It’s provoked a string of memes and even a video game, but Leonardo DiCaprio’s 20-year quest for an Oscar might finally be coming to an end.
Though DiCaprio, 41, has starred in some of the biggest Hollywood movies of the past two decades, including Titanic, Catch Me if You Can, The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street, there’s a growing belief in the industry that it’s the A-lister’s fifth Oscar nomination for The Revenant that’s going to win him the coveted prize at the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday.
DiCaprio is the biggest favourite in Oscar betting history, with odds of 1/100. A spokesman from William Hill said: “At 1/66, Helen Mirren (The Queen) was the shortest priced Oscar contender in betting history – Leonardo DiCaprio has now taken the honour and it looks like we will now have a king.”
The Revenant, a seven-month shoot in sub-zero temperatures, leads the Oscar contenders with 12 nominations across the categories, including best picture and best director. DiCaprio has already won a Golden Globe for his depiction of Hugh Glass, a 19th-century fur trapper who vows revenge on the man who killed his son and left him for dead. The harrowing feature sees DiCaprio being mauled by a bear, trekking through miles of snow-covered mountains, tumbling down a waterfall and even sleeping inside the carcass of a disembowelled horse.
“I think his performance has to be seen by hopefully millions of people, [and] I’m sure they will be emotionally involved and happy about seeing Leo in this calibre,” the film’s director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, has said.
DiCaprio received his first Oscar nod in 1994 for his supporting role as a disabled teenager in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Though his subsequent roles in Romeo + Juliet, The Beach and Titanic propelled him into the spotlight and turned him into an international heartthrob, it was another 11 years until the actor received a second nomination, this time for his performance in The Aviator.
After that, more nominations followed: in 2007 for Blood Diamond and in 2014 for The Wolf of Wall Street, but again, DiCaprio failed to take home the trophy, sparking countless memes and gifs that made light of his near-misses. A new video game called Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage by animation collective The Line allows players to help DiCaprio “win the award this time” by racing his 2016 rivals, Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) and Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), across a red carpet.
Jane Crowther, editor of Total Film, said DiCaprio has everything in his favour this year. “The Oscars don’t necessarily award people based purely on performance – they award people based on the narrative that goes along the road to the ceremony,” she said. “The narrative for Leonardo is he’s a great actor, he’s been in a lot of great films, and never won in the past. The other narrative of this particular film is that this guy suffered for his art, he got cold, he really ate a bison liver when he’s a vegetarian, he was so true to the project. It’s that sort of story that Oscar voters like.
“Also, he’s played the game this year. He’s turned out to everything. He’s usually not that interested in doing very much promotion, he’s not a red-carpet guy, but he’s put himself about. The Academy respond to somebody who shows they really admire and appreciate the status the award brings. Even though everybody says it’s such an honour to be nominated, they like the fact that somebody wants it. Is the performance in The Revenant the best out of the group? Not necessarily. But everyone will agree Leonardo has earned an Oscar for his body of work.”
Dan Jolin, features editor of Empire magazine, said: “Every Oscar year, you tend to get people for whom there’s an overwhelming sense of it really, finally being their time. DiCaprio now seems to have matured to that point: this is his fourth nomination as leading man, and fifth as actor.
“There is also the value of the performance in The Revenant itself, which has a real ‘suffering for your art’ quality to it that tends to land well with the Academy in the acting categories, be that actors who put themselves through extreme physical transformations or, as in this case, throw themselves into extreme physical situations.”
“People have grown up with Leonardo, they feel like they know him and they’re invested in him,” Crowther said. “They want to see someone who deserves it being recognised at the highest level. He’s due.”
This article was written by Nadia Khomami, for theguardian.com on Friday 26th February 2016 16.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010