Is DiCaprio to Blame for Oscar Curse?

Originally published at The Fordham Ram. Click here to view.

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Over the past few years, the public has continuously expressed outrage over Leonardo DiCaprio’s lack of an Oscar. People love to lament his loss every year he is nominated, and display genuine shock when he loses. Although the actor has amassed several Golden Globe Awards in his lengthy career, he has yet to take home arguably the most revered and respected award. At times, I wonder if people’s insistence is based off DiCaprio’s own obvious desire to win, even if he constantly dismisses these proclamations.

Many believe that the time has finally come for his numerous well-received performances to be recognized by the highest authority in movie accolades. Huffington Post writer Michael Russ now states, “his excellence has become so expected,” that perhaps we don’t reward him because we have become accustomed to his excellent roles.

Even though the Oscars do not always reward the right actor, I believe that DiCaprio’s career thus far has issued nothing worthy of receiving an Oscar. The constant praise and persistence is natural; I am not denying that he is a great actor who will most likely win the destined gold statuette in the future.

The rundown of his nominated performances include What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street. Each performance was well acted, well researched and performed with an intense exhilaration. The last three films specifically required challenging acting for any high-caliber actor. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? necessitated the portrayal of a mentally challenged boy, The Aviator required a similar performance as DiCaprio played the role of a pilot named Howard Hughes afflicted with destabilizing OCD and Blood Diamond involved the mastery of an ambitious Rhodesian accent. I never considered DiCaprio’s performance in The Wolf of Wall Street even worthy of a nomination, for he is merely playing a dramatized version of his real life.

The closest chance DiCaprio ever had to an Oscar was his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? When he arrived at the 1994 Oscars, many were honestly surprised that DiCaprio was not an autistic boy. He lost himself in that role and gave his most convincing performance to date.

However, I have not seen DiCaprio lose himself in a role since: there is no subtly and I have never looked at him and honestly believed character he was representing. I saw Leonardo DiCaprio acting as Howard Hughes. When I saw Lincoln for the first time, I believed I was watching Abraham Lincoln throughout his presidential career, even though the always incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis took on the role. Even Matthew McCounaghey, whom I am not a fan of, deservedly won his Oscar for his portrayal of an AIDS-afflicted Texan in Dallas Buyers Club.

If anything, most of DiCaprio’s roles almost seem too much like Oscar bait. Was his performance in J. Edgar anything more than a subtle form of begging? His acting choices do not take the risks necessary to win an Oscar, and the Academy can easily see through his desperate struggle to win the title of Academy Award Winner before his name in order to boost his ego.

In addition, he needs to stop asking for a minimum of $20 million per movie and find a humbling role, which redeemed the similarly self-important Matthew McCounaghey. Although I may sound like Vincent Cassel in Black Swan, DiCaprio needs to completely immerse and lose himself in a role if he truly wants the golden statuette he is clearly drooling over.

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