7 of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Most Oscar-Worthy Performances

Buzz around Leonardo DiCaprio winning an Oscar this year is huge. This year, The Golden Globes did something extraordinary. No, not that Matt Damon joke. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave Leonardo DiCaprio the Golden Globe for Best Actor, propelling the actor to the front of the Oscars race for his long awaited Best Actor statue. He’s won the Globe before (twice, in fact), but never the Oscar. Given his extensive film work, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t. Here’s a look at the movies he should have won the Oscar for (and there are quite a few):

Titanic

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Everyone loves him in it, no matter what anybody says. With an actor of DiCaprio’s acting chops (and peak physical beauty–he’s never been more attractive), the film elevated from high melodrama to achingly beautiful, thanks to his sincere performance. Ask anyone about the movie and some will begin to tear up just reciting the “Don’t Let Go, Jack” line. His performance should have gotten the Oscar (or at least a nomination), but, alas, Hollywood doesn’t seem to favor romantic leads as much as they should.

Inception

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Around the 2006 mark, DiCaprio began to move from the “romantic lead” type to a more rugged looking lead: the action hero. Inception marked the new DiCaprio: the rough, machine gun wielding one we’ve all been waiting for. Still, DiCaprio could deliver solid stunts & one-liners while making us feel incredible sympathy for the husband and father he portrays. This performance deserved at least a Golden Globe but, alas, nothing.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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DiCaprio does Comedy. And not low-brow comedy. With Scorsese at the camera, DiCaprio always had free-rein to deliver some hard-boiled dramatic performances (The Aviator, The Departed). This time, he’s cut loose from his method acting mold to give perhaps the performance of his career–well, up to that point. As the real life Wall Street investor Jordan Belfort, DiCaprio doesn’t hold anything back as we see him party hard, pump up his employees, take way too many drugs, crash a car, lie to the FBI, have multiple affairs, and, well, just about everything you can think of that’s the least bit immoral. If the part was in the hands of any other actor, the character would probably come off as embarrassing to watch as he misbehaves to such an extreme. With DiCaprio though, he makes us oddly care for this lying S.O.B. and makes us laugh our heads off in the process. The Academy seems to like it when comedic actors make dramatic turns, why can’t it ever be the other way around?

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

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At one time, back in the beginning Nightmare on Elm Street days, Johnny Depp was cinema’s Leonardo DiCaprio–a teen heartthrob with dramatic acting chops to boot. Then came WEGG? and JDepp (and the rest of the world) ushered in the young star-to-be. He was sadly robbed of an Oscar for his heartbreaking portrayal of the autistic brother of Depp, the titular troubled character. It’s a performance that began the universal complaint against the Academy: “Why aren’t you giving this guy all of the awards?!”

 
The Basketball Diaries

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A film that’s difficult to watch due to the subject matter (drug addiction) and Leo’s all too convincing portrayal of real-life basketball player Jim Carroll’s slow fall into heroin addiction. There have been some doubters of DiCaprio throughout the years, saying he is just another pretty face, but those doubters will eat their words upon seeing this film. Be careful though, it’s a tough one. A film that’s difficult to watch due to the subject matter (drug addiction) and Leo’s all too convincing portrayal of real-life basketball player Jim Carroll’s slow fall into heroin addiction. There have been some doubters of DiCaprio throughout the years, saying he is just another pretty face, but those doubters will eat their words upon seeing this film. Be careful though, it’s a tough one.

Catch Me If You Can

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Steven Spielberg came back onto the film scene in the early 2000s with the explosive dramedy Catch Me If You Can–the true story about con man Frank Abagnale, Jr. who, at one time, had the entire FBI on his trail. Spielberg united Leo with the perfect co-star: Tom Hanks who, for the first time in a film, seems to step up his own top-performing game to match Leo’s performance. And still, Hanks falls a bit short of DiCaprio’s winning portrayal of a sly, troubled con man. 

The Revenant

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Nearly mute for the entirety of the film, DiCaprio’s performance in The Revenant is among the greatest put on screen. He stands now with top players like Charleton Heston in Ben-Hur, Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, and John Wayne in The Searchers–performers who’s careers of great performances are marked by what may be their finest. It is a role that consumes DiCaprio (and the audience), taking him to such huge physical and emotional lengths that, by the end of the film, we feel wrung out and needing a nap–or at least a shot of something hard. What DiCaprio accomplishes in this role is the ability to not distance the audience from his pain, but rather taking them through every moment of hurt & anguish. It is an experience to watch his performance in this film. One that few actors are able to achieve and one the Academy should finally recognize him for because, after all, it’s about damn time.

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