Top Eleven Leonardo DiCaprio Performances
Django Unchained is set to hit UK cinemas in a matter of days, and to celebrate its release Tom has taken a look at Leonardo DiCaprio’s finest performances in what has been an impressive career to date.
This was quite possibly the hardest list I’ve ever had to put together as DiCaprio has worked with some of the best directors out there – Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan just to name a few - and the films he’s involved in almost always receive a handful of Oscar nods with DiCaprio himself nominated for three so far but still yet to take home the coveted award. Could Django Unchained be about to change this? Here in the UK we will have to wait until the 18th Jan to watch him in Tarantino’s western and the 24th Feb for the Oscar’s ceremony but in the meantime, let’s take a look at his 11 best performances, that’s right, I couldn’t whittle the list down to 10 in the end!
11 -The Man in the Iron Mask
I’m sure there will be some puzzled faces when readers encounter this film in my list but DiCaprio handles the dual roles of the corrupt King Louis and his innocent twin brother Philippe with a depth that belies his late 90′s heart-throb status. It’s certainly no masterpiece but the conflicting personalities of DiCaprio’s characters makes The Man in the Iron Mask well worthy of your time.
Rereleased in 3D last year, it’s hard to believe that Cameron’s grandiose love story is 15 years old, although DiCaprio’s youthful good looks are a reminder of how much time has passed since our first encounter with the doomed ships maiden voyage when it hit cinemas in 1997. Cameron tugs at the heartstrings at every given opportunity and the engaging romance between Kate and Jack is entirely believable, with DiCaprio proving he is far more than just a pretty face.
9 – Revolutionary Road
Sam Mendes decision to reunite Winslet and DiCaprio 11 years after Titanic was an inspired casting decision, and the emotional turmoil on display in the Wheeler’s ailing relationship led to the two stars putting in powerhouse performances that did not go unnoticed come awards season
8 – Blood Diamond
Set against the backdrop of the civil war in Sierra Leone during the 90′s, Blood Diamond is a hard-hitting thriller about the illegal trading of diamonds that caused many innocent people to lose their lives. DiCaprio received an Oscar nod for Best leading actor with his portrayal of a mercenary smuggler who begins to change his ways after a chance encounter with a native African, but was pipped at the post by Forest Whitaker for his turn in The Last King of Scotland
7 – Shutter Island
Confusion reigns in Scorsese’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s stunning novel about a federal marshall’s latest daunting assignment. DiCaprio’s character, Teddy Daniels, is sent to investigate a missing person case at a government run mental institution for the criminally insane based on an isolated island Teddy is a war veteran struggling to recover from his traumatic past and as he begins to uncover the secrets of Shutter Island he is forced to question his own sanity. Supported by the ever watchable Mark Ruffalo who plays Teddy’s partner, DiCaprio proves once again that he can accomplish great things when tackling characters who suffer from mental instabilities.
6 – The Basketball Diaries
At the age of just 21, DiCaprio took on the role of Jim Carroll, a young basketball player whose life begins to spiral out of control when, along with his gang of delinquent friends, he acquires an unhealthy appetite for heroin. Based on a real life autobiography, this harrowing tale is one of the best anti-drug movies out there, and Leo’s phenomenal performance adds real punch to what is a difficult yet rewarding film.
5 – Catch Me if you Can
Spielberg’s brilliant caper film is based on an inspirational true story of a crafty con man who swindled millions of dollars while posing as a pilot, doctor and legal prosecutor, without having any suitable qualifications for the positions. The man in question, Frank Abagnale Jr, soon has the FBI hot on his tale, and DiCaprio brings real charm to a role that requires the audience to sympathise with a criminal.
4 – The Aviator
This biopic of the legendary director and keen aviator, Howard Hughes, depicts his incredible career over a period of 20 years, and with DiCaprio at the helm proving his ability to carry a film, it is easy to see why critics soon began to compare his partnership with director Martin Scorsese to that of his previous pairing with Robert DeNiro. DiCaprio’s performance did not go unnoticed at the Oscar’s where he received another nod for Best Leading Actor but once again he just missed out to the coveted title in a year that put him against some very stiff competition.
3 – Inception
There’s no denying that Christopher Nolan’s mind bending sci-fi thriller Inception was a complete game changer in terms of both the scale and ambition that channelled its success and the breathtaking special effects which broke new ground and left audiences speechless. DiCaprio was astounding as Cobb, the dream thief who along with his highly specialised team is tasked with the perfect heist, inception – planting an idea inside someone else’s mind, in a role that pushed his acting ability to its very limits
2 – The Departed
Scorsese’s gripping remake of the Hong Kong crime saga Infernal Affairs relocated the action to Boston without losing the edge of the original, thanks in part to DiCaprio’s pivotal role as an undercover cop who is assigned to infiltrate the local mob. He holds his own in a star-studded cast featuring Hollywood veterans such as Jack Nicholson and Martin Sheen, and this is easily one of DiCaprio’s finest hours.
1 – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
Such is DiCaprio’s acting prowess that people unfamiliar with the young actor mistook him for being disabled, as is his character in this heartbreaking drama centered around a small fictional community. Gilbert (Depp) is faced with caring for his morbildy obese mother and his handicapped younger brother Arnie Grape (Dicaprio) in the absence of their father, and Dicaprio steals the show in this poignant and affecting drama that remains Dicaprio’s finest performance (in my opinion anyway!) and one of my all time favourites to this very day.
Futher Recommended Viewing:
Body of Lies
Romeo & Juliet
Gangs of New York