We’re in the midst of award season, and we still have the biggest yet to come. With the various award shows set to kick off, slowly unraveling the nominees as we go, the speculation runs rampant. Who will win this or that? Who will be snubbed? Who, What, When, Where, Why?! There’s so much to take in, and it’s usually safe to say that most of the general public has more than likely never seen, and sometimes even heard of the best picture nominees in most of the award shows. It’s understandable and you can hardly blame Joe public for never having seen a movie that probably never played in a theater near him, and probably wasn’t advertised to him until it came time for the Oscar’s. While this may be the case, it seems every year the general public, Joe and his pals, are clamoring and hooting for one individual during awards season. The very same public that, understandably so, has likely not seen a bulk of the performances or films nominated, but that doesn’t seem to matter. So by now you probably figured out who is being referred to, the incredible Leonardo Dicaprio. For years this brilliant man has been developing one of the most impressive resumes hollywood has ever seen. Every time you hear Leo is working on a new project, it brings an instant credibility. It doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is, who’s directing (though honestly, Leo isn’t exactly working with any schmucks), the people become absolutely enamored with his every move, in every film in which he appears. All of this has seemingly been for not, as poor Leo has still been left gripping the cold air of defeat when it comes to the biggest award show of them all, The Oscars. That is correct, Leonardo Dicaprio has yet to win a single acting award from the prestigious academy, leaving fans up in arms, scratching there heads, and keeled over in despair. How can this be? How can this genius thespian be passed over so many times for an award he so obviously deserves? Well the answer is actually quite simple, albeit unpopular to say aloud. That is to say Leonardo DiCaprio has not yet actually deserved an Oscar.
“Blasphemy!” Even as I write this I can feel the tension from people who have either stopped reading out of anger, or continued on for the same reason. I know What you’re thinking, “What the hell is this idiot talking about, and what the hell does he know anyway?” You raise a good point, maybe I’m far too under qualified to make such a ridiculous accusation. So to give you some exposition into my credentials as a film fan. I am no Ebert, I’m far from a Lyons or Leonard Maltin, and I don’t claim to be. I’m a film fan, I love movies in every way. I love the excitement of standing in line waiting to purchase a ticket to a movie you’ve been waiting to see. I love the crowds reaction and interaction in the theater as the images on screen captivate. I love the escape from the real world and all the stress and struggle that comes with it. For 90 to 180 minutes you have nothing to do and nowhere to be except right in your seat staring at whatever enthralling cinematic adventure you’ve resigned yourself to. I’m no renowned critic, but i would venture to say I have seen far more films than the average movie goer, and likely more than the avid cinema patron. I love movies and spend most of my time (far too much if you ask my extraordinarily tolerant and considerate girlfriend) watching, discussing, analyzing, reading and writing about them. So maybe I am far too under qualified to make such an outrageous claim, but this is my party and I’ll cry if I want to, so to speak.
I digress from the point. Now the beauty of film is by nature it is inherently subjective. There is no clear cut quantitative measure to the quality of film per se. What one person enjoys, the next may see as garbage. That’s what is so great about movies. It’s what sparks conversation and debate, and it’s important to remember that due to the subjective nature, no one person’s opinion holds any less or more value than the next. It’s ok to disagree with someone, but it’s not cool to harshly belittle their opinion just because it differs from yours, so get off your damn high horse film snobs. That being said I will rephrase my original thesis, “In my opinion” Leonardo Dicaprio has not yet earned an Oscar. That being said, what fun would it be to just spout a hypothesis without bringing some evidence to help support your claim? So you call me crazy but here is why I am saying that Leonardo DiCaprio has not yet earned an Oscar.
Let’s focus on his acting nominations. Believe it or not,
Leo has only garnered 4 Oscar nominations for acting (I bet you just fact checked me). The first would be his nomination for “Best acting in a supporting role” for the 1993 film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Firstly, if you’ve never seen the movie, I implore you to watch it (after you’re done reading this!). to provide some background on that year, it was the year Schindler’s List, The Fugitive, and The Piano were all in the race for best picture, and guess what? Gilbert Grape was not nominated for best picture. So if not Leo than who? Well friend, that would be Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive. Again if you have not seen The Fugitive, definitely check it out. It could be argued that Leo was actually 4th in this race as John Malkovich for In The Line of Fire was pretty incredible and Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List was who most thought should have won. So it’s safe to say that in 1993, Leo did not outperform his competition. “But that was so long ago, he was like 13!” Okay fine it was early in his career, but we’re just warming up.
Now we can fast forward 11 years, to 2005. Leo took a role that was sure to land him notoriety in The Aviator, the film based on the life of Howard Hughes. There is no mistaking that he was incredible, and playing Hughes is no easy day at the office. The man went thru breakdowns, both mentally and physically and Leo had to portray what most would say is an unlikable man, with a charismatic flare that draw audiences in. This was his first best lead actor nomination and it was well deserved. With all this praise you must be thinking he was snubbed and this is the exception that disproves my theory. Well, not exactly. You see there was this other film that released called Ray starring Jamie Foxx. Foxx absolutely crushed it turning in a career defining performance. He became Ray Charles and you didn’t see an ounce of Foxx on screen. So, my apologies to you Leo apologists, but there is zero chance you’ll convince me he out performed Foxx in Ray. “Well fine maybe Foxx was good, but so what Leo should have won a bunch of other times!” sure maybe you’re right, but let me explain some more about why I just don’t agree.
Skip on ahead to 2006. Leo was in two incredible films and turned in two incredible performances. The first being Blood Diamond, the film that centers on conflict diamonds and the civil unrest in central Africa. The other being The Departed, which was an incredible reimagining of an old Korean police procedural that Martin Scorsese turned into an American masterpiece. Dicaprio was actually nominated for the former. He received his second best lead actor nomination for his role in Blood Diamond, and was ultimately (maybe even wrongly so) not nominated, even for supporting actor with The Departed. So how is it possible that he didn’t earn his Oscar in that year. Well let me tell you why! Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, that’s why! If you had an opportunity to watch The Last King of Scotland, then you are lucky enough to have watched one of the most spellbinding and terrifying acting performances we have seen in the new millennium. Whitaker absolutely dominated the screen and commanded the attention of the academy voters. This one was a no brainer. Sorry Leo fans but this was just not his year and he was outmanned by the man Forest Whitaker. “Yea, but he was snubbed for The Departed!” Look maybe he should have snared up a nom for best supporting, but even then Alan Arkin probably still would have won for Little Miss Sunshine any way. As much as I loved The Departed he was actually out shined by Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon,which lead to his “snubbing” of sorts.
Feeling a little deflated yet? Have I tested your resolve? Well let’s soldier on to his next, and last Oscar nomination. That would be for his controversial turn in the hilariously epic Wolf of Wall Street. Teaming up with Scorsese once again, Leo provided us with an exciting and temperamentally layered and enigmatic performance. There is no doubt he earned his nomination, and I’ll admit after I had seen the movie I was sure he was going to win. Then I heard about this little film that was picking up steam and the lead actor that everyone was talking about. Dallas Buyers Club and Matthew McConaughey. This was a small and quiet film, that once critics and academy voters started paying attention to, became a tour de force at the awards party. Make no mistake about it people, McConaughey earned this one, transforming his body and mind to turn in one astounding performance. “I’ve never even heard of that dumb movie! How can the moron form all those goofy Rom coms be any good!” Well if you haven’t seen the movie then go watch it and if you still think Leo deserved it over McConaughey then I want to be on whatever you’re on my good friend.
So that’s it, those are all the films that Leo was nominated for, and the men who left him in their wake. If you’re still not convinced, that’s perfectly ok, as all film is subjective. This was just my thought processes behind my eventual epiphany that Leo just has not yet actually earned his Oscar. So what about this year? The Revenant looks like it could finally be the film, and the performance that delivers Leo to the promised land. This has to be his coup d’etat against the academy. He will reign triumphant and finally sit atop the mountain, right? Well, without getting too deep into the film (you’ll get plenty of that when we do the review here on Bro Knows soon) it may not be the vehicle that drives Leo to the top of the podium. You see this guy named Michael Fassbender did his best Steve Jobs impression and might be ready to drop poor Leo into the darkness on his way to claiming the title this year. There is plenty of time, and still much speculation to be had. Maybe this will be the year Leo can stand tall and deliver the speech that’s been sitting in his suit breast pocket for the last 20 years. Or maybe he will stand tall and give a rousing round of applause to the next man who has stolen his thunder en route to awards fame. Only time will tell, and unfortunately for Leo, time has been rough for him in the past.