In case you live under a rock or didn’t know, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Academy Award. This is an amazing achievement for Leo, who has for a very long time been known notoriously for two things: his talent and his lack of an Oscar. Leo has played amazing roles and been nominated in years with steep competition, causing his performances to be overlooked by the Academy in favor of senior actors. This year, with DiCaprio being nominated for his lead role of Hugh Glass in "The Revenant," he was predicted very early as the winner. With little competition in his category, DiCaprio was a shoe in. But it’s not the Oscar itself that bothered me, but the fact that the soundbite repeated over and over by Hollywood and DiCaprio fans alike is that Leo “Had it coming,” that he deserved an Oscar not just for his performance in "The Revenant," but for all the other amazing roles he has played that he’s been “snubbed” for. To this line of reasoning, I have to say this:
Oscars are not supposed to be given to people with the best track record of movies—they are to be given to the best actors, actresses and films of the year! The Oscar for Actor in a Leading Role is given for the film the actor was nominated for, not for the last film he was in or that one really good one he was in 10 years ago. Nicholas Cage has an Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas." The Oscar shouldn’t go to someone because of their track record, it should go to the best performance of the nominees! If you want an award for your overall achievement, wait until you’re 70 and get a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy!
So here is what I’m saying: Leonardo should not get the Oscar for "The Revenant" because of his role in "The Wolf of Wall Street," "The Aviator" or "What’s Eating Gilbert Grape": He should get it because of the five men nominated for the award, he put on the best performance. And to that point, I disagree.
I saw "The Revenant," and I enjoyed it. The realism, the portrayal of loss and betrayal, the isolation: It was a poignant and beautiful movie. But I also saw "Spotlight," and I was amazed that Michael Keaton was not nominated for his role of Walter Robinson, the head of the Spotlight investigative journalism team who broke the story on child molestation in the Catholic Church. In my opinion, I thought Keaton’s performance of a man pulled in two different directions — his Catholic upbringing and the truth — was far more compelling than DiCaprio’s performance of a man struggling to survive and take revenge on those who wronged him. I’m not even going to appeal to the “DiCaprio screamed and crawled around for two hours” argument I’ve seen, as I think he did have an Oscar nomination-worthy performance. However, I draw the line on the claim that the performance was Oscar award-worthy. In the long run, I think this win will do more harm than good for DiCaprio, as the Academy and public down the line may remember him for "The Revenant" rather than the incredible "Blood Diamond" or "The Great Gatsby."
In summary, I think Leo deserves an Oscar, but not for "The Revenant." The Academy for quite some time now has “given” Oscar awards to actors based on past merits, which I think invites too many “Oscar-bait” movies: movies so contrite and pretentious that the Academy and film snob crowd (including myself) will have to nominate them for. DiCaprio has done amazing, daring films, and I look forward to more of his work. But I also think he got snubbed in "Django Unchained": He kept acting!