The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
86th Academy Awards 2014
Nominated for 5 awards.
Nominated for Best Picture (Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland, Emma Tilinger Koskoff), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Best Director (Martin Scorsese), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter).
Watched January 29, 2014.
I normally don’t watch nominated films until after the Oscars, but once I saw The Wolf of Wall Street, I decided pretty quickly that I wasn’t down with watching the film a second time for my blog. You may think that I am about to flame this movie, but really I thought it was strong, well done, and incredibly risqué. Believe it or not, an X rated film has been nominated for an Oscar before, and although Wolf is rated R, it sure did not seem like just soft core to me.
Based on a true story and adapted from the novel, Wolf is about a stock broker in New York who makes it big. Jordan Belfort (Leanardo DiCaprio) starts out well at a respectable brokerage with an innocent smile. His wife rode the bus downtown with him to wish him luck on his first day. But who should he find himself dining with for lunch? Mark Hanna, (Matthew McConaughey) whose vulgar philosophy is communicated through what will become an iconic rhythmic drumming on one’s own chest with their fist. Belfort learns what he needs to, but in a depression he finds himself out of work and in a penny stocks office, somehow making over seventy grand a month.
Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), in the second best performance of the film, becomes Belfort’s sudden wingman. With a huge grin populated by shiny veneers, he embraces and encourages all the dishonest methods Belfort uses because it makes them rich. They slowly climb their way to the top, teaching their people a carefully constructed sales script that is sure to win every time. By 26, Belfort has earned 49 million dollars in a year.
Through money, they find drugs, strippers, and whores, and walk us through a description of the different levels of hookers. Belfort’s first wife gets caught in the cross hairs and he finds himself divorced and then remarried to a blonde bombshell. Although from the outside, Belfort has it all (the car, the house, the wife, the job), the feds are hot on his heels.
Like any Martin Scorsese film, nothing is held back. They go all out. Although the circumstances are vulgar, they are raw. Although they may be immoral, they are also authentic. Belfort, with all of his money and the ideal American lifestyle, is unhappy and unsatisfied. The imagery is perfect. Nothing is ever enough and they always have to go bigger.
The cinematography, colors, editing–everything comes together perfectly. It is not pristine. Although it is rich, there is a certain gaudiness along with it, as if the pride and bragging cannot hide what is missing. Belfort cannot stop chasing and even in the death of a family member he can only think about the money. It takes something huge to bring him back to reality.
I understand why The Wolf of Wall Street did not win any awards, particularly because of the films it was stacked up against. However, I think that DiCaprio deserved the Oscar. I have yet to see McConaughey’s performance is Dallas Buyer’s Club, and as such do not want to belittle it or say that he did not deserve or earn the Oscar, but even disregarding Leo’s body of work, he did a particularly spectacular job with Jordan Belfort.
I recommend this film lightly. As much I don’t ever want to watch it again, there are more than a few scenes that positively inhabit my memory. I loved the lunch between Belfort and Hanna. I loved when Donnie quit his job to work for Jordan. I loved when he spoke to inspire his sales floor. The run time of this film is long because they pulled out all the stops.
Be aware, there is a lot of drugs, sex, nudity, and swearing. If you can handle it, go for it, but you might need to shower off the filth after viewing it.