as his co-hort in white collar crime, is equally great – an almost certain second Best Supporting Actor nod for the actor who was first nominated opposite Brad Pitt in Moneyball. The incredible thing about it is it’s supposedly all true. This story from Belfort’s book about his rise and fall in the financial world is almost hard to believe but apparently it happened and that should give us all pause. It certainly explains why the economy tanked and we went down with the ship.

Related: Banner Year For Acting Means Tough Decisions For The Academy

Jordan-Belfort-Picture-QuoteAt age 71 Scorsese is rare among directors at his age, clearly at the top of his directorial powers. He seems energized by the material and the script from Terence Winter. It makes good company alongside films like Goodfellas and Casino. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has deemed it a comedy for the Golden Globes and I guess that seems right. These guys are hilarious, if tragic. Whatever the label it is a movie that won’t be easy to ignore even as it comes out at the tail end of the season on December 25th. Paramount tells me they are getting it seen by most critics groups in time (though screeners won’t be out by those deadlines) and will be anxious to see the reaction. Despite its length it seems commercial to me and also contains distinct, if limited, turns by the likes of Oscar winner Jean Dujardin and especially Matthew McConaughey, terrific in one brilliantly funny scene as the stock wizard who sets DiCaprio’s Belfort on his course to self-destruction (incredibly, Belfort’s first day as a stock broker was the 1987 day the market crashed). Of particular note among the women is Australian actress Margot Robbie who nails it as the second very New York wife of Belfort.

scorsese_directing_dicaprio_huge“It’s all true. That’s what is so fascinating about the novel. That’s why I was so obsessed with playing this character,” said DiCaprio. “It was a seven-year process to get this film made. The financing kept falling apart… It was a very difficult film to finance. It’s like the Roman Empire in the 80’s. It’s debaucherous, it was sex and drugs and greed. It wasn’t the most commercial sounding film but Marty’s attitude was always, ‘Let’s focus on this being a really dark comedy,’ and as he said before he intended Goodfellas to be a comedy,”  he said, adding that he pursued Scorsese consistently to do this movie with him. “I told him after the Golden Globes one night, ‘We have to do this movie. We don’t get opportunities like this, ever. These opportunities like this don’t come about. We have to do this movie.”

DiCaprio said he spent many months working with Belfort to take him through the specific moments of his life which he helped bring to the screen, a rare experience for an actor. “It’s like the fall of the Roman Empire. You just can’t believe this man lived this life. This is kind of a microcosm of a much bigger story. They are kind of an outsider beating on Wall Street’s door. These guys are out in a chop shop in Long Island trying to emulate Gordon Gekko. They want to be these guys they admire. And Jordan found a tiny loophole and just kept pushing it further and further and the money took over and the women and the drugs and pretty soon he was in over his head,” he said.

xthe-wolf-of-wall-street-leonardo-dicaprio-poster_jpg_pagespeed_ic_-p9xvpOtUxIt’s also interesting that Scorsese cast three directors in straight acting roles including Rob Reiner, Spike Jonze, and Jon Favreau. Reiner got big laughs when he said, “If you get a director who can also act a little bit, then for the director making the film it makes it a little easier because we know what they are going through. We aren’t going to be a pain in the ass. ‘You know in this scene, what’s my motivation? Fuck your motivation. Just say the fucking words!'”

“I saw it this morning for the first time and it’s taken until now to digest what I saw. Martin Scorsese is my favorite artist in the world and to get to play that kind of character in this kind of film, this is the ultimate dream of my life,” Hill said while also hilariously describing an instant classic scene involving taking ‘ludes with DiCaprio, and another in which he swallows a live goldfish.

Paramount threw a party afterwards in the lobby based on the wild one in the movie. As in the movie, they hired the wolf of wall streeta marching band to play during the festivities. Understandably, with killer competition getting a head start out there, the studio wants to do everything it can to say The Wolf Of Wall Street has arrived and staked a place in the race.

Indeed it has.

  1. What is so interesting about Scorsese casting guys now working as directors? Two of them started as actors, Scorsese himself has a healthy list of acting credits – so do directors like Garry Marshall and Sydney Pollack. One of the most interesting casting choices in the past year was casting Werner Herzog as the baddie in Jack Reacher.

  2. Can Scorsese fid nothing better to celebrate
    than this done-to-death, –Oliver Stone’s already done it —-theme?

    Scorsese ensemble veteran DeNiro is looking more like STALIN
    with each passing year. With the Gobalist MAFIA now in ramp mode,
    nothing could be more relevant than the definitive treatment
    of STALIN with DeNiro with Scorsese directing.

    IF Scorsese wants to celebrate PSYCHOPATHS—let him at least be relevant.

    1. That comment belongs over on Yahoo, where every other comment seems to be a personal attack on the President from the FAR, far right (you know, the folks who think Faux Noise is way too liberal).

  3. Baloney. One man or money men like this pig did not bring down the economy and us with it. The reason for the collapse was the democratic push by Pelosi and then Reid to coerce banks into high risk loans for the unqualified poor. The banks then gambled off these poor mortgages by loaning more to middle class buyers of second homes and speculators gambling off the sudden inflation in housing prices. Don’t you just love it when the rich stars and their COPRORATE studios tell everybody else how it’s bad to be rich. Gimme a break.

    1. Lemme guess. You think it’s a conspiracy that no one will read your BRILLIANT!!!!! screenplay you just finished writing?

      1. The one where if you pay attention as history is made you don’t depend on partisans trying to tell you what you saw happen was just what you thought just happened. I’ve been watching and reading various news sources for fifty years and trust my eyes more than what someone tells me. It’s the Reality Reality, not the Kramer Reality Tour you’re on…..

      1. CDOs have been around since the 80s and CDS since the 90s. Again, it was the pressure of defaults from people who should never have been given loans under the pressure of a wealth redistributive Democratic program that caused the crash…not to mention that party talked up the ensuing recession because of the election and made it even worse (just like when Roosevelt first ran). Pay attention and diversify your information sources as well as your critical thinking skills and maybe you too can some day become free again. Then again, people like you don’t want freedom ’cause then you may have to depend on yourself and keep your nose out of other peoples’ business. Hurts when not everyone thinks like you, huh?

        1. “People like you” – I believe that you meant to say “you people”.

          It is certainly true that Democrats are to blame for all corporate greed, for all GOP failure to regulate said greed, and most certainly for the collapse of the economy under Bush. 100% true.

      2. And wasn’t it the Republicans that changed the checks and balances to allow the greedy to do what they did.

    2. Without looking, I’m going to take a stab that Drudge linked to this article. He did, didn’t he? Can’t you goons stick with StormFront or RedState or the Michelle Malkin comment sections?

      1. Yeah! Can’t you goons stop adding your own opinions and facts? Can’t you goons stop forcing us tolerant and diversity-loving zombies from considering there may be another, realer world out there beyond our special bubble and actually have to be tolerant? Can’t you goons stop forcing us to resort to cliches? Get off my lawn!

    3. While it’s true that risky mortgages helped crash the economy in 2008, it didn’t help that people like Belfort were making risky bets on Wall Street using money that largely came from home loans of average Americans. The financial collapse can’t be pinned on just one problem so excluding people like Belfort from all blame and pinning it all on two politicians isn’t helpful.

      Also, no one is saying that it’s bad to be rich. Rather, the movie is pointing out the problems that come with the excesses of greed and the desire for money. Two completely different things.

  4. Thanks Pete for a excellent report. The Wolf of Wall Street looks like it will be an intense film. Also it appears Margot Robbie has come a long way from playin

  5. Despite Scorsese and DeCaprio I don’t see this making too big of a splash. Wall Street is not interesting enough for most folks to shell out the dough to watch.

    1. If what you take away from this article, and the trailer, is that you have to have an interest in Wall Street to see this, then I don’t see you making too big of a splash either.

      1. That’s fine, but most go to be entertained and this looks less than entertaining. We’ll see how it shakes out.

  6. Great news to hear the film is huge and clearly going to be a contender.
    Only note to make is that in spite of what appears to be a stellar performance by Jonah Hill is his reputation as one of the most vile, self-centered, rude and odious human beings/actors in the business today will catch up with him and cost him nods by his peers….unless it’s only the “little people” he tortures and abuses. He’s been lucky, but it won’t continue unless he learns some gratitude and humility.

    1. If you were stuck with that face on that body and surrounded by beautiful people…. No matter how successful, he knows no matter what he achieves, people will still be thinking ‘yuck!’ because that’s how he sees himself.

      Face it, he’s a product of his generation, self-loathing blamers even when they have the world at their feet.

    2. Agreed. I’ve heard similar stories about Mister Hill. Success has gone to his head, I’m afraid. Let’s hope he matures a bit because he’s definitely got the talent.

    3. You are so wrong about Hill. Great guy and always humble. I was at the screening and he was funny charming and sweet. He’s a great character actor with a bright career in font of him.

      1. “I was at the screening…” – Whaddya want, a parade? Besides you making this about you, observing a star at a screening (their element, where they’re feted, coddled, fed, watered and all-around pampered) is far different from being an on-set PA, or working the other side of the fast food counter, or being an extra, front desk clerk or valet.

  7. I’ll never forget the Oscar snubbing of Casino. Should have gotten directing, best pic, editing and costume nods. And Sharon stone should have been in the supporting category – and won. She was fierce.

  8. You DO know that Jon Favreau and Rob Reined were both actors LONG before they were directors, right?

  9. With movies like Wolf… and Charlie Countryman being edited to avoid NC-17, does anyone know if the original versions as the directors intended will be available on Netflix?

    1. Scorsese is famously against alternate versions. The one you get in theatres is what will be released on DVD/VOD.

  10. the wonderfully bizarre trailers for this have caused it to rocket it to the top of my most anticipated list of movies to see this oscar season. So pumped to hear it got such a strong response.

  11. Jonah Hill swallowed a live goldfish! Where the hell was PETA?! This criminal animal cruelty must not go unpunished! Boycott the movie! Goldfish don’t deserve to be killed in Jonah Hill’s bloated stomach where they are dissolved by his disgusting stomach acids!

    1. People, people, don’t review or make comments from the trailers. Oftentimes you are wrong. The goldfish scene is a good example. I saw the screening last night and during the Q&A from the audience it was one of the subjects answered by Jonah Hill. It turns out there were 3 reps from PETA on the set to protect this little goldfish. Mr. Hill did not swallow it. He kept it in his mouth. When Mr. Scorsece yelled cut a PETA rep rescued the little fishy, made sure it was ok, and returned it to it’s watery bowl. There were no goldfish hurt or killed in the making of this movie. As a matter of fact, Jonah shared what was a funny moment about this scene. During the first take, when the little Fishy was in Jonah’s mouth it went to the bathroom. I don’t know how he knew that but there were follow-up questions about what Goldy did in Jonahs mouth.

      1. The goldfish was not hurt, you say? Taking him out of water is animal abuse! So, knowing he was also put in Jonah’s mouth, this is completly crazy and horrifying.
        Plus, using CGI would surely have not been that difficult.
        There is no excuse for using an animal this way.
        I love Leo as an actor, I love Scorcese’s movies with him but I do agree with “Save the Goldfish!” I’m boycotting this movie.

  12. Think the trailer looks awesome. Am seeing this week @ a WGA screening and can’t wait. My hunch is it will do very well commercially and I think it’s very exciting to see a “bigger” movie be involved in the Oscar race. To me, the apex of filmmaking is a movie that pleases both critics and audiences and those are increasingly rare.

  13. So, no “formal reviews,” but rampant sycophancy is OK? I’m 33. Is that old? Because I’d rather have a three-day root canal than sit for this THREE HOUR (is he nuts?) borefest. Their pr team has been releasing photos all along and it’s very clear that this film is not female friendly. Good way to antagonize half the potential audience! And good luck finding males who can stay awake for three hours. Leo is way overdue for an Oscar but if he gets it for this smut it will be a shame. As a voting member I’ll make sure to give my nod to someone else, anyone else.

    1. sounds like you’ve made up your mind without seeing the film. 33 years old too? what a disappointment! if you really are a voting member, then I guess it might still be many years before directors like Spike Jonze get their due and instead ill have to keep watching boring crud like the English patient win awards.

  14. I’m not sure audiences are in the mood to rehash this stuff. May be a good movie, but I don’t see it doing well in the marketplace.

  15. It will be a massive b.o. hitat least 200 mil domestic. Leo might finally get an Oscar. I just hope out of all sex +skin none is shown by Jonah hill!!x stampedes out theatres are’nt nice!

  16. I think Casino was hurt by coming out so soon after Goodfellas. If it had come out a few years later, it would have been a sensation.

  17. I’ll never forgive the Oscars for Dancing With Wolves over Goodfellas. It was a good movie, but not better than Goodfellas. C’mon!

  18. It’s hard to suggest that maybe they should’ve changed the title because A) it was the title of the book, and B) it’s a great title. But even I, as a fan of all the artists involved, shrugged when they announced the film was greenlit, as in, ‘Really? Rich Wall Street bad guys? Again?’

    It was only after that amazing first trailer that I realized this was a movie I did want to see. But it’s a valid question as to whether the general public will. Hard to bet against Leo – who thought ‘Gatsby’ would do almost $150M domestic? – but this one is a tougher sell. Best of luck to all involved.

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