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Best Picture Breakdown: Wolf of Wall Street

Best Picture Breakdown: Wolf of Wall Street
CNN
Movie Minute

POSTED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 4:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 2, 2014 - 4:14pm

          It’s award season in Hollywood and one of the most sought after awards is an Oscar. This year several deserving figures have received nominations. From Leonardo DiCaprio’s nomination for Best Actor, to the team of Gravity receiving a nomination for their achievement in visual effects. While these nominations are great, none are more coveted than that of Best Picture. Just a few years ago the Best Picture category increase from 5 nominations to 10, but was soon changed to where each year up to 10 films can receive a nomination. This year 9 films made the cut; American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years A Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street.

WOLF OF WALL STREET

Many consider Martin Scorsese to be one of the most iconic directors of our time. His resume consists of titles such as “Goodfellas,” “Taxi Driver” and “The Departed.” However, Scorsese’s latest project, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” has proven to be his most controversial and explicit film to date.

The film consists of sexually explicit material throughout, a large amount of drugs and more than 500 uses of the F-word. Those 500+ uses along with every other curse word you could possibly think of are all crammed tightly into a three hour adrenaline rush of a film.

However, many people are complaining that the film highlights the glamorous life of a criminal who stole millions from Americans. However, there’s a purpose to those expletives and moral message at the end of it all.

BACKSTORY

“The Wolf of Wall Street” presents the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, a man who defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars in the1990s. Crimes that ultimately led him to serve 22 months behind bars.

According to his memoir of the same name, Belfort got his start as a broker at LF Rothschild, an investment bank, in the 1980s. It was during this time Belfort said he began his descent into the Wall Street lifestyle. Here he started to immerse himself in the use of drugs.

Before long Belfort was starting to make a name for himself at the company, but in 1987 it all came crashing down. The company was heavily affected by the stock market crash of 1987 causing it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and lay off several of its employees. Jordan Belfort was one of those laid off.

According to his memoir, two years after losing his job, Belfort started his own “over-the-counter” brokerage, Stratton Oakmont. The company employed over 1,000 stockbrokers and became worth over a billion dollars. Belfort’s lifestyle and management skills soon consisted of drugs, lavish parties, prostitutes, security fraud and money laundering.

In 1998, Belfort was arrested following a 10 year long investigation by the FBI into these crimes and was eventually sentenced to 22 months in prison.

He reportedly stole more than $200 million from investors through a “pump and dump” scheme. This means he encouraged investors to buy shares of stocks in a relatively small company by using false or exaggerated figures. This “pumped” the price of the stocks up.

Then when the stocks were high, he sold (“dumped”) his shares making a large profit before the stocks started to fall ultimately costing the investors everything they invested. He was also forced to pay restitution fees of $110 million, an amount he is still paying off to this day.

After being released from prison, Jordan Belfort began doing motivational speaking. He also wrote two books, “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street,” both of which documented his time as a stockbroker, as well as providing inspiration for the film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

REVIEW

Scorsese was faced with the daunting task of telling the drug-induced, outlandish story of Jordan Belfort, while making sure he didn’t show praise for the high life brought on by stealing millions from everyday Americans. I feel he accomplished this. The film adaptation of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is without a doubt Scorsese’s best work.

It pushes the boundaries of storytelling, not by breaking F-bomb records or nearly getting an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, but by being three hours long and leaving the audience wanting much more.

Throughout the film, there are so many ridiculous moments that act as adrenaline kicks that keep the story moving.

Those moments are some of the most entertaining things to happen in film all year. It was also the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t just the off-the-wall things that happened, but the dialogue was over the top while, at the same time, carrying so much truth behind it.

From phrases like, “I’m not gonna die sober,” and “On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month,” we see just how out of control it all was.

The entire movie is also shot so well that it makes it hard to believe that most everything in the film, if not everything, actually happened.

The acting in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was flawless. It’s impossible to say anyone stood out, because everyone was perfect. Leonardo DiCaprio is Jordan Belfort; Jonah Hill shows he’s got the chops to act; Margot Robbie, acted like a natural in her first big motion picture. Even Matthew McConaughey, who was on screen for less than 15 minutes, was so fantastic to watch.

Now despite how great everything was in this movie, several people aren’t going to like it due to the source material.

The amount of nudity, drug use, profanity and depictions top anything Martin Scorsese has ever done. But he put all of those things in the movie to show a purpose. “Wolf of Wall Street” doesn’t praise Jordan Belfort and his actions. It shows how much destruction drugs and the need for power can have on someone, including those around them.

Then again that’s just my two cents.
 

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