An Ode to Leo: Looking Back on Mr. DiCaprio’s Best Roles Yet

I remember sitting in the theater as the credits rolled on opening night of Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. As Max Richter’s "On the Nature of Daylight" played softly, my best friend and I sat in silence, quietly weeping to ourselves. And although the film was a wonderfully-shot journey of psychological thrill, it was Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance that moved us to tears. Did we have our own flair for the dramatic? Yes. But really, he was just so good we couldn’t help but succumb to our emphatic emotions.

But it’s always that way—no matter the film, in the twenty years that he’s been gracing our screens, Leo has never given a bad performance. Whether he’s playing a mentally-handicapped teenager coping with the strains of family, an infamous imposter conning his way around the world, a family man wrestling with the trials of love, or a psychopathic slave-owner, he always delivers a performance that’s brimming with conviction, intensity, charm, and agility—with that signature essence of Leo that lingers even when he disappears into his characters.

And this week, we’ll see him take on one of his most anticipated roles yet as the iconic role of Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s lavish reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerlad’s The Great Gatsby. So in honor of, what I am sure is to be another brilliant performance, here’s a look at some of Leo’s best roles throughout the years. And for good measure, a few old interviews with the young star before he went on to be Hollywood’s most beloved leading man. Enjoy.

 

The Aviator as Howard Hughes, 2004

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape as Arnie Grape, 1994 

 
 

DiCaprio, 1995

 

The Departed as Billy, 2007

 

DiCaprio, 1995

 

Gangs of New York as Amsterdam Vallon, 2002

Romeo + Juliet as Romeo, 1997

 

Django Unchained as Calvin Candie,  2013

 
 

DiCaprio, 1997

 

Marvin’s Room as Hank, 1996

Revolutionary Road as Frank Wheeler,  2009

 

Catch Me If You Can as Frank Abagnale Jr., 2003 

Behind the Scenes Rome + Juliet

Titanic as Jack Dawson, 1998 

Shutter Island as Teddy Daniels, 2010

The Basketball Diaries as Jim Carroll, 1995

Trolling the Oscars: Why None of These Movies Deserve to Win Best Picture

Welcome to the internet, where all of my opinions are right. You know what’s so great about being able to log into a CMS account and self-publish my thoughts and ideas? No matter how I actually feel, everything I write online comes across as completely sincere and competent, even when the things I write are neither of those things! It’s a brave new world we’re living in, when tweets can be art and art can be criticized by any person with an idea for a clever hashtag. Naturally, it’s time to harness this power by showing you exactly why none of the nine nominees for Best Picture deserve to win a goddamn thing. Let’s go!

Amour

Oh, come on. You didn’t see Amour. You know how I know this? Because I didn’t see Amour. I didn’t see this movie because I could just call my grandparents and ask them to speak to me in French for two hours. At least the phone call would be free! And hey, maybe I’d get twenty bucks out of it or somewhere, whereas Amour would cost me at least thirteen dollars and bring with it a lot of emotional anxiety. Anyway, this movie should not win, but I kind of wish it would if only so I can quickly take screenshots of midwestern teenagers tweeting about how they don’t know what Amour is. That’s how blogging works!

Argo

Ugh, Argo. Argofuckyourself, indeed, Argo! The major point about Argo was that Ben Affleck can direct a movie, which comes as a surprise to literally no one because he has already directed two movies that people liked a lot. The other reason Argo was made was so Ben Affleck could take off his shirt in another movie. Oh, and you know another thing that sucked about Argo? The fact that none of the women in Argo were allowed to speak to each other on camera. Sorry, Clea Duvall; you get to be in a Big Motion Picture, but you may only open your mouth when in the presence of Victor Garber. And don’t you dare make eye contact with Ben Affleck! 

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I do love a movie with a precocious child as much as the next guy, but how awkward do you feel about the fact that some white people from New York City went down to New Orleans to make a movie about magical negroes? I’m surprised there weren’t any animated bears and foxes floating along the river, or that those giant titular beasts didn’t burst into "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." 

Django Unchained

This one is simple: Django Unchained should not win Best Picture because it is not Jackie Brown and Jackie Brown is the only Quentin Tarantino movie that deserves to win Best Picture. 

Les Misérables

A friend of mine described this movie with the following: "It was like in acting classes when one person started crying and then everyone else in class cried harder and louder and uglier." This is one of the few movies in which everyone was dead at the end and I thought, "You know what? I’m OK with this." That is until the ghost of Anne Hathaway showed up again with that chopped-off hair and sad dress, which made me depressed. I really hate that it’s a known fact that your apperance when you die is what you’ll look like in Heaven. Really sucks for people who get run over by trucks, huh? 

Life of Pi

Spoiler alert: Pi is the tiger, and the tiger is Pi, and the eggman is Paul, I think, and maybe we ought to remake Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but with 3D CGI, but I’m getting distracted. Life of Pi is a cartoon movie for adults who are still making their way through Oprah’s Book Club.

Lincoln

Oh, I’m sorry, is this category called Best Way to Nap? Lincoln was terrible. Remember how fun TV miniseries used to be? They were long, yes, but they were campy as hell, had a lot of awkward sex not normally seen during primetime, and were stuffed with lots of recognizable people who were not really famous but still possessed a certain level celebrity that you’d still be excited if you saw them on the street. Lincoln was just a really expensive TV-miniseries, but without the sex. Or the fun. And with overwritten dialogue by Tony Kushner. I got a screener of Lincoln, and it’s best uses so far have been as a coaster and as a substitute for Ambien.

Silver Linings Playbook

I can’t for the life of me figure out why people love this movie so much. Is it because we’re so desperate to see Ben Stiller act in a dramatic performance that we could substitute in Bradley Cooper and just go with it? Is it because it’s nice to see Julia Stiles back in action? Is it because of Jacki Weaver saying "crabby snacks and homemades?" Is it because of Dancing With the Stars? Is it because As Good as It Gets was too subtle and we needed a subpar version of that to really hone in the idea of what mental illness is? Or is it because everyone is crazy? If everyone is crazy, no one is crazy. 

Zero Dark Thirty

JUST KIDDING! While you were all being emotionally waterboarded by the rest of what Hollywood had to offer, you guys completely missed the fact that this was the best movie of the year. Jessica Chastain! She could act circles around everyone else on this planet, and she wouldn’t be exhausted because she’s, like, a healthy vegan. And you know she’s on track for world domination. GET IT TOGETHER, PEOPLE. it doesn’t even matter if this loses to, say, Argo, because Kathryn Bigelow will have her revenge on all of you. Especially you, Ben Affleck. 

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‘Argo’ Wins BAFTA for Best Picture, Best Director

While you were watching the Grammys, the BAFTAs, the U.K. version of the Oscars, was aired on BBC America. And hoo boy, what a mess of an awards show. I didn’t watch it, so I can only imagine the British humour happening all over the place, but I can tell you that I’ve got a pretty stiff upper lip this morning as I look at the list of winners. Argo won Best Picture and Best Director. Ben Affleck. The best director. Of the year! Ben Affleck is a better director than Quentin Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow, et al. None of those chumps can possibly live up to the magnificent director Ben Affleck. Also, both Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain lost out to Emmanuelle Riva for Amour. Christolph Waltz won for Django Unchained, and Daniel Day-Lewis surprised no one when he won another award for Lincoln. And, of course, little Annie Hathaway likely annoyed people in England, too, with her insincerity upon winning Best Supporting Actress.

The full list of winners below, via EW.

Best Film: Argo
Best Director: Ben Affleck, Argo
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Best Adapted Screenplay: Silver Linings Playbook
Best British Film: Skyfall
Best Film Not in the English Language: Amour
Best Animated Film: Brave
Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Editing: William Goldenberg, Argo
Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina
Best Cinematography: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
Best Original Music: Thomas Newman, Skyfall
Best Make-Up & Hair: Lisa Wescott, Les Misérables
Best Visual Effects: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott, Life of Pi
Best Production Design: Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson, Les Misérables
Best Sound: Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst, Les Misérables
Best British Debut: Bart Layton and Dimitri Doganis, The Imposter
Orange Rising Star Award: Juno Temple
Best Animated Short: The Making of Longbird
Best Live-Action Short: Swimmer

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Samuel L. Jackson Covers Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Perhaps someone should throw a few million dollars Samuel L. Jackson’s way to do a spoken-word covers album. As far as I’m concerned, that shit will sell like hotcakes. And naturally, the Django Unchained star’s "cover" of Taylor Swift’s "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which he "performed" after stopping by London’s Capital Radio, would be the first single. While Swift’s version was heartfelt and full of emotion (in her way, you know), Jackson’s is, in his usual fashion, fairly blasé and unaffected. Fuck emotions, motherfucker! Listen to Jackson’s version after the jump.

[Via Gawker]

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Intoxicated Quentin Tarantino Tells You About His Process

Due a mixture of genuine surprise, booze, and the presence of several unidentified and weirdly interacting stimulants in his bloodstream, Quentin Tarantino last night gave an oddly scattered (for someone who usually packs 4.8 words per second) acceptance speech in winning a ‘Best Screenplay’ Golden Globe for Django Unchained. Later, he apparently used the N-word.

But we all expect Tarantino to drop the N-bomb on uncomfortable Hollywood reporters—what’s more shocking was his willingness to open up, after thanking his actors, except for an absent Sam Jackson, “which deserves to be here,” about how his screenplays come into being at all. Also, wait, Robert Pattisnon is British?!

In particular, Quentin goes on to praise the unnamed friends of his who get to hear him read fragments of unfinished work out loud, helping him “piece it together” and lending their ears to his understanding of the script. From the cutaways, we may conclude that Matt LeBlanc is not impressed by this method.   

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Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Rick Ross, Fiona Apple, and Eight Other Artists Who Deserved a Best Original Song Nomination

The category for Best Original Song is always a bit of a mess. The songs are rarely judged on how they sound; the importance is, of course, how the song fits into the film for which it was written. This year’s nominees are representative of the usual fare. There’s the popular choice (Adele’s "Skyfall," which will likely win, as it should), the new song for the big-budget musical adaptation (the unnecessary "Suddenly" from Les Misérables), and then there are the forgettable tunes (I didn’t even know what Chasing Ice was before today, much less the song from it). It’s a shame, really, because there were plenty of good tracks included in the list of 75 eligible songs. Here are a few that probably will have a longer shelf life than "Pi’s Lullaby."

Karen O – "Strange Love" (from Frankenweenie)

Fiona Apple – "Dull Tool" (from This is 40)

Rick Ross – "100 Black Coffins" (from Django Unchained)

John Legend – "Who Did That To You" (from Django Unchained)

Sunny Levine – "No Other Plans" (from Celeste and Jesse Forever)

Arcade Fire – "Abraham’s Daughter" (from The Hunger Games)

The Bootleggers feat. Emmylou Harris – "Cosmonaut" (from Lawless)

Florence + The Machine – "Breath of Life" (from Snow White and the Huntsman)

Katy Perry – "Wide Awake" (from Katy Perry: Part of Me)

The Black Keys / RZA – "The Baddest Man Alive" (from The Man With the Iron Fists)

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Which One of These Old White Guys Will Win Another Oscar?

Happy Oscar Nominations Day! Did you wake up early to watch Seth McFarland and Emma Stone announce the nominees? Can you think of a quirkier couple to do so? Here’s the run-down: they only bothered to come up with nine movies to nominate for Best Picture, they figured Kathryn Bigelow didn’t need any more nominations (probably because of Bridesmaids solving feminism or something last year), and Jessica Chastain with the Julliard degree is up against a nine-year-old. But most importantly: five old white men are gunning for another Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category. Who will it be?!

Will it be Alan Arkin, showing his range after winning for playing a grumpy, foul-mouthed grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine with his brilliant turn as a grumpy, foul-mouthed film producer in Argo? How about Robert De Niro, who in Silver Linings Playbook gave us the best performance of an old man with OCD tendencies since Jack Nicholson won for As Good As It Gets? Then there’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, who famously raised his voice and twisted his eyeglasses a few times for his Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote, this time playing L. Rob Hubbard (basically) with his natural, deep voice in The Master. Or will it be Chrisoph Waltz, bringing levity and humor to the American slave trade in the same way he made it OK to finally laugh at—and with—Nazis.

Personally, I think it’s going to be Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln. You see, he sleeps with his black maid (spoiler alert, I guess, although I still refuse to see Lincoln). Remember when he won an Oscar for The Fugitive and said, “I don’t care,” right before Harrison Ford jumped out of that dam? That was a good movie. Hell, just give him another one. Who cares.

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Director’s Guild Award Nominations Fall Short

Well, the Director’s Guild nominations have come in, and they’ve proved to be entirely predictable. Not a surprise in the house. And that isn’t to say the directors nominated aren’t deserving and that their films don’t merit acclaim but come on, there are so many brilliant films being made and so many talented people at work, that although awards don’t mean everything, it’s just slightly disheartening to see the scope of praise be so narrow.

The nominees are:
Ben Affleck, Argo
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

But aren’t we missing something? Sure, Django Unchained could have been about 40 minutes shorter, but Quentin Tarantino most definitely deserves accolades for his cinematic achievements. He knows how to craft something that’s universally entertaining while always staying true to his heavily-rooted obsessions and idiosyncrasies as a filmmaker, while coining his own take on an old genre. And what about David O. Russell? Silver Linings Playbook was a heartfelt and challenging film, and if we’re talking purely of directorial skill, he managed to get incredibly nuanced, passionate, and sincere performances out of his actors while crafting something wonderfully enjoyable. Um, not to mention P.T. Anderson for The Master, which was basically a master class on how to direct your actors and build a mise en scène.

I’m hoping the Academy Award nominations will provide a bit more excitement in terms of choices, but that’s always a toss up. The Director’s Guild Award winners will be announcement on Saturday, February 2nd at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

You Really Learn A Lot About ’60s TV Shows From Tarantino Movies

Good morning, Internet. It’s Monday morning, some of you are still recovering from the holidays, and a few of you are probably still mulling on your mixed feelings about Django Unchained. You look like you could use a Quentin Tarantino montage of the most obsessive type.

Some people at CollegeHumor (I know, but bear with me here) put together a six-minute supercut of nearly every pop culture reference in Tarantino’s films (save for Django) in chronological order of the references. There are a few takeaways from this video, most of them pretty obvious to Tarantino fans, other than someone spending way too much time on clickbaity montages like this: the crash course in the early days of 20th century German cinema throughout Inglourious Basterds, the greatest fraction of the supercut going to references from the 1970s (surprising no one), the most recent reference being one to Lindsay Lohan in Death Proof. Also, totally forgot about the Pam Grier shoutout in Reservoir Dogs. Foreshadowing great things to come, I guess. Watch.