With the release of “The Great Gatsby” and the upcoming “The Woolf of Wall Street” with Martin Scorsese this year, Leonardo DiCaprio has two very highly anticipated movies of 2013 under his wing as the leading man. But this movie star has known the pressure of being in “some of the biggest movies ever made” on his shoulders since the 1990s. Still, Leo keeps one of the most private lives in Hollywood with a selection of film masterpieces under him at such a young age. A frequent collaborator with my favourite director Martin Scorsese, it still bewilders me why Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Oscar, despite having more then one deserving movie in the lsat 15 years. As part of our “Gatsby Mania” week here at Chinomatography, let’s look at the movies of The Great Leo.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993) – starting in television in the early 1990s, Leonardo DiCaprio really started gaining movie attention when he played Johnny Depp’s young brother, Arnie, who suffers from a mental disorder. Because of Leonardo’s baby face, he was able to garner the role of Arnie in Lasse Hallstrom’s story about family and the challenges they go through. He also earned his first Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Romeo + Juliet (1996) – Baz Luhrmann’s creative take ofnthe classic Shakespearean romance verified DiCaprio’s status as teen idol. Earning more then $46 million dollars in the box office, the “out-of-this-box” version of the old tale follows Romeo as he hides his forbidden love with the daughter of his families greatest enemy, Juliet (Claire Danes). Though the film is spoken in complete Shakespearean language, Luhrmann puts a twist on his R+J with a modern background set in Miami amidst the gang wars of two rich families, creating a huge, unexpected hit.
Marvin’s Room (1996) – In “Marvin’s Room”, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a juvenile delinquent named Hank, whose relationship with his mother Lee (Meryl Streep) is in the lowest of their lives. But when Lee’s estranged sister Bessie (Diane Keaton) finds out she has bone marrow cancer, Lee must now persuade her wreck-less son to give some of bone marrow to save her suffering sister. Leo had the chance to work with Hollywood queens Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep in an early age. Also, a remarkable screen moment where Leo and past Scorsese Alumni Robert De Niro share the screen. Though not much goes between them, it’ll take less then six years for DiCaprio to take his place as Scorsese’s muse. His performance as Hank is full of angst. He is a powerhouse.
Titanic (1997) – This is possibly the most popular movie that our generation is familiar with. Everything about “Titanic” screams iconic, and the film made Leonardo DiCaprio and co-star Kate Winslet bonafide movie stars. Director by James Cameron, the film won 11 Academy Awards (the most at the time) and made Leo a household name. Till today, when we think about DiCaprio, the first thing that will pop in the mind of ordinary movie goers is his role as Jack Dawson in the 1997 romantic epic. It told the story of the fatal voyage of the Titanic in 1912, where he begins a romance with Rose (Winslet) and…wait, why am I explaining this? Everyone’s seen this movie. Though Leonardo DiCaprio’s previous screen roles were much better in an acting point of view, “Titanic” overpowers them just because of the calibre of the film.
The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) – At the time, Leo’s choice to do “The Man in the Iron Mask” may have been the best choice of his. It’s based on a classic novel and has a compelling story which includes drama, costumes and the Three Musketeers. But as a whole, the movie falls short and becomes a sad follow up to such a remarkably fun career. Though the movie isn’t absolutely terrible (DiCaprio plays two characters…twins King Louis XIV and Philippe who steals the thrown) DiCaprio tried to grow up too fast in this one…
The Beach (2000) – At 26 years old, Leonardo DiCaprio chooses a role from filmmaker Danny Boyle in a movie that suited him. A great transition from teenager to adult roles, “The Beach” is a coming of age tale that brought Leo’s star power back, despite it being a mediocre film. Leo plays Richard, a bored American college graduate who travels to Thailand to seek thrills. When he hears of a secret beach, he makes his way there only to discover the harsh life and terrorising secrets the society of “The Beach” lives with.
Gangs of New York (2002) – Leonardo DiCaprio begins his high profile collaboration with legendary director Martin Scorsese in 2002’s “Gangs of New York”. Often compared to Scorsese’s past muse Robert De Niro, DiCaprio stars in a film that won multiply Academy Award nominations including Best Picture of the Year. Leo plays Amsterdam Vallon who joins the gang of mob boss Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he plans to avenge his father, “Priest” Vallon (Liam Neeson), Bill’s past nemesis. Though the movie didn’t win any of the Oscars it was nominated for, it launched the great collaboration that produces Oscar gold for the next 10 years.
Catch Me If You Can (2002) – Leo follows up his high profile role in “Gangs of New York” with another prestigious director, this time in director Steve Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can”. Playing the real life character of Frank Abigail Jr., Leo plays a 19 year old con-artist who embezzles millions of dollars from big American corporations after running away from home and his parents nasty divorce. Though DiCaprio plays another young character, the film’s subject matter is very adult. He also gets a chance to play a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer, amongst other things. “Catch Me If You Can” was a critical successful and was one of the smartest movies of 2002.
The Aviator (2004) -His second collaboration with Martin Scorsese brings Hollywood mogul Howard Hughes to the silver screen. His performance as the OCD aviator and movie producer/director earned Leo his second Academy Award nomination. Starting in the early 20s as he shoots “Hell’s Angels” (1929), “The Aviator” goes through the 3os to the 40s in most of Hughes’ ups and downs in life. The highlight of the film focuses on his relationship with Hollywood movie star Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett in her Academy way winning performance). DiCaprio truly stuns audiences in this glamorous biopic. Loosing the Oscar is one of the new millenniums greatest travesties, in my opinion. “The Aviator” is a monumental film in DiCaprio’s career as a serious actor and Oscar contender.
The Departed (2006) – Scorsese/DiCaprio’s third collaboration finally garnered the director an Oscar. The movie also won Best Picture that year. DiCaprio was snubbed for another film of his that year, but his performance as Billy Costigan is truly superior. “The Departed” (though many will MOST CERTAINLY DISAGREE with me) is possibly the Best Movie ever to be produced in the 2000s (NOTE: THIS IS JUST MY OPINION). Set in Boston sometime in the 90s, “The Departed” is a cat-mouse tale of gangsters. DiCaprio is a cop undercover mob boss Frank Costello’s (Jack Nicholson) gang, while Castello’s spy Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon) hunts him down from inside the police. The film is smart with a great screenplay and tense scenes. Leo and Damon lead an amazing ensemble. Everyone’s chemistry is pitch perfect. Snaps to Vera Farmiga and Mark Wahlberg as well.
Blood Diamond (2006) – The Academy opted for Leo’s performance in “Blood Diamond” for his Oscar nomination back in 2006 over “The Departed”. It was a deserving performance that was spot on. His South African accent is entertaining to hear and tough (which he is in the movie) works for Leo. “Blood Diamond” follows the story of diamond smuggler Danny Archer (Leo) and native Solomon (Djimon Honsou) as they make their way through the jungles of Africa to find a rare pink diamond. Though the story seems a bit shallow, the bigger picture educates the audience regarding the dangers of diamond mining in Africa and the wars they have started within the continent.
Revolutionary Road (2008) – Many “Titanic” fans waited for “Revolutionary Road” with high expectations as Leo and Kate were reunited again, under the director (and Kate’s then-husband) Sam Mendes. Though the movie ended up being rather underwhelming (can I use this word?…can’t think of the right adjective), the film still boasted great performances from Leo and Kate, as couple who decides to move to Paris when their marriage starts to get boring. Though Leo-Kate 2.0 is more adult and professional in their acting styles, fans couldn’t appreciate them as much as their teeny booper “Titanic” performances.
Shutter Island (2010) – The fourth DiCaprio/Scorsese collaboration did not do as well with Oscar then their past three films. But De Niro didn’t always hit Oscars soft spot. However, it was a great critical hit and their highest grossing film together to date. DiCaprio shines as Investigator Teddy Daniels as we investigates a missing patient on the spooky Shutter Island, infamous for it’s large mental asylum. I enjoyed the film and was definitely terrified by the disturbing imagery, effective acting and scary twists.
Inception (2010) – Christopher Nolan takes a break from “Batman” (with an ensemble that almost resembles Batman…except Leo and “Juno”) and borrows Leo for his dream thriller “Inception”. “Inception” was one of 2010s biggest hits and certainly the most talked about movie of the year. Leo’s “squinty eyes” exploded memes that immortalised him on the internet comedy scene as well. “Inception” tells the intelligent story of Dom Cobb as he leads a team of experts in planting an idea to the mind of a business mogul to have him break up his father’s company (played by Cillian Murphy). “Inception” stays effecting three years later. People still talk about it and people still wonder what really happened in the end. One of the most theorised movies that I know.
J. Edgar (2011) – I have nothing much to stay about Leo’s performance in Clint Eastwood’s biopic “J. Edgar”. From his movie roles (that were almost love them or hate them), this is certainly my least favourite. I thought the cinematography was wrong, the screenplay was not good, and his co-star (Armie Hammer) blew Leonardo out of the water in his limited role. But we love ya Leo, we don’t expect you to get it right all the time.
Django Unchained (2012) – Leo hits back hard with his supporting role in Tarentino’s spaghetti Western “Django Unchained”. DiCaprio is spectacular as Calvin Candie, a plantation owner who owns Django’s (Jamie Foxx) wife as a slave. It was great to see Leo go wacky and evil, because it was different from what he usually does. It was entertaining and pure fun.
What’s Next For Leo?
1. Seeing “The Great Gatsby” this Friday since it comes out in Manila on that day. Looks amazing, this week is all about Gatsby Mania, hence, our tribute to DiCaprio.
2. DiCaprio and Scorsese’s fifth collaboration “The Woolf of Wallstreet”. Not a lot is known with how good DiCaprio might be…but I’m hoping, OSCAR?