‘Wolf of Wall Street': Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio Bring Sex, Drugs and Money to the Oscar Race

'Wolf of Wall Street': Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio Bring Sex, Drugs and Money to the Oscar Race

Scorsese's wild three-hour movie has become the hot screening ticket as voting deadlines approach

Everybody loves Martin Scorsese‘s “The Wolf of Wall Street” – including, perhaps, people who haven't even seen it.

The three-hour real-life tale of financial skullduggery and personal excess has become the hottest screening ticket in town in the first few days of its guild screenings, with Paramount turning away viewers at SAG, AMPAS, DGA and WGA screenings that began on Saturday afternoon and will continue all week in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London.

The studio is also rolling out the film to critics on a need-to-vote basis, showing it to members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the New York Film Critics Circle ahead of their voting deadlines, and scheduling additional screenings for other critics’ groups who will cast ballots in upcoming weeks.

Reviews are embargoed, but it's safe to say that early reaction has been on the wildly positive side for Scorsese's take on the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, a freewheeling, excessive and wickedly funny 179-minute chronicle of sex, drugs, enormous wealth and even more enormous misbehavior.

Also read: Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill Go Into Dirty Business Together in ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Trailer (Video)

The most controversial praise for the film came from the International Press Academy, a group of journalists formed in 1996 by Mirjana Van Blaricom, a former president of and defector from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The group gave the “Wolf” five nominations for their 18th annual Satellite Awards.

The curious thing about the nominations: IPA members hadn't been invited to see the movie.

Did they vote for Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and screenwriter Terence Winter because they thought they should, or because they were hoping to up the star power at their March 9 show? That's the conclusion drawn by Hitfix's Kris Tapley, who broke the news that the IPA had nominated “Wolf” without seeing it.

Van Blaricom disputed that account in an interview with GoldDerby's Tom O'Neil, claiming that she and 26 other IPA members had seen it as guests of SAG members at a Saturday screening, and that many members saw the film at other weekend screenings. AFTRA and SAG members, she said, “are permitted to bring two guests and we go with them. That way we get to see movies first.”

Paramount, though, pointed out that the only SAG nominating committee members were allowed to bring guests to the “Wolf of Wall Street” screenings – and that only 20 nom-com members brought guests, all of whom were known to the studio. “The IPA was not at the SAG screening this Saturday,” a Paramount rep flatly told TheWrap.

UPDATE: In an email to TheWrap, Van Blaricom claimed that she was misquoted by O'Neil. “The International Press Academy who could attend the SAG-AFTRA Film Society ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ screenings did so, and subsequently submitted their votes for the film, resulting in enough votes for the film to be nominated,” she said.

O'Neil told TheWrap that he did not misquote Van Blaricom, and that he “took careful notes” while she twice repeated the specific numbers about how many IPA members attended the screenings.

But regardless of how “Wolf” fared with Satellite voters, it seems likely that the movie will also fare well among voters with considerably more credibility.

Also read: Martin Scorsese, ‘Hoop Dreams’ Director Steve James to Crowdfund Roger Ebert Documentary

Based on Monday night's Writers Guild screening (at which WGA members were allowed to bring guests), Scorsese's big, bold and excessive movie is the kind of last-minute entry that could impact the awards race the way Quentin Tarantino‘s big, bold and excessive “Django Unchained” did last December.

As a matter of record, I updated my predictions at the Gold Derby website late Monday night to put Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill into the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories, respectively; to add Scorsese to my Best Director predictions; and to move Terence Winter's screenplay into the second spot, right behind “12 Years a Slave.”

In a conversation with “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner that followed Monday's WGA screening, Winter said that he wrote the script in 2007, and that Scorsese had only one request: “Could I write it in the style of ‘Goodfellas?'”

“Marty sparked to the idea right away … that this could be a great companion piece to ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino,'” he said.

Also read: ‘Boardwalk Empire': Could Terence Winter Lure Leonardo DiCaprio to the Boardwalk?

In pre-production, Winter said, he sat in a room with Scorsese and DiCaprio every day for a month, going over each line of the script. “Didn't you get defensive?” asked Weiner.

Winter laughed. “Oh yeah,” he said.

One thing he learned during that time: Don't get too technical.

“Marty and Leo didn't really understand it,” he said of the details of Belfort's financial transgressions, which sent him to federal prison for securities fraud and money laundering. “I had to explain what an IPO is to them about 90 times. And finally I said, ‘All we need to know is, they made $27 million in three hours.’ And we put that explanation in the film.”

Winter said he spent a lot of time with Belfort, as did DiCaprio. But while the writer heard what a great speaker Belfort could be, none of his subject's legendary exhortations to his staff had been filmed. So at one point, he said, he asked Belfort to deliver a new speech.

“I asked him, ‘If I could fill a room at CAA full of assistants and young agents, could you [give a speech]?'”

Weiner cringed at the idea putting a motivational speaker in front of a room of young agents. “Now, that's all they need over there,” he said, laughing.

  • Stuart W

    “Voters with credibility…” eh? Sounds of Mr. Pond lavishing, late, unwarranted laurels upon Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Scorsese among others in this overlong and ultimately sad, aimless, less than ordinary film. Imagine excess playing-time (3 hours) due the director's or producers inability to let go of their darlings. Thanx to the instructive acts dedicated to (manufacture, use and quality of) qualludes, I've now completed my graduate university education and am fit for seeking full-time pharmaceutical employ1

    Yes every cloud a silver-lining!

    Thanks Martin!

    • Stuart W

      Always have much-regarded folks named Roberto!

      Well said!

  • robertodonati

    I was at the WGA screening on Saturday night. Although most everyone liked it, perhaps even loved it, quite a few people (including myself) did not. It had nothing to do with the fact that it's overly loud, overly hyper, and has more sex and depravity than ‘Caligula', but with the fact that it feels so long, you wonder if Scorsese's editor for life went on vacation or was told not to question Il Maestro. The movie felt like a hybrid of overly indulgent ‘The Great Gatsby’ and pointless ‘Casino.’ Or should I say, pointless ‘Gangs of New York?’ No doubt it will be nominated for everything, because who dare not nominate Scorsese? True some categories will deserve it – set design, art direction and acting for Di Caprio and Hill, but be warned – if you're hoping to sit for 3 hours and repeat that first ‘Goodfellas’ high ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ ain't it.

    • Stuart W

      Roberto,

      My initial reply your comments, misplaced. Admit first film

      coming to mind after viewing “…Wolf…”—”Caligula”!

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      more sex and depravity than ‘Caligula',
      like what ? ? ? ?

  • OB

    While I liked the film overall, I must agree that the three hour running time could have been slimmed down with some judicious cuts. There were scenes that, while watching the film, I thought, “ok, I'd have cut at that last moment and jumped to this bit.” When you see the film, you'll do it too. For example. Cut from the pay phone to Jordan arriving at home. You still get the gag in the next scene with the Lamborgini and police, but you don't need the excruciatingly long Lemmon scene (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers).

    So yes. I liked the film. It depicts insane debauchery and, for a good portion of the running time, is incredibly fun – but it takes a turn for the dark side far earlier than GOODFELLAS, and flattens near the end. Nominations all around, but it didn't need to be three hours.

    • brynababy

      Didn't bother me. I thought the film was fascinating, though scraping at the bottoms of debauchery (had to look away a couple of times), but compelling nevertheless. The energy, the photograpy, the locations, the incredible performances, left me breathless and never conscious of the time and I'm an old, old lady. DeCaprio is just an out and out brilliant artist!

      • DReview

        Thank you for pointing out the golden chair. Looks great on the outside, looks golden, but when you sit on it you'll find that there is a rotten interior and the chair will never last.

        Give me the wooden chair instead.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      is Hill a scene stealer ?
      does kietel /pesci /deniro have a cameo at the end ?

  • BillinHP

    I agree with the other commenters. Not a great film. But it will get plenty of award noms and might even win a couple. Long, pointless and meandering – I stepped out to use the restroom (the Paramount flack told us where they were at the start of the film!) thinking I was at least 2/3's through the flick only to find not even an hour had passed at that point. I guess Marty is still fascinated by coke talk and I really don't understand why. It is really boring.

  • Michael Difani

    I sure liked DiCaprio in “The Aviator” and in his debut, “This Boy's Life” w/De Niro. I guess “Wolf” will earn a hard R rating….

    • DReview

      Obvious selling out of the Oscars…. They have now exposed the true politics and intentions of the Academy.

      No one is going to care about the Oscars after this year. This is a symptom of desperation and a migration of an industry.

  • HPQ

    According to a tweet by Dana Stevens, a member of the NY Critics, Wolf of Wall Street was a movie that didn't work for her and wasn't a factor for them in any category (they picked American Hustle for Best Pic and Robert Redford for Best Actor). Nobody in that crowd seemed to like it much. How do you account for this disparity between their reaction and the reaction of all the Oscar bloggers – yourself, Tom O'Neil, Jeffrey Wells, Sasha Stone. You guys all seem to love it but according to Stevens the NY critics manifestly did not. Very curious divergence there.

    • DReview

      This is Heathen Country Now… you can leave your personal values behind, and we'll offer you money and riches as long as you don't give a crap!

      We have found a way to hide real agendas and product placement with golden exteriors to be mistaken as artistic worth. Human nature fell on a slippery slope created from a select few, and the mirror of art and life has now become more misconstrued.

      With an exceptional bi-generation of filmmakers, musicians, and entertainers, lawyers; the streamline of music videos, commercial television, and movies, has formed a propagandized set of values. The exploitation of imagery has now reached a new level, and mainstream's pollution has brought sell out to back to relevancy…

      An illusion of power has now become more apparent, and the repressed youth, the oppressed minority, and the indulgent artist is buying into its imagery. Even the critics are blind sighted by dazzle of imagery and dance; that can be considered to be of aw if taken out of the current location our human species has woken up into.

      While believing we are in control of our destiny, social evolution has now slowed down.

      We allow the feeding of junk food to teenagers as they buy into ideals & products… individuality is included. Minorities show off the life of crime, deluding to richness, materials and sexualized memories. Women take off their clothes to show they are empowered while they are star struck in a garden of eden. The audience is fed beautiful imagery while being funneled intoxicated information deep into the subconscious memories of their ears! And the inactions of our time has now come closer to its fantasy.

      They offer you wealth and you sell an ideal; and the richter of a sale out should be measured from where you stand and the projection of the form to the world and casted light. Ethical standings need to be reintroduced.

      Even though less noticed, it should be recognized as an issue of a coming change and a migration of an industry, and a hopeful thirst for enlightenment.

      We have been staring at the broken mirror for too long and forgotten who we are. It's time to believe in the power of the camera once again and finish what's been started. There is a dimming beauty behind what was once considered to be beautiful and magic!

      We all sell out… but how far are you willing to sell on a scale of your values and your perspective attitudes toward the world?

      Also the obvious aim for controversy is putting “Wolf of Wall Street,” next to “12 years a Slave.” I wonder if the producers of 12 were part of this fiasco by the elitist connections.

  • DReview

    I feel sorry for Leonardo DiCaprio for constantly almost reaching the golden horse known as the contrived Oscar Ceremony. He's much more talented, and more important for the history books of film. HE should not go down as the man who sold out for the Oscars. The satire and art on itself is already burned out and there really is no controversy on the airwaves because Hollywood has successfully dumbed down the streamline, and it's not enough for it to be put in the history books as a controversy. Don't you see the circular damage here? True controversies are meant to stand up for a cause, not stand up for a sale.

    It has now become obvious what DiCaprio was being set up for this whole time. To create controversy in the name of what is known to be the WHITE MAN, and to be put next to the 12 Years a Slave. If he was part of the plan is up for debate.

    This is Hollywood's attempt to Niche the oscars and to gain momentum in viewership. It's a sell out of values and should not be appreciated today when better messaging could be found more inspired. This is a sad day for the Academy, and now they have exposed themselves for who they really are. Elitist, think tanks, that consider themselves to be of good influence; but an arbitrary comparison of US is to other worlds and their way of living. The Irony is they also point fingers and make similar claims. The devil is the first one to point out the devil; and the reflection of the subconscious is now more reflected on art than art was reflecting on it. The human psyche has now completely flipped on itself and the Matrix can now be considered real!

    Makes you look back at all of Martin Scorsese's work and wonder if he was part of some racist Agenda. He is from the Sell out Generation if you connect the dots. When Hippies turned into… Hiiippiiees, and when literature turned into “lets do it;” women who take off their clothes to show they are powerful, and when “Black Power,” turned into “Hit me up at the Club” With a step process on how to get girls drunk and “take off your panties”

    I'm from the 90's but I was too young to say something but I do remember noticing the sell out trend and calling movies as “sell out,” and people as “posers.” IT's time we bring back the scale of the sale, and be able to measure Artists, Film Makers, Musicians, and animators, based on how much they are selling out.

    If you sell and compromise you're self worth and perspectives of the world you're a LEVEL 10 sell out and most likely your work isn't going to be good.

    If you create explosions and fun story with lack of depth you're a LEVEL 3 sell out because your only intentions where for fun. And your work might be accepted as fun and entertainment as well.

    If you bring positive influences and have the courage to take attacks from the sell outs then you're a LEVEL 0… but be careful because TMZ is waiting to profit from the people who fell through the cracks; like the vultures that they are. In hollywood they offer you Fame, or Infamy depending on what they consider to be best of exploitation.

  • DReview

    When you start gathering long list of A actors and POP icons and put them into hyper sexualized demeaning natures of low depth, you have now exposed your true intentions as a film maker, your desperations as a business man, and your shallow abilities as an artist. This also shows how you view your country and the world… because knowing that this would sell says a lot of what the people in Hollywood think about our Country. They don't care as long as they get paid and stay above the starving artist.