A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…
Synopsis: Leonardo DiCaprio turns in a career-defining performance as the deceitful, drug-fueled, personification of greed, Jordan Belfort, a real-life stockbroker whose meteoric rise in the ’90s serves as backdrop for Martin Scorsese’s divisive portrait of American excess.
Total nominations: 5 (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Director, Adapted Screenplay)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese (nominated for Best Director; 8th nomination, 1 win)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio (nominated for Best Actor; 4th nomination), Jonah Hill (nominated for Best Supporting actor; 2nd nomination), Margot Robbie
Why it should win: In terms of pure entertainment value on a per-minute basis, can any 2013 movie top “The Wolf of Wall Street”? For your $12 you get a full three hours of a world-class director and a world-class actor indulging every one of their most debased and carnal over-the-top urges. Scorsese + DiCaprio is a proven winning formula and this time they are simply having fun. Even into the third hour the film maintains its riotous momentum on the strength of DiCaprio’s (and co-star Jonah Hill’s) performance. The scene in which Belfort falls under the intense influence of quaaludes and must crawl to his car and drive home is towering feat of physical comedy and an instant classic that muscles its way onto the already-packed “best of” reels for both writer and director.
Why it won’t win: To be sure, “Wolf” has absolutely zero chance of winning Best Picture on Oscar night. In a year when “12 Years a Slave” was a reminder of the historical power and social importance of film and “Gravity” was a reminder of the majestic possibilities of cinema and the cosmos, “Wolf’s” celebration of late-20th century American excess — complete with a significant serving of misogyny — will not be celebrated. This is, after all, a movie whose lasting influence may be to remind the millennial generation what exactly quaaludes were. Even the film’s biggest defenders must admit there is something unsavory in both its conception and execution, as Scorsese matches his subject when it comes to self-indulgence.
Ann Hornaday’s review: 2.5 stars
“The Wolf of Wall Street” remains one-note even at is most outré, an episodic portrait of rapaciousness in which decadence escalates into debauchery escalates into depravity.”
Box office as of Feb. 24: $112 million domestic, $338 million worldwide