Give Leo the Oscar!
Give Leo the Oscar!
Gisele Bündchen was not impressed. It was the night of Feb. 27, 2005, and the Brazilian über-model was playing the role of ultimate arm candy, strutting down the red carpet of the Kodak Theatre in a strapless white Dior gown. She was escorting her boyfriend of five years, Leonardo DiCaprio, who had just been nominated for his second Academy Award—and first since 1994—for his electrifying turn as industrialist-cum-filmmaker-cum-schizo Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. Many believed that the 31-year-old would take home the Best Actor prize, not only for his stellar turn, but as fair recompense for perceived snubs (see: Titanic, Catch Me If You Can). Alas, it was the star of another biopic—Jamie Foxx for Ray—that took home the little gold statuette, leaving Leo with an empty Oscar mantel once more. “I figured I should go and support my man so I went there just for that reason,” said Gisele following the ceremony. “I don’t think he was expecting to win. I think I was more upset because I thought he deserved it more than [Foxx]. I was like, ‘He did a better job than [Foxx]!”
Now, Gisele is always wont to speak her mind—her fabulous post-Super Bowl rant (“My husband cannot fucking throw the ball AND catch the ball!”) is the stuff of legend—but on both occasions, well, she was right.
This DiCaprio slight set off a string of Academy Awards injustices aimed at the former teen idol, who at this point has been screwed over by the Academy more than a surgically-enhanced extra on the set of Entourage. Since that fateful night, the actor’s been nominated for two more Oscars—Blood Diamond in 2007, and this year’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Want to know what movies DiCaprio was not nominated for in that span? The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Inception, and, last but not least, his deliciously evil turn as a Francophile slave owner in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which earned him the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination, but no Oscar love. So, in 2014, after dazzling us onscreen for the better part of two decades, Leonardo DiCaprio, one of this generation’s finest actors, still hasn’t won an Oscar. This is a crime.
Now, judging which performance is “best” is a pretty subjective thing, and this year, the Best Actor category, in particular, was the strongest it’s been in years. Joaquin Phoenix, who delivered what is in this writer’s opinion the best performance of the year as a lonely romantic who falls for his sentient operating system in Her, wasn’t even nominated. Neither was Tom Hanks for his convulsing during the last five minutes of Captain Phillips—the best acting he’s ever done, period. Nor was Robert Redford for his towering, largely dialogue-less turn as a stoic, shipwrecked badass in All is Lost. (Maybe the aging Academy membership doesn’t like boats…who knows.) The older fellas’ spots were scooped up by DiCaprio and Christian Bale (for American Hustle). It was, by and large, a positive development since the Academy Awards have become notorious over the years for doling out “career Oscars”—make-up awards to aging, celebrated stars for passing them over when they were in their prime. Paul Newman at 60 for The Color of Money, Henry Fonda at 76 for On Golden Pond, Jon Gielgud at 76 for Arthur (completing the EGOT), and Don Ameche at 77 for Cocoon being the most glaring examples. So it was nice to see the young guns get some love.