Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from "The Revenant".
Long before he was known as an acclaimed leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio was once a young heartthrob who made swoon-worthy movies such as "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and "Titanic" (1997).
Then, his career took a quantum leap when he collaborated with the legendary Martin Scorsese in "Gangs Of New York" (2002). Not long after, his acting was considerably improved by leaps and bounds, as he constantly reinvented himself as a serious actor worthy of an Oscar contender.
Yes, he earned his first Oscar nomination in the supporting actor category at the age of 22 for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" in 1994, but the real deal came when he got nominated for playing the eccentric Howard Hughes in the Scorsese-directed biopic, "The Aviator" in 2005. Sadly, he lost to Jamie Foxx for his role as the soul legend Ray Charles in "Ray" that year. DiCaprio's Oscar best-actor losing streak then continued with "Blood Diamond" in 2007 and "The Wolf Of Wall Street" in 2014.
This year, DiCaprio earned his fourth nomination in the leading role category for "The Revenant". Already a winner at the recent Golden Globes, he was once again tipped as the frontrunner to win the coveted trophy when the 88th Academy Awards finally announces the winner this coming February 29th (Malaysian time) at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Will DiCaprio finally nab that little golden man? Without further ado, here are the five reasons why DiCaprio deserves that long-overdue Oscar once and for all!
1. Leonardo DiCaprio went all out in the name of art
Leonardo DiCaprio endures sub-zero temperatures in "The Revenant".
The Academy loves to award actors who have gone through blood, sweat and tears in terms of physical endurance or transformation. Among the prime examples were Robert De Niro in "Raging Bull" and Eddie Redmayne for "The Theory Of Everything". In the case of Leonardo DiCaprio where he plays the 19th-century frontiersman Hugh Glass, he has went through hell and back such as enduring sub-zero temperatures in the frozen wilderness of Canada and Argentina, eating raw bison liver and even sleeping inside an animal carcasses – all for real. Mind you, DiCaprio has been a long-time vegetarian since 1992, so, you could imagine all the sacrifices he had to make by chowing down on a raw bison liver.
2. Expressive acting at its finest
Leonardo DiCaprio in one of the dramatic scenes in "The Revenant".
It's not easy to play a role where one has to spend most of the time acting with little or without dialogue. It's even more difficult to play such a role where he or she has to sustain audiences' interest for two hours and thirty minutes, but DiCaprio did so with flying colours, as he managed to make his near-silent character such a captivating individual to watch on screen.
3. Out of the five Best Actor nominees, Leonardo DiCaprio stands to win big.
Leonardo DiCaprio was already a happy winner at the recent Golden Globes for "The Revenant".
Let's take a look at this year's Oscar nominees in the Best Actor category other than DiCaprio's acting nod for "The Revenant"; Bryan Cranston ("Trumbo"), Matt Damon ("The Martian"), Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs") and Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl").
While it would be interesting to see last year's winner Eddie Redmayne win back-to-back for playing the transgender pioneer in "The Danish Girl", his acclaimed performance was largely overshadowed by Alicia Vikander (who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress). Bryan Cranston may have been a TV legend in "Breaking Bad", but his performance as the legendary blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in "Trumbo" didn't have the same impact if compared with DiCaprio's harrowing performance in "The Revenant". Next up, is Matt Damon. Sure, his upbeat personality and effortless charm made him such a likable character playing the stranded NASA astronaut Mark Watney in "The Martian". He may have won the Golden Globe in the Best Actor for Comedy/Musical category, but it's hard to see him as a serious Oscar contender to win the coveted award.
DiCaprio's closest rival to cause a possible upset would be Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs". He made quite an impression playing the real-life tech legend, and his performance had enjoyed wide critical acclaim even before the cinema release last year. Still, as great as Fassbender managed to pull it off with his acclaimed performance as the titular character, 2016 really belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio.
4. The legendary bear attack scene
The terrifying bear attack scene in "The Revenant".
Yes, all you heard about the much-anticipated bear attack scene which was no smoke and mirrors. Not only was the scene technically remarkable, you'll be surprised that the bear itself was actually CGI. But even with DiCaprio going against a CGI bear, he managed to pull it off so convincingly with the help of harnesses, ropes and stunt performers. Plus, all the physical struggles that he had to endure during the bear attack scene; such as getting thrown around and dragged all over the place was absolutely real and authentic. Ouch!
5. The movie wouldn't have worked if not for Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio in a tense situation.
While you could argue that the critical success of "The Revenant" is due to Alejandro G. Inarritu's captivating direction and Emmanuel Lubezki's sumptuous cinematography which were shot mostly in natural light, this epic survival drama still owed it to DiCaprio's extremely dedicated performance. He may have strong support from the likes of Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter, but DiCaprio was the one that glued everything together.
Give Leo his Oscar already!
Cinema Online, 24 January 2016