So if you look on my Tumblr page, 95% of it is Leonardo DiCaprio. Mostly because of my undying obsession with The Wolf of Wall Street, but also because the gifs that the site comes up with to chronicle Leo's apparent struggle for an Oscar are quite funny. Here are a few of my favourites:
Yes, it is entertaining, but it is a little bit excessive (as most things are on Tumblr, particularly seen by Jennifer Lawrence's meteoric rise to Queen of Everything). Let's take some calm, practical steps to acknowledge why Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is merely Oscar-Nominated Actor Leonardo DiCaprio instead of Oscar-Winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
1. Back up the truck, he's only 39 years old.
Paul Newman was 62 when he won his first Oscar. Christopher Plummer was 82. Peter O'Toole never even got an Oscar. Sure, there's more to an actor's life than winning an Oscar, but then again it is kind of annoying when 22 year old Jennifer Lawrence has an Oscar. Maybe it seems like Leo has been struggling for so long when really, this has been a saga that's been going on for 20 years - not really that much time. I mean, Brad Pitt doesn't have an Oscar, why is no one complaining about that? Since Leo got nominated for What's Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993, he waited another 11 years to be nominated for The Aviator, following it up two years later with a nomination for Blood Diamond, and now, 7 years later, we have his nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street. We only have four chances here for him not to get the award, and to be honest, a lot of actors suffer through worse (and let's not even get started on Roger Deakins). Which leads me to my next point...
2. Breaking down why he didn't win in the years he was nominated.
1993 is one of the only real "wtf" years that Leo was involved in, since the other two years went to quite deserving candidates. But even then, the 1993 award shouldn't have gone to Leo. That year, Tommy Lee Jones won the award for The Fugitive, when in actuality, the award should have gone to Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List, which still remains as my favourite performance of all time (seriously, why does no one ever talk about how the hell Ralph Fiennes doesn't have an Oscar? That's the real Oscar travesty). I'd say that up until The Wolf of Wall Street, What's Eating Gilbert Grape is the performance I'd pick to give Leo the title of "Oscar Winner Leonardo DiCaprio" because, well, it was the role that made me fall in love with him. In 2005, he lost to Jamie Foxx's performance in Ray, which was a rather good performance, but it is kinda strange to think that Foxx has more Oscars than Leo. And in 2007, he lost to Forest Whitaker's performance in The Last King of Scotland, but to be honest, Leo should have been nominated for The Departed instead of Blood Diamond. So it really isn't like Leo was unlawfully ignored when he was in contention.
We all know that there's many performances out there that should have been nominated - or even won - that didn't make it to the final cut. We have Tom Hanks and Brie Larson this year, but let's not even start with that. Now, many people I know (in fact everyone I know) gets really shocked when they hear Leo wasn't nominated for Titanic. Which I don't quite understand, because that's far from his best performance, but then again, considering how many other nominations the film got, it was weird he missed out. So consider that exhibit A of "Leo vs. the Academy". And then what about when Leo didn't get nominated for The Departed? Sure, he had Blood Diamond as sort of a consolation prize, but The Departed is still one of his strongest works (plus, Mark Wahlberg got nominated for it and look at how terrible his filmography is now). Revolutionary Road is another one that sticks out, but that film had a curious case: Kate Winslet's category fraud saw her win the Golden Globe for Best Actress for Revolutionary Road and also Best Supporting Actress for The Reader. All of a sudden her performance in The Reader was considered as a leading role, and then Revolutionary Road was pushed out. The film still managed to get a nomination for Michael Shannon's brief performance, but Leo's snub for that hurts quite a bit. It definitely wasn't the Titanic reunion people were hoping for.
However, the snub of Leo's career that hurts the most was his omission from last year's Best Supporting Actor ballot for his performance in Django Unchained. On paper, it has everything that would make the Academy buzz: Leo checking Quentin Tarantino off his "Acclaimed Directors Bingo", playing completely against type...and they always love a villain. However, somehow Leo missed out on a nomination, with a nomination instead going to Christoph Waltz, who subsequently won. I have nothing against Christoph Waltz's performance (it is fantastic), but compared to Leo's performance, I just don't get how Leo wasn't nominated. For one thing, last year's supporting actor ballot was weak, and Leo easily topped them all, but also, how about that one scene where he cuts his hand and uses it to a terrifying extent? Sure, that's only one scene, but it proves that Leo is dedicated, and not just the pretty boy who can get bums on seats that many people touted he would be after the success of Titanic. His performance in Django Unchained never misses a beat: he's having fun, even though we're all terrified of him, and it is certainly the most different we've seen him. Of all the possible "Leo vs. the Academy" situations, the whole Django Unchained is the only one that doesn't make clear and perfect sense to me.
4. "He's Oscar baiting" "Leo must really want that Oscar" etc...
Now this is an interesting one. When Django Unchained came out, everyone - myself included - were all like "oh wow, how good it is to see Leo loosen up and stop with those Oscar bait movies".
Then, if you really think about it, did we really go through an uninterrupted phase where all Leo did were Oscar movies? No. In fact, I truly think there's only one film that could be seen as an out and out Oscar bait project for Leo: J. Edgar. And boy, was that misguided. It has become a rule of thumb to immerse yourself in a real life character in order to be seen by the Academy. Which Leo did do, with ten tonnes of prosthetic makeup helping him chart each stage of J. Edgar Hoover's life, a thick accent, but unfortunately no script that did his dedication justice, instead making it look like a plea for attention from the Academy. Though it did get attention from both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild, Leo missed out on the Oscar nomination thanks to Gary Oldman getting his well overdue first nomination for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Which was for the best, because J. Edgar was genuinely terrible and it dragged Leo down with it.
But would we really say that outside of J. Edgar, Leo's been Oscar baiting? I wouldn't. His filmography is so strong that Oscar nominations or not, he certainly has one of the most impressive resumes in Hollywood. Sure, The Great Gatsby could have been Oscar bait if it was nominated in late 2012 like it was supposed to (and I genuinely do think his performance in that warrants some recognition, he is a perfect fit for the character). Yes, Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street do signify a new turn for Leo, when we finally see him loosening up and not playing a whole bunch of characters that no matter how different, all fit under the same serious umbrella. If that makes it sound like Leo doesn't have a lot of range, just look at his filmography. He's seamlessly grown with his career (which is something that Jennifer Lawrence may have a few issues with), going from the young actor with a lot of promise, to the hottest movie star, to the serious actor, and now the guy who's trying a few wilder flavours to see where that gets him. And for that, yes, Leo does try his best. And that's enough for all of us.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street.
Leonardo's best performance to date, I think, is his performance as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Why? Because I've been watching a whole lot of interviews with the real Jordan Belfort, and I was surprised by how little difference there is between the real life Belfort and his movie counterpart. I've never really seen Leo as the Daniel Day-Lewis type, but his performance in Wolf is possibly his most immersive piece of work. Every speech, every Quaalude induced movement, every moment of disgusting debauchery is part of such a layered, masterful performance that sees Leo stretch his ability to have fun but still be totally in control. It is a beyond perfect performance. But where does that see Leo in terms of Oscar? It would seem like Matthew McConaughey is very much in control of the Oscar race right now, but here's some food for thought: Leo and Matty M will never be pitted against each other until Oscar night. At the Golden Globes, where they both won, Matty won for Drama, while Leo won for Comedy. Leo missed out on a SAG nod, likely because The Wolf of Wall Street came out so late (just as what happened to Christoph Waltz last year). Matty missed out on a BAFTA nod, because Dallas Buyers Club wasn't eligible, which could see Leo taking out that award. And then we have Oscar night. I know I'll probably end up disappointed come the time when Matthew McConaughey's name gets called out (and I'll be happy if that happens, because his career comeback has been the best thing ever), but I'm just saying that Leo poses a much bigger threat to the ceremony than people give him credit for.
Is it time to give him that Oscar? I'd be happy if he could get it now, because it would be so hard for him to top The Wolf of Wall Street until he starts going the full Daniel Day-Lewis in his 50's and plays every American president. And let's be honest here: his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street is easily the best of the year, because he plays up his own movie star persona to induce this terrifying portrayal of one of the most controversial, horrible people who can still walk around in a rich life freely. I'd give him the Oscar now. And if he loses, then we can really start making up conspiracy theories of why Leo doesn't have an Oscar yet.
Until then, Tumblr, continue making your gifsets of Jennifer Lawrence doing funny facials, just to blow her stardom even more out of proportion, because we all love that so much.
What do you think about Leo's career? Would you give him an Oscar yet?