Leonardo DiCaprio makes $25 million dollars per movie. So he has money. His best friend is Tobey McGuire and his little black book reads like a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, so he’s never lonely. He has opulent homes on both the left and right coasts of America—one comes equipped with a vitamin C infused shower—and even owns a 104 acre unpopulated island off the coast of Belize.
He’s a superstar with all the creature comforts money can buy. Do you know what he doesn’t have? An Oscar.
He’s come close several times, earning nominations for his work in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street but he’s never entered the winner circle.
He’s always been gracious in defeat, smiling and nodding during the Oscar broadcast when someone else’s name is called. “I wasn’t surprised that Jamie got the award,” he said about the 2005 Academy Awards when Jamie Foxx took Best Actor for Ray over The Aviator. “But I knew that cameras would be stuffed up my face so I had my response ready. Anyone who says they don’t practice is a liar.”
He may not have to fake being happy for another actor this year. Pundits are predicting his new movie The Revenant could bring him that elusive honour. He plays American fur trapper Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who became a legend in 1823 when he survived a brutal bear attack and slogged across harsh terrain to get revenge on the man who left him to die.
This is DiCaprio’s Jeremiah Johnson, a movie that masks his matinee idol good looks with facial hair and grimaces. For much of the two-and-a-half-hour running time he is mute, alone on screen crawling across the frozen landscape, slowly inching his way toward vengeance. There are great physical demands made on the actor—the Bear-Maul-O-Rama being just one of the miseries he endures—but this is an internal performance. The character’s strength, pain, frustration, anger and intestinal fortitude are apparent not only in his actions—he cauterizes wounds with gun powder!—but, more importantly, in his eyes. There’s the will to survive and then there’s whatever is driving Glass and whatever that is, it’s written on DiCaprio’s face. It may not be his flashiest role—although he does get to disembowel a horse—but it is one of his best.
Nominations will be announced January 14 so we won’t know until then if he is chosen for sure, but the odds are good. So good that Vanity Fair declared, “This is going to be the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins that Oscar.”
Question is, why would someone who has everything want an Academy Award. What difference would it make in his life and career?
The truthful answer is that it would likely make no difference at all to his career, at least financially. He’s already in the top tier of Tinseltown salaries and the fabled “Oscar box office bump”—a sharp spike in ticket sales when the nominations are announced—hasn’t meant much in recent years.
The real win for DiCaprio would be in the prestige department. The Best Actor Oscar is a rare commodity. Only seventy-eight people have them—Daniel Day-Lewis has three, Jack Nicholson and seven others have two apiece—and while he is already a respected performer, winning one would put him in the company of Hollywood legends like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper.
If he becomes the seventy-ninth actor to take home the gold it’s recognition from his peers but besides that, one of those statues is the perfect thing to lend some flair to the man who has everything’s private island décor.