It’s become something of an internet trend to lament the lack of an Oscar for actor Leonardo Dicaprio the trend has spawned countless jokes, memes and even video parodies. But underneath the humor is a rather important question: Is there a film performance by Leonardo Dicaprio that should have been awarded with an Oscar? The answer? A definite yet—in fact, multiple “yes”es.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Let’s start with the most obvious performance which should have earned Dicaprio an Oscar: his performance as Arnie Grape, a mentally disabled young child at the heart of the family drama, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape To prepare for his role as Arnie, Dicaprio reportedly spent time with mentally disabled children in order to create an authentic performance that did not make a caricature of the role of Arnie. The result is a thoroughly authentic performance that was so realistic, that many in the press believed that the upcoming actor had a legitimate disability.
Dicaprio’s performance as the ruthless and cruel Monsieur Candy in Django Unchained was one of the more surprising performances from this actor, who is more well known in popular culture for his roles as charming (if thieving) men. As Candy, Dicaprio has all the outward appearances of a charmer—until he begins torturing and murdering human beings. Dicaprio was able to fully embody this terrible character so well that the audience no longer sees “Dicaprio” underneath the role.
Perhaps Leonardo Dicaprio’s biggest Oscar snub came in Revolutionary Road based on a novel of the same name, in which he starred with his former Titanic co-star, Kate Winslet. In Revolutionary Road, Dicaprio and Winslet play a married couple who are struggling with the limits and stresses caused by suburban life in the 1940s. Dicaprio’s character struggles with the boredom and pointlessness of his white collar desk job, while Winslet’s character wants to throw aside her housewife apron and seek out the adventure that the couple once promised themselves they would have.
The most striking thing about Dicaprio’s performance here is that it explores the struggles of men’s roles in the 1940s without trying to “one-up” or demoralize the struggles of women. Dicaprio is able to emotionally capture the stress, frustration and difficulty of living the ideal life of suburbia when it goes against everything his character once wanted for himself. Take a look at other entertainment options that you can watch online.