Released in 2015, the film gave Leo his best actor Oscar!
Perhaps best known as the film in which Leo is mauled and shredded to ribbons by a giant grizzly bear, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's stylish existential frontier adventure is like Jeremiah Johnson-gets-dragged-through-hell. DiCaprio is undoubtedly devoted to the severe physicality of the part as a rough 19th-century hunter; it's easily the most demanding assignment he's ever taken on. Glass fights his way through the freezing West, warmed only by the red-hot fire of anger and vengeance that burns within him, and the picture may feel like a slow-burning plod at times—a wallow in dismal masochism. Maybe that was DiCaprio's dirt-under-the-fingernails penance for The Great Gatsby's flashy jazz and champagne.
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Titanic is DiCaprio in its purest form. Given the film's size and technical achievements, it took two very delightful protagonists to make it feel human, and that's exactly what Leo did. There's nothing more to say and nothing less to say. It's fundamentally human. And it's for this reason that Jack's death still has such an impact more than two decades later. We'd like to see him in person. Few young performers his age or at the time could have captured our hearts in the same way.
Leo didn't simply overcome the tremendous baggage that came with Titanic—he continued to exceed the expectations he set in 1997.
DiCaprio's other high-profile film that year—Blood Diamond—did a lot of the heavy lifting, which is likely why he was nominated for Best Actor by the Academy—but his best performance came from this gritty ensemble of bad police and good villains.
He delivers an animalistic vulnerability to the screen as Billy Costigan, a state officer who infiltrates the underground, that the role didn't need to be loved. (With Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg as costars, no one had to put in a lot of effort.)
In general, we think of Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio as one of the best, incomparable duos in modern cinema, and here in their third pairing, is when they truly found their best vibe.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Released in 2013, the film is an American biographical crime comedy directed by Scorsese, and it marks the fourth pairing between the mafia master and Leo.
If your doctor has already prescribed blood pressure medication for you, this one probably isn’t for you. We can't picture screaming at the top of our lungs for hours straight. Leo, whose veins are on the verge of bursting, adds enough vigor to the role for a complete cast, and then some. Apart from the yelling, drugs, arrogance, and debauchery, DiCaprio's portrayal of Belfort's character arch is brilliant. As the untrustworthy narrator, DiCaprio uses his charm to fool the audience, attempting to persuade us that Belfort isn't such a bad man. His salesmanship nearly makes you root for Belfort to win while asking you to laugh at him rather than with him.
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