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2016 Oscars: Why Leonardo DiCaprio Is A Virtual Lock For Best Actor

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Leonardo DiCaprio is not the greatest actor to never win an Oscar. He is definitely one of the top 10 actors to have never gone home with a golden statuette. Now regardless of whether you agree or disagree with one of or both of the previous statements, there is no doubt that DiCaprio will no longer be in either category because he is going to win the Oscar for his magnificent performance in Revenant.

Now, I’m not lovesick girl saying that “Leo is so bae…” with a dopey look and hearts replacing my pupils. This is an analysis of the facts and situations before me because I haven’t seen Revenant yet. I actually don’t even need to see it. All the signs point to a overwhelming victory by DiCaprio.

DiCaprio has been nominated for four acting Oscars before this. Three for Best Actor, one for Best Supporting Actor. My editorial on DiCaprio’s previous work and why he’s lost his Oscars up to this point is located here.

However, DiCaprio has never been as critically acclaimed for any of his previous works as he has been for Revenant. Take a look back at his history. The Oscars are like the main even of a show so they are always the climatic last to be viewed. Therefore, a lot of foreshadowing can be determined from the previous awards like the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), and various other critical film festivals and boards of review.

Now, award shows always have the same core of nominees for particular categories with a few differences occasionally like last year when Bradley Cooper scored an Oscar nomination for American Sniper while he didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination, a SAG nomination, or a BAFTA nomination.

Cooper didn’t have a shot at the Oscar either because the idea that the Oscars would differ that much from the Golden Globes is not realistic. They were not divided enough to give him the Oscar if he was not “worthy” of a nomination on the other awards. I say “worthy” because that’s their opinion and I want to make it clear that I’m being an analyst not a guy with another opinion on who had the better performance.

There is no known list of who specifically votes for what to my knowledge, but the industry is not unlike the political arena. You’ve got the liberals, the conservatives, the voters who value only acting, the voters who only value politics, the in-betweens, and the people who feel sympathies towards specific actors, roles, or to whoever puts on the best awards campaign.

Yes, there are campaigns. Why? Because these awards aren’t just the trophies that you give to mom and dad to make them feel proud. They dictate often who becomes a true star, who becomes a celebrity icon, and/or they are the official crowning of an actor/actress to make them a brand name to where they’ll make money no matter what they act in.

Despite not winning an Oscar, DiCaprio has done a fantastic job of becoming a brand name. People will watch a movie for the simple fact that he is in that movie. He can do a movie about almost anything and people will watch it to see him act. An actor like that is a huge difference in getting audiences to see the movie because a movie is just like any sales product. The pitch is everything.

DiCaprio’s past greatness and brand name are helpful here with some voters who will feel he’s been neglected and deserves an Oscar, which has happened before. It’s well known that Dennis Hopper was nominated for an Oscar for Hoosiers, which while it was a good performance, it was mostly to make up for being snubbed the previous year for his magnificent performance in Blue Velvet where he wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar since he was edged out by a candidate limit and a barrage of errors by the voters.

DiCaprio’s got plenty of people in that group for sure. A computer game has recently been made where the user plays DiCaprio going after the Oscar. It’s all in good humor, but the serious undertone is still there. Give this man the Oscar already.

What’s even more important is the type of role he chose is not offensive. He’s not playing an ultra conservative racist or a liberal going over the edge. He’s literally a man outside of the world since his character is an 1820s frontiersman who is abandoned, left for dead, and now seeks revenge for his son’s death.

Beyond a few critics who felt the movie was boring or just not their cup of tea, no one has been offended by this movie and only a person looking to be offended would be offended by DiCaprio’s character. That crowd is quite small.

There’s also the lengths that DiCaprio went to in order to play the role. Some are possibly exaggerated, but it’s believable because he definitely had to endure some of what the real Hugh Glass did in terms of roughing the rough land in the middle of a freezing winter. DiCaprio said it was the most difficult film he’s ever done and while there might be slight hyperbole to what he exactly did, I believe him.

That alone can help him make strides towards the award. Let’s be frank. Acting for the last 30 years at a minimum has been about transforming into one’s character, not just doing the best imitation. Also known as method acting, some actors have used this philosophy to go to borderline insane lengths to “become” their character. DiCaprio’s co-star Daniel Day Lewis, who scored a Best Actor nomination for Butcher Bill in Gangs of New York, is the supreme example of method acting. For his role of Butcher Bill, he became an apprentice to a butcher as well as kept the gruff New Yorker accent over his English one at all times until the movie was complete.

DiCaprio obviously learned some things from his experience with Lewis and he took on a role that was not only difficult, but potentially hazardous to his health. That kind of dedication is often held in higher regard than a dramatic monologue or a great accent or iconic lines.

Any voter who values that type of dedication is going to check off DiCaprio’s name on the ballot box.

Now on to the bare facts that aren’t just logical speculation. We know DiCaprio is likable and well respected by his peers, but he’s never put on a performance that has been beloved as this one.

Before Revenant, DiCaprio had received numerous accolades and nominations. But even his roles in The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street, Blood Diamond, J. Edgar, and The Great Gatsby have not earned him the following that he earned from his performance in Revenant.

Boston Society of Film Critic: Best Actor

Alliance of Women Film Journalists: Best Actor

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actor*

Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actor

Denver Film Critics Society: Best Actor

Dorian Awards: Best Actor

San Diego Film Critics Society: Best Actor

Satellite Awards: Best Actor**

Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best Actor

St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association: Best Actor

Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association: Best Actor

*Means he has previously won a Best Supporting Actor award for either The Departed or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

**Satellite Awards are announced February 21, but I am predicting a win there too.

Now, most of these awards are around 10 years old, so some of DiCaprio’s work like The Aviator or Titanic weren’t able to be measured and a lot of these awards are minor, but here’s where one must read between the lines.

The Dorian Awards are presented by the the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA). The Ls & Gs are behind DiCaprto and since 2012 when they started giving both Actor and Actress awards vs. one award for all film performances, the three actors who have won the Dorian have won the Best Actor Oscars. DiCaprio will make it four.

Even more telling is the Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG). SAG is the labor union that represents the actors themselves. It’s not critics that decide who wins the SAG award, but the actors and workers themselves. DiCaprio is well liked, but actors have found that other performances were better than his and there is no conspiracy. DiCaprio has faced steep competition always whenever he’s been nominated for Best Actor.

After six total nominations (four for acting), DiCaprio finally won the Screen Actors Guild award for Revenant. His direct acting peers have spoken. This should be his year because he was the best actor. SAG is not often political, they gave Johnny Depp an award for Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean over the more politically correct choice of Sean Penn in Mystic River.

Combine all of these organizations with the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice who have given DiCaprio their top prize in the past, there is minimal reason to believe DiCaprio can lose.

No way does Bryan Cranston win for Trumbo, he’s only won best actor of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Matt Damon in The Martian won the other Golden Globe for Comedy/Musical opposite DiCaprio’s Drama (I always wondered why the Oscars don’t do a congruent split like that), and Damon took home the National Board of Review’s Best Actor prize, which is a big victory, but hardly a foreshadowing of things to come. He’s DiCaprio’s best competition in my opinion.

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs has won a handful of film festival awards in Texas, Vancouver, Dublin etc, but nothing big in terms of awards.

Lastly, there’s the incumbent winner Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl for his portrayal of a transgender woman. But all he’s won is the Woman’s Circle Award.

Could there be an upset at the Oscars? Hmmmm maybe. Just like maybe any one of us could win the lottery or be struck by lightning. It isn’t final until it is final but it’s clear that the momentum isn’t just behind DiCaprio, it’s pushed him over the top and it will settle on Cloud Nine come Oscar night.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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