To hear it from Deadline‘s Pete Hammond and In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street (which was screened three times yesterday at 10 am, 12:30 pm and 6:30 pm) is a double-definite Best Picture contender — uncorked, operatic, bacchanalian, Goodfellas-like, flagrantly and very accurately un-p.c. in its depiction of how financial finagler Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his homies enjoyed women, and basically an adrenalized bitch of a toboggan ride. It’s qualudian madness, giddy euphoria, high-wire unicycle daredevilry…and then the Feds and the fall. Is it really a “comedy”? Yes, apparently — the diseased, dark and unzipped-pants kind. But at the same time no more of a comedy than Goodfellas was so you tell me.
It would seem, also, that DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are cast-iron locks for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor noms, respectively. Which means that one of the five current Best Actor favorites is going to get bumped. Two or three weeks ago I would have said the bumpee would be Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern but his campaign has been too brilliant (“Vote for where I am now as a 77 year-old actor experiencing a major resurgence first, and…uhhm, vote for my performance also”) to deny. So my spitball presumption is that the Best Actor bumpee will be Captain Phillips‘ Tom Hanks. The Phillips acclaim will now transfer down to his already likely shot of a Best Supporting Actor nom for his Walt Disney performance in Saving Mr. Banks.
Matthew McConaughey‘s Best Actor campaign for Dallas Buyer’ Club will probably be “helped,” I’m told, by his cameo-sized appearance during Wolf‘s first act.
There’s also a screening at the Academy theatre today and another one somewhere else (the WGA?). And I have to wait until next Friday! The Wolf revelry is happening now, this weekend…c’mon! I want to see this film so badly I can taste it. L.A. Times reporter John Horn was seen in the lobby after the 6:30 pm screening. What other journalists have slipped in the side door?
In Contention‘s Kris Tapley, who attended the 12:30 pm WGA screening, hasn’t said much today except to call Scorsese’s film “three sensational hours of unbound, naughty (nearly NC-17), bleak comedy that immediately registers as a different sort of contender this season. Someone described it to me a few weeks ago as ‘Marty on methamphetamine’, and I’m not going to argue with that. Though maybe ‘Marty on quaaludes’ is more apt.”
Here are excerpts from Hammond’s report, which he didn’t file until almost 3 am this morning because he saw Wolf at 10 am and moderated the q & a following the 6:30 pm screening.
“To say [that Wolf of Wall Street] was rapturously received would be an understatement,” Hammond wrote. “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.
“Formal 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.
“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.”
A just-posted N.Y. Times story by Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes reports that Wolf was only finally finished last Wednesday — i.e., four days ago. “Mr. Scorsese finally screened an almost-finished cut of the film for an inner circle, including Mr. DiCaprio, and Paramount’s chief executive, Brad Grey, in New York a week ago,” the story says. “But the film was not actually finished until two days later, on Wednesday, according to a person who was briefed on the proceedings and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality strictures.”
One question is “how many people out there have even heard of Fellini Satyricon, much less seen it?” One or two per cent, at most. Probably less than that.