Contender Countdown: Oscar race gets a taste of 'Wolf of Wall Street'

Posted by · 9:52 pm · October 31st, 2013

Another week, another contender officially enters the fray for Best Picture. Last week, “Saving Mr. Banks” took its expected place among the top five contenders. This week, Martin Scorsese returns to the Oscar game for the fifth time this century with “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Think about that fact just one more time.  Are we really surprised Marty’s back in the game?

There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt about whether “Wall Street” would be released this year after Scorsese delivered a reported three-hour-plus long edit (or was it four hours?), but it would have been shocking if the film’s international financiers had let it push to 2014. Instead, “Wolf” gets “Jack Ryan’s” prime Christmas Day slot and will battle “American Hustle” for the same male and cinephile demo. The question was whether “Wall Street” was both an awards and commercial player or just the latter. Well, after the release of the film’s second trailer it’s clear Scorsese has more on his mind than just having fun with the crazy stock market schemes of the 1980s.

Obviously, the first thing that pops — fake teeth aside — is that Jonah Hill may steal another movie out from under a bigger star (DiCaprio this time, Pitt in “Moneyball”). It would be silly not to take him seriously as a potential nominee in the Best Supporting Actor race. The second thing is that for all this film’s comedic moments, there are more than enough “serious” scenes in the trailer (hello, Kyle Chandler) to signal DiCaprio’s scheming Jordan Belfort is in for a fall.

Welcome to the party, “Wall Street.”  Hope you survive the experience.

Keeping all that in mind, here’s this week’s rankings.

Friday, Nov. 1

1. “Gravity”
Taking no chances. Alfonso Cuarón and crew back in LA working it next week.

2. “12 Years A Slave”
Looking for another strong week as they jump to “almost” nationwide: 412 screens.

3. “Saving Mr. Banks”
America gets a taste when it opens AFI Film Fest on the 7th.

4. “Captain Phillips”
Domestic box office is above and beyond what anyone expected. Shows real sticking power in the AMPAS demo.

5. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Buzz is the HFPA aren’t fans. Bet on only Oprah for a Globes nod.

6. “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Not sure why some are not as sold on this one. Not taking into account the music branch and the Coens’ fan base in the Academy.

7. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
If it’s semi-decent it may get in. And, at the moment, it looks better than semi-decent.

8. “Nebraska”
Bruce Dern’s little baby that can.

9. “American Hustle”
Sony is screening clips at a just-announced David O. Russell tribute at AFI Fest. Yep, it’s not done yet.

10. “Dallas Buyers Club”
Strong reviews. Don’t discount it among the contenders to land a nod.

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