In a recent Twitter debate — an never-ending Twitter debate it seems — Gregory Ellwood is nearly certain that Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street won’t make the Best Picture. But preferential balloting helps a film get nominated – as in, passionate love for it almost equal to passionate hatred against it. When it comes time to pick a winner, however, polarizing films fall away and the bland middle often takes the prize.
In their latest Gurus of Gold chart, Wolf is on every list (also take note of Pete Hammond and Pete Howell picking American Hustle to win) but it’s low. We know because Steve Pond tells us that the preferential ballot for nominations is based on number one votes. That means, Wolf will need a goodly number of number ones to get in. I don’t see that as being a problem but perhaps I am blinded by love. To me, it’s the kind of movie people either love or they hate with no in between. This helps get it in but it means it can’t win.
Movies I can imagine a healthy number of people voting as their favorite movie of the year seem to fit all of those I have predicted for a nomination and that includes Wolf of Wall Street. But take heed of what the Hitfix guys are saying – that the movie has “repulsed” several Academy members (ya, pretty icky that 1% stuff) and even many a film critic, like David Denby, like Stephanie Zacharek, like Lou Loumenik – and even Deadline’s Anita Busch can’t stop ragging on the film. Passionate hate AND passionate love.
Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere agrees with me that it’s the year’s best film. In a year of great films overall, Wolf stands out as being one of the few with the thumbprint of genius. I don’t really need to go to the movies to find humanity, nor to have my morality aligned. I don’t need to have a movie think for me or to tell me that I should only see the good in people. What I do need a movie to do – tell a great story, even if makes me uncomfortable along the way. If I need an uplift I’ll throw on a Frank Capra movie and pretend life is really like that. Otherwise, let’s allow our artists the freedom to explore the full spectrum of the human experience, the good, the bad and the ugly of it. To me, Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese’s Clockwork Orange. Can you imagine today’s audiences, Cinemascore and the like trying to absorb Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange? That movie is straight up satire, like Wolf of Wall Street. That movie had people — and still has people — making heroes of Alex and his gang of rapists. There have always been accusations of sexism in all of Kubrick’s work. Is that movie flat-out genius? YES. Does it tell the truth? YES. I would add David Fincher’s Fight Club and The Social Network to that list. Like Kurick, Fincher doesn’t need to hand-hold his audience through the morality. That isn’t his job as an artist. It wasn’t Kubrick’s and it isn’t Scorsese’s.
A Clockwork Orange was nominated for Picture, Director, Screenplay and Editing. But that was the 70s, yo.
Meanwhile, over at Gold Derby, they have Wolf predicted at number 5, with a potential Best Director nod for Scorsese.
I really could see it going either way. At this point my head is too full of subjective affection for the film and this director to give you a clear call about its Oscar prospects. So perhaps I am not the person to judge. Were it me, it would easily make the top five, with nods across the board. But I’m not an Oscar voter so who can say.