Five Ways Leonardo DiCaprio Has Contributed To Film
This is not an insightful look at the film career of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Nope, I’m not going to talk about when he should have been nominated for an Oscar, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, or the time he should have won, The Wolf Of Wall Street. No, this is for fun. I have loved Leo since Growing Pains, when his cherub-like mug graced the cover of every Teen Beat magazine in the world. I believe that he is “The Actor” of my generation. (I know you’re going to disagree and you’re wrong!) He has positioned himself to follow in the footsteps of Daniel Day-Lewis and Marlon Brando, and in just 41 years and 28 films, he has successfully worked with the best directors in Hollywood and he’s Scorsese’s Golden Boy! (The director list includes: Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Sam Mendes, Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood, Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.) There’s a lot of talk that this might be Leo’s year with his role in The Revenant, the Oscar might be his! (PS… If he truly was molested by a bear, please just give him the statue.) But, whether he wins or not, I thought it might be fun to note some of his more memorable performances and applaud how he has contributed to the fantastic film industry.
1. The boy knows how to make an entrance.
I want to be introduced to everyone on earth as fantastically and magically as Jay Gatsby, DiCaprio, is introduced to Nick Carraway, Toby Maguire, in The Great Gatsby. Champagne in hand, a suit that kills, golden locks perfectly in place, fireworks in the background and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue hitting it’s apex! It leaves an impression. But it’s not just in The Great Gatsby, Leo likes a grand entrance. In The Wolf of Wall Street you meet Jordan Belfort while he is waving money in the air, surrounded by admirers and he’s about to toss a little person at a Velcro target! Leo never blends into the wallpaper, he doesn’t choose those roles. And we all know how he famously boarded a certain “Ship of Dreams” which leads me to my next point…
2. He’s changed the cruise line industry FOREVER!
Years ago I went on my first cruise. My friend and I explored the ship and marveled at the amount of lobster we could consume in basically a long weekend. As we wandered out onto the deck I found myself saying, “I’ll never let go Jack, I’ll never let go!” We ran to the front of the ship and imitated the now famous scene from Titanic. And it’s great to know I’m not the only idiot that does this. No, Titanic and Jack Dawson are there every time a couple relives how Jack taught Rose to “Spit like a man”. Each time you say to a young man, “Draw me like one of your French girls” Jack lives on. (PS… I don’t say that!) And every time I watch The Office episode, Booze Cruise, and Michael Scott yells out, “I’m the King of the World!” I instantly think of young Leo. And yes, James Cameron, Kate Winslet and for certain Celine Dion had a lot to do with the success of Titanic. But we all know what drove those 1.8 Billion dollar profits… teenage girls and pretty boy Leo meeting an untimely, yet heroic death! Quick segue to point three…
3. He has died… A lot!
No Spoilers… Except for the Picture above, oh and the Titanic ending referenced earlier. (Sorry!) Old Leo has died 9 times in his short 41 years. Not the record, John Hurt owns that with 43 deaths. But lets look at the numbers, 9 deaths in 28 films is 32% and 43 deaths in 120 films is 35%. He’s not far behind Hurt. He has been shot by his father, died essentially from knee cancer, poisoned, succumb to hypothermia, shot by a rat, shot in a firefight, fallen victim to heart disease, shot by a bounty hunter, and shot by a jealous husband! Is he unlikable, why does he keep getting shot? Does Leo have that look, that look of someone you want to see die? And what does that do to you, you know, as a person? Does he watch his movies? Does he watch himself die? Is it like Scrooge being lead through the graveyard and seeing his name on the tombstone, and then he is changed forever? Is Leo DiCaprio the kindest most generous man in Hollywood? That must be why he spends all his spare time with those unfortunate super models, Lord bless him. I digress… but fingers crossed he survives The Revenant.
4. He’s an ugly crier.
This is a point I appreciate on many levels. I am an ugly crier and so are you. No one looks like Frodo right after Gandalf has fallen in Moria in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring! Little angelic face with beautifully clear eyes and one single tear falling perfectly. (Look it up, it’s actually a beautiful scene, but any ways…) With DiCaprio you get the full spectrum of emotions, but he is particularly gifted at showing grief, sadness and remorse. Whether he’s grasping at memories of his deceased wife in Shutter Island, or he’s contemplating the life and death of his mother in The Departed, you believe that he is in pain. And it’s not just crying, he’s very convincing with drug overdoses, The Wolf of Wall Street, OCD naked tendencies, The Aviator, and falling into bathtubs in slow motion, Inception. The pretty boy is not afraid of showing off his ugly side, and that makes him believable and relatable.
5. He plays a bad, good-guy, well!
Leo is no Tom Hanks, he’s not the everyday good guy. He’s not a comic and in some people’s opinion he’s not a good romantic lead. (I disagree.) And honestly he’s not the good guy even when he’s heroic. (ex. Blood Diamond) But here’s the thing… Leo isn’t trying to be comedic, and for the most part he’s not choosing to be the romantic lead. (The Great Gatsby is his first romantic role since… Titanic!) He’s a complicated, brooding, dramatic actor, and he does that well. He plays broken people, people that are good or want to be good, but they struggle, and Leo is right at home with that struggle. It’s this quality that, I believe, syncs perfectly with Scorsese’s work. Also, he’s wonderful as Calvin Candie, the villain in Django Unchained. Quentin Tarantino said, “He’s the first villain I’ve ever written that I didn’t like. I hated Candie, and I normally like my villains no matter how bad they are.” So Leo is stretching those acting muscles, and now he’s playing great bad-guy roles too!
And there you have it. You might not like DiCaprio and you might think this article is four points too long. But, I believe that Leo plays over-the-top, heroic, human, relatable, broken characters quite well. And I can’t wait to see The Revenant and I have my fingers crossed that he just might win an Oscar. If not, he will still go home with a super model and I can still wear this shirt.