There is no denying that the Oscars are the biggest and most respected awards in Hollywood, and are therefore the most coveted accolade of the acting elite. Nominated and awarded by the American Academy, there are always going to be the odd one or two decisions that members of the public will disagree with; such is the objectivity of cinema. That being said, it is generally accepted that from time to time the Academy may make a choice that is considered a mistake, but the inconsistency of the mistakes made, mean that the awards still maintain their respect and prestige.
However, in one instance, there has become an unsettling occurrence of the highest ineptitude. A mistake that has been made time and time again by the Oscar board and that is becoming so infuriatingly frequent; it is starting to undermine the entire award. Just how, in the name of all that is good in the world, has Leonardo DiCaprio still not won an Oscar?
As divisive as cinema is, I struggle to believe that there can be more than a handful of people who can’t comprehend Leo’s position as one of the finest actors around today. With a filmography chock-full of leading man roles and critical acclaim, it staggers belief that not only has he not won an Oscar, but he only has a meagre 3 nominations to his name. In an attempt to get my head around this injustice, it’s time to focus on his Oscar-worthy back-catalogue…
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
Even if we completely ignore the whole ‘Disability leads to Oscars’ thing, the fact that DiCaprio is only 16 years old in this film is what is so unbelievable. Originally a star-vehicle film for a young Johnny Depp, nobody could have expected the startling way in which Leo steals the limelight from the Deppster with a heartbreakingly realistic performance as the mentally-challenged Arnie. Nominated, but perhaps too young for the award, DiCaprio burst onto the scene in a big way.
Still blooming as an actor, this was the film that made him a star. Ok, admittedly Leo doesn’t steal the show in this one, but few would have complained had a nomination been thrown his way. With 14 Academy nominations and 11 wins, you’d think that if they loved the film that much, they could have accredited the lead actor a little bit.
If ever there was a film for which there could be no question whatsoever that he deserved the Oscar, it was this one. To date his finest all-round performance, Leo ticked all the Oscar boxes with this one: a biopic (Howard Hughes), roots firmly in Hollywood, affliction (OCD) and a tour de force performance. Yes, Jamie Foxx was excellent in Ray, but for my money this just should have been DiCaprio’s year.
In a film so crammed with excellence, it was always going to be difficult to stand out, but that is no excuse. His performance in The Departed is perhaps the most ‘real’ of his whole career and really displayed Leo as the finished article as an actor. An Oscar nomination was deserved but once again absent; a betrayal made all the more personal by the fact that he was nominated for nearly every other major film award, including BAFTA and the Golden Globes.
The last nomination he received, for perhaps his most underrated film. DiCaprio, as ever, is excellent in Blood Diamond, but it’s the timing of the nomination which is so peculiar. Why deny him the award which he so rightly deserved for The Aviator, then abjectly refuse to nominate him for The Departed, before nominating him for a film in which arguably contributes a little less? It makes the whole thing a little strange if you ask me….
Another Oscar-worthy DiCaprio performance guided by Martin Scorsese, this one went by seemingly unnoticed upon its release. After the success of The Aviator and The Departed, it is fair to say the response to Shutter Island was comparatively underwhelming, but unjustly so. The film is ‘make-or-break’ reliant on Leo’s leading man performance, and he duly delivers a gripping combination of unhinged psyche mixed with his trademark intensity.
For those who still haven’t seen Tarantino’s latest film, it may be difficult to imagine him as a primary villain, given his leading-man status. However, you’ll forget every heroic deed within 10 minutes of Calvin Candie. He manages to seamlessly use his powers of insane watchability for evil in a role more than worthy of a Best Supporting Actor gong.
Since Django’s release, an on-set legend has emerged that defines Leo’s dedication and perfectly outlines why he deserves an Oscar. In one scene Leo’s plantation owner baddie slams his hand down on a table, but such is his intensity that he accidently broke a REAL glass that caused a REAL gash to ooze blood from Leo’s hand. Before Quentin Tarantino could yell ‘cut’ and have his villain’s hand treated to by medics, DiCaprio keeps acting, using his injury to devastating effect in the scene.
Seriously, what is the Academy playing at!?