List compiled by Eddie on 21/11/2014
It would be an almighty shame that come the end of his career child actor turned out and out A list superstar Leonardo DiCaprio ended his career without an Oscar statue in his closet. A worthy nominee many time throughout his career and a candidate for worthy winner each time if the case called for it, DiCaprio has not only crafted out an impressively positive critically received career in front of camera but a career that frequently garners great box office returns in tandem.
Making his mark with a string of impressive child performances from the likes of The Basketball Diaries and his amazing turn in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, DiCaprio has frequently shunned the pitfalls of child actors that surrounded him and gone onto collaborate with famed directors, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and more recently a partnership with the one and only Martin Scorsese that has seen him produce some of the most loved and well known films of the last few decades, including obviously the box office behemoth that was Titanic.
DiCaprio has seemingly long strived to not only make commercially viable products but hard hitting and powerful projects that oft deal with worthy subjects. A master at being charismatic, threatening and downright devious, DiCaprio has proven to be the master of many genres and his filmography of many a varied success makes it a hard task to whittle down a list of a mere ten films but for better or worse this is my personnel list and on careful consideration, thought must be paid to the tradition of most DiCaprio characters meeting a rather grim or depressing fate, must be in his contract?
As always these films are not based on performance alone but the film as a whole and as an added warning all write ups contain massive SPOILERS so please if you have yet to see one of the titles below do not read the write up. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS – BEWARE.
Happy reading and happy watching.
10. Titanic (1997)
DiCaprio plays – Jack Dawson
Now before you bemoan the inclusion of this weepie favourite, one must think hard upon not only the technical mastery on show by the blockbuster king James Cameron but the ability to fashion out a touching and affecting tale no matter how schmaltzy things get. An epic in all the meanings of the word, you must remember its ok to like Titanic.
Characters fate – drowns in icy waters, dies.
9. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
DiCaprio plays – Frank Abagnale Jr.
An extremely fun and well-made piece of entertainment, Catch Me If You Can saw the teaming of fun wizard Spielberg and on the top of his game DiCaprio into a true life tale that brings the goods. Topping things off with a fine supporting turn from Tom Hanks, the team working behind this one is hard to fault. Perfect for those lazy Saturday nights in with a movie.
Characters fate – gets caught by the FBI.
8. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
DiCaprio plays – Jordan Belfort
Controversial, true, offensive, laugh out loud funny and unlike anything seen before or since, Scorsese and DiCaprio here combine to create an examination of excess and luxury that will long be regarded as a classic of modern movie making. Not for everyone Wolf of Wall Street is also a must see thanks to some stunning acting turns, masterful direction and a true life tale that has to be seen to be believed.
Characters fate – gets caught by the FBI.
7. The Beach (2000)
DiCaprio plays – Richard
Misunderstood upon release The Beach is a thrilling expose on paradise lost and features one of DiCaprio’s most committed and unpredictable turns. Based on Alex Garlands ripping novel, The Beach is a fantastic collaboration between author, director Danny Boyle and an acting team well and truly on top of their game. This one will make you think twice about a tropical retreat.
Characters fate – goes crazy, thinks his in a video game, but escapes.
6. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
DiCaprio plays – Arnie
Back when both Johnny Depp and director Lasse Halstrom use to make meaningful and worthwhile movies, DiCaprio joined in with the prestigious team to steal the show as the young mentally challenged Archie. A touching, funny and extremely unique look at small town life, family and love, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a movie that stands the test of time and acts as a true showpiece for DiCaprio’s talent even at his young age, in what was a duly Oscar nominated role.
Characters fate – Mentally handicapped, lives with brother.
5. The Departed (2006)
DiCaprio plays – Billy
A rip roaring cops and crims tale, The Departed was both a critical, audience and box office darling that finally saw director Martin Scorsese awarded with a Best Director Oscar. Filled with memorable acting turns, brutally surprising story turns and cracking dialogue, The Departed is a classic of its genre and a highly entertaining flick.
Characters fate – gets brutally murdered, therefore dies.
4. Inception (2010)
DiCaprio plays – Cobb
A much loved Sci-Fi experience, Inception is high thinking conceptual story telling at its finest and while slightly overrated by many, is a film worthy of many of its successes. DiCaprio himself is on great form in a film filled to the brim with striking visuals, interesting ideas and a great cast led by the always impressive direction Christopher Nolan.
Characters fate – who knows really!
3. Shutter Island (2010)
DiCaprio plays – Teddy Daniels
A uniquely atmospheric and mysterious journey to the darkest depths of the human condition, Shutter Island is a psychological thriller to match all others. With a fantastic twist, an intriguing central concept and fine direction by Scorsese once more, DiCaprio was a part of an overall fantastic experience that perhaps doesn’t garner the attention it deserves.
Characters fate – gets lobotomized.
2. Blood Diamond (2006)
DiCaprio plays – Danny Archer
Blockbuster movie making at its most moving and thrilling, Blood Diamond is a stunningly well-made film by Edward Zwick that was championed by two fantastic lead turns from DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou. Dealing with a topical and serious issue facing many African people this day, Blood Diamond is a film worthy of all its audience and critical love.
Characters fate – gets carried to the top of a mountain, then dies.
1. Django Unchained (2012)
DiCaprio plays – Calvin Candie
A western unlike any other, a comedy despite all that goes on around it and a stunning expose of the American slave system, this is Quentin Tarantino at his finest. Whip smart scripting (and actual whips) abound in this often brutally violent and frequently lough out loud funny tale of revenge, love and dentistry. DiCaprio has a blast as Calvin Candie and in the process created one of cinemas most memorable villains, not least for his efforts of bleeding for his art.
Characters fate – gets shot in his own library, dies.
Honourable Mentions – The Basketball Diaries, Revolutionary Road, Gangs of New York, The Aviator
How does this list compare to your Top 10 DiCaprio films? Where’s Romeo + Juliet you say? Are there fans perhaps of The Great Gatsby? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear your thoughts!
For our other actor Top 10’s check out these below –
I love your review! I have serious issues with it but I love the thoughtfulness and passion involved. I completely DISAGREE with your honorable mention of The Aviator. I personally think that is his greatest performance as he completely embodied Howard Hughes, bringing life and light to a man once widely perceived as crazy. I immediately follow this film with Django Unchained, Wolf of Wall Street, Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can rounding out the top five!
That’s the great thing about him mate his just done so many fantastic films. I wouldn’t say this list is based solely on his performances though, if it were the case the list would absolutely fluctuate a little.
For sure!! He is one of the best actors alive right now. His range and versatility is off the charts. Brilliance!!
Ah, I’ve been a fan of Leo since he had zits. Love your list, but I do disagree–The Aviator was wonderful. I’m glad you mentioned The Beach–a choppy film, but his performance was strong, I agree. I think the character he completely disappears is –What’s Eating Gilbert Grape–still in my mind, one of the finest portrayals on the screen. I liked Wolf more than you–to see him in comedic role with energy and enthusiasm–really catapulted his talent in my eyes. Great post 🙂
Cheers Cindy. He certainly has possessed a unique acting ability since a young age and I always look forward to his projects.
Can’t argue with any of these Eddie! I did pay attention to your spoilers warning (which was ample clear), but was so intrigued by what you were compiling here I might have accidentally ruined Shutter Island for myself, but I’m sure in a couple weeks’ time I will have forgotten his character’s fate. I have heard so many mixed things about that film, but the fact remains its a Martin Scorsese pic that I cannot miss.
Man I love it, absolutely worth looking into. It has a pretty high standing on IMDB which makes me think most people react well to it and it’s a very interesting project for Scorsese to tackle.
I completely agree with your inclusion of Catch Me If You Can. Before that film, my mom thought of Leo as a teen heartthrob pretty boy. After that film, she saw him as a serious, impressive actor. He has since become a family favorite, so much so that my mom, younger brother, and I all went to see The Wolf of Wall Street together. On Christmas day. 🙂
That is the type of family movie outing I like to hear about ha. He really is such a quality actor, he can appeal to all those from young to old.
Great choices there just shows how good an actor he is. i would have J Edgar for his performance in there too
He was really good in that. Shame about the movie that surrounded him.
An excellent list! I particularly approve of Django Unchained as his number one performance; it’s a role which DiCaprio relishes, and it shows throughout the movie. A truly funny and scary villain, perfect for Tarantino.
I would love to see them team up again down the line, they seemed to relish working together.
These are great picks! I am the one and only fan of The Great Gatsby but more from a visual perspective than a performance one. I think I might have added Basketball Diaries,
Oh visually it is fantastic, but very overblown. Basketball Diaries is a quality drama for sure.
Django is the best film on the list, especially if you are focusing on Leo’s performance. Titanic needs to be higher but I think you got the top ten mostly right. Others are expressing a lot of love for The Aviator, my memory was that it was mechanical and weakly structured. Not a film I dislike but one I never felt a need to revisit.
Yeh I felt the same about the Aviator, it was one once it finished I never really had a desire to watch again. A nice Leo performance but not an overly memorable movie.
Happy to see What’s eating Gilbert Grape in that list, and The Beach. Both of the movies are quite underhyped in my opinion, although they really belong to the best of DiCaprio’s Movies 🙂
I also enjoyed Basketball Diaries, and I think I would put out The Wolf of Wall Street on my list and instead put the Basketball Diaries inside 🙂
The Beach is one of those movies you can watch any time and it still entertains. A very original and unique little tale.
Good list, Ed. Although, I guess Blood Diamond also deserves an honourable mention.
It rocks in at number 2 on the list my man 🙂 So no need for an honourable mention, it is a great film.
Oh crap! I read it as Body of Lies while scrolling through. My mistake! 😐
Haha all good my man! Body of Lies was probably one of Leo’s weaker movies, that one felt like a bit of a non-event.
I think the only film of his I’ve ever actually seen from start to finish is WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, which was excellent. In a way, it may be to my detriment as a film viewer because, any time I see him, I picture that he is Arnie, so any character he may be doing, in the back of my head, is actually Arnie. I’ve never seen the entire thing of TITANIC, but I love Kate Winslet and know I need to give that a shot some time. Still need to see DJANGO UNCHAINED. Aside from that, I think most of the films he does are in a genre that just doesn’t interest me, so I’m not sure I’ll get around to them.
His made some crackers mate but each to their own. He is a very powerful performer.
Superb list here! I absolutely adore DiCaprio and cannot fault any of his performances. He is always mesmerizing!
One day he may even win an Oscar 🙂
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Please, please, please update this list to include Revolutionary road and Romeo and Juliet – His performance in the Revenant was good, but personally I think he has done better in other films! I judge this list for having The Beach so high lol
Ha his just made to many good ones lol.
Ha his just made to many good ones lol.h
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Good list, I like it (I have come here from the Matt Damon list). Most people here moan that “The Aviator” did not make it to your list, and I would agree with them, but I would rather see “The Basketball Diaries” on the list. Such a heart-wrenching and raw performance by Leo there. I think he had one crying scene there which I will forever admire and cherish. Actually I consider his performances when he was younger superior to what he is doing now.
That is certainly a film I need to go back and see, I think I was to young to fully appreciate it when I first saw it. Thanks for the reminder!
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