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Lane: DiCaprio always a bridesmaid

BY JOE LANE | FEBRUARY 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The year is 1998; the movie Titanic came out just months ago to overwhelming popular success, grossing over $2 billion worldwide. Leonardo DiCaprio has had the performance of his young career and is waiting anxiously for his Academy Award nomination — having already received it for the Golden Globes.

DiCaprio, however, never receives his nomination for the Oscars; in fact, DiCaprio didn’t receive a “Best Actor” nomination for the Academy Awards for another eight years for his role in The Aviator — one that did not result in a win. This is a theme all too common for him.

DiCaprio’s films are some of my favorite of all time: The Departed, Blood Diamond, Inception, and, more recently, The Wolf of Wall Street (to name a few). It seems that nearly everyone loves Leonardo DiCaprio — except the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, that is.

I love DiCaprio as much as (or more than) most people, but the simple fact of the matter is that Leo has not been snubbed by the Academy; it pains me to say it, but Leo’s acting genius has simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let’s start from the beginning.

1994: Leo is nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but is not on the ballot for the Academy Awards. A shame, truly, but let’s consider the men that were nominated in 1994: Morgan Freeman for his role in The Shawshank Redemption, the late Paul Newman and Nigel Hawthorne, John Travolta for Pulp Fiction, and Tom Hanks, who won for his role in Forest Gump.

It does not take a movie critic to explain the acting power present in this list, and it is easy to see why the then-20-year-old DiCaprio was passed over. But the long Oscar-less career of DiCaprio does not stop there.

A decade later, the story was the same for him as he was nominated for his phenomenal role in The Aviator only to come up short once again. This time his competition included Don Cheadle who played Paul Rusesabagina in the horrifying story of Hotel Rwanda and Jamie Foxx, who won the Oscar for his brilliant role as Ray Charles.

Again, it is clear that the acting prowess and the movies in which these actors had leading roles were amazing.

These scenarios do not, however, explain why DiCaprio’s movies are often left out of the nominations all together. Let’s consider one prominent example of such a film.

In 2012, Django Unchained was nominated for five Academy Awards categories including Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay, which the film won.

However, DiCaprio’s performance went unrecognized by the Academy alongside Suraj Shama (Life of Pi), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises), Ben Affleck (Argo), Daniel Craig (Skyfall), and Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty).

Not to mention the men (Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, Joaquin Phoenix) who were nominated but could not compete against Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in Lincoln which provided him with his third Best Actor Oscar — more wins than any other actor.

So yes, Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t taken home the hardware quite yet, but he has another chance March 2 for his role in The Wolf of Wall Street, but in typical DiCaprio fashion, the films against which he is pitted are not only the best of the year but are some of the best in recent history. Good luck, Leo, the competition is stiff yet again.


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