The Odd Couple: Leonardo DiCaprio & Martin Scorsese Ostracised by the Oscars


One of 2013’s most enduring cinematic sagas was the latest Scorsese and DiCaprio collaboration, The Wolf of Wall Street. The release delays, extensive cuts, rating disapprovals, heckling at Oscar screenings and a new record for the amount of ‘fucks’ in a film have left the three hour epic with a production tale worthy of its own dramatisation, but the most intriguing climax of this story is to unravel at the Oscars.

After last week’s bizarre news that Oscar committee member and former actor Hope Holiday had slated and heckled The Wolf of Wall Street at an Academy screening, labelling it “disgusting crap” and “torture”, it would appear that the film’s Oscar hopes look all but dashed, but should we really be surprised?

Debatably the greatest living film director, or at least one of them, Martin Scorsese has made 23 feature length films and won one Oscar, while Leonardo DiCaprio, one of finest actors around today, has notched up none and been nominated for a measly three. Travesties all round. Of course it’s worthless to champion these two without producing evidence that their significant body of work deserves recognition from the Academy.

Has a better film been made than Taxi Driver? Certainly not, but why in the name of Travis Bickle’s Mohawk did it not win the 1976 Oscar for best picture? Because Rocky is obviously better that’s why, well at least according to the Academy. Not that I’m slating Rocky, it’s great, but it hasn’t got a patch on the darkly sinister beauty of Taxi Driver. While the De Niro inspired brilliance of Taxi Driver is the most upsetting Scorsese admission a fine selection of his subsequent features could have picked up and Oscar for best director or best picture- Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, The Colour of Money, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator, Shutter Island from what I’ve seen. In 2006, Scorsese did finally bag his evasive Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing with The Departed. Far from his best film it almost seems that the Oscar came out of sympathy, or as an honorary life time achievement, a token gesture for a man revered critically as one of the best this side of the 20th Century. Perhaps it’s the risqué content or seedier side of America that he often explores in his work that doesn’t compute with the conservative Oscars, or maybe it’s just the fact he made a film about Jesus with Harvey Keitel in The Last Temptation of Christ. Whatever the reason, Scorsese’s sparse award cabinet marks a great injustice in cinematic accolades.


Leonardo DiCaprio has matured like a stonking vintage red, brushing off international, overnight, success with Titanic and Romeo + Juliet in the mid-90s to become one of the most talented actors of the last decade sadly landing him sweet F-all from the Academy. Too often he’s been overlooked, passed off as lightweight from his lacklustre early performances, (The Beach is total tosh) when he’s actually been smashing out convincing, enthralling and emotionally raw performances more consistently than anyone else. Catch Me If You Can- naively charming, Shutter Island­- the perfect blend of teetering insanity, J. Edgar– bit dull, but grossly transformed, Django Unchained– the stand out performer that held the film together and Revolutionary Road­– just superb, his best performance, for which he was conspicuously ousted in favour of his co-star, and eventual Oscar winner, Kate Winslet. Another bloody travesty. Sometimes he gets accused of picking roles that are likely to land him an Oscar, but that’s a petty, hollow criticism, Daniel Day-Lewis has become the master of such refined role choosing and seldom does he receive any grief for it.

It seems improbably fitting that the two Academy underdogs should become partners in crime, collaborating on five motion pictures thus far. Whether artistic intent or their perennial status as Oscar outsiders brought them together is unclear, but clearly it’s brought them some success with an Oscar, but sadly not the all-encompassing winner for best picture yet. The Wolf of Wall Street looks unlikely to buck trend the way it’s been unprofessional received at the Academy screening as well as its brash, vulgar and radical content.

You could point out that directors of such mesmerising quality as Hitchcock, Godard and Kubrick have never received an Oscar for directing meaning Scorsese should be happy with his solitary accolade, DiCaprio can take less comfort from his sparse nominations.

Perhaps the greater issue to take with duo’s admissions is the very nature of the Oscars and whether they remain a valuable measure of cinematic genius today. The conservative favourites this year of Saving Mr Banks, Gravity and Captain Phillips makes for unimaginative reading, contrasted with Wolf of Wall Streets’ dressing down and inspirational James McAvoy in Filth absent all together. DiCaprio and Scorsese are unlikely to lose much sleep over the whole debacle, it’s the Academy who should wake up and broaden their horizons to get some much needed credibility back.

N.B. The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t out here yet so if its total shit then ignore most of this article. Regardless, the point of the article is that DiCaprio and Scorsese haven’t got the deserved recognition and the Oscar’s are increasingly irrelevant and conservative, not whether Wolf of Wall Street is great.

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