"American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave" may be leading the pack at the Golden Globes this year with seven nominations each, but we're most excited to see how well a certain dark horse candidate can hold its own against some pretty tough odds.
That long shot would be, of course, "The Wolf of Wall Street," a film that — despite its "How did this not get an NC-17?" levels of on-screen debauchery — managed to receive two noms from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association: Best Picture - Musical/Comedy and Best Actor - Musical/Comedy (Leonardo DiCaprio).
"American Hustle" has everything beat in that first category, but might Leo emerge as the winner in the second? It's a tour de force performance that shouldn't go unnoticed — or unrewarded.
DiCaprio's endlessly energetic and often hilarious portrayal of stockbroker Jordan Belfort was delivered under the watchful eye of director Martin Scorsese, making "The Wolf of Wall Street" the fifth collaboration between the A-list actor and director. As we prepare to see how the "Wolf" fares at the Golden Globes, here's a look back at all five Marty & Leo movies, ranked from worst (meaning it's only merely 'pretty great') to best (meaning it's a freakin' masterpiece).
5. "Gangs of New York" (2002)
The weakest of the Marty & Leo collaborations to date is also their first, an arguably overly ambitious portrait of the rise of gang violence, organized crime and political corruption in the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan, commencing in 1846 with a bloody street brawl that claims the life of Dead Rabbits leader Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson) and climaxing against the backdrop of the New York Draft Riots of 1863. Leo scowls 'n' struggles with his Irish accent, Daniel Day-Lewis squints and, well, does his creepy Daniel Day-Lewis thing, and the movie's so damn big and unwieldy that you half-expect the gargantuan sets to just topple over at any second. Some rousing and, of course, brilliant moments, but by the end you wonder if it deserves Bono's claim that these were indeed "The Hands That Built America."
4. "Shutter Island" (2010)
Scorsese returned to the B-movie thriller genre in which he dabbled so well with "Cape Fear" (1991) with this adaptation of one of Dennis Lehane's more enjoyable bits of airport reading, which chronicles a U.S. Marshal's investigation of a patient's disappearance at an isolated psychiatric facility. Or maybe it's not about that at all. A creepy, well-executed and compelling trifle, with Marty obviously having a blast (as is much of the supporting cast, including Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, and Mark Ruffalo) and Leo doing quite well in his first of two 2010 roles in which he completely stresses out about his wife and kids (followed by "Inception"). Even with the twist ending, "Shutter Island" rewards repeat viewings in that look-for-the-clues kind of way, à la "The Sixth Sense."
3. "The Aviator" (2004)
One of Leo's finest performances to date is his turn as Howard Hughes, the brilliant film producer, aviation pioneer, and all-around entrepreneur and ladies' man who was often almost completely undone by his struggles with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. The film in which he performs so brilliantly is a marvelously overblown old-school Hollywood biopic, as brash, bold and exciting as the wildly over-budgeted epics Hughes himself produced and often as impressive as his longtime pet project: the massive H-4 Hercules, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' which had its first and only flight on Nov. 2, 1947. Unfortunately, DiCaprio didn't win an Oscar for his performance, but his lovely co-star Cate Blanchett did for her portrayal of Hughes's true love and soulmate, actress Katharine Hepburn.
2. "The Departed" (2006)
Martin Scorsese's Boston remix of the 2002 Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs" won the Oscar for Best Picture ... and finally got him a golden statue as Best Director, too. Marty seems to relish being back in crime drama territory after his PG-13 Howard Hughes biopic, spinning the tale of Irish gang boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), corrupt cop Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), and undercover operative Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) with even more kinetic glee than usual, delivering a crackerjack thriller that's wildly entertaining, endlessly intriguing and unapologetically profane. Leo's performance is so intense that you might think he's going to have a heart attack in every scene; he and the rest of the cast also knock the near-impossible task of mastering a Boston accent outta th' pahk.
1. "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013)
What was that we said about "unapologetically profane?" "The Departed" drops a mere 237 F-bombs, which qualifies as family entertainment compared to the record-setting 506 uttered in the latest — and, to date, greatest — Marty-Leo collaboration. In fact, everything about "The Departed" is rather PG-ish compared to the rollicking decadence on display in this three-hour opus about Jordan Belfort, a brilliant stockbroker who wallowed in a world of sex, drugs, and unfathomable material wealth with nary a thought to the fact that the means to his excessive ends were in no way legal ... or moral, at that. While it's up for two Golden Globes, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is probably too dark and hog wild for the Academy ... though we'd love to see them prove us wrong and give it Oscar nominations in every applicable category. It's no-holds-barred, mad dog cinema.
The 2014 Golden Globes ceremony will air on NBC on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.