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Countdown to the Oscars 14’ – Best Picture Nominees (‘The Wolf of Wall Street’)

There’s always one. You know that one film that you “hope” wins Best Picture, but won’t for various reasons; a favorite amongst fans, but not the Academy. And while many were surprised a film like “The Wolf of Wall Street” could be nominated for the year’s top prize, I was not. This film encompasses what “going to the movies” is all about and does so through great writing, directing and acting. So, we should be talking about it under these new rules put in place by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 2009 when they decided to move away from having just five nominated films. The idea was of course to include those films that often show up in the other categories, but never were allowed to get into the Best Picture race. And I think going on the fourth year since that move, it has worked to a certain extent when you figure the films nominated due meet a criteria typically found in past Best Picture winners and losers. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is one of the films and to me deserves to be here thanks to the careful direction and vision of the great Martin Scorsese.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Paramount Pictures

For those that know me or have read my reviews for any length of time, you know that Martin Scorsese is my favorite director. And with that comes a certain bias to anything he does or is part of. Can you blame me when the guy has produced such iconic films like “Raging Bull,” “The Color of Money,” “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator” and “The Departed?” Sure, they all feel like a good hour to two hours longer than they are, but that’s Scorsese. He’s not perfect and for some an acquired taste, but I still love everything that he has done for Hollywood and am amazed each time I sit down to watch one of his films. He leaves no stone unturned and “The Wolf of Wall Street” was no different, as there was more thrown into this movie than I could have ever imagined supporting his nomination for Best Director. Sure, I had some idea of what I was walking into when I sat down to watch it, but to get the kind of entertainment Marty created in this film was unexpected. Yeah, there was a ton of drug use, sexual content and graphic nudity, but it all felt so natural with the story taking place. And sometimes when a film isn’t trying to be something it’s not, it gets rewarded.

I just don’t know where that would be this year given the fellow competition. Maybe it will be directing, as that category has been somewhat unpredictable recently. Especially when you figure Alexander Payne has no chance at winning for his work behind the lens in “Nebraska.” That leaves just three other guys as Scorsese’s primary competition. Problem is, those three guys are behind films that the Academy loved, so I just don’t think it’s in the cards for Marty to snag his second Oscar statuette in his eighth try for directing. Here’s some trivia though; with the five nominations in for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Scorsese’s films have earned a whopping 80 nominations since he first arrived in Hollywood in the 70’s. And 20 times out of those 80, someone attached to his film has walked home with an Oscar. That’s incredible and another reason why he will always be a part of Oscar history. I just wonder if he will keep his recent streak of wins at this ceremony going with what else as nominated. Because as much as I loved Jonah Hill in this film, he can’t win for Supporting Actor after what Jared Leto did in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Same could be said for fellow supporter Margot Robbie. But, wait; she wasn’t nominated which is crying shame after what she was able to accomplish opposite a veteran like Leonardo DiCaprio. She handled herself like she had done it before, going toe to toe with Leo and anyone else that stepped into frame. I was impressed with the young Aussie, making me think this might be one of those breakout roles you always hear about, but rarely see live.

Next up is the award for Best Actor where I think Leonardo DiCaprio might have a fighters’ chance at winning. I mean, working with Scorsese for the fifth time, you can see why Marty likes Leo so much. Not only is he a great narrator, a staple for most Scorsese films, he knows how to get the best out of his fellow cast mates. Plus he manages himself better that he ever gets credit for. And here, he took all the highs and lows of a dynamic personality like Jordan Belfort and knocked them out of the park. He was incredible in a performance that I will look back on as one of the best 2013 had to offer, but one I doubt will be rewarded in gold come Oscar night. Because no matter how great he is, Leonardo DiCaprio is too big of a name to win Best Actor. Same can be said for Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, who are winless at this famed ceremony. So, while I love it if DiCaprio somehow managed an upset, if he didn’t win for his performance in “The Aviator” a few years ago, there’s no way he wins for this. That leaves just the nomination for Adapted Screenplay left, which I feel could be its one and only win. Usually at least one of the two or three films that didn’t manage to win Best Picture walk home with the award for writing; at least in the years like this where there was no clear frontrunner. It happens, which is why I could see first-time nominee Terence Winter easily accepting the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay on March 2nd given his only “real” competition is John Ridley for “12 Years a Slave.”

CLICK HERE to read my original, uncut review on “The Wolf of Wall Street”

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