BEST ACTOR

eddie

And all through the internet the chatter reached a crescendo when the Danish Girl trailer dropped. Do you think he’ll win back-to-back Oscars? they ask. And indeed, had Eddie Redmayne not won last year for his remarkable turn as Stephen Hawking he would probably win this year (sight unseen) for his portrayal of Lily in The Danish Girl, Tom Hooper’s second film since The King’s Speech.  You know who also pops in that trailer though? Alicia Vikander, big time. Her star is rising fast in Hollywood since she broke through in Ex Machina earlier in the year.

Best Actor is going to be very competitive and very crowded this year, with the absurdly overdue Leonardo DiCaprio as the one to beat — again, sight unseen. The truth is, you can get some idea from a trailer how good the performance can be. You can factor in subject matter, level of difficulty and the director’s past work. You can have everything going for a project and it can bomb spectacularly. Thus, none of this should be taken seriously but just speculatively. And since there is no THERE there in the Oscar race right now, until this weekend anyway, speculative is all we got.

We know that it’s extremely rare to win back-to-back Oscars for Best Actress. It’s only happened twice and one of those was a tie. How about Best Actor? It’s only been done twice — Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks are the only two. Tom Hanks is probably your best precedent for Redmayne except that Hanks was by then a beloved public figure and American icon. Redmayne is more in Daniel Day-Lewis territory and despite how many great performances Day-Lewis gave after My Left Foot, he didn’t win again until There Will Be Blood. Of course, because of his Oscar follow-up films, Day-Lewis didn’t give those kind of back-to-back performances that Hanks did with Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.  Gump was the Best Picture winner and thus, gave him the edge. We don’t yet know if The Danish Girl will be anywhere near that level. Hanks’ Gump is still imitated and talked about today. It is part of the fabric of American culture itself.

What will make the difference or Redmayne is who’s nominated with him. When Hanks won his second Oscar his competition was Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption, John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Paul Newman in Nobody’s Fool, and Nigel Hawthorne in the Madness of King George. It’s easy to see how he could have triumphed, though Freeman was just as memorable in Shawshank.

Still, this year Redmayne will be facing maybe DiCaprio in The Revenant, Johnny Depp in Black Mass, Michael Fassbender in Macbeth and/or Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies, Will Smith in Concussion, etc. It’s theoretically possible he could win back-to-back — it will just depend on whether the competition blows him away or not. Will this be a game-changing year? It’s hard to say. Generally speaking, though, with both Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks they were well known and well liked. Redmayne, despite working the circuit last year, is still barely known “out there.” That will likely change after this year.

 

Nicholas Hoult and JD Salinger

Nicholas Hoult has been cast as JD Salinger and though I greatly admire Hoult’s work I’m not sure he’s the right guy to play Salinger. He’s too pretty for one thing.  Adam Driver seemed born to play Salinger, I always thought. Danny Strong is the writer/director behind the project.

Press release as follows:

NICHOLAS HOULT TO STAR AS JD SALINGER IN “REBEL IN THE RYE” FOR WRITER & DIRECTOR DANNY STRONG

 

BLOOM to Handle International Sales Beginning at the Toronto International Film Festival for Black Label Media and Bruce Cohen Productions

 

LOS ANGELES (August 31, 2015) –– BLOOM is handling international sales on Danny Strong’s drama REBEL IN THE RYE which will star Nicholas Hoult (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, EQUALS) as legendary author JD Salinger. Written and directed by Strong, the screenplay was adapted from the Kenneth Slawenski biography, JD Salinger: A Life.  Black Label Media is financing with Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill producing alongside Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen (AMERICAN BEAUTY, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, MILK), Jason Shuman, and Danny Strong. BLOOM will introduce to foreign buyers at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, while CAA is representing the North American rights.

 

REBEL IN THE RYE takes us on a journey into the life and mind of the legendary and secretive author and tells the story of the birth ofThe Catcher in the Rye. As the author who captivated a generation, JD Salinger soared to the heights of the literary world but left it all behind for a life of seclusion. Through his rebellious youth, the bloody front lines of World War 2, enduring great love and terrible loss, a life of rejection to the pages of The New Yorker, and the PTSD-fueled writer’s block which led to a spiritual awakening.

 

BLOOM’s Alex Walton said, “The Catcher in the Rye is a classic coming of age story which continues to make a significant impression six generations later. The world has long been fascinated with JD Salinger, who the talented Nicholas Hoult will bring to life, in this enigmatic role.”

Strong is known best for creating the hit FOX show “Empire,” for which he has written and directed multiple episodes of the ratings and pop culture phenomenon. In addition he has written the screenplays for THE BUTLER, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2, and the HBO Films RECOUNT and GAME CHANGE.  He has won a Golden Globe, two Emmys, two Writer’s Guild Awards and a Peabody.

 

Hoult is represented by UTA, 42 and Felker Toczek.

 

Cannes marked the world premiere of Black Label Media’s SICARIO from director Denis Villeneuve and starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro. The film will have its North American debut at Toronto International Film Festival along with Jean-Marc Vallée’s DEMOLITION starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts which will open the festival next month. Black Label Media’s past credits include THE BLIND SIDE and BEGIN AGAIN.

 

The BLOOM slate includes: Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s WOODSHOCK starring Kirsten Dunst and distributed in the U.S. by A24; Liza Johnson’s ELVIS & NIXON starring Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon which will be distributed in the U.S. by Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street; Shane Black’s detective thriller THE NICE GUYS starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling for Warner Bros.; Michael Apted‘s UNLOCKED starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom; and Renny Harlin’s SKIPTRACE starring Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville.

 

About BLOOM

BLOOM represents and curates a diversified slate of films ranging from commercial, talent-driven, wide release movies, to specialty films from proven and trusted filmmakers, all the while keeping an eye towards fresh and emerging talent.  Alex Walton and financier & producer Ken Kao partnered to form BLOOM – a sales, production and financing outfit which launched just prior to Cannes 2014 with two-time Academy Award® Nominee Gus Van Sant’s THE SEA OF TREES starring Academy Award® Winner Matthew McConaughey.

960

Will Smith stars in Concussion, a dramatic thriller based on the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu’s emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful institutions in the world.

by-the-sea-800

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt star in By the Sea and it will open the AFI Fest, Tim Gray reports. Written and directed by Angelina Jolie, the film is about a couple weathering the storms of a marriage in the 1970s. Jolie went big with Unbroken and now is going much smaller with By the Sea. Like her male counterparts, Jolie is kind of going to film school while experimenting with very different movies. Hopefully By the Sea will be better than Unbroken which, let’s face it, was pretty terrible.  It had its moments but overall was lacking a cohesive story, at the very least. But Jolie is ambitious and is learning and with each new work she will hopefully grow. Failing is the best part of learning and fingers crossed By the Sea is as cool and interesting as the trailer looks.

youth

From Sasha’s review of Youth at Cannes in May:

Paolo Sorrentino just hit it out of the park here at Cannes, delivering what has to be the most compelling screening of everything I’ve seen here thus far with the possible exception of Carol. When it finally came to an end, the audience sat in stunned silence until at last the screen went totally dark… Both Caine and Keitel give career-best performances. One or the other is headed for the Best Actor race. Jane Fonda has a powerhouse few minutes on screen that could earn her an Oscar nomination as well, but with Fox Searchlight in the driver’s seat expect this film — catnip for Academy voters — to be represented in all of the major categories and perhaps to become a frontrunner to win.

This is a film of big ideas of the human experience, certainly among the most profound. Why are people so afraid of human touch? is one of the questions it examines. Is love meant to last? is another. It’s about show business, creativity, inspiration, but mostly about the eternal conflict between aging and youth. We have such power of attraction when we’re young but we often don’t learn how to properly wield that power till we’re old. The film is emphatic about its realization that we’re alive until we aren’t. It doesn’t matter whether that existence is important or insignificant, this universal truth remains.

From Paolo Sorrentino, the internationally renowned writer and director of Italy’s Oscar-winning foreign language film The Great Beauty, comes YOUTH – a poignant tale of how we each find our own passion in life. Starring Academy Award winner Michael Caine as Fred and Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel as Mick, YOUTH explores the lifelong bond between two friends vacationing in a luxury Swiss Alps lodge as they ponder retirement. While Fred has no plans to resume his musical career despite the urging of his loving daughter Lena (Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz), Mick is intent on finishing the screenplay for what may be his last important film for his muse Brenda (Academy Award winner Jane Fonda). And where will inspiration lead their younger friend Jimmy (Paul Dano), an actor grasping to make sense of his next performance? Set against a sprawling landscape of unforgettable sights and intoxicating music, YOUTH asks if our most important and life-changing experiences can come at any time – even late – in life. YOUTH will open in theaters December 4, 2015

youth poster

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 8.24.44 AM

This looks pretty great all the way around, I have to admit. Someone seems to have finally put Matt Damon’s sense of humor to good use. Can it possibly be as good as its trailer? Written by the hard working Drew Goddard whose list of credits includes Alias and Lost, among other things, seems to have the thing well under hand here. The film has a release date of October 2, which you dear readers should recognize as the Sweet Spot when it comes to releasing “Oscar movies.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 8.31.51 AM

I caught up with Pawn Sacrifice a week or so ago but needed time to ruminate on the film before writing about it. I am a bit of a chess geek with a fondness for Fischer’s game. Fischer himself was off his rocker for a variety of reasons though no one was ever able to really get a handle on his illness because he all but disappeared from society a number of times and ended his life an exile and a recluse. But he had game. Maguire brings Fischer back to life as a vibrant man who could do one thing exceptionally well. His intensity and focus made him somehow great at chess but truly bad at life. He couldn’t maintain relationships nor his own status as chess champ. He was a self-hating Jew who blamed the Jews for society’s ills. Maguire captures Fischer’s intensity and delivers, ultimately, a moving portrait of the complicated Fischer. Here is a clip.

The Best Actor race is booked solid this year, that much we know. Breaking in will be near impossible. Someday people will sift through the ashes of this year and they’ll look back at the performances that didn’t catch enough buzz to get in the race. I suspect Maguire’s will be at or near the top of that list, along with Colin Farrell in The Lobster, Michael Fassbender in Macbeth, and on and on it goes. It’s a good time to be male in Hollywood.

The trick with Pawn Sacrifice is how to build tension over chess moves for audiences who don’t really get chess? Maybe some do, but unless you have studied the game, and more specifically Fischer’s approach to the game, you might not get what the big deal was with Game 6, for instance. That the film doesn’t adequately involve the audience in the suspense of the game itself bothered me at first but in the days since those qualms have evaporated and I’m left with thinking fondly of the film and the performances. Liev Schreiber is fantastic as Boris Spassky, and Peter Sarsgarrd and Michael Stuhlbarg are good as well.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 7.50.44 AM

The Year of the Man marches on with Bradley Cooper in Burnt. Oh look, there’s Emma Thompson propping him up – and look, there’s Siena Miller helping him out. I kid. I’m sure it has to be better than this trailer because it was picked up the Weinstein Co. and their instincts are usually spot on. Also, it may be about a man but women audiences will eat this up like candy.

Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) had it all – and lost it. A two-star Michelin rockstar with the bad habits to match, the former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene did everything different every time out, and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive Michelin star though, he’ll need the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Sienna Miller). BURNT is a remarkably funny and emotional story about the love of food, the love between two people, and the power of second chances.

Hank Williams. Originally published unknown. Scanned for Hollywood Walk of Fame Project.

Tom Hiddleston emerges as American country music icon Hank Williams. The pic will be directed by producer Marc Abraham.

I SAW THE LIGHT is based on Colin Escott’s award-winning biography and stars Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Olsen, Bradley Whitford, David Krumholtz and Cherry Jones. RatPac Entertainment’s Brett Ratner and Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert produced the film, with G. Marq Roswell and Abraham. James Packer of RatPac Entertainment and Jason Cloth of Creative Wealth Media Finance executive produced. Notable director of photography Dante Spinotti was the cinematographer for the film.

image002

cdn.indiewire.com

The successful career of 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) comes to a crushing end when he and other Hollywood figures are blacklisted for their political beliefs. TRUMBO (directed by Jay Roach) tells the story of his fight against the U.S. government and studio bosses in a war over words and freedom, which entangled everyone in Hollywood from Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and John Wayne to Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.

We want this movie to find a proper place at the Oscars just because we like to think about how Dalton Trumbo would be amused and appalled at the idea of his life story being Oscar-friendly. The same way Dalton Trumbo would be amused and appalled to see a top Google search result lead to a right-wing rag that says, “So Hollywood will be producing yet another movie about how the courageous and freedom-loving Communists fought the blacklist in the film industry” — and call the whole thing a “myth.” The same way he’d be amused and appalled by the internet itself and everything on it, and the way he’d be amused and appalled by today’s America and everything in it.

trumbo-poster-bryan-cranston

dicaprio-2

You might wonder why Scorsese would be interested in the 19th century’s most prolific serial killer in The Devil in White City but what I think draws him to the project, other than working again with DiCaprio, is the opportunity to bring the World’s Fair to life. Amid the spectacle of the 1893 World’s Fair, brought to life by Daniel H. Burnham is another kind of architecture going on, that of H.H. Holmes who built a crazy kind of house of horrors where he committed untold numbers of murders and then sold the skeletons. It’s a fascinating story, but visually, it’s off the charts — I’m thinking Hugo meets Silence of the Lambs.

Paramount apparently won the rights after an intense bidding war between the five families.

Deadline got the scoop. 

actor

In the latest update of Oscar Poker (Oscar Podcast is still ongoing), Jeff Wells and I talked about the packed Best Actor race and a strange phenomenon rising as a result.  With many films coming up that are considered “two handers,” as in, no clear lead but two co-leads, it seems as though the supporting actor slot will fill up quickly with roles that, under ordinary circumstances, might actually be leads. When a lead performance ends up in the supporting category, that performance has a great shot to win. Take Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock, for example, or Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind, Jim Broadbent in Iris and Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained.  A supporting role is traditionally along the lines of Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry Maguire or Tommy Lee Jones in the Fugitive. Those kinds of roles will now be shunted to the side and bigger performances taking their place so that we will effectively have two Best Actor categories instead of lead and supporting.

actor

Already we’ve seen Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in Youth. That is your first two-hander, with Caine probably lead and Keitel placed in supporting, though both are leads.  Love & Mercy has Paul Dano and John Cusack sharing the co-lead but one will officially “go lead” — probably Cusack, and Dano, who is really the lead, will go supporting. The End of the Tour has Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel as co-leads but Eisenberg will go lead and Segel supporting. Spotlight, with Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton will have a similar problem, with two performances to put in the sorting hat, and Keaton most likely going supporting.

How packed is the Best Actor race?  Besides the two-handers, and starting from the top, you have Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant headed for possibly his first win, alongside his old acting pal, Johnny Depp for Black Mass, Bryan Cranston in Trumbo, Tom Hardy in Legend, Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies, Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, Tobey Maguire in Pawn Sacrifice, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Snowden or The Walk, Bradley Cooper for Burnt (formerly Adam Jones).

We in the pundit world would make our predictions for the top five probably along these lines:

1. Leo DiCaprio, The Revenant
2. Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
3. Tom Hardy, Legend
4. Johnny Depp, Black Mass
5. Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
6. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
7. Michael Caine, Youth
8. Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies

That’s at least 8 vying for the top five. And then, for supporting, it would likely go something like:

1. Michael Keaton, Spotlight
2. Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
3. Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
4. Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
5. Harvey Keitel, Youth
6. Kurt Russell, The Hateful Eight

This is just a starting point, obviously. We have no idea what performances will crop up later. We have no idea which will be the most talked about, or whether the earlier performances will have a shot of remaining “in the conversation” by year’s end. What we do know is that Supporting Actor is likely going to be filled with leading performances, or co-leads.

Will the Academy expand the Best Actor race to match the Best Picture race? Best Actor is tied, more often than not, to Best Picture, especially nowadays when the stories about women are regarded as all but worthless. Will they address it or will they ignore it? They’ll probably ignore it. No one likes more than five in any category, and that includes Best Picture.

Venice, Telluride and Toronto will likely help carve out which names will rise to the top. Publicity will do the rest.

 

maxresdefault

The awards community is abuzz about some comments made by Edward Norton regarding the Oscars. He has a lot to say on the topic, including how hard it is to work an awards season that lasts seven months, “once a film gets channeled by the industry into that death grip of marketing via the springboard of the awards season, it’s this repetitive grind of promoting something that runs essentially from the end of the New York Film Festival to the end of February. Who wants to spend that much time talking about anything?”

Much of what Norton says is right on the money, like: “I think the awards season has become this thing that has metastisized. I think something unholy has happened: The Academy is a group of people who make films — six or 7,000 people who are the core of the industry. That’s a thing completely unto itself. Past that, every single thing that transpires between November and February is awards created by bodies of critics, whether it’s the Hollywood Foreign Press with the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle or the L.A. one. Critics Choice. It goes on and on. Unfortunately, the reality of what’s happened is that what started off on an almost academic and critical-slash-journalist footing has — more than people want to acknowledge — become a game of monetization.”

He gets it that award season has become monetized. He gets it that any amount of prestige is worth investing thousands of dollars. It hardly matters whether you’re talking about the Gothams or the Oscars or the Golden Globes. Studios need to have that golden prestige on their lobby posters in order to help sell some of their movies. They need that prestige emblazoned on a poster as the official seal of approval to ensure enough of the right people will watch their movie — from industry voters to regular old folks out there in the world. The race is competitive and for whatever reason (watch Mad Men to find out) advertising works.

I do have a problem with his solution:

I’ve talked about this with some people. I think the Academy could do things. Nobody in the industry cares about any of it except the Academy, which carries weight, because they’re peers. The rest of it is seen as a dog and pony show. The Academy, which is a private organization, could save the industry by saying, “It’s our award and we can do whatever we want.” They could say that any film putting out paid solicitation ads of any kind — all these for your consideration ads that cost millions and millions of dollars, which just solicit awards — they could say that any film using them is disqualified from the Academy Awards. It would end it overnight.

Edward Norton is absolutely right that this is how things are from his perspective, or from anyone’s perspective who gets scripts and projects with relative ease.  So it would be easy for him to dismiss the whole thing – the ads, the publicity, the baby kissing, the ass kissing. I’m sure he would never dream of sucking the Broadcast Film Critics’ collective asses during awards season. I’m sure, to him, that would sully the whole experience of creating art. Man, I totally get it.

He might not know that for many filmmakers, it isn’t so easy to break through. Women, for instance, or black filmmakers, or black female filmmakers — for these people, a single award season can transform their entire careers. For someone like Patricia Arquette who was valued when she was young and hot but then ignored when she hit her 40s. Winning Oscar for her meant something — it was validation. But I get that all this might not mean as much to Edward Norton. It isn’t going to help guys like him who are already at the top of the list, guys who might have to compete for the plum roles but are never going to be entirely squeezed out. Artists need leverage to make deals, earn money and become more familiar to the public. Is it worth a few months of tireless baby-kissing to build that kind of clout? That’s a personal decision. Maybe to someone who’s done it so many times before, the thought of doing it again causes spasms of PTSD. Fine; opt out. It’s an easy enough choice to make. But for Norton to try to unilaterally decree that it’s best for everyone, I personally think is misguided. Sure, easy for me to say because without the annual influx of FYC ads there is no AwardsDaily. But really, beyond that, I’ve seen too many careers transformed at lifted to the next level by awards season to think it should all go away. Many many white male filmmakers enjoy the good fortune to be ushered in on a carefully adorned ceremonial elephant and given the golden key to the crapper. Women and filmmakers of color – not so much.

Getting rid of the support structure for industry awards would relinquish the rules of game into the hands of the very people in control of the scripts and the deals who already sit in the powerful catbird seats throughout Hollywood. As it stands now, any filmmaker or distributor, no matter their size, can publicize their films by doing interviews or creating compelling ads (many of which are personally financed). With tools like these at their disposal, along with a shitty precursor award early on in the race, the playing field can very nearly be leveled in order for smaller films to stand up the big studio juggernauts that may not need to advertise to win awards to make money.

Funny story: back in the 1930s, in the early days of the Academy, the Oscars kind of got off on the wrong foot. They were known for being a popularity contest, money driven, and very much an insider’s game. That is, you couldn’t really break into the inner circle unless you were already in from the beginning. For the first few years of the Oscars, the Academy’s founding members were winning all of the awards. They didn’t really need publicists or precursors because, hey, it was their club and they rewarded their own.

Fast forward through the next several decades and zoom in tight to see how the Oscars were almost exclusively dominated by the five families — the five major studios that controlled every aspect of the Hollywood machine. The Oscars back then had become a spotlight showcase designed to reward that system. This system was a tightly controlled and almost impossible to crack unless you had been designated to nestle safe and secure within the status quo. You were a white male director, for instance, or, as the years wore on, a white male writer.

Not until the late 80s and 90s, when Miramax burst on the scene, were independent films seriously considered. While the main event was still mostly controlled by the five families, there was gradually more wiggle room allowed for outsiders (not less, as Norton says). Sure, some of the indies might not have the money to launch a full-blown campaign to splash the trades with centerfold print ads, but if they could raise around $5k then they could advertise on the blogs for visibility, an extraordinary benefit that was never available before. Some of us even run ads for free if a worthy film has no money. I did that for Blackfish and for The Hurt Locker.

So again, if you’re a white dude in Hollywood like Edward Norton, you’re probably not going to see any problem with the way the Oscars worked for years and years. You might not even notice how or why things changed and you might not need to care. You are in the business of making art, after all, good cinema. Everything else is… perhaps a politically correct debate for a different place or time. You might not equate awards or prestige with power or politics in Hollywood. You might not think that a nomination for a black filmmaker who made one of the best films in 1992 meant anything. After all, there were no loudmouths then. There were no roadblocks — just a few people shouting at the end of the day but nothing much changed.

So yes, I can generally agree with Edward Norton about some of the excess of awards season. It is a wide open expensive sticky mess. I agree that for him and his ilk they should cease advertising immediately, if that makes them feel better. We have stark evidence of how well that tactic worked last year for Gone Girl because wow, left hanging with no FYC support whatsoever, Gillian Flynn managed to get snubbed by the Oscars, in spite of being the only female screenwriter in the race who had a record number of nominations heading in. She was snubbed in favor of a male writer who was moved from his correct category in order for the Academy to grease an easy path for a talented male newcomer — instead of showing the same consideration for a talented female newcomer.

Would that Oscar nomination have done anything for Flynn’s career? Hard to say. She’s doing alright without it, but we’ll never know much higher a nomination might have helped her soar. I’d like to hear from Mr. Norton, now that he’s sitting pretty with one Oscar nod behind him, starring in a film that did a lot of advertising last year: Did an Oscar nomination give him leverage or currency in Hollywood? What does he think the same would mean to another newcomer, specifically if she’s a woman? Hm. That’s a tough question. We’d love to hear his answer.

I do think there are inherent problems with awards season. It’s hard to defend how gross things have become. It is a lot like politics. People like Edward Norton would want you to support Bernie Sanders because he stands for similar principles: he’s honest, forthright, and has high hopes of stripping billionaires of their power. He has ambitious plans like breaking up the big banks and making college free. By refusing to take PAC money that most other candidates have (thanks to the Citizens United ruling), Sanders is in a position where he can’t really compete with the likes of Jeb Bush who has already raised upwards of $150 million and counting. That money goes to… you guessed it, advertising, among other things. Were Hillary Clinton to do as Sanders is doing, opt out of the gross money clusterfuck, she too would be unable compete. And Jeb Bush would then walk away with the presidency, no matter how many Bernie Sanders supporters stand there in the Whole Foods parking lot with their t-shirt and good intentions. And, to bring it back around, the same goes for Oscar. You pay to play to a group of over-privileged voters, most of whom really can’t be bothered to watch all of the films, voters who prove year after year that advertising and publicity are the only way to get nominations and win awards.

Can we overturn Citizen United and take the money out of politics? Hard to say but that’s not the reality now. Here’s another reality: f you get rid of awards advertising you will be helping to kill Variety and Hollywood Reporter, not to mention Indiewire, the New York Times, all the way on down to this site. Each of us is struggling to survive in a changing media landscape and economy. But by all means, do away with the whole ugly scene so that Edward Norton can sleep better at night.

Advertising and publicity has been around as long as Oscar has been around. True, there weren’t many awards in the early days. There were only a few. And true, thirty years ago no respectable celebrity would be seen at the Golden Globes and now they all go. And true, there is probably nothing worse than the dog and pony show of Oscar. It’s also true that you can spend millions to win an Oscar, cry during your precursor speeches and shake the hands of every nobody from Van Nuys to Manhattan and still go home empty handed. The ads alone can’t deliver a winner. They just make sure voters don’t forget which teams are competing.

To play the game you have to want it. If you don’t want it, don’t play the game. It doesn’t mean you’re arrogant or aloof — it just means you have the luxury of not caring. Not everyone has it that good.

leo

With the release of “The Revenant” just a few months away we caught a sneak peek of its trailer last week and, suffice to say, we were thrilled to see the potential on display. The impact this movie could have on awards season is HUGE and we couldn’t be more psyched to get a look at this bad boy in the near future. The biggest question headed towards the film’s release is whether or not this could finally be Leo’s big moment to win the golden statuette, a statuette that’s eluded him since his first nomination more than 22 years ago. Of course, awards don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, if one were to make a list of cinematic greats that have failed to ever get the award it would be an endless, horribly frustrating list to look at.

DiCaprio’s been nominated four times in his career. Never has he really had a shot with any of those nominations. Most people would just shun him off by saying the nomination was enough, but was it? Along with Joaquin Phoenix we are seeing the emergence of an iconic American actor, one who never plays it safe and always goes for the risky, adventurous fare. Just take a look at the list of filmmakers this 41-year-old actor has worked with: Scorsese, Spielberg, Inarritu, Nolan, Tarantino, Allen, Cameron, Eastwood, Scott, Mendes. A who’s who of great directors. He sure knows how to pick ‘em and yet I get the feeling he’s only getting started and is going to keep pushing the boundaries further in the years to come. Here are ten times DiCaprio proved he was one of the very best actors of his generation.

1) Jordan Belfort, “The Wolf Of Wall Street”

This was the best shot our boy’s had thus far — key words being “thus far”. The sky’s the limit for DiCaprio, and in Scorsese’s now classic epic of debauchery, he brought a whole new range to his repertoire. With some scenes veering towards slapstick comedy, Leo’s portrayal of a Wall Street madman could have quite easily tipped over the top towards caricature, but I don’t think anyone could have pulled it off better than he did. It was a very divisive movie upon its release, but has gained notoriety over the last few years and will continue to do so as a classic. It is the riskiest performance DiCaprio has given us and quite possibly the beginning of an artistic freedom that will have him venture into even more unknown territory, like, for example, Inarritu’s “The Revenant”.

Nominated? Yes.
Who won? Matthew Mcconaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

2) Howard Hughes, “The Aviator”

Martin Scorsese’s movie is the best ever made about OCD. A mental disease that hasn’t really been understood or treated in the best of ways in pop culture. DiCaprio beautifully captured Howard Hughes’ inner and outer demons in a lavish but personal movie. There are some moments with the tiniest of details that it’s very easy to miss them. Hughes was a neurotic, eccentric billionaire who, as his obsessive compulsion grew, isolated himself entirely from society. This could have been the one to win it all for the then 30-year-old actor. A big budget Hollywood epic, that dealt with an industry legend. Every note was perfect in the performance, capturing the quirks and eccentricities that come with having the mental disorder.

Nominated? Yes.
Who won? Jamie Foxx, “Ray”. DiCaprio won the Golden Globe.

3) Arnie Grape, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”

Tropic Thunder’s Kirk Lazarus said you should never go “full retard.” Crude phrasing aside, DiCaprio clearly didn’t get the memo. It’s in Lasse Hallstrom’s touching film that I first noticed a then 19-year-old actor stealing scenes from Johnny Depp. Playing a character with a developmental disability is not the easiest task to tackle for a young actor, let alone a veteran actor. I didn’t know DiCaprio back then and actually believed that a mentally challenged actor was playing Arnie Grape — that’s how great this performance was. Not many people knew who DiCaprio was, but after watching this movie you sure as hell weren’t going to make that same mistake again. Here was a performance that captured all the details, big and small, and made them feel so real.

Nominated? Yes.
Who won? Tommy Lee Jones, “The Fugitive”

4) Billy Costigan, “The Departed”

When you’re in the same movie as an over-the-top but equally brilliant Jack Nicholson, or have to share screen time with a swear-a-minute ticking time bomb cop played by Mark Whalberg, good luck getting the recognition you deserve. That’s what happened here. DiCaprio’s was the most subtle of performances: a calm, cool and collected guy having to deal with the anarchy unfolding in a society about to breakdown and trapped in unique circumstances where he can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. Scorsese’s best movie since “Casino” or even “Goodfellas” had DiCaprio in his most emotionally and physically complex role carrying the movie through its twists and turns.

Nominated? No. At least the Globes nominated him.
Who won? Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland”

5) Jack Dawson, “Titanic”

Can any true movie fan really deny the fact that DiCaprio got robbed of a nomination for this movie? Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart got nominated. It was in fact DiCaprio who carried the movie on his then lanky shoulders, giving it soul and putting a heartbeat to the corny dialogue James Cameron is so well known to write for his films. This is also the movie that many people claim will be the reason why DiCaprio will never win the big award. Leo-Mania was huge. He was a heartthrob who stole millions of hearts, but so what? Ironically enough Jack Nicholson won that same year for playing an OCD-ridden Grinch in “As Good As It Gets”. But if you want a truer depiction of OCD go check out “The Aviator”.

Nominated? No. At least the Globes Nominated him.
Who won? Jack Nicholson, “As Good As it Gets”

6) Calvin Candie, “Django Unchained”

Christoph Waltz won the big prize for “Django”, and he was great, but you know who was equally great? Dicaprio as Calvin Candie: A looney, absurd, frightening performance this otherwise mess of a movie needed. Yes, the performance was over the top, but that’s the kind of thing that was required to get to the eccentric tone of the character just right. A professional connoisseur of the Mandingo game, Candie might just be the most despicable person in the entire movie, a bigoted fool who has enough money to build his own nightmarish empire-esque version of Neverland, this one aptly titled “Candieland”. Not even a nomination for this brilliant portrayal of absurd proportions. At least the Globes nominated Leo alongside Waltz.

Nominated? No.
Who Won? Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”.

7) Teddy Daniels, “Shutter island”

Here’s a film that got no Awards love whatsoever. Relegated to a February release back in 2010, Martin Scorsese’s expertly tense horror movie has, rightfully so, had its reputation grow in stature over the last few years. Every decade there are films that were ill-received upon their release and then get reassessed later on and are proclaimed great movies. The scantily underwhelming 68% RT score and 63 on Metacritic that “Shutter Island” got are quite shocking considering that its IMDB rating now is at 8.1 with almost 700,000 votes. “Shutter Island” can now be considered one of the very best releases of 2010, with DiCaprio giving an exquisitely layered but brutally honest performance as Teddy Daniels, a man trying to relocate himself and his disturbed past. No Awards love but, something better, a reputation that far exceeds any awards, that of a classic.

Nominated? No.
Who Won? Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”.

8) Frank Abagnale Jr, “Catch Me If You Can”

What a playful, enjoyably persistent performance by DiCaprio. Steven Spielberg took Leo’s charisma and infectious personality and used it to move his film into such cheery, infectious territory. This was only five years after “Titanic”. DiCaprio had just come out of relative failures such as “The Man in the Iron Mask”, “Celebrity”, and “The Beach”. With all three movies he was trying to destroy his public image as the pretty boy next door. What he didn’t realize was that he could use his aforementioned image and charisma to give us this great performance. Abagnale Jr’s escapades are so absurd yet they all actually happened. The real life Frank had such a great personality that he got away with almost every bad deed he did. DiCaprio shone because he did just that; he used his attractiveness to mold a character that we cheered for, even as he was breaking the law and making the FBI look like idiots. What is there not to like? Looking back on this performance we can see just how tough a performance like this can be, yet DiCaprio made it look effortless.

Nominated? No.
Who Won? Adrien Brody, “The Pianist”.

9) Danny Archer, “Blood Diamond”

This performance he actually got nominated for. In this case, nomination was probably enough. Justified in fact, but nothing more, nothing less. “Blood Diamond” has a classical narrative that wholly suited this kind of performance. It’s sorta like when Marlon Brando got nominated for “Viva Zapata!” — great acting, but you knew there was so much this actor could do if it were a better screenplay. The role of Danny Archer wasn’t really written with any real subtleties or foreshadowed characterizations, but he was played by DiCaprio with such movie star vigor that it ended up getting him a nomination. That’s no small feat. The film has been reasonably better received over the years, with an 8.0 rating on IMDB, and it’s one of the last movies where the highly talented Jennifer Connelly would get a decent script to work with. Sad.

Nominated? Yes.
Who Won? Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland”.

10) Cobb, “Inception”

Cobb has to be included. Of course this was “The Christopher Nolan Show,” but without Leo’s central performance it wouldn’t have been as good. Nolan’s words can sometimes be very cold and distant, but Leo brought real humanity to the screenplay and a beating heart to his character that another actor might not otherwise have achieved. No small feat. In fact, imagine “Inception” without DiCaprio … you can’t. I view Nolan — exception to the rule being “The Dark Knight” and Heath Ledger’s cuckoo brilliant performance — like the puppeteer of the whole enterprise, just having his way with the actors as they basically recite the words he’s written down for them. He’s like the hypnotist just manipulating his actors into doing whatever the hell he wants them to do, without giving them any room or freedom. This is not necessarily a bad thing considering some of the great movies he’s given us, but this makes DiCaprio’s performance all the more accomplished, since he was able to give us a pretty great performance out of the restrictions at hand.

Nominated? No.
Who Won? Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”.

412382_540262-mr-holmes-e1437751256385

The race for Best Actor this year already feels full and the season has not yet even begun. The big names crowding the race already include Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Johnny Depp for Black Mass, Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl, Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel for Youth, Joseph Gordon Levitt for Snowden and/or The Walk, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs, Tom Hank for Bridge of Spies, Tom Hardy for Legend, Michael Keaton or Mark Ruffalo from Spotlight, Jake Gyllenhaal for Southpaw, Ethan Hawke for Regression, Tobey Maguire in Pawn Sacrifice, Matt Damon in The Martian, Bradley Cooper for Adam Jones and these are just the ones we know about. There could be many more that aren’t front and center that could definitely reshape how we see the race in coming months.

Still we would be remiss if we walked by Ian McKellen’s astonishing portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes. There is virtually no buzz thus far for this great performance and the only reason for that is that everyone is aware of the impossibly crowded Best Actor race. Remember, though, many of these prospects are sight unseen films, and no one really knows how things will wind up by year’s end.

AO Scott writing about McKellen:

The film’s plots are soft and flimsy, and they don’t mesh as gracefully as they might, but they do serve as an adequate trellis for Mr. McKellen’s performance, which is gratifyingly but unsurprisingly wonderful. With his craggy visage and papery diction, his Holmes is a study in wry, intellectual charisma. Anachronistic as it might be, it isn’t hard to imagine Benedict Cumberbatch, the kinetic, intensely focused Sherlock of the BBC series, aging into this mellow codger. (The same can’t be said for the smirky action-hero version played by Robert Downey Jr. in Guy Ritchie’s tedious franchise.)

You might also detect some kinship between Holmes and Magneto, Mr. McKellen’s mutant in the “X-Men” movies, whose genius is filtered through rage and resentment. Not that Holmes is angry, though he does now and then betray a flicker of impatience. He is, however, very much a man of feeling as well as a creature of reason, and the suggestions of buried emotion that can sometimes be detected between the coolly logical lines of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are brought to rich life here.

The film suggests that there is much about Sherlock Holmes that his fans don’t know. Its most ingenious conceit is that the real man has grown old alongside his legend, slipping into theaters to watch movies made about his exaggerated exploits and gently correcting some of Watson’s fabrications. A long retirement has humanized him, and the specific longings and regrets chronicled in “Mr. Holmes” might constitute only a partial list.

That at least, is the tantalizing possibility implicit in Mr. McKellen’s whispered reminiscences and slow, graceful movements: that beyond the potted vignettes we are witnessing lies the untold story of a great, complex soul, a man more mysterious than any of the crimes he is supposed to have solved.

Review after review cites McKellen’s mesmerizing work as the aging and melancholy Holmes, even if the film overall is being met with less enthusiastic response. McKellen has, unbelievably, never won an Oscar. He is beloved within the industry, however, and received a standing ovation when the film screened for the Academy.

Although McKellen certainly qualifies for the “gold watch” slot we need to remember he’ll be competing with three other veterans — Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in Youth, along with Robert Redford in Truth. Long shot or not, McKellen’s work deserves to be noted and appreciated. Whether he makes it into the winner’s circle or whether his performance becomes yet another warmly-regarded role we talk about in reflecting upon his impeccable career, one thing we know for sure: McKellen is indeed one of our very best actors whose enduring gift to the movies has yet to be recognized at the Oscars.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 11.45.38 AM

His accent is spot on. Johnny Depp could go toe to toe with his Gilbert Grape/Basketball Diaries co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor. You can’t really win an Oscar if you’re too good looking. The best looking actors have to ugly themselves up in order to get taken seriously by the Academy for some reason. Admittedly, making Johnny Depp not pretty is no easy feat but he is a chameleon and seems to have transformed himself to unrecognizable yet again. Director Scott Cooper is better with directing than he is with writing and this comes from a script by Mark Mallouk and Jez butterworth (Get on Up, Fair Game).

idris beast

Indiewire’s Ryan Lattanzio reports that Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation could be headed to the Oscar race now that is has gotten a theatrical release date. They are doing the HBO dance of giving the pic a theatrical release alongside its streaming World Premiere:

Netflix is partnering with indie film distributor Bleecker Street and exhibitor Landmark to release the film day-and-date on Friday, October 16, 2015 in 19 markets. Clearly, awards are in view and theatrical is needed to achieve that. The film has already booked a Venice competition premiere, followed by a Canadian premiere in Toronto. Which means we should expect “Beasts” to pop up in the secret Telluride lineup.

It’s a clever way to change up the game, much the way Netflix did with House of Cards’ first season. The idea was to de-stigmatize Netflix’s original content programming, which it aced without breaking a sweat. Now, in order to satisfy the bizarre shifting landscape of television looming large over much of the feature film market (that’s where the audiences are now) Netflix is once again bridging the gap and de-stigmatizing their brand and the idea of VOD as a kind of legit platform for Oscar consideration.

In other words, this is as close as anyone has yet come to making the Oscars consider “television” or VOD in the feature film world. HBO does the same every year with its documentaries. They drive up their own profits by giving the film its needed theatrical release to qualify for awards. That helps publicize it by the time it hits HBO airwaves. Now, Netflix will do the same and you can imagine the publicity potential for the film if it gets anywhere near the Kodak.

To change the game they need a big name. They had Fincher for House of Cards and now they have Cary Fukunaga whose name is gold right now amid critics and voters. This would then open doors to other companies – theoretically Amazon or even HBO (who could have done that with Soderbergh’s Candelabra for instance).

As Lattanzio notes, “Earlier this year, AMC, Regal, Carmike and Cinemark dug their heels, stating they would not show the film without a 90-day window between its theatrical and streaming premieres.

11730-4870-Screen-Shot-2015-02-02-at-14330-PM-l

The New York Times just announced that the Danny Boyle film, “Steve Jobs,” starring Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet will be the centerpiece gala for the New York Film Fest. With a crackling script by Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs will be poised to take the Oscars by storm, or certainly get invited into the room.

In a statement, the event’s director, Kent Jones, described the film as “extremely sharp,” adding, “It’s wildly entertaining, and the actors just soar — you can feel their joy as they bite into their material.”

The fest kicks off September 25th, after Telluride and Toronto, leaving me to wonder whether Steve Jobs will be headed to Telluride…

The NYFF can have a major Oscar impact and then sometimes it can do more harm than good if the critics turn on the movie. It is then in the hands of the left coast to turn that boat around, as happened with Life of Pi.

Tomorrow, we get our first taste of the Toronto Film Fest lineup. Telluride will not announce until the day before Labor Day weekend, at the end of August. Supposedly if Toronto says “international premiere” that means it could theoretically play at Telluride first.

the-revenant-leonardo-dicaprio-1-e1437412668617

An exclusive get for Grantland features an interview with DiCaprio on the performance. He’s currently getting ready to film the final sequences (Inarritu likes to shoot in sequence).

About the character of Glass, Inarritu says:

“He was attacked by a bear, he was abandoned, and he had to go 300 miles to get revenge — this was what is known about him,” explains the 51-year-old Iñárritu, sipping something warm in the Santa Monica offices where he’s begun editing the movie. For him, the raw facts of Glass’s life were just the beginning, an opportunity to see Glass “as an example of the relentless possibilities of the human spirit against so many challenges: racial, physical, spiritual, social. I took that opportunity to create my own Hugh Glass: my interpretation of who he could have been.”

And DiCaprio:

That interpretation drew DiCaprio to the project. “I tried to capture — or emulate on film — a different type of American that I haven’t seen on film very often,” DiCaprio says. “This [was] an unregulated, sort of lawless territory. It hadn’t been forged into the America that we know yet. It was still sort of up for grabs.”

Inarritu went after the authentic experience, putting the actors through rigorous real life challenges:

“There was something very positive about shooting in those conditions, to understand what those guys [from the 1820s] went through,” Iñárritu says. “We don’t have adventures anymore. Now people say, ‘I went to India … it’s an adventure.’ No: We have GPS, a phone, nobody gets lost. Those guys really were in a huge physical, emotional adventure in the unknown territory. After you see what these guys went through, you understand what pussies we are: Our apartment is not at the right temperature, there is no ham in the fridge, and the water is a little cold … When did that happen?

“Actors were not in sets with green screens and laughing,” Iñárritu says. “They were miserable! And they really feel the fucking cold in their ass! They were not acting at all!”

Read the full interview at Grantland.

Leo-Shutter

I’ve spent twenty years online. I was on the internet before there was really a working web. There are things about it I understand and things I don’t. I will never snapchat and it took me a while to figure what memes were and how they figured into daily life. One thing I really never got or ever became immersed in was the internet’s obsession with Leonardo DiCaprio winning an Oscar. My teenage daughter doesn’t know much about who deserves to win Oscars but she knows “everyone” thinks Leonardo DiCaprio should have by now.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 11.58.28 AM

The obsession ranges from “Leo wants an Oscar bad” to “Leo should WIN AN OSCAR NOW.” There is a parasite twin meme about Leo dying in movies. Why this sprang up, how it was birthed, how it became a “thing” is something I cannot explain. I will not pretend to understand it but I do see that it’s there. Each time Leo comes up for Oscar consideration the whole thing is whipped up again and with the Revenant the movement is going to reach a fever pitch.

Why hasn’t Leo ever won an Oscar?  Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil would say he suffers from “pretty boy syndrome.” The middle-aged men in the Academy do not respect pretty boys. Whether there is resentment or jealousy or whether they think they are just getting by on their looks, what benefits good looking women in the Oscar race often does not benefit men.

DiCaprio did not start out his career as a pretty boy. He started out as a respected character actor earning his first nomination in the supporting category for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993.  In typical inexplicable Academy fashion, they gave Tommy Lee Jones an Oscar for phoning it in because they liked him and his character so much.

Still, DiCaprio was an instant sensation but not yet beloved as a matinee idol. That ship would sail and then crash into the iceberg with Titanic in 1997, although one could argue the seeds were most certainly planted with Romeo + Juliet (le sigh). Once he starred in Titanic that was it. He was redubbed as an icon.

That Titanic was a worldwide sensation and DiCaprio suddenly the object of every woman’s eye didn’t stop him from continuing to stretch as an actor and would, in fact, deliver sensational performances. His Oscar zone would begin in earnest  starting in 2002 when he worked with Martin Scorsese for the first time in Gangs of New York. DiCaprio was noticed for his work but he was yet to fully transform as he had done with Gilbert Grape. The Titanic bombshell put him in a different category where transformation was mostly discarded in lieu of leading man status. That would change with The Aviator, for which he received his second Oscar nomination and his first leading actor nod.

It was too early for DiCaprio to take it that year. The Aviator had entered the race (I remember because I was around and advocating for it hard back then) as the favorite before Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby strolled in at the last minute and took the Oscar. It was nominated in a staggering 11 categories and won five Oscars. Jamie Foxx won for a physically transformative performance with Ray. He was working the publicity circuit, and virtually became Ray Charles. At the end of the day, Charles was a more likable character than Howard Hughes. It was clear at that time the Academy wanted to reward Scorsese when The Aviator did so well with the Academy. They’d already given Gangs of New York ten nominations but it was ultimately poorly received.  They needed the right movie. They would get it the next time DiCaprio worked with Scorsese with The Departed.

DiCaprio is quietly the best performance in The Departed and that’s saying a lot. The reason he was not nominated for The Departed was because he WAS nominated for Blood Diamond. In both films he did two different accents. He could not have received two nominations and it’s always struck me as strange that he was nominated for Blood Diamond over The Departed. His competition was:

Forest Whitaker for Last King of Scotland – winner
Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson
Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happiness
Peter O’Toole for Venus

Nobody could have beaten Whitaker that year.  It was just one of those undeniable, too big ignore works. DiCaprio, I don’t think, was any competition for him, especially not in Blood Diamond.

And then DiCaprio would give a string of jaw-droppingly great performances, each one different from the next. He went deeper with each one. He was ignored for all of them:

Revolutionary Road – as an emptied out husband his grief was palpable. Insane wife.
Shutter Island – losing his grip on reality, seeing ghosts. Insane wife.
Inception – the scenes with Marion Cotillard were exceptional. Insane wife.
J. Edgar – he gained weight and used a lot of makeup to completely transform.
Django Unchained – a funny supporting turn unfortunately upstaged by the should-have-been-lead Christoph Waltz
The Great Gatsby – maybe the movie was a mess but DiCaprio was, as usual, beyond great.

By the time he works with Martin Scorsese again it’s for the sublime Wolf of Wall Street. After J. Edgar was ignored, DiCaprio seemed to relax as an actor and once again evolved with his masterful, iconic performance as Jordan Belfort. Finally, the Academy did recognize this work as it really was too big to ignore. Alas, he would not win for this because it was the year Matthew McConaughey lost 40 pounds to play a man dying from AIDS.

There was a bit of noise online that DiCaprio might finally pull a win for Wolf of Wall Street but the Academy was never going to turn down a hero who saved hundreds of lives for a guy who put a candlestick in his ass.

Well now we come to The Revenant. The film won’t come out until the end of the year. By then, we should have a good idea of the kind of competition we’re talking about in that category. DiCaprio, I can tell you, will be at the top of the lists — not to mention the kind of transformative work he’ll have to do for a movie about a man who barely survives in the wilderness and is attacked by bears and native Americans. It should be a showcase work, a performance for the ages – much like almost every other performance he’s ever given.

What’s it going to take? It’s going to take a year where there isn’t one they “like” better. Winning an Oscar has to be a perfect storm of events all swirling around a right here, right now moment. Popularity, publicity, likability — all of those things come into play. The mostly shy DiCaprio who is richer than fuck and busy saving the planet might not want to kiss babies, which is what you need to do to win.

We here at Awards Daily do hereby proclaim that yes, internet, you are right about one thing: Leonardo DiCaprio should have won an Oscar by now. I think you’re wrong that he gives a shit. His concerns are so much bigger than a little gold statue to put on the mantle.

Sign In

Register

Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter