What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)
I honestly believe that DiCaprio’s greatest performance to date is his role as Arnie in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. People absolutely couldn’t believe that he was an actor playing a mentally disabled teenager. That’s because he played the role so well, that they assumed they cast someone who actually had a mental disability. That’s the very definition of a perfect performance. Unfortunately, he was nominated alongside Ralph Fiennes, whose harrowing performance in Schindler’s list is one of the most unforgettable performances in the history of cinema. Neither of them won, for the undeserving Tommy Lee Jones won for The Fugitive. Deep down, I think most of us agree that if DiCaprio should have won for something, it would be Gilbert Grape. I personally think that Fiennes was the best of that year though.
The Aviator (2004)
DiCaprio was fantastic in the Aviator, delving into quite a range of emotions. However, 2004 just wasn’t his year. Jamie Foxx was brilliant in Ray, as was Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby. Hell, even Johnny Depp was great in Finding Neverland. In my opinion though, the best performance that year was Don Cheadle’s incredibly moving role in Hotel Rwanda. DiCaprio didn’t win this year, because many of the performances were just as good, if not better than his.
Blood Diamond (Nominated) & The Departed (Un-Nominated) (2006)
While I do believe he did a pretty good job with delivering a South African accent, he could never fully convince me that he was actually from Africa. His performance wavered at times, which to me is something that doesn’t warrant an Oscar win. On the other hand, you had Forest Whitaker that year play a vicious Ugandan dictator (with complete confidence and ease). That is why Leo did not win that year.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
His eccentric, devious role as the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, was pitch-perfect for the film he was in. However, Matthew McConaughey and Chiwetel Ejiofor also gave perfect performances for their films, but went above and beyond to become their characters. McConaughey deserved the Oscar, not only because he went through a shocking physical transformation, but because he explored a range of different emotions that were truly heartbreaking to see. I know comedy is hard, but I think what McConaughey did in Dallas Buyer's Club was a whole different level of difficult.
Performances Without Nominations
Titanic is my favourite movie of all time, but even I can say that DiCaprio’s performance (while great) wasn’t the best of 1997. It wasn’t the greatest year for nominees, but if I had to pick the best performance of that year, it would be Robert Carlyle’s hilarious and emotional role in The Full Monty.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
I think it’s disgusting that DiCaprio wasn’t nominated for Revolutionary Road. He clearly gave one of the best performances of 2008… I shake my head at the thought of it. That year, Sean Penn wowed the world with Milk and rightfully won the Oscar. Also, Mickey Rourke gave one of the greatest comeback performances I’ve ever seen, and would have made a very worthy winner.
J. Edgar (2011)
Once again, DiCaprio delivered a great performance. I don’t think I need to say much about this, except that Jean Dujardin (The Artist), and George Clooney (The Descendants), gave better performances that year in my opinion.
Django Unchained (2012)
When I saw DiCaprio play a slave owning, man-dingo selling, evil Southern dandy… my jaw just dropped. He was perfection in this role, and went above and beyond to deliver such a fine performance. I do believe that Christoph Waltz deserved the award more, for he played a much bigger role in the film, and was also perfect for the part he played. On top of this, Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman were brilliant nominees.
What do you think of my reasoning? Are there any performances you think he definitely should have won for? Sound off in the comments :)
Also, I couldn't upload the rest of the photos due to website difficulties.