Top 5 Leonardo DiCaprio Films

I have mentioned many times how I believe, currently, Leonardo DiCaprio is the best actor in Hollywood at the moment. More importantly, he is better than Matt Damon. Filmspotting regularly have their own debates whereby Matt Ballgame, as I recall, defends Damon whilst Kempanaar supports DiCaprio. I am firmly standing on the latter side. Can you see DiCaprio in an Ocean’s film? No. Why? Because he is better than that. Can you imagine DiCaprio playing Jason Bourne? No. Because he is better than that.
Inevitably, as DiCaprio gets older and new actors take his mantle, this opinion will change in due course, but while the iron is hot, I shall name my favourite DiCaprio roles. In fairness, I haven’t seen The Quick and the Dead, Basketball Diaries or The Man in the Iron Mask. So, if these are in fact his ‘best’ roles than I may have missed a trick. But I believe that they are not. The one glaring omission is What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Marvin’s Room – two films I have not seen, but I know he has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Oscar-nomination for Whats Eating Gilbert Grape and Screen Actors Guild-nomination for Marvin’s Room) so forgive me if these are gaping holes.

5. Romeo in Romeo+Juliet

Young, in love and romanticised. I have a feeling that if I watched Whats Eating Gilbert Grape, this film would be shuffled out. But I’m hardly going to put Titanic as better than his performance in Romeo+Juliet.

4. Frank William Abegnale Jnr in Catch Me If You Can

The film which crossed him over from teen-idol and into credible actor. Happy days. An actor playing a role, playing a role. We shall come back to this type of role again …

3. Dom Cobb in Inception

Why on earth for this year did DiCaprio get so little love from awards folk. This was a blistering performance that ensured that the emotional-heart to the film was firmly beating.

2. Teddy Daniels in Shutter Island
Yeah, not a big fan of The Aviator. I appreciate the effort on his part, but I think the role – and the film – seemed prolonged and all-over-the-place. This role required him to be conflicted and real whilst also appearing as if he has lost his grip on his sanity. We were seeing everything from his perspective and, if he faltered, the whole film would fall. And it did not fall – it stood majestically high due to his performance. The scene as we see him come home and find his children is flawless and the best acting I have ever seen.

1. Billy Costigan in The Departed

Again, an actor playing a character who is playing a role. DiCaprio seems to often find himself playing these double-sided characters. The reason why he plays these so well is because he can pitch a perfect balance between how he is presenting the character – and what is actually going on inside. My favourite performance as DiCaprio is so comfortable in the role – Costigan is going against the grain and trying to work his way up from the criminal-background his family has brought him up within. Not a shred of arrogance – just a desire to escape.
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  1. Good list but I'd throw out Romeo and Juliet which I hate and put in either This Boy's Life or Marvin's room and yeah, I agree with Hatter: Aviator needs to be in there too.

  2. @Oil Painting Courses – clearly you have a strong opinion.

    @Hatter – I haven't seen Basketball Diaries – is it really that good? I just remember, back in the day, that girls wanted to watch it because DiCaprio was naked. AVIATOR, on the other hand, I watched but had difficulty wtching. In fairness, it wasn't Leo's fault but the story just seemed to never end. Are you a big fan?

    @Mike – yeah, the Romeo one is really in there because I haven't seen MARVINS ROOM, BASKETBALL DIARIES or THIS BOYS LIFE. im sure after watching those, this would change.

    @Mercurie – We need to have something represent the young heartthrob he was. It was either ROMEO+JULIET or TITANIC…

    @Castor – and, lets be honest, out of ROMEO+JULIET and TITANIC, it had to be the former – TITANIC hasn't got taht difficult-to-deliver Shakespearian script – and as Romeo he delivers the lines so well.

  3. No, Basketball Diaries is not that good. Sure, he's a pretty good little dickhead in it as he was still quite young when it was made, but it's a bit of an annoying little drug parable in which you're (or at least I) was rooting for the protagonist to die. I guess I'm biased against it, but it's safe to say that it's pretty standard fare as far as youths-addicted-to-drugs movies go.

    I can't really argue your choices too much – a little shuffling here and there (Catch Me If You Can would certainly move up, and Shutter Island and Inception would move down), but The Departed is hard to argue at number one.

    Mostly, though, this just reminds me that I really wish Leo would branch out and stop playing martyrs/characters who die at the end of their movies. He needs to do a fucking comedy or something, stat.

  4. @Dan – Indeed Dan, I need to watch that one!

    @Fletch – Yeah, I though BASKETBALL DIARIES meant very little on the grand scheme of things. If DiCaprio made a comedy though, boom, credability lost. Probably wouldn't be funny either.

  5. Well, first of all, I'm not suggesting that he do something like Your Highness. But why on earth would you say that his credibility would be lost by doing a comedy, or at worst, just something a bit lighter? Diversity amongst one's career is a good thing, not a bad one. He's never going to be mistaken for Daniel Day-Lewis, anyway. Look at the careers of Pitt and Clooney – they gamefully mix serious and lighter fare with great success.

  6. Great post. I like your blog. I agree that his pair of roles from 2010 are amongst his best. I think that The Departed is his greatest role, though I would argue that his nominated performances for The Aviator and Blood Diamond are worthy of consideration too!


    Andy Buckle (

  7. Oh yeah, AVIATOR and BLOOD DIAMOND were considered – unlike some films I haven't seenof his – but they are simply no where near as engaging as the tormented soul, dual-character roles he has played including and sicne THE DEPARTED.

    Thanks for the comment Andy!

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