The best picture Oscar race is a three-horse race between 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and Gravity, and the best actor race has already been won by Dallas Buyers Club‘s Matthew McConaughey, right? Don’t tell that to Paramount Pictures, the studio behind Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, which has decided to make a major play for wins in the best picture and best actor categories — not least of all by putting up four massive billboards around Hollywood on Tuesday as part of an effort to remind voters how much they liked the film and Leonardo DiCaprio‘s performance.
(Separately, Paramount is also pushing the best picture nominee Nebraska and its leading man, Bruce Dern.)
While three of the billboards make serious proclamations — “THE MOVIE OF OUR TIME,” “BOLD BRAVE CLASSIC” and “HIS BEST PERFORMANCE EVER” (featuring a picture of DiCaprio) — a fourth, which can be seen at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and La Cienega Boulevard in Hollywood, is more tongue-in-cheek and, to me at least, laugh-out-loud funny. Over an image of DiCaprio and best supporting actor nominee Jonah Hill celebrating, it simply proclaims: “BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME.”
This, of course, is a part of one of DiCaprio’s more memorable quotes as the film’s protagonist, Jordan Belfort, in the Terence Winter-scribed film: “I use Xanax to stay focused, Ambien to sleep, pot to mellow out, cocaine to wake up and morphine … because it’s awesome.“
A Paramount spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s one of the great lines from the film. And in this season when we’re working hard and being smart and strategic, it’s also nice to have a little bit of fun. People who have seen the movie (hopefully) will have a little chuckle.”
My two cents: It’s also a smart way to separate Wolf from the pack of other contenders. No film is ever going to beat, say, 12 Years a Slave, a film about slavery, by arguing that its subject matter is more important or serious. But it could, conceivably, establish itself as a viable alternative to Slave or the other nominees in the minds of voters by making the case that it is completely different — funny, entertaining and a movie that captures the world in which we live today.
That, it seems to me, is what the marketing folks at Hollywood’s oldest studio are trying to do with this renewed push for Wolf — a film that has grossed an astounding $226.2 million worldwide, more than any other best picture nominee save for Gravity, and has therefore earned a bit of an ad spend.
As for whether this will pay off with an Oscar upset or two on March 2, only time will tell. Brilliant “for your consideration” campaigns in the past have sometimes paid off (see The King’s Speech‘s “Find your voice”) and other times have not (nothing was funnier than when A24 took out a trade ad back in September for Spring Breakers imploring voters to “Consider this shit” — but the film was still shut out of the Oscars).