Long Journey to the Academy Award Stage for Leonardo DiCaprio

Long Journey to the Academy Award Stage for Leonardo DiCaprio


Leonardo DiCaprioLeonardo DiCaprio has been courting the Academy Awards stage for most of his career in Hollywood. The 41-year-old actor has never won an Academy Award, despite being nominated for Best Actor four times over the years, and winning Golden Globes for the same roles that failed to secure him an Oscar win. Leonardo Dicaprio has been trudging a long road to the Academy Awards stage over his many years in Hollywood.

However, for the 2016 88th Academy Awards, DiCaprio seems poised to finally win the Best Actor Award, as the film The Revenant has scored him a fifth nomination for Best Actor, and many are confident that this is the year DiCaprio finally gets his due. 

In the past, each time he seemed to be sure to grasp the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Award, it would slip away. Many have wondered why the actor has never won an Academy Award, despite being a Hollywood favorite. DiCaprio’s long journey to the Academy Awards stage has spanned the length of his acting career, as evidenced by his roles that have been up for nomination by the Academy.

According to IMBD, Leonardo DiCaprio has been working in Hollywood ever since starring in a supporting role on Growing Pains in 1985. Until then, he had cut his teeth in television commercials and bit parts, like other child actors of the 80’s. Growing Pains folded shortly after his supporting role of ‘Cousin Oliver’ had made an appearance, but that appearance was enough for Hollywood to take notice. DiCaprio made the leap from TV bit parts to child movie actor status.

DiCaprio’s dance with the Best Actor Award began with his nomination in 1994 for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, where he was up against Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. By the mid to late ’90s, he had made a name for himself after starring in iconic films that would set the bar for his future successes.

After playing lead roles in Romeo and Juliet (1996) and Titanic (1997), he had achieved teen movie idol status. He was free to be choosy about his roles, and it seemed that is exactly what he did. He chose diverse films, veering away from the supposed route of a Hollywood heart-throb and choosing to sharpen his acting teeth.

Movie Cheatsheet listed a rundown of DiCaprio’s Academy near-misses, illustrating how he became a mainstay in gritty historical dramas like Gangs of New York (2002) and fast paced biopics like The Aviator (2004). The Aviator earned DiCaprio his second nomination in 2005, losing to Jamie Foxx, with his portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray. 

In 2008, DiCaprio was nominated yet again for Blood Diamond, yet he was no match for Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland. Finally, in 2014, he starred in another Scorcese film, Academy-Award nominated biopic, The Wolf of Wall Street. Ultimately, Matthew McConaughey would take the award that year, for The Dallas Buyers Club.

DiCaprio has also played meaty roles in dozens of other films that seemed to angle specifically for the Oscar nod, yet never received it. Despite numerous wins from other institutions and accolades from critics and fans alike, the Academy has eluded the actor over the years.

As far as competition, DiCaprio has his work cut out for him in the 88th Academy Awards. The Best Actor nominees include The Danish Girl’s lead Eddie Redmayne, who won Best Actor in 2015 for his portrayal of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Matt Damon is nominated for his role The Martian. Damon has won an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting in 1998, but for Best Screenplay. Michael Fassbender is nominated for the first time for his role portraying Steve Jobs in the eponymous film, and Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame is nominated for Trumbo, for the first time as well.

Sunday evening may prove to be DiCaprio’s lucky night as The Revenant is up for 12 nominations. DiCaprio put himself in great company. The Revenant’s Director Alejandro Inarritu won last year for Birdman in 2015, has been nominated again. Mad Max: Fury Road’s Tom Hardy has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Film for his role in The Revenant as well.

By Juanita Lewis
Edited by Cathy Milne


Movie Cheat Sheet: Leonardo DiCaprio: The Best Actor to Never Win an Oscar?
IMBD: Leonardo DiCaprio
NewsAU: The six stages of Leonardo DiCaprio
PopSugar: All the Awards Leonardo DiCaprio Has Been Nominated For — and Who He Lost To

Image Courtesy of Day Donaldson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License