Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured above with director Alejandro González Iñárritu) is yet to receive an Academy Award, but as the lead actor in Iñárritu’s upcoming film is DiCaprio’s unlucky streak set to end?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you will know that around this time a year ago I wrote a post about Leonardo DiCaprio and his (as of yet) unsuccessful history with the Academy Awards. He has been nominated four times for his acting and has not yet won an award. The main idea I discussed in the previous post was that I do not think he needs one. Everyone else on the internet seems to be in uproar that he has not won, yet he has made it clear on numerous occasions that he is honoured to be nominated but he does not act for the awards, he does it because he loves it. This defence of his unlucky streak was then accompanied in the post by a list of famous names who have all received numerous nominations but never won, such as Peter O’Toole, Amy Adams and director Paul Thomas Anderson. However, it seems the winds could be changing for Mr DiCaprio.
In the past I have made it clear that I do not see eye to eye with the Academy; I feel it is not fair to suggest all of the films from one year can be made competitive in order to choose one that they see as the “best”. However on the other side of that coin I do like the awards to some extent because it is a time of year in which we celebrate many talents and take time to focus specifically on the film industry. Now in the post from last year (mentioned above) one of the names I listed as one that has received many nominations but never won was Julianne Moore. Imagine how much of an idiot I feel now that she has won for Best Actress, and quite rightly so. Before this happened I felt the same way about Moore as a I did about DiCaprio, in that I do not feel that either of them need awards to show that they are talented, we know already from their back catalogues. However I have to admit that I was overjoyed to see Julianne Moore win the award earlier this year, it was so wonderful to see her on that stage finally with an entire building full of people applauding her fantastic performance. This is why as much as I feel that DiCaprio absolutely does not need an award to show how talented he is, it would still be nice to see him receive the same recognition.
This is going to be an unpopular opinion I know, but I do not feel as though DiCaprio has deserved the award for any of his previous nominations except for one. Please do not hate me for this, but it is truly how I feel. Looking at his nominations I would say his role in The Aviator is the only one that he really stood a chance of winning, just because of how he fully threw himself into the role of Howard Hughes and allowed every element of Hughes’ mental state to inhabit his own mind. He wouldn’t have won for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape because he was not a big enough name but it was enough to get his foot in the door, Blood Diamond was always a bit of a grey area just purely because his accent was not consistent and the role was not strong enough, and then of course with The Wolf of Wall Street his role of shouting, snorting and shagging was no match for the talent of the actual winner (Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club) or the immense talents of the actor who should have won (Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave). This does not mean to say I don’t like his acting because of course I do, I just feel as though the roles he has been nominated for were not enough to secure him a win.
Incidentally the roles in which I feel he had the best chance of winning for were ones he was not even nominated for. Firstly you have his outstanding performance in Catch Me If You Can as Frank Abagnale Jr which was more than worthy of a nomination that year but sadly overlooked. Secondly, and this is a wild card because it would have indeed had to have been under the supporting actor category as opposed to leading actor, and that is of course his role as monsieur Candy in Django Unchained. It was a role which I don’t think anybody could have predicted DiCaprio mastering. When you think of a plantation owner during the years of American slavery you would think of an actor that is hard as nails, one that is known throughout Hollywood as playing an arsehole, not the cute little kid from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape! Again, it was a fantastic role that DiCaprio mastered brilliantly and yet went unrecognised by the Academy, but I think we all knew Christoph Waltz ruled the category that year, for a role in the same film strangely.
The thing with DiCaprio is that he has progressed with age and has gone from strength to strength. As a young actor we saw a lot of promise, with films like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and an outstanding performance alongside acting heavyweight Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life which really showed the world that he was heading to the top. He has unfortunately had his fair share of bad roles however. Personally I am not a fan of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and so for me he was a bit of a wasted talent in that film, and of course Titanic is a cinematic travesty which incidentally DiCaprio sights as the one role in his career that he regrets. As he has moved through his career we have seen him branch out and expand as an actor to show just how versatile he is, having worked with director Martin Scorsese on a number of roles (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island) I think Scorsese really got the best out of him and showed the world just what DiCaprio can do. From there of course he has had some fantastic roles and has worked with some true masters of directing, such as Danny Boyle (The Beach), Woody Allen (Celebrity), Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road), and Christopher Nolan (Inception) and so he has really been taking big steps in the right direction, on the pathway to receiving his own Academy Award.
What he have to consider here is timing. In order for actors to be nominated by the Academy the film has to be released within a certain time frame. Usually it has to be released in either the second half of one year or the very start of the following year, so from about September through to the end of January/ start of February. It is very rare that films are nominated by the Academy if they were released too early, and even if they are nominated then usually acting is not taken into account. If the acting is to be recognised for a film that was released too early then it has to be for a role that really stands out. I would draw your attention in this case to Patricia Arquette who was not only nominated but quite rightly won at the Academy Awards this year for her outstanding performance in Boyhood, which was released around June time last year. This means if DiCaprio is to win an award then it needs to be timed right. Hence I was annoyed that so many people didn’t realise he wasn’t nominated for his role in The Great Gatsby because it was released too early in the year. However we may be in luck. DiCaprio made it clear that after The Wolf of Wall Street he was taking a year out and then would return to cinema. He is set to return to the big screen in January of next year. This is exciting enough, but what’s more exciting is that the new film may very well be the right film to secure him a win.
Incase you missed the title, DiCaprio’s next film is helmed by three time Oscar winning writer and director (thanks to his latest film Birdman) Alejandro González Iñárritu, entitled The Revenant. Very little is known about the project at present, but we know it is both written and directed by Iñárritu, and it sees DiCaprio playing prospector Hugh Glass in the 1820s who is out for revenge after he is left for dead following an attack by a bear. Already it has me intrigued and excited, but is also sounds like it is the perfect setup for DiCaprio to win.
If you look at Iñárritu’s back catalogue it is very hard to find a grey spot. You’ve got fantastic films right the way through, such as Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Biutiful, and of course his latest triumph Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) which deserved every award it was given. Now inside each of those films you have central roles that were very weighted and really got the best out of some big names, such as Sean Penn in 21 Grams and the outstanding performance by Javier Bardem in Biutiful . Often Iñárritu’s directing has resulted in Oscar nominations for the stars. Just recently in fact we saw the cast of Birdman feature very prominently among the list of nominated, including Michael Keaton who was tipped very heavily as the only possible threat to Eddie Redmayne’s spot as overall winner. This is why DiCaprio and Iñárritu working together can only be a good thing. Iñárritu is known for being a very full on director, one who is a challenge for actors, one who really pushes them to get the best out of them. An actor is either in his film and on top form or they’re not in it at all. He is a very thorough man who will not let a scene pass until it is perfect, and that is exactly what DiCaprio needs; the direction of someone who understands their craft. The project itself sounds phenomenal and I am extremely excited to see what happens with it and to see if it meets my already high expectations.
It is safe to say DiCaprio is in very good hands of for the time being, we can only hope that the Academy makes the right choices when the time comes. Until then I am interested to see what everyone else’s thoughts are on the matter. Please feel free to leave comments below with your thoughts not only on this upcoming film but also other films starring DiCaprio. I am interested in particular in what role you think he should have won an Oscar, nominated or not nominated, and why. If you do leave a comment I will be sure to respond to it as quickly as I can.
Until the next time I shall simply say thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you all have a great week!