After reaction to American Hustle began to emerge from screenings, the only lingering Oscar-race unknown was Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. Now that it has screened for SAG voters, word is starting to emerge that it might make a dent in an already busy year.
Whether or not Wolf was even going to be released this year was still an open question earlier this fall. Needing to cut down the film, Scorsese was not going to make his originally planned November 15 release date. Now scheduled for Christmas day, the movie clocks in at just under three hours long and was cut enough to avoid an NC-17 rating.
But is it any good? Apparently yes, if you like unbridled depravity. Kristopher Tapley of HitFix, who attended one of this weekend's screenings, wrote that it's "three sensational hours of unbound, naughty (nearly NC-17), bleak comedy that immediately registers as a different sort of contender this season." Meanwhile, at Deadline, Pete Hammond (who moderated a Q&A following one of the screenings) called it "'Scorsese’s Satyricon,' a wild ride full of contemporary debauchery to say the least (DiCaprio compared some of it to Caligula), with a fine ensemble and a frenetic pace that belies its three hour running time." In the New York Times, Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes call it "the last, and possibly weirdest, of the Oscar season movies to surface," and one that doesn't moralize about its subject matter. The movie is being compared to Scorsese's revered Goodfellas.
All that sounds amusing enough if you can deal with three hours of rich guys being jerks, but will it be an Oscar contender? Hammond said it is, calling it the "perfect companion piece to Goodfellas and puts Scorsese right back in the thick of the Oscar race, if Academy members, particularly older ones, can deal with the almost non-stop parade of sex, drugs, nudity and rock and roll." Tapley, however, sees that its Oscar potential "seems like a bit of a mixed bag, though reaction so far has been hugely enthusiastic."
While the film might not break Best Picture, its performers have a good chance of weaseling their way in acting categories. Hammond says Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio are "sure to gain Oscar recognition," which, yes, would mean that Jonah Hill could be a two-time Oscar nominee. Think on that. DiCaprio needs to bust into an already very solid Best Actor race, which even Tapley admits he could do.
The film still has to screen officially for press, so the tide of the reaction could turn. For now, however, it looks like The Wolf is raring to make an impact.