If you think about it, Leonardo DiCaprio never really deserved an Oscar
Today, we will take on all the movies he was nominated for and try to reason with you why the Best Actor trophy could never have been rightly given to him. Please listen us out before you accuse us of sacrilege:Oscars 2016 Updated: Feb 28, 2016 12:20 IST
In 2014, Leonardo DiCaprio was Oscar-nominated for his enthralling performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street but lost to a brilliant Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. Fans and critics were incredulous and furious in their response to the Academy’s “injustice” for the fourth time.
Memes were made, songs were sung for the hero of the masses who never got his due. This year, he has been nominated again for the coveted trophy for The Revenant but will he win?
Well, according to us, this might be the only year he can and here is why we think so.
But the problem with DiCaprio is that he is a consistent actor but not necessarily the best at the particular time. He chooses his scripts and roles with utmost care and never experiments with sloppy and run-of-the-mill dramas or rom-coms. The audience applauds his performance but it usually is in appreciation of the movie as a whole.
Today, we will take up the movies he was nominated for and try to reason with you why the Oscar for best actor could never have been rightly given to him. Please hear us out before you accuse us of sacrilege:
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2014)
This one was a drug-riddled, money-lusting frenzy set in two-and-a-half hours and the charged up experience of the movie made it stand out. DiCaprio’s performance was indeed special but the winning factors were undoubtedly the directorial mastery of Martin Scorsese and the larger-than-life story of Jordan Belfort, the character played by DiCaprio. And from what the Oscar tradition has been, the winner is usually the one on whose shoulders the movie is carried throughout, the one that infuses life into it. Much like what Matthew McConaughey did for Dallas Buyers Club.
For once, you can imagine any other top actor of our time as Jordan Belfort instead of DiCaprio (like Christian Bale) but you can never replace McConaughey. From his thick redneck accent to his physical adaptation of the character, everything seemed perfect.
2. Blood Diamond (2007)
The same argument lies here. The worst luck with Leonardo DiCaprio is that every time he is nominated, there is always an incredibly spectacular performance by someone else. For example, in 2007, he was pitted against Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness) and Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), who ultimately won the Oscar. Among five nominated actors, DiCaprio’s performance was not even second best. For once you may not be able to remember any scene with Whitaker that stayed with you for long and not even DiCaprio but cross your heart and tell me that you don’t remember the scene where Will Smith cradles his son in his arms when the security guards were beating on the door or the last scene. That pure, raw emotion of happiness.
3. The Aviator (2005)
This is the only time in his history of nominations where the competition was very close. But in second nomination for this Martin Scorsese film, DiCaprio lost to Jamie Foxx in Ray. Again a one-man movie, Ray was tailor-made for Foxx. Neither Morgan Freeman nor anybody else would have done justice to the role. His mannerisms, voice, style everything changed to reflect everything that made Ray Charles. DiCaprio too played a famous businessman and aviator Howard Hughes but all that could be seen was Leonardo DiCaprio on screen.
4. Others that he wasn’t nominated for
The pattern here is rather clear. DiCaprio has delivered some really fine movies but not necessarily the best in that particular year. Luck has never been on his side. It is often said that as a conspiracy against him, the Academy never nominated him for his best movies. Titanic, The Departed, Shutter Island and Inception are usually quoted in this list.
Here is a challenge, think of one, just one scene from Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting raised the hair on your back or made you say that nobody else was made for this film. The time he asked Rose not to jump off the mast? The time he is in the frozen water, not letting go? If you come to think of it, any cute-face actor with average acting skills could fit right in the mould. Titanic was an adventure-mishap-romantic movie with spectacular special effects but it never was an actor’s movie. In such movies, the thrill takes precedence over all else and the fact that everyone has watched it a billion times only makes us love it and everything related to it. But on second review you can see Pitt/Norton/Reeves right there with Kate Winslet, saying the same dialogues and generating just as much applause.
The Departed was another masterpiece from the Scorsese-DiCaprio duo in 2006 when the latter was also nominated for Blood Diamond. Where it failed him, it was with the big starcast that divided attention to quite some degree. Mark Whalberg, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, it had all the big guns and they also had more complex and nuanced characters than DiCaprio, who plays a simple, honest undercover cop..
Next in line are Shutter Island and Inception, both released in 2010. This was the year when his fan base grew exponentially. He was the new master of the internet for his exceptional work in both the movies. Shutter Island was directed by the old master Martin Scorsese while Inception was the brain child of Christopher Nolan, one of the most consistently outperforming directors in recent years. Inception worked wonders due to its incredible novum and Shutter Island will be remembered for its story. Both the movies owe largely to their stories and execution and not to the actors as such.
The list being complete, it can be concluded that Leonardo DiCaprio has given us outstanding movies ever since the days of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape about 20 years ago but all the fuss about him not winning an Oscar and crying foul over the ‘biases’ and ‘prejudices’ over the Academy is perhaps more a product of our own vested interest in our favourite actor rather than a well thought out judgement.
Leo’s best productions are usually in collaboration with Martin Scorsese who himself was nominated six times before winning with his seventh nomination for The Departed. If all reasons fail, one can always say that it is Scorsese who has passed on his curse to DiCaprio and with The Revenant that curse might just finally lift. There is absolutely no flaw in his performance. He did whatever was expected of him and no one could have done it any better. My thoughts about the movie are not as strong but hey, we are talking only his performance.
If there was ever an award for the most consistent, risky and challenging acting done by a human being, we will place Leonardo DiCaprio above Matthew McConaughey, Forrest Whitaker, Jammie Foxx and Will Smith but even then, Tom Hanks will come strolling by, take the award and walk away.
The author tweets as @soumya1405