Weekly Top Ten- #35
The Ten Best Leonardo DiCaprio Roles
In a few days, "The Wolf of Wall Street" will be released. It will be the fifth collaboration DiCaprio does with director Martin Scorsese as well as the latest film with Leonardo DiCaprio himself. The upcoming release got me thinking, I have had interesting thoughts on DiCaprio's career. I can honestly say that I've pretty much hated every single movie in his early career (not including a couple titles from this list) but that changed after 2002. It seemed that something woke up deep inside of DiCaprio, either that or he fired his agent and hired a new one. I think he's had a good career since 2002, and I have liked a great number of his films since then.
This list offers up what I think are his best performances, these are not the movies that I find to be the best, but his best performances. I think DiCaprio really let it loose in these ten performances. I feel he doesn't overact in these films, which I feel DiCaprio is guilty of from time to time (note: some cases on this list, his overacting actually worked for his performance, rather than against it.). When DiCaprio gets old and retires, I bet these ten performances will be some of the highlights of his career, examples of acting people will go back to, just to see how its truly done.
10. Dominick Cobb, "Inception"
This performance maybe just another lead to a summer blockbuster, aka a role anybody could play. But as the film wears on, we learn that there is quite a bit to Dominick Cobb. We also learn that possibly only DiCaprio could put such a unique signature on the role. DiCaprio was able to turn a regular action hero into a tortured, textured man and it was great to watch.
9. Teddy Daniels, "Shutter Island"
I don't think DiCaprio has ever allowed himself to be this complex, this layered or this tormented. Teddy Daniels is an extraordinary creation and I was curious to see how well DiCaprio would pull it off. The answer is incredibly well and had the film been released at the end of 2009 rather than the beginning of 2010, I bet DiCaprio would have got an Oscar nomination for his work here, its that good.
8. Jim Carroll, "The Basketball Diaries"
I think out of everything in DiCaprio's early career, DiCaprio's work as Jim Carroll was foreshadowing for his work to come. Carroll was a darker role for a young actor who becoming a pretty boy movie star during this point in his career. DiCaprio's work was a early sign that he had range, and I think its very important toward understanding his overall filmography.
7. Calvin Candie, "Django Unchained"
Its not often that we see DiCaprio play such a soulless, eccentric, evil, amoral person. I could also never imagine DiCaprio pulling off such a character. However, leave to none other than Quentin Tarantino to bring the best out of the actor. Tarantino has a talent for making his actors do things the audience could never imagine them doing, and DiCaprio was his latest prey in "Django Unchained" and we are richer for it.
6. Howard Hughes, "The Aviator"
Hughes' journey in "The Aviator" is both heartbreaking and uplifting throughout the film's entire running time. It was amazing to watch as DiCaprio made the audience feel every bit of Hughes' success as well as every bit of Hughes' deterioration. Real life figures have to be tricky to play, and I think DiCaprio did very well here.
5. Amsterdam Vallon, "Gangs of New York"
Prior to 2002, I could not imagine Leonardo DiCaprio resembling anything close to being a badass. So you have to understand how surprised I was when I saw "Gangs of New York" for the first time. DiCaprio really stripped away his typecast persona and became something new. Not only that but he can create crazy accents that are uncannily believable. I believed that DiCaprio's one-two punch of this and "Catch Me If You Can" were the signs that DiCaprio was becoming a star.
4. Jack Dawson, "Titanic"
Now, I am absolutely no fan of "Titanic" but there is no doubt that this film made DiCaprio a star in the 1990's. DiCaprio does very well as Dawson, a guy who gets his dreams to come true by a whim, only to get much more than he bargained for. DiCaprio really turns on the charm here, and he makes the entire experience almost watchable.
3. Frank William Abagnale Jr. "Catch Me If You Can"
I have to say, I bet DiCaprio has never had more fun playing a character in his career. But not only that, he's never shown so much range. DiCaprio was quirky, lovable, serious, crazy, cunning, charming and very funny all the way through this film. And yes, this performance actually got me to start paying attention to him as an actor.
2. Billy Costigan, "The Departed"
If I had to come up with my favorite anti-hero in modern film, it would possibly be Billy Costigan. DiCaprio gave another multi-layered and multi-textured performance, and he really nailed it. There are so many ticks to Costigan that any actor would be intimidated by, but DiCaprio seemed to throw himself right into it. DiCaprio proved he was fearless with his performance in "The Departed."
1. Gilbert, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?"
"What's Eating Gilbert Grape" was not just a one-trick pony by DiCaprio, it was a promise of greatness to come. Even though we did not see that greatness until way later, but it was still a promise of greatness to come. To call DiCaprio incredible seems to be a disservice to the role. That is all.
So tell me, what are your favorite Leonardo DiCaprio roles?