Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Life in Pictures: Leonardo DiCaprio

With his new movie J. Edgar about to hit the big screen, we look back on Leonardo DiCaprio's film career. There has been much debate as to whether he is in fact the new "King of the Wood", so we thought we'd jump into the ring and throw a punch in DiCaprio's favour.

Image: Fohnjang Ghebdinga

WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE
This film is, without a doubt, DiCaprio’s standout piece from the early years, when a starry-eyed boy just wanted to make it big in Hollywood. Set in the fictional town of Endora, the film sees the young ‘un take on the role of a boy with a developmental disorder. Although the film gave the actor his first Academy award nomination, the rave reviews didn’t translate at the box-office.
ROMEO + JULIET
We know that DiCaprio has since gone on to star in critically acclaimed modern classics; however, pre-millennium, the American sent pulses soaring as pubescent girls clambered to catch a glimpse of the baby-faced heartthrob – even if it was only via a cinema screen.
Baz Luhrmann’s contemporary re-telling saw DiCaprio step into the shoes of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lover. Critics were in two minds over it; but audiences (girls, girls, girls) lapped it up.
TITANIC
The monster smash. Little needs to be said about this movie. James Cameron, Kate Winslet, DiCaprio, and foggy car windows. That’s a wrap.
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Athos, Porthos, D’Artagnan, and the other one feature in this film, in which Leo plays King Louis XIV, a desperate man trying to keep his identical twin brother, Philippe (also DiCaprio), off the thrown (where he rightfully belongs). The film was panned by critics – it is a pretty silly movie – but girls, girls, and more girls enjoyed it.
THE BEACH
The epic flop after such great expectations. Directed by Danny Boyle, the movie sees the lead head out on a beach tripping adventure. Starting in Asia, we follow Richard (DiCaprio) as he makes his way to a secret paradise island. With the help of two French backpackers, he goes off in search of this weed filled haven, finds it, indulges in some sex, drugs and rock and roll, and then ends up back in The United States sitting in a café. Yeah, not our cup of tea either. Cool psychedelic soundtrack though.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
This Steven Spielberg helmed project marks the beginning of a young DiCaprio starting to come into his own. Based on the life of trickster Frank Abagnale, Jr., Catch Me If You Can shows a more sophisticated, cool DiCaprio in front of the camera, who’s in total control of his incarnation.
The movie was a box-office success, raking in six times the budget. Wow. Crime does pays – at least in this case!
GANGS OF NEW YORK
This American war epic saw DiCaprio take on the role of an Irish immigrant battling against a Cutting gangster. While the film has its flaws, and isn’t Scorsese or DiCaprio’s finest film, the actor, although not the star of the film, puts in a strong performance - albeit with a dodgy Irish accent.
THE AVIATOR
Leo’s back in embodiment mode with the air based ride, as he gives us a glimpse into the life of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. The movie saw Scorsese back in control of his subject and DiCaprio firmly on the ascent to establishing himself as a bankable leading man.
BLOOD DIAMOND
One of our favourites from the DiCaprio catalogue. Based on the conflicts in Africa, which arise from the trade of diamonds from mines in African war zones, Blood Diamond sees Leo play a cunning South-African smuggler, who becomes possessed after hearing about a million-dollar find. This guerrilla tale tackles a provocative subject and highlights DiCaprio’s prowess and conviction as an actor as he excels in the role of the selfish man, having already played the vulnerable, the sexy, the extremist and more.
THE DEPARTED
The Departed is a film that is as much about the actors as it is the renowned crime helmer, Martin Scorsese, who, after decades of making classic films, finally walked away with the Oscar for best director for his work. The film went on to become Scorsese’s highest-grossing movie, as well as one of the biggest for leading man Leo, who, wasn’t bad, by the way!
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
For this turn, DiCaprio reunited with Titanic co-star Kate Winslet to show us the struggle of trying to live out the American dream. DiCaprio delivered an emotionally charged, desperate performance, that sits comfortably in a highly respectable, versatile filmography.
SHUTTER ISLAND
With this psychological, gothic thriller, Scorsese had some fun with us. As two US Marshals step of the boat and into bedlam, the audience is simultaneously thrown into a labyrinth of flashbacks, hallucinations and haunted houses. Mix that with the criminally insane, a few movie references, and an outstanding performance by a consumed leading man, on the hunt for a missing patient, and you’ve got yourself one corker of a film.
INCEPTION
Like Titanic, Christopher Nolan's summer smash needs no introduction. It was big, bold, profitable and toyed with many levels of our unconscious minds. It's not as clever as some would have you believe, but we still enjoyed it - and it hasn't done its lead any harm.

VERDICT:
Having rummaged through old DVDs, and trawled through online states, the verdict is in. From DiCaprio’s body of work, it’s fair to say that he can stand in the ring with the big boys for a bit of sparring; however, he’s far from delivering the knockout blow (it's Ali's birthday so we're in a boxing state of mind).
If status is measured by the quality of films alone, DiCaprio could possibly emerge victorious. But, if box-office deliverance is anything to go by, his takings (bearing in mind half of the revenue was made from one sinking ship), pail in comparison to the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow, not-so-funny man Will Smith and couching tiger Tom Cruise, who seem to have opted for careers in the lucrative lane rather than the thought provoking equivalent.
Nonetheless, DiCaprio is one of the finest actors of our generation, and so, seeing as we’re not money minded, we’re going to crown him the new king. But look out Leo. Gosling's making moves behind you.

FG

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