The two don’t seem to match.
Really. The Academy has to hate Leo. From playing a mentally challenged youth to an old guy in a dress (I’ll explain this one later), DiCaprio’s performances have been too great to ignore by anyone—well, almost anyone.
Revolutionary Road- Miserable suburban father and husband. Has an affair. Screams a lot with his wife.
I’m going to be unpopular for a moment and honestly say I really enjoyed this one. Though some people seem to feel the “plot doesn’t really go anywhere”, no one can ignore Leo’s performance. DiCaprio jumps right into Frank’s depressed character—his seemingly perfect, crumbling life is powerfully represented by Leo. The passionate rage and overwhelming grief also mixes well to make you significantly depressed after watching the film (just kidding).
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape- I sometimes forgot Leo was acting in this film. The subtle hand and body movements, the near perfect voice inflection, and the overall metamorphosis is shocking—but believable. Playing a mentally retarded teenager without being insulting is not an easy thing to do. (are you listening Academy?)
Titanic- Why is there a picture of the Titanic and not Leo? Well, this wasn’t exactly Leo’s movie. It was a time for CGI to shine. Yes, the whole relationship between Rose and Jack is beautiful and charming and emotional (I still tear up at the end to this day), but his performance wasn’t phenomenal. So as much as I hate to admit this – the Academy was probably right on this one.
Inception- It may seem like I’m contradicting my original point, but the Academy was justified with Inception. Christopher Nolan’s innovative concept is what wins this movie. Definitely, Cobb’s reaction to Mal’s suicide is a heartbreaking scene, but DiCaprio’s acting takes a backseat to the film’s plot.
Shutter Island- G-R-E-A-T. The movie’s fascinating story and the constant suspense would have less of an effect without Leo in the main role. He convinces the audience so well – I felt his confusion, fear, and devastating pain, especially in that haunting final scene.
The Departed- One word can sum up DiCaprio’s performance—real. His emotions are stirring and real; the New York accent is real; the body language, dialogue with others, vulnerability, etc. – everything about his acting dripped of realness. A running line in the movie is, “You have to take it”. Leonardo takes his character and runs with it.
Catch Me If You Can- It’s pretty ironic how much the character Frank is actually related to Leo’s acting skills: As Frank embodies the roles of pilot, doctor, and lawyer, so does DiCaprio bring every one of his character’s to life, and Catch Me If You Can is no exception. However, it is understandable why the Academy did not acknowledge him on this film: Catch Me If You Can was more of a step for Leo to be considered as a serious actor; a way to escape the ‘Titanic heartthrob’ hype. Though charming and believable, his performance was short of outstanding.
J. Edgar- I don’t know about you, but dressing in women’s clothing and wrestling then kissing your character’s best friend is hard – especially in front of a major film crew and eventually millions of people. But Leo does it with dignity (for those who haven’t seen the movie, it’s not as weird as it seems). DiCaprio’s depiction of the country’s most powerful FBI director is powerful itself (shame on you Academy).
Great Gatsby / Django Unchained- These two are tricky. Both have directors who’s styles are distinct (Baz Luhrmann and Quentin Tarantino, respectively), but their movies can vary from being incredible to absolute crap. Gatsby takes place in the 20’s, and Django in the 19th century, and Leo can handle different time periods well (Revolutionary Road and J. Edgar occurred in the 50’s). I’m sure the emotion is going to be there, I just hope the directors don’t veer DiCaprio somewhere he doesn’t need to be.
The Academy is not absolute villain or total angel in relation to the whole DiCaprio-deserves-an-Oscar issue. Sometimes they are accurate, other times make you ponder what they were smoking. Hopefully, one day in the future, we won’t have to see this face made again at an awards show.