Since the release of its trailer in June, "The Wolf of Street" has had Martin Scorsese-loving cinéastes and fratty Kanye West listening-millennials alike panting in anticipation.
The film, about the real-life triumphs and trials of irreverent, law-breaking broker Jordan Belfort, promises Scorsese's masterful direction, star Leo DiCaprio's dashing talents and good looks, and laughs aplenty, with funny man-boy Jonah Hill playing DiCaprio's right hand man.
Completed just last Wednesday and screened in Los Angeles for industry types for the first time Saturday, "Wolf of Wall Street" is also generating Oscar buzz, making it the latest (and probably last) spoiler in this year's already very crowded awards season race. Here's what we know about its Oscar chances so far:
1. It will be eligible for the Academy Awards after all: "Wolf of Wall Street" was originally slated for Nov. 15, but was delayed in October, reportedly as Scorsese needed to cut down his original three-hour plus draft. It will now come out on Christmas day, just under the Academy Awards' Dec. 31 deadline. To make it Oscar eligible, Paramount had to push back its release of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," and is pitting "Wolf of Wall Street" against other highly anticipated films, including "August: Orange County," "Labor Day," and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." While the late-in the-game premiere means "Wolf of Wall Street" won't have the time to gain the momentum of other Oscar contenders – some of which, like "Blue Jasmine" and "Fruitvale Season," were released as early as the summer – it will also be fresh on the Academy's mind for nomination voting, which lasts Dec. 29 through Jan, 8.
2. It was knocked down from NC-17 to R: To avoid an NC-17 rating, Scorsese reportedly had to get rid of some of the nudity and sex scenes in his initial cut. Nevertheless, Deadline's Pete Hammond, who attended Saturday's screening, said "[I]t's hard to imagine the stuff that didn't make it in considering the edgy material that did."
3. It's long: At two hours and 59 minutes with credits, "Wolf of Wall Street" is Scorsese's longest picture and comes in a year when Oscar contenders are notably shorter than past fields. However, it also has a" frenetic pace" that "never lags," according to Hammond, and it still clocks in under other past Best Picture winners, including the three hour and 14 minute "Titanic," and the record holder, the nearly four hour "Gone With the Wind."
4. It's awesome: While formal reviews are embargoed, those present at Saturday's screening are already blabbing about its quality, and those cinéastes and millennials won't be disappointed. Hammond called it "'Scorsese's Satyricon,'" a wild ride full of contemporary debauchery" and described it as being "rapturously received." Hammond also put the performances of DiCaprio and Hill on his short list for Oscar noms. Said The Hitfix's Katriospher Tapley, "Someone described it to me a few weeks ago as "Marty on methamphetamine," and I'm not going to argue with that. Though maybe "Marty on quaaludes" is more apt."
5. But is it a shoe-in? Despite having Scorsese's gravitas and DiCaprio's bankable charm, "Wolf of Wall Street" faces exceptionally stiff competition. This has been a landmark year for monumental movies about race by black filmmakers, including "Fruitvale Station," "12 Years a Slave" and "Lee Daniel's The Butler." It has produced a number of survival epics like "Gravity," "All Is Lost," "Captain Phillips" and "12 Years a Slave," which some critics see as a metaphor for the art of cinema itself. And there are also the usual slate of sure-to-be crowd pleasers like "Philomena," "August: Orange County" and "Saving Mr. Banks" that boast a fleet of Academy veterans.
The contrast of the darkly comedic "Wolf of Wall Street" – the Golden Globe will be considering "Wolf of Wall Street" as a comedy – to the somber tone of the rest of the Oscar fare is just what might make "Wolf" a winner, supposes Tapley. In this sense, "Wolf of Wall Street" is drawing comparisons to David O. Russel's "American Hustle," another fast-paced funny film about some retro ne'er-do-gooders, which stars the Oscar nominees and winners of Russel's previous two films, "The Fighter" and "Silver Linings the Playbook." Will the Academy find room for "Wolf of Wall Street" and "American Hustle" both?