Award Botherers 2014 – Gravity and The Wolf of Wall Street

A couple of weeks ago I caught up on a couple of the big films that are challenging for the major film awards this year. Namely The Wolf of Wall Street and Gravity.

 

Firstly Martin Scorsese’s newest film, The Wolf of Wall Street. A film of the biography of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street is a 3 hour look at the rise and fall of one of the most extreme characters to have ever graced Wall Street.

One of the main talking points about the film is it’s stance on the main character Belfort. Most of the criticisms levelled at it are that it isn’t damning enough of the lifestyle of the main character. However it really doesn’t portray him in a positive light, Belfort comes across as a cruel, sexist junkie with far more money than sense. Leaving this debate aside, there is also some controversies about the amount of sex and drugs in the film. And it certainly is true that you’ve got to be able to stomach some depravity!! This film is awash with sex, drugs and swearing!! We’re talking more sex than games of thrones, more drugs than breaking bad and more uses of the f word than the South Park movie. But then this is a Scorsese film, so what can we expect?

Once you’ve seen the movie you’ll completely understand why they chose to make a biography of Belfort, the film is quite frankly ridiculous, although not quite as ridiculous as the amount of this film which is supposedly true and genuinely happened to him.

The central performance by Leonardo DiCaprio is simply brilliant, he manages to carry the whole movie himself, sadly for the many fans out there on the internet who are clamouring for him to be given an oscar, I don’t think this one will quite be enough given some of the other brilliant performances this year. Jonah Hill has also continued to surprise everyone an prove he is actually a good actor (following Moneyball in 2011), with a great turn as Belfort’s friend and business partner Donnie. These are the two main performances through the film and both are brilliant.
As to the issue of the films morals I felt that the film does actually show us that there was a moment that Belfort could have gained redemption, but instead chose the money and glamourise lifestyle, followed by showing just how bad his life then turned with the arrest and breakdown of his marriage. Because of this I feel there was enough condemnation in the film for it to be justified.

Overall I don think it can compete with some of Scorsese’s best films, but it is certainly one of the best of the year, and Leo’s performance was worthy of a nomination.

 

Next Gravity, and this could not be more different. Whilst WOWS was a three hour long monologue almost, Gravity is a fairly short story of a woman alone in space.

I’ll be honest I was a little reluctance to see it given the fact that Sandra Bullock has been in any films that would interest me off the top of my head, however hearing about how amazing it was convinced me to give it a go. And boy am I glad I did.

The premise is hugely simple. Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) is an astronaut who is servicing the Hubble Space Telescope with Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) when space debris strikes both the telescope and their shuttle. They have to make their way to the International Space Station (ISS).

As I said its a very simple premise with really just these two actors who are lost in space. The film contrast beautiful quieter moments of conversations between the two, with the hugely atmospheric disaster scenes. The absence of noise, as would happen in space, and the brilliant use of camerawork, switching from close ups to POV shots as Ryan spins out of control following the debris striking really are breathtaking, particularly when you add the soundtrack on top of it.

Sandra Bullock is brilliant in the central role, and I don’t know whether she will win awards for it, but she certainly merits her nominations. The director Alfonso Cuarón certainly deserves a mention as he pulled all the elements together brilliantly and I think he might well win some best director awards.

This is a one of the best science fiction films of recent years, because it does what great science fiction should do, use a simple idea to allow you to explore more complex and interesting ideas, certainly one worth watching, and one I wish is seen in the cinema.

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