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.