3 February 2014 | gavin6942
A Three-Hour Bacchanalia Caught on Film
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
As of now (February 2014), this film sits at an impressive #57 on IMDb's list of greatest films of all time. Using that as a jumping off point for this review, we will have to scale it back a bit. Whether the film should be on the list is debatable, but certainly not within the top 100 -- it is neither that good nor among director Martin Scorsese's best work.
Along the same lines, the Oscar nomination for Best Picture is a bit much. While there is no denying it was probably among the ten best films of 2013, with some incredible acting and more than adequate cinematography and editing, the very fact it has no chance of winning makes one question why even nominate the film at all. (Of course, without nine nominees, we would be back to having the reasonable number of five...)
Scorsese received a best director nomination, and this strikes me as more understandable. He managed to assemble an impressive cast and tell a story that is both compelling and entertaining, without trying to put some moral tag on it. Whether or not the viewer thinks this is a glorification or denouncement of the acts depicted is up to them, as the film itself is blank (in the best way).
While on the subject, could the drug use and sexuality have been toned down? Absolutely. And there is a good argument that they should have been (especially the non-stop sex, which comes across as gratuitous and only adds more minutes to this lengthy financial epic). Another argument says the events are extremely unlikely and exaggerated at times. And this is probably also true; but the film is accurate to the memoir, not reality, and this is Belfort telling his story with all the embellishments that come with it. If you want just the facts, read the court transcripts.
Leonardo DiCaprio is nominated for best actor, and this is a choice that is understandable and yet hard to rally behind. He truly becomes Belfort, and probably makes the man out to be even more wild than he was. That deserves a nomination. But this is not DiCaprio's best role (he has also done a fine job portraying Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover) and not one he deserves the win for.
Jonah Hill, on the other hand, was amazing and deserves to win his supporting actor category. Being up again Jared Leto, he probably has no chance, but Hill has come a long way in a few short years from a lovable doofus in "Superbad" to a formidable actor in his own right. At first, "Moneyball" seemed to be an anomaly in Hil's career, but he showed the world he could do even better when he became Donny Azoff in this picture. Incredible.
Whether Terence Winter deserves Best Adapted Screenplay for this film is unclear without having read the book. Such a nomination seems fair, though the win is hard to say without more familiarity. I am surprised no nominations came for cinematography or editing, which are strong in their subtlety. But oh well.
Of the film's five nominations, it may walk away with one win (Winter) or two at most (DiCaprio). More likely it will walk away empty-handed. The film is not flawless (we could go on about how awkward the soundtrack was) and may or may not go on to be memorable for much more than its nudity and pervasive cursing.