Monday, 27 January 2014

Best Actor 2013: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo DiCaprio received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Wolf of Wall Street is a very entertaining film about the debauchery and crimes of a wall street broker. It technically did not need to be three hours, but since I enjoyed it all the way through I did not mind.

The Wolf of Wall Street is basically a comedic remake of Goodfellas as both films tell the story of one man's venture into a sinful life, and they basically follow a similar path in terms of high and lows. In both films it is not really the story of a protagonist who is slowly corrupted rather both are the stories are about men who pretty much want to be corrupted. Something rather interesting though is that despite Goodfellas being about mobsters who regularly murdered people Henry Hill as played by Ray Liotta actually has far more authentic emotions than Jordan Belfort ever has, aside from one very brief moment with his first wife early in the film, Belfort is one shallow man as portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. That might sound like I'm criticizing DiCaprio, but I'm not.

This is a very rare Oscar nomination for lead actor because DiCaprio actually gives an entirely comic performance, even a scene that might seem serious in terms of conception tends to still be completely comedic as it is played out in the film. DiCaprio goes for broke by showing Belfort to be the hollow man, and just going all the way with that concept without looking back once. Except for that one brief moment where Belfort lost his first job and DiCaprio let's us see just a little bit of honest concern in the man, there is technically nothing to Belfort as a man other than his want and desire for more money, and any sort of pleasures he can get whether it is from drinking, taking every drug that he can seem to find, or indulging in every type of sex with a woman he can come up with.

I'll get to the comedy in a minute but I'd like to start with just the creation of Belfort method as a wall street broker. DiCaprio has a great intensity with his portrayal of this but not the intensity that would make you ever scared of him, at least in the traditional sense, but that intensity that personifies his insatiable thirst for more money. DiCaprio makes Belfort the false salesman but he does it oh so perfectly by making that falseness technically part of the appeal of what the man seems to be offering. DiCaprio brings all the right bravado in his scenes as the salesman as Belfort is really screwing the person over yet he makes the offer just sound so great, because he seems to be so absolutely sure about it. DiCaprio makes the passion in Belfort both truthful and completely fake at the same time.

DiCaprio continues this quite effectively when he has any of his scenes where Belfort seems to be trying to rally his troops to do what else other than continue to make money. DiCaprio again has such a terrific balance in his creation of what Belfort is doing. DiCaprio definitely shows that Belfort is giving his all with his screaming at the top of his lungs through his microphone to say just how awesome he thinks his own company and he is, as well DiCaprio has the non-stop enthusiasm that only reinforces properly why his employees would think he is so cool, but as well why so many would want to work to Belfort. There is such a lack of any genuine feeling though and DiCaprio is great because through his own performance he creates the egg that Belfort's whole world was, pretty but completely empty.

Now enough of that though because the true greatness of DiCaprio's performance is just how funny he is here. DiCaprio kind of does wink at the audience since Belfort does not mind directly speaking the audience from time to time, but in terms of playing Belfor DiCaprio never stops to laugh at the character himself. Instead DiCaprio goes all the way with Belfort and revels in all that Belfort that does, no matter what it may be. DiCaprio's work here is pretty glorious really as he never hesitates in to get whatever he can out of any scene. DiCaprio is great with his line deliveries in just how little feeling he can give, and this lack of feeling can even make Jordan's telling of the death of some of his friends as comedic because he's just so nonchalant about it.

What I love about DiCaprio's work here is that he doesn't ever try to make the material serious in anyway and is so good in indulging in Belfort's antics. DiCaprio's great because of just how casual, and frankly relaxed in the role. I  have been a little more forgiving of DiCaprio most recent dramatic efforts than some, but his work here suggests that this is where he should be. DiCaprio makes Belfort man who does not find anything to be even slightly bashful about and anything he does he just does. What is also great is that DiCaprio does make Belfort quite a doofus, and is hilarious because Belfort as a man who thinks he's a genius as well. One of my favorite moments of DiCaprio's is when he tries to act like a true cutthroat in front of the F.B.I. agent investigating him, DiCaprio first portrays Belfort as so obvious in his foolish attempt though, and quite naturally devolves into some rather childish insults.

As much as I enjoy DiCaprio's line deliveries and his narration there is nothing that compares to the physical aspect of his performance. DiCaprio is rather on fire in the way he injects an incredible energy to every scene he is in and his movement exemplify the whole idea of Belfort's method toward life. This is particularly true of course for his drug habit and DiCaprio's performance is worthy of comparison to Ray Liotta depiction of a drugged up addict. DiCaprio's though is of course twisted slightly for the sake of comedy particularly in the randomness of Belfort's behavior that DiCaprio does so brilliantly. DiCaprio just really is on in pretty much every frame, and never fails to make the most out of Belfort's insanity by pretty much showing just how insane it is thorough his equally insane portrayal of it.

Although there is plenty of great moments based upon DiCaprio's use of his body in this film, that dance routine at Belfort's wedding is a particular highlight, the best moment in this regard though is without a doubt  when Belfort takes too many Lemmon Quaaludes and attempts to get home because he needs to stop his business partner from using the phone. DiCaprio perhaps has never been better than in his, Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot inspired, portrayal of the drugs affect. Frankly I could not stop laughing from DiCaprio's depiction of Belfort's attempt to crawl and mumble his way home. The scene is pure comedic gold, and DiCaprio's performance of the scene is flawless deriving laughter from pretty much every movement in the funniest scene of 2013.

Jordan Belfort is not a likable character really by any measure not only because of his indulgences and illegal actions involving his stock broker firm, but as well he does not mind some wife beating now again either. DiCaprio is magnetic here of course, but he does not try to make us like Jordan Belfort in attempt to make the film watchable. No, what DiCaprio does instead is make it so very easy to laugh at the various exploits of Belfort that it is extremely easy to watch him throughout the film. DiCaprio excels so much here that I would say his true calling seems to be as a comedic actor after all. In fact, since this one was so good, I would not mind seeing DiCaprio and Scorsese tackle a few more pseudo remakes of Scorsese's films with a heavily comedic bent. This is a great performance by Leonardo DiCarpio and one of the amusing ever nominated for an Oscar.

43 comments:

Michael McCarthy said...

Wow I think it'll be close between him and McConaughey.

Speaking of the similarities between this and Goodfellas, does anyone else think DiCaprio and Liotta have similar voices? It was the first thing I noticed when I heard his narration in this.

Matt Mustin said...

Oh, I absolutely love this performance, although DiCaprio is an actor who rarely dissapoints for me.

RatedRStar said...

Leonardo DiCaprio is like one of the very few icons of film that is actually very good at what he does, and he is an icon, in 20 years time he will be regarded as one of the greats, the perfect mainstream lead actor I like to think, and one that the millions love, I mean, Leonardo DiCaprio is I think the most popular leading man around, the moment you hear the name Leonardo, you think, box office powerhouse.

RatedRStar said...

Off topic, I wonder if another big global star, Tom Cruise will ever get another Oscar nomination since he seems to have about the same luck as DiCaprio?

Matt Mustin said...

With the movies he's doing recently, Cruise won't be getting nominated any time soon. And I say that as someone who LOVED Ghost Protocol.

Michael McCarthy said...

I just realized that if Bruce Dern gets a 5 this would be the #1 year for Best Actor. I see him getting a 4.5 though.

Mark said...

I agree with pretty much everything he said. I thought he was great. I was actually amazed at how Dicaprio disappeared into the role. He had me convinced in the movie that he was Jordan Belfort, something I didn't know he could pull off. If he wins this year I'll be happy.

joe burns said...

Wow, I didn't expect you to like him that much. I think he'll be second.

My predictions:

1. McConaughey

2. Dicaprio

3. Ejiofor

4. Dern

5. Bale

BTW, I just saw Dallas Buyer's Club today and it would be a terrible shame if McConaughey doesn't win. Amazing acting. Leto is fantastic as well. I hope he gets your vote!

Anonymous said...

I think he'll get your vote. Have you seen Dern yet? If not will you be doing another year, can I recommend 1995?

Matt Mustin said...

What are your favourite Scorsese films, Louis?

dinasztie said...

Contrary to Joe, I think it would be a terrible shame if Leo didn't win. That being said, MM is still a 5/5, amazing performance for me, but Leo is beyond even that.

I definitely think/hope that he can upset. Besides, if we take their respective careers into consideration, no matter how much hype MM is getting, Leo is still better.

Louis Morgan said...

Matt: Goodfellas

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

"BENI FUCKING HANA?! Why would God be so cruel to choose a chain of fucking hibachi restaurants to take me down?!" - My favorite quote of 2013.

dinasztie said...

LOL, that line is f-ing hilarious.

Goerge Woolf said...

I'm really happy to see that I'm not the one who compared this movie with Goodfellas! I prefer Goodfellas, but Wolf is algo a great film, altough the remake feeling kinda let me down sometimes...
What film would get your vote in this Oscar race? Or you'd rather vote for some title that wasn't selected?

mrripley said...

Cruise needs to step away from the loud blockbusters.

Louis Morgan said...

Woolf: My choice would be 12 Years a Slave.

Matt Mustin said...

I'd give 12 Years A Slave Best Picture, but I'd probably give Cuaron Best Director. But I'd be happy if McQueen got it as well, because his direction is just as incredible in a very different way.

Goerge Woolf said...

And McQueen would be the first african-british director do be awarded. They should've nominated and awarded Spike Lee for "Do the right thing" IMHO.

Matt Mustin said...

I'll have to give Do The Right Thing another watch, but I will say it was very wel-directed.

luke higham said...

Louis: what ratings would you give to the main cast in Les Miserables.

Louis Morgan said...

Eddie Redmayne - 4
Aaron Tveit - 4
Russell Crowe -3.5
Sacha Baron Cohen - 2.5
Anne Hathaway - 3.5
Amanda Seyfried - 3
Samantha Barks - 4
Helena Bonham Carter - 2

luke higham said...

Louis: is Jackman still a 4.5.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Please say no.

Michael McCarthy said...

I'd make Crowe a lot lower, he seemed like he was struggling so hard to sing that he was forgetting to act.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Because I have not revisited the film since I reviewed Jackman he technically must stay a 4.5.

luke higham said...

Louis: is there anything you saw recently.

Louis Morgan said...

I most recently watched Lone Survivor.

luke higham said...

Louis: what did you think of it.

Louis Morgan said...

I thought it was good but far from great. Peter Berg's direction in particular lacked the visceral quality needed, and never has a film seemed so obviously filmed in the wrong location. Ben Foster very easily gave the performance and as well was the best part of the film.

Matt Mustin said...

What rating would you give Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys?

Louis Morgan said...

4.5.

Michael Patison said...

When do you think you'll get around to seeing Nebraska?

Mark said...

Is it currently in limbo between done in theaters and not on DVD?

Matt Mustin said...

Yeah, I think it might be.

Louis Morgan said...

Michael: Unfortunately it only came near, and not very near at that, where I live for its limited early run.

Michael McCarthy said...

That's what putlocker is for lol

Michael Patison said...

That's unfortunate (for purposes of finding who wins). Hopefully you can see it reasonably soon. That being said, I didn't much care for the film.

Michael Patison said...

Putlocker is haphazard with its quality and ease of viewing unfortunately. I watched Mud using it and it was perfect. Then I tried Enough Said and found it impossible to navigate

Michael McCarthy said...

I never go directly to the site. I go to primewire.ag and search the name of whatever I want to watch, and it'll give a number of links, and whenever I click on one from putlocker (or several others I could recommend) it takes me straight to the video.

Michael Patison said...

Same here. I typically use movie4k.to, but I guess I'll try primewire

luke higham said...

Louis: for now, are you going to review a different year.

Tanvir Bashar said...

Wat wud u say r dicaprios top ten best performances