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Commentary: Leonardo DiCaprio constantly snubbed, not king of Oscar world

Courtesy of MCT

If I could sit down with the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, I would have one question for them.

Why isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio good enough?

He was snubbed again for this year’s Oscar awards, as the Academy ignored his performance in “Django Unchained.” This marks the fifth year without so much as a mention of DiCaprio on an Oscar ballot.

The 38-year-old started acting when he was 14 and since then has graced the silver screen in a long list of extraordinary films.

His breakout role was his portrayal of protagonist Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s “Titanic,” a film that garnered 14 Oscar nods. Just about everyone at least got a mention. It’s like the Academy voters were waiting outside the film’s premiere, scattering nominations over the crowd.

Guess who didn’t catch the attention of Oscar voters, though? DiCaprio.

The 1997 film shattered box office records when it came out and remains the second-highest grossing film of all time in the U.S. with nearly $660 million. It is second in the U.S. only to another James Cameron film, “Avatar,” which grossed about $100 million more than “Titanic.”

Among “Titanic’s” Oscar nominations were Best Actress in a Lead Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for Kate Winslet (young Rose DeWitt Bukater) and Gloria Stuart (old Rose), respectively. Neither won, as Helen Hunt (“As Good as It Gets”) and Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential”) took the respective prizes.

But DiCaprio wasn’t even nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role among the likes of winner Jack Nicholson (“As Good as It Gets”) and nominees Matt Damon (“Good Will Hunting”), Dustin Hoffman (“Wag the Dog”), Robert Duvall (“The Apostle”) and Peter Fonda (“Ulee’s Gold”).

“Titanic” was phenomenal and the chemistry between DiCaprio and Winslet made the movie a hit. An unforgettable love story unfolded on-screen between the pair, and the movie has a magical quality that viewers can get lost in no matter how many times they’ve seen it.

This was just one of the many times DiCaprio has been snubbed though.

“Catch Me If You Can,” “Gangs of New York,” “Revolutionary Road” (which adorably reunited him with Winslet), “Shutter Island,” “Inception,” Best Picture-winning “The Departed” – DiCaprio didn’t receive so much as a nod for any of these films. 

His latest snub came when nominees for the 85th Academy Awards were announced and a nod for DiCaprio’s scene-stealing performance in 2012’s “Django Unchained,” nominated for Best Picture, was wrongfully missing from the list.

The Academy couldn’t throw Leo a single bone for any of his riveting performances? The man has more talent in his left pinky than just about any person I’ve ever met or seen on screen. I’m not saying he can do no wrong … I’m just saying I haven’t seen it yet.

To be fair, he has been nominated for three Oscars. (Key word: nominated, as in, not a single win after about 24 years in the business.)

DiCaprio’s latest nod was in 2007 for Best Actor for his performance in 2006’s “Blood Diamond.” Before that he received another Best Actor nod in 2005 (“The Aviator”), his first nomination since 1994 when he was up for Best Supporting Actor for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” 

I’m not sure what it is about Leo that scares Oscar voters.

Is it his ability to execute near-flawless performances in a wide range of characters? Maybe they’re too stunned by his growth, from portraying the wide-eyed lower class artist Jack Dawson to the charming yet brash plantation owner Calvin Candie in “Django Unchained.”

Is he too good looking? Too well-spoken? Do Oscar voters get intimidated by his focus on his career, generally staying out of the negative glow of the harsh limelight?

For someone with as much talent as Leo and as long of a resume, his lack of Oscars is unsettling. 

Maybe the Oscar voters will be kind enough to keep Leo in mind next year, after the much-anticipated “The Great Gatsby” releases in May. If not, I guess they’re just proving my point.

The 85th Annual Academy Awards are slated to air Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC.


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