Leonardo DiCaprio

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Is it finally time?
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When both Amy Adams and Leonardo DiCaprio won at this past weekend’s Golden Globe awards it looked like they might have momentum to get into the Oscar race.  Their Globes wins, plus their BAFTA nominations make this seem very likely indeed.  It is going to depend on how much the Academy “liked” August: Osage County’s Meryl Streep, and how much they “liked” The Wolf of Wall Street.  The Academy is not known for having a tough stomach of late. They used to be bolder a few generations back, but now Martin Scorsese gets taken to task for being the most daring filmmaker in 2014, at 71 years old.   You’d think they would tip their hat to the guy instead of acting so horrified. You’d think they’d never nominated A Clockwork Orange or something.  Remember when Dr. Strangelove was a Best Picture contender?

Oh for a taste of the good old days when Best Picture didn’t mean the one your grandparents could tolerate.

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Marty and Leo will be honored this year at the Santa Barbara Film Fest for their extraordinary collaborations which include Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Shutter Island, The Departed and the Wolf of Wall Street.

All but one of those films were nominated for Best Picture. The award will be handed out on February 6. Click jump for press release.

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Leonardo DiCaprio was the best thing about this year’s Great Gatsby. He turns in a career best performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. He has had his best year yet as an actor. But we know he will be ignored for it because he always is. A lovely piece about the two Leos just appeared in the New Yorker, a beautifully written essay on DiCaprio’s work in both films and how the two movies mirror each other in a strange way. But here, it isn’t just Fitgerald’s Gatsby Rachel Syme writes about, it’s Luhrmann’s:

In other words, Luhrmann’s film may be the “Gatsby” that this generation deserves (Technicolor, attention-disordered, deafeningly loud, brimming with loose cultural pastiche), but Scorsese’s “Wolf” is the “Gatsby” that the current Wall Street demands—its dark cousin and perverse reflection. There is no deeper romance to “Wolf,” only craven desire. The film has a black heart where a green light should be.

Or, to put it another way, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is like “The Great Gatsby” from Tom Buchanan’s point of view. All the people in it are careless people. You never see Jordan Belfort’s victims, and you never see him truly victimized—it’s all naked bodies and beach houses and slapstick drug binges played for comedy until everything comes crashing down, and not nearly hard enough. The real Belfort got out of white-collar jail on a reduced sentence, found a new life as a motivational speaker, and later sold his memoir rights to the movies for a million dollars. He is a mastermind at self-invention, purely because nothing but excess has driven him; there’s no Daisy on a dock to gun for, just a 747 full of prostitutes and cocaine.

But the piece eventually gets to DiCaprio, in appreciation of the work he’s done this year:

And yet, I hope that when we look back on the cinema of 2013, and particularly on the career of Leonardo DiCaprio, we will see that while “Wolf” might contain the most energy and wild abandon he has ever given a character, his gentle, measured performance as Gatsby (albeit wrapped in a harsh, garish film) was as worthy a contribution to the screen. What Fitzgerald did so very well in the end, and what I miss so much in a film like “Wolf,” was create an undercurrent of hope, the flicker that makes the boats beat on. In “Wolf,” what we get in place of hope is a final shot of Belfort wooing another audience at a motivational seminar (in its own way a form of legal racketeering), teaching wide-eyed hopefuls how to sell anyone, anything, anywhere. He will take their hope and mold it into avarice; that’s the Belfort way. (N.B.: the real Jordan Belfort introduced DiCaprio in the scene—the road from con man to an IMDB credit is the new American dream.) The Nick Carraway of “Wolf,” Kyle Chandler’s solidly moral, “straight-arrow” F.B.I. agent, leaves the film triumphant, having caught the bad guys—but he is still stuck sweating it out on the subway while Belfort plays tennis in his prison whites. It is in the shot of Chandler’s final smirk that the two stories converge. Both “Wolf” and “Gatsby” show that it always feels better to leave the vicious moneyed behind, whether you run away to the Midwest or get the pleasure of putting them behind bars. That even if you are stuck in middle management, riding the F train with the other have-nots of society, you are still worth the whole damn bunch put together.

This is where the convergence ends—and perhaps a story like “Gatsby” could not ever be born again, not after so many Gordon Gekkos and Glengarrys have altered the smell of money. What “Wolf” seems to say is that if a business enterprise stinks, it may as well smell like Drakkar Noir and sex and white powder and the latex of a dominatrix; that if nothing matters but glut, then the gluttony must be extreme, and pungent, and gross. That the future we have to look forward to is not orgiastic but just an orgy.

I don’t know about you, but I liked it better when everything was scented of jasmine under the stars. I hope we deserve that again someday. Until then, we are left to ponder the careless.


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Leonardo DiCaprio is heading into his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese with The Wolf of Wall Street this November. He is Scorsese’s Jimmy Stewart — a laced-up-to-the-collar everyman put in extraordinary circumstances. He anchors Scorsese’s camera by adding a down to earth normalcy. With De Niro, you think you know what you’re going to get — a darkness that worked for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. But the director needed a new hero, one who could change his color with each new atmosphere he was put into. De Niro was uncorked, back in the 1970s, the minute he appeared on screen. You waited for his flame to rise. With DiCaprio, you never know where he’s going to take you. You never know what his breaking point is, what might set it off, or how far or deep he will go.

The trailer for Wolf is a dazzler and promises another inspired, trusted collaboration between artist and muse. Scorsese’s actors keep so much in that when they finally uncork it’s a spectacular display of emotional and physical extremes. In their first collaboration together, DiCaprio played the protagonist while giving the movie mostly over to the brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher. Gangs would be their first mob movie together, which would be followed up by The Departed, and now, Wolf of Wall Street.  Though DiCaprio would be paired up with another scene-stealer in Jack Nicholson, he was the one really coming unglued in The Departed.  In The Aviator Scorsese facilitated one of DiCaprio’s most difficult performances and one of his best — it’s certainly way up there.  As the nervous, stuttering, withering Howard Hughes, DiCaprio surprised everyone with his ability to play Hughes at every stage of his life. It would be his first leading actor Oscar nomination, with his second and last for Blood Diamond in 2007.

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Sent to me by reader John but I couldn’t confirm whether it’s an official poster or fan made – either way, it’s cool.





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Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to win an Oscar. Will Gatsby finally earn him one?


Hot stuff. Link from Pitchfork, via ONTD. They helpfully provided the full soundtrack list:

The Great Gatsby:
01 Jay-Z: “100$ Bill”
02 Beyoncé and André 3000: Back to Black”
03 will.i.am: “Bang Bang”
04 Fergie, Q-Tip and GoonRock: “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)”
05 Lana Del Rey: “Young and Beautiful”
06 Bryan Ferry Woth the Bryan Ferry Orchestra: “Love Is the Drug”
07 Florence and the Machine: “Over the Love”
08 Coco O of Quadron: “Where The Wind Blows”
09 Emeli Sandé and the Bryan Ferry Orchestra: “Crazy in Love”
10 The xx: “Together”
11 Gotye: “Hearts a Mess”
12 Jack White: “Love Is Blindness”
13 Nero: “Into the Past”
14 Sia: “Kill and Run”

Read more at ONTD: http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/#ixzz2PVez8PnU

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Mia Farrow announced on Twitter “like my buddy Leo I will be retiring from acting indefinitely.” DiCaprio just said he was taking a break from acting.  But Farrow appears to be done for good.



The festival, in its 28th year, has also announced today that it will honor Academy Award® nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio with the American Riviera Award. DiCaprio, whose latest film Django Unchained was released to critical acclaim and box office success this Christmas, will be honored on Friday, February 1 at the Arlington Theatre.

“We are thrilled to be honoring Leonardo DiCaprio with the American Riviera Award, in a year where he has shown us another layer of his immeasurable talent” commented Durling. “His performance in Django Unchained reaffirms that he is the most relevant actor of this generation.”

Pics of Leonardo DiCpario have emerged over at JustJared. He’s looking very dapper. Pic also stars Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, and Jean DuJardin. The plot: “In The Wolf of Wall Street DiCaprio would play Belfort, a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 20 months in prison for refusing to cooperate in a massive 1990s securities fraud case that involved widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including mob infiltration.”

More pics at JustJared

UPDATE: A more formal publicity still after the cut.

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When I think of the male performances of the year I think there is Leonardo DiCaprio and everyone else. Setting aside Michael Fassbender, for the moment, Michael Shannon, Gary Oldman and Woody Harrelson – those actors who transformed themselves into wholly other people, I am still left with what Leo did with J. Edgar Hoover. I know that it isn’t the popular choice right now for one of the best performances of 2011, but I do know it’s one I can’t forget.

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Oscars old school continues with early J Edgar reviews by Hollywood Reporter and Variety.  Todd McCarthy writes film reviews worth reading – he’s one of the best, to my mind, bringing experience, knowledge and good taste to his film writing — that is what separates the good critics from the mediocre ones in my mind.  He’s first out of the gate on J Edgar:

This surprising collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Blacktackles its trickiest challenges with plausibility and good sense, while serving up a simmeringly caustic view of its controversial subject’s behavior, public and private. Big-name talent behind and in front of the camera, led by a committed performance byLeonardo DiCaprio in the title role, assures extensive media attention and public curiosity up to a point. But Warner Bros.’ faces a significant commercial challenge in stirring the interest of younger audiences likely to regard J. Edgar Hoover as an irrelevant artifact of the bad old days or, most reductively, a hypocritical closet case.

More after the cut.

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There is a great profile of Woody Harrelson by good friend David Carr:

He will likely be on the short list of the Oscars again, this time for playing a cop in“Rampart” who is a vending machine of his own brand of rough justice, assaulting and killing in a city he sees as beyond redemption.

Millennium Films bought “Rampart” at the Toronto International Film Festival. “We’re expending an enormous amount of energy in a hurry to get it out this year,” Mark Gill, the president of Millennium, said. “I think that after last year’s Oscar nomination for ‘The Messenger,’ Woody has a good shot at being in the middle of things, and we plan on using that to make sure people see this really great movie.”

And Leonardo profiled as well for J. Edgar:

Mr. DiCaprio did months of research to be able to inhabit Hoover fully. He flew to Washington with Mr. Black to tour the Justice Department and one of Hoover’s former homes. Mr. DiCaprio also met with Cartha D. DeLoach, one of the only people still alive who worked closely with Hoover, and taped their hours-long conversation. (Hoover would have been proud.) “I wanted him to tell me how he walked, how he talked, what his hands looked like, what his desk looked like, what was above his desk,” Mr. DiCaprio said.

“The research of these roles is half the fun and half the challenge — maybe more,” he added. “It’s what makes it exciting to me.”

Why does it seem like the beginning of October is already too late to push through an Oscar contender?  If you’re a big star in a big movie you’re already on the radar of those who write about Oscar buzz, a thing that increasingly has no there to it.  But if you’ve just given the performance of your life in a movie nobody has seen how does your publicist get enough people to see your performance to find a spot for you in the already crowded acting or Best Picture categories?

This moment in the Oscar race is what I always think of as the Million Dollar Baby zone.  Clint Eastwood brought that film in at a time when there were less media outlets focused on the race, as many of them are now, and when those of us who were focused on the race – it was like me, David Poland, Tom O’Neil and Kris Tapley and a few others – had our radars tuned to The Aviator, which seemed, at the time, like it might finally be Martin Scorsese’s big Oscar win (he would later go on to win big with The Departed, nothing less than one of the best films ever to win the award).  But then people saw Million Dollar Baby. I’ll never forget reading Poland’s site the day after that screening — there was simply no question what movie was going to win and win big.

What I now wonder looking back at those seemingly innocent times, with all of the chatter we have now, so many hunters stalking Oscar prey, where the demand far exceeds the supply, would we have already been well aware that Million Dollar Baby would have been the big Oscar winner? Would it be showing up on Oscar charts as the de facto frontrunner? So much has changed since then.

Either way, and for whatever reason, after Toronto it always feels like the window of opportunity to break through gets smaller and smaller as the days go by.  If you’re not considered a major contender already, by October, your chances are slim.  But they’re not zero.  Late entries can sometimes shake up the race, like The Reader did when it bumped The Dark Knight, altering Oscar history while doing so.

On today’s Off the Carpet column, Kris Tapley looks at the Best Actor race, but specifically at those performances that could be overlooked.  I had no idea he was writing this, and I was writing a similar piece at the same time (great minds…) only mine covers Best Picture and Actress too (albeit not as thoroughly as Kris…).  So you want to head over there to In Contention to read that piece.  

Oscar buzz is now and has always been something undefinable – it’s like sexual attraction: you know it when you feel it.

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See it in HD on Apple trailers. Or quasi-HD after the cut.

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Excerpt from the latest cover story for GQ by Mark Harris on Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio:

GQ: [To Eastwood] You’ve described yourself as a social libertarian. What does that mean to you?
Clint Eastwood: I was an Eisenhower Republican when I started out at 21, because he promised to get us out of the Korean War. And over the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it. Because what I really believe is, let’s spend a little more time leaving everybody alone. These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of.
Leonardo Dicaprio: That’s the most infuriating thing—watching people focus on these things. Meanwhile, there’s the onset of global warming and—
Clint Eastwood: Exactly!
Leonardo Dicaprio: —and these incredibly scary and menacing things with the future of our economy. Our relationship to the rest of the world. And here we are focusing on this?
Clint Eastwood: They go on and on with all this bullshit about “sanctity”—don’t give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.
Leonardo Dicaprio: It’s the great diversion. Politicians are masters at getting you to be on their side so that you don’t look at how big business—
Clint Eastwood: I love big business! [They both laugh.]
Clint Eastwood: I love big business if it hires everybody and does all the right things, and if they get off track then they’ll have to deal with whatever—
Leonardo Dicaprio: But they often do get off track, unfortunately. See, now you’ve got us in a political debate!

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