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Jean Dujardin (#110 of 13)

Watch the First Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street

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Watch the First Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em>
Watch the First Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em>

Continuing to show a late-career hunger for genre experimentation, Martin Scorsese follows his highly-decorated 3D fantasy Hugo with The Wolf of Wall Street, a brash, rise-and-fall stock-market satire that seems to boast more comedy than the filmmaker’s typical hard-hitting drama. Marking Scorsese’s fifth collaboration with leading man Leonardo DiCaprio (who, with this and The Great Gatsby, is officially cinema’s devil-may-care party-thrower of 2013), the new film is based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort, an infamous money launderer whose Wall Street wheeling and dealings also inspired 2000’s Boiler Room. Hard, fast, and just about out of control, this debut trailer suggests Scorsese is on an energetic high, nervy and playful and ready to unleash something topical and evocative (what, no Michael Douglas cameo?). Opening November 15, The Wolf of Wall Street co-stars Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner, Pan Am head-turner Margot Robbie, and also Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey. Oscar watchers should probably add the latter two gents to their Supporting Actor shortlists, and the film is poised to contend in other categories too. Get a load of Marty and Leo’s latest after the jump.

Critical Distance: The Artist

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Critical Distance: <em>The Artist</em>
Critical Distance: <em>The Artist</em>

Sometimes it’s hard to separate a movie from the hype. Anyone who’s followed the nauseating Oscar prognostication over the last several months knew full well that Harvey Weinstein’s Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist would win the Best Picture crown on Sunday’s telecast of the Academy Awards. Nonetheless, given its preordained victory, the critical dialogue about the film has become predictably antipathetic. As Scott Tobias observed recently, the political machine attached to frontrunners and winners often distorts our vision of them and renders reasonable discourse a challenge. Truth be told, these days the Oscar badge doesn’t hold much weight. The reason for this, Tobias concludes, is that Best Picture winners represent consensus over excellence. Oscar winners reflect more on the film industry’s own image of itself than the artistic significance of film. A.O. Scott articulates this in a recent piece in the New York Times, in which he and Manohla Dargis examine recent winners against the broader significance of the Oscars. Says Scott:

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions Actor

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Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Actor
Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Actor

If some of those prophets who called the nomination for Demián Bichir still see something we don’t, then the whispering buzz that the actor is poised to pull the ultimate upset could indeed be true, either because the performance actually warrants it or because, as unabashed cynicism has suggested, voters feel as guilty about the help of today as that of yesteryear. But while the prospect of Bichir building support makes for a great last-minute news story, it’s probably about as likely as Brett Ratner being invited to present the Costume Design contenders. And since the great Gary Oldman can’t ride the love of the British contingent all the way to a win, it seems this category does come down to a three-man race after all.

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions Director

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Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Director
Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Director

Less a race than a ping-pong match, this year’s battle for Best Director has shifted favor from an obvious lock to a popular spoiler and back again, leaving us one more not-quite-certain category to pay attention to on February 26. Not long after The Artist stormed out of Cannes, Michel Hazanavicius established a surge of directorial momentum that hardly let up, its reach even cracking the Indie Spirit lineup, which isn’t exactly known to invite the Oscar frontrunner to the party. But as the season stretched on, and a certain genre-defier (kids’ flick? Biopic?) began performing exceedingly better than expected, a Picture/Director split seemed more and more probable, with Martin Scorsese potentially benefiting from Hazanavicius’s lack of notoriety. A Golden Globe win strengthened suspicions about the Hugo helmer, as did a subsequent tally of 11 Oscar noms for the 3D cineaste fantasy. Could this be the year the Academy honors both men who blew the industry a nostalgic kiss? One of them certainly has the firm voter support to make the generosity possible. Still, as everyone from the DGA to the folks at BAFTA will testify, odds are the rise of Hugo was a mere bump on The Artist’s fated path to glory, which now looks like it may encompass Best Actor too.

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions Original Score

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Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Original Score
Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Original Score

At the risk of milking a joke whose teets have been sore for weeks, The Artist’s musical score will do just fine without Kim Novak’s vote. In the hierarchy of Oscar scandals, which have a way of surfacing every season (just ask THR subscribers), the ire of an old Hitchcock muse is meager compared to blockbuster-bashing emails and history’s tackiest FYC ads. So, rest easy, Ludovic Bource, for your rape charges won’t take you the way of Herman Cain, and few Academy members will be able to resist the sprightly notes subbed in for Jean Dujardin’s dialogue. If anything, The Artist’s perfectly legal Vertigo sampling will strengthen that skim-off-the-cream nostalgia, which has yet to relent in its ability to charm the Depends off Novak’s peers.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Actor

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Actor
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Actor

What Kurt said yesterday about the Best Actress race applies to the Best Actor race in spades, only with a little more direct focus. Instead of covering the gamut of popular Oscar strategies, the two strongest locks in this category are playing variations of the same game: homecoming king. No one is going to say either Brad Pitt or George Clooney stretched their acting muscles to the point of tearing in Moneyball and The Descendants. They’re mainly being rewarded for dependability and reasonably mature taste in pet projects, especially in the case of renaissance man Clooney, who at least has the wherewithal to play up his creeping schlubishness—not to mention split an onion in the palm of his hand during The Descendants’s emotional high point.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Makeup

Seven finalists remain in the Oscar race for Best Makeup, the category that’s poised to prove just how strong a frontrunner The Artist actually is, not to mention stoke the fire of the film’s backlash. The tinting of Jean Dujardin’s toothy mug to accommodate black-and-white cinematography is about to rob recognition from the folks who toiled away, one last time, on magically morphing Ralph Fiennes into the pasty bane of Harry Potter’s existence. It’s also going to beat out Ben Kingsley’s carnivalesque transformation into Georges Méliès in Hugo; Vanessa Redgrave’s caked-on, Elizabethan kabuki in Anonymous; and the fake ears, nose tip, and finger-weave hair that turned Glenn Close into a mouse man in Albert Nobbs. All of this says nothing of the worthy candidates The Artist already beat to the shortlist, like J. Edgar, whose old-age artistry was wrongfully knocked in reviews, and Green Lantern, which saw Peter Sarsgaard grossly mutate into the ultimate toxic egghead.

Oscar Prospects: The Artist

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Oscar Prospects: The Artist
Oscar Prospects: The Artist

There are still more than two months to go before 2011 closes up shop, and guys like Fincher and Spielberg deliver their latest Oscar-ready opuses, but as of now, no film this year is poised to collect more Academy Award nominations than The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius’s silent movie about the silent era that has so many great things going for it, it’s hard to organize them all in your head. In no way is this meant to imply that “great” and “Oscar” are linked, but rather that The Artist boasts an all-encompassing panache and irresistibility that, save the inevitable handful of backlashers and contrarians, is going to deeply enchant scads of people, Academy members especially. And yet, as easy as the accusation may be, the film—as some writers have already pointed out—doesn’t seem to be actively dangling the carrot. It is genuinely that good, and it unfolds in a milieu that’s bursting with an embarrassment of inherent virtues.

Set in Hollywood between the years of 1927 and 1931, when talkies began to displace silents and stars like George Valentin (Cannes Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin) found themselves dropping from A-List to extinction, The Artist offers a richly nostalgic interpretation of one of the most romanticized periods in cinema’s history, an industry smooch that’s bound to win it even more favor than its brilliant, timeless commentary on the ever-changing state of technology at large (not to mention its perfectly natural and logical inclusion of a certain stock market crash). It almost instantly drops itself into the canon of movies about making movies, and its universal accessibility—otherwise known as hater fuel—will provide voters with the characteristic reassurance that, not only would their endorsement reward something of great value, but something that, goshdarnit, people really like. It will absolutely be one of your Best Picture nominees.