After going 0 for 4 in the Actor category we are all on pins and needles, hoping beyond hope that this is the year for Leo DiCaprio to take home the Oscar gold. Here is a look at the years he fell short, and the possible "why's". What is surprising is what he wasn't nominated for. That at times is more jaw dropping than the times he lost.
1994. Granted this was the first nomination and it was for a best supporting role but still he went home empty handed. As Arnie Grape in What's Eating Gilbert Grape we got our first taste of Leo's dramatic chops. Most of us passed this off as a grand performance from a young, likable, not realizing it was the tip of the iceberg for what was to come.
The nominees were: Tommy Lee Jones – The Fugitive, Leonardo DiCaprio – What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Ralph Fiennes – Schindler's List, John Malkovich – In the Line of Fire, Pete Postlethwaite – In the Name of the Father.
This was the year that PIANO and SCHINDLER'S LIST took most of the big prizes. So many thought that Fiennes would be a fine choice. But the Academy went with Tommy Lee Jones and Leo went home with a great memory.
Eleven years past before DiCaprio was given a second Oscar nomination. Between 1994 and 2005 he certainly had a few opportunities to be included. 1997 was the year of TITANIC but Jack Dawson got the ice cold shoulder. Snub one. 2002 he even upped the ante and offered two worthy performances. Amsterdam Vallon in THE GANGS OF NEW YORK and Frank Abagnale Jr. in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. But Oscar eluded him again without even an atta boy. Snub two and three.
2005. The Academy decided Leo wasn't going away and so they gave him a nomination for his role as Howard Hughes in THE AVIATOR. The nominees were: Jamie Foxx – Ray, Don Cheadle – Hotel Rwanda, Johnny Depp – Finding Neverland, Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator, Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby. Oscar decided blind was harder to play than crazy and so Jamie Foxx walked off with the statue. Leo again watched a fellow cast mate (Cate Blanchette) go away a winner. Pretty much everything else went to MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
2007. This is one of the numerous head scratchers that The Academy has thrown out in its career. Agian Leo offers up two stand out performances. The nominees were: Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland, Leonardo DiCaprio – Blood Diamond, Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson, Peter O'Toole – Venus, Will Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness. This is the same year as THE DEPARTED was nominated. Yet Leo is nominated for BLOOD DIAMOND and not THE DEPARTED; a role that would have given him a lot better chance in the supporting actor category. Whitaker went away the winner. While Alan Arkin took the supporting role for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. Hind sight makes this so hard to swallow.
This time SEVEN years pass by and Leo is snubbed for Revolutionary Road (Sean Penn won for MILK), Shutter Island and Inception (Colin Firth won for THE KINGS SPEECH), J. Edgar (Jean Dujardi won for THE ARTIST), Django Unchained (Daniel Day-Lewis won for LINCOLN). At least four of those five deserved at least a nomination. How insane.
2014. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET wowed critics and Leo finally gets another nomination. The nominees were: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club, Christian Bale – American Hustle,
Bruce Dern – Nebraska, Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street, Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave. McConaughey lost a lot of weight but won the Oscar. The only person that should have been more upset is Ejiofor. How he lost I will never know.
2016. Back to back performance nominations gets Leo back in the running with THE REVENANT. The nominees are: Bryan Cranston – Trumbo, Matt Damon – The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant, Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs, Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl. This has to be Leo's year. Every critic has said so as well as every other awards group. If he walks away empty handed this year I am not sure the industry will continue to take stock any longer in the longest running most prestigious award.
I guess we will all find out on Sunday February 28th.