In Defense Of Leonardo DiCaprio Not Winning An Oscar This Year

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Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street 2013 screenshotHello. Hi there. You and I don't know each other, but I don't think Leonardo DiCaprio should win an Oscar this year, and I'm about to tell you why.

Leo is nominated for Best Actor for his work in The Wolf Of Wall Street, in which he portrays real-life criminal Jordan Belfort, who defrauded thousands of investors in the 1990s. Is he good in the movie? Yeah, absolutely. Is he even great? I'd say so, yeah. I enjoyed my profanity-filled time with him. I just don't think it was a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination, much less a win.

Maybe in another season, when the field was less stacked, I'd be more on board with us handing out nominations to Leo just because he hasn't had a win yet. But in a year with such talent, I can't understand why actors like Tom HanksIdris ElbaMichael B. Jordan, and Robert Redford would have been snubbed in favor of one of Leo's lesser performances.

And yeah yeah, I know what you're thinking right now: “Who knows snubbing better than Leo?” Well Martin Scorsese for one, but I see your point. The fact is, Leo hasn't actually been snubbed all that much — I'd say just once.

If you actually look at the field in years that he was nominated but passed over, it was arguably for good reason. When he was up for his role in The Aviator in 2005, he lost out to Jamie Foxx in RayTwo years later, in 2007, his role in Blood Diamond got him nominated, but wasn't enough to pull out a win over Forest Whitaker‘s portrayal of despot Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland. Makes sense to me.

Were there years before that in which he maybe should have been nominated? Yeah, maybe for The Departed and Revolutionary Roadtwo Golden Globe-nominated performances that were particularly impressive in my own (humble) opinion. But the only time I think he absolutely was robbed of an Academy award was with his first nomination, for the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape?. (He lost that award to Tommy Lee Jones, for The Fugitive.) That's the one time I feel comfortable stating that he definitely should have won and didn't, and after he didn't get an Oscar nomination for Titanic in 1998, I feel like we've just been coasting from there.

We can't believe that even though his first Oscar nomination came twenty years ago and his most iconic performance came a mere four year after that, that this guy still doesn't have that most-coveted piece of statuary yet — The Academy Award. And because of that, we keep throwing him into the ring in years we feel like he might have a solid shot. Or a decent shot. Or just…a shot at all. There are always front-runners and favorites, but the Academy is an impressionable group, and if you offer them the same choice enough years in a row, statistics suggest that at some point they're going to pick it just to say they did.

And that's what makes me nervous. As we all know, the Academy does have this perplexing little habit of occasionally giving away an award based on a career versus the actual performance at hand. I mean are you really gonna tell me that The Reader was Kate Winslet‘s best movie ever? That if you want to catch the cream-of-the-crop of Meryl Streep performances, you should invest 105 minutes in The Iron Lady? We've set a dangerous precedent for giving an award based on the past, just in case that person's best performances are already behind them.

But I don't think that way about Leo. He's already been in the business for decades, demonstrated an immense variety in his creative output, and fostered relationships with some of the most talented people in the business. After years of work and careful nurturing of his own innate talent, Leo long ago reached a point of self-sufficiency in his career. He gets to do exactly what he wants with exactly who he wants, and only that. I want to see the kinds of projects and roles that Leo selects for himself going forward, and part of that means not rewarding him with an Oscar for work that isn't Oscar-worthy.

He can do better, we've seen him do better. It would be like rewarding Scorsese with an Oscar nomination for The King Of Comedy just because he'd already made Raging Bull and Taxi DriverNot only would it have undermined the quality of the award, but it would have cast aspersions on Scorsese's work itself, as if he wasn't capable of doing good work again solely because he hadn't been rewarded for it in a really specific way.

I didn't feel that way about Scorsese, and I don't feel it now about Leo. I think his best work is ahead of him, and even if it isn't, I have too much respect for Leo and the performers he's up against to hope he triumphs here just because we feel bad that he hasn't so far.

I guess what I'm saying is — the kid can wait. And I really hope he does.

(Photo: Mary Cybulski – © 2013 Paramount Pictures)