Why Hasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio Won an Oscar Yet?

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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.

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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).

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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?)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

Image  Christmas, 2012.                 Image Christmas, 2012.

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.

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55 thoughts on “Why Hasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio Won an Oscar Yet?

    • DiCaprio’s performance in ‘Gangs’ was electrifying, too. Out of all of his career so far, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape stand out.

      Thanks for the comment!

  1. He was robbed for “The Departed”, “Blood Diamond”, and “The Aviator” (how did “Blood Diamond” and “The Aviator” not make your list?). “Shutter Island” was great, “Inception” was cartoonish, gimmicky, and is soooooo overrated, not to mention Leo was terrible in it compared to brilliant performances by Fat, Murphy, and Caine. And he should get honourable mention for “The Basketball Diaries” and “The Beach”. He is, by far, one of the best character actors out there.

    • Thanks for the comment. I haven’t seen The Aviator and Blood Diamond yet, but hey, it could make the list in the future?

      And is that really your name? If so, that’s an amazing coincidence.

  2. Well, I think part of it is how much competition usually is up for lead actor. The other reason is maybe the academy still looks at him as that little kid. DiCaprio’s evolution has been an interesting one nonetheless. I used to hate the guy, and I still can’t stand him in Titanic and a number of other films during that time. However, I think his work with Scorsese is what started to change things for him. While I personally hate “Gangs of New York,” his acting was fantastic in it. I’m surprised though you didn’t mention “The Aviator” as I feel that is his best performance bar none.

    • You hit it right on the point: the Academy still sees him as young, heartthrob Leo from the 90’s. But I have to agree, the talent during all those years have been magnificent. But just one for Leo, please! (Gary Oldman, too.)

      And now I’m realizing I’m going to have update my list :) I haven’t seen The Aviator yet, but now I’m truly excited to see it.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Watch The Aviator it’s brillent! He should have won an Oscar , he was robbed, plain and simple.

  3. Pingback: The Best Movies of 2012 (So Far) | Random Film Buff

  4. Cannot fathom why he didn’t get one for Gilbert Grape. It’s a stunning performance. Revolutionary Rd also. I love that film. To be honest though, the Oscars have a history of getting it wrong. DiCaprio is of the finest actors around and no mistake.

  5. One word: Seriously!!! This guy has had plenty of wonderful performances, two or three Oscar-worthy. In my opinion, he deserved it for “The Aviator,” (lead) “The Departed,” (lead) and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (supporting). I also liked him very much in “Total Eclipse.”

  6. Great article. I was sold on Leo when I saw “The Basketball Diaries.” His turn in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” is one of the all-time great performances on film, in my opinion.

    Furthermore, wouldn’t you agree that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are the greatest Director/Actor combo in modern (current) filmmaking?? Perhaps that duo is followed by Paul Thomas Anderson & Philip Seymour Hoffman. Then Daniel Day Lewis and ANYONE. With up-and-coming consideration going to Refn/Gosling, McQueen/Fassbender, and Nichols/Shannon…

    — See my thoughts on film at http://filmnation.blogspot.com/ or listen to the Flicksation Podcast, Free on iTunes

  7. I agree with pretty much of all these! I believe the Hollywood reason why Leo wasn’t nominated for The Departed was because Warner Bros. didn’t want to make the cast seem like it was a competition – because critics argued that Mark Whalberg, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, etc. should have been nominated too if Leo was nominated.
    And, for Revolutionary Road, that was the same year Michael Fassbender was up for Hunger in nominations but lost out too – what a year that would have been!

  8. Its really a shame he hasn’t been more recognized by the academy. I think it has to do with the stigma he garnered over time, for some reason people just didn’t like him to begin with and so many jokes came up. I’m sure that he’ll one day get some kinda lifetime achievement award, because he really raises the bar with acting, especially since he keeps picking such heavy roles. We’ll just wait and see what he does someday.

  9. Yep. He should’ve been nominated for most of these. I think he deserved to win for his best performance in The Departed. Like you said, he’s so real in that role. I actually think it’s the best male performance of the 2000s.

    Glad you included J. Edgar. For my money, that’s one of his 3 best performances, along with The Departed and Shutter Island.

  10. The Basketball Diaries, Blood Diamond, Departed, Catch Me if you can, Inceptionheck,, even Titanic. Cannot believerIMO the Academy needs to stop awarding Oscars to actors because they are due, instead award actors who were exceptional that year. And Leo was good in Django, just not Oscar worthy. I am actually anticipating the release of “The Great Gatsby”; Oscar perhaps?

  11. Love this article, this is something I have always pondered! His diverse range and character depth are evident in pretty much every movie he has ever worked on. I think it is great that so many people agree that he is long overdue to be recognized by the Academy!

  12. So many great performances that I can’t even narrow it down to a few. Every role in every film mentioned so far is worthy of a nomination. Leo is the finest actor of his generation, hands down, and no one else is really even close. The Aviator, The Departed, Blood Diamond, Revolutionary Road, and J. Edgar are my favorite performances, but even his lesser performances are better than anybody else. Not a big Tarantino fan, but even his small role in Django was the standout performance of the film. He is simply amazing, and has been overlooked by the Academy long enough. I’m hoping The Great Gatsby will be finally get him the Oscar and recognition that he deserves.

  13. I find all of your comments about Leo and his acting quite irritating. Your opinions frankly suck. I also hope you don’t write professionally. I don’t actually care so much about the actor, rather I just got annoyed when reading your blog. By the way are you stating that he should win the award? Because you explained why you thought he shouldn’t in almost every movie description. Not going to read the rest of your blog, you should stop writing it in general. You suck.

  14. Hi Random Film Buff,
    Over the weekend I saw movie The Great Gatsby and I love it. I hope you do a post on this movie. Leo is a shoe in for an Oscar.
    I have always found your post to be very informative and fair. What I have come to enjoy and respect about your blog is that it is fresh and bubbling with excitement. Not anything like so many other movie blogs.
    Which make me wonder why the obvious idiot who runs a sad sack blog called: This Blog Sucks is taking pock-shots at you. How sad can a person’s life be if all they are capable of is hatefully attacking others? I truly sense this person is jealous of you and your blog.
    Random Film Buff, you have the best movie blog on the web. Great and honest reviews like yours are what we moviegoers need. I wish you continued success.

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  16. I have had this discussion a time or two with friends. The best theory I’ve come across is also the simplest. When Leo was younger, possibly before or after Titanic, he had an evening or two with some young lady that was all twitterpated over him. That gal being the daughter of someone that has a major voice in the decisions towards those awards.

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