Favorite Thespians #1 – Leonardo DiCaprio

Favorite Thespians 1

Premiering today is a new monthly opinion piece wherein I name one of my favorite actors or actresses. Favorite Thespians contains three separate sections: one section on the first film I saw the thespian in (“On My Radar”), another section on 5 films you need to see to know the thespian (“Homework”), and a section on my favorite performance from him/her. This month my favorite thespian is Leonardo DiCaprio!

For a while now Leonardo DiCaprio has been the internet’s favorite actor. He’s constantly teased about having never won an Academy Award (as of January 2016), but only because he’s so talented. Everyone knows that he deserves an Oscar, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets one. At the time of writing, DiCaprio is nominated for the Academy Award for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance in The Revenant.

James Cameron’s Titanic (1997)

The first time I saw Leonardo DiCaprio was in one of the biggest films of all-time. Titanic is an easy answer, but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t see Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet until a few years later, I’ve never seen What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and an unopened DVD of The Basketball Diaries still stands on my shelf.

While his performance as Jack Dawson isn’t his best performance at all, it definitely is a solid performance, and a lot of actors would kill for a performance like it. And while Kate Winslet was nominated for an Oscar for Titanic and Leo wasn’t, I still feel that he gave the better performance. But I might be biased here.

James Cameron’s Titanic (1997)
Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004)
Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006)
Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010)

As mentioned rather briefly earlier, ‘Homework’ contains 5 movie recommendations that gives you a good idea of where the actor has been, and where he is right now. 5 movies you need to see to know the thespians career at the time of writing. We need to start with Titanic. Titanic gives you DiCaprio’s first real blockbuster, and it is the film that put him on the map for the entire world. I could’ve picked an earlier film here, but it wouldn’t represent his status as a celebrity if I did.

Next up is Catch Me If You Can. This excellent Spielberg film gives you an understanding of DiCaprio’s growth as an actor, as he is able to share the screen with one of the best actors of our day, Tom Hanks. At the time of writing, it might be my favorite Spielberg film of the 21st century, and in it you see Leo’s next step towards becoming a bona fide star.

And then he became one. The Aviator was the film that made him one of the top guys out there. I’ll talk more about his performance in just a little bit, so I won’t get into it here, but this is probably the film that tested him the most as an actor in that stage of his career. The Departed is one of the most well-acted ensemble blockbuster films I’ve seen. Nicholson, Damon, Sheen, Winstone, Farmiga, Wahlberg, Baldwin, and, yes, DiCaprio. It was Scorsese’s first Academy Award, and my favorite film of the first decade in this millennium.

Finally, you have to watch Inception. This is probably DiCaprio’s most popular blockbuster out there. It might be a tiny bit confusing for some, but it is definitely well worth it. I debated putting in The Wolf of Wall Street over Inception, but ultimately his career was impacted more by his role in Nolan’s most popular film since The Dark Knight.

Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2004)

Okay, so this was really difficult. DiCaprio is one of the best actors in the world right now, and picking one performance over another is tough. My favorite film with DiCaprio in it is probably The Departed, but when I think of the very best acting moments from DiCaprio then I have a tough time not listing his performance as Howard Hughes as my favorite. He is absolutely brilliant in this film. It took me a long time to finally watch the film, which I really don’t know why – I guess I never got around to it.

It baffles me that Jamie Foxx took the Oscar in front of DiCaprio that year. Foxx was good in Ray, but DiCaprio was amazing in The Aviator. He never overacted. He hit every note. It was a near-perfect performance. As a side note, I’ll add that Cate Blanchett is just as good as Leo in the film (and just in case you were wondering, she won an Oscar for The Aviator).

Favorite Thespians will return on the 22nd of February 2016

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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