DiCaprio: The modern mystique remains unrewarded

Last week Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller ‘Shutter Island’ was released in India without any fanfare. The critics praised it, mainstream audience (by and large) thought about purchasing a ticket to watch the master and his favourite actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) come together before deciding on catching Rajneeti, again.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s story beyond the celluloid has been something on the same lines. The boy who caught everybody’s eye as Johnny Depp’s autistic younger brother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape before touching superstardom as the doomed lover in James Cameroon’s Titanic has surprisingly never found favour with any major award jury.
Be it the role of an Irish thug returning to America to avenge his father’s murder [Gangs of New York - Scorsese] or the young fraud who baffled the FBI for decades before joining the ‘feds’ [Catch me if you can – Steven Spielberg], Leo just could not get the jury to nod in his favour. These two were films where young Leo was an understudy to seasoned thespians like Daniel Day Lewis (GONY) and Tom Hanks (CMIYC), and understandably despite Leo’s eye catching performance, it were the senior pros who made the headlines.
Next in line was The Aviator (Scorsese again!) where Leo played the role of eccentric and delusional millionaire Howard Hughes with absolute conviction and panache, also getting nominated for the Best Actor Oscar in 2004. Jamie Foxx trumped him that year, while unfazed Leo went on to join forces with his favourite director Scorsese to come up with a scorching performance in The Departed.
Sharing screen space with heavyweights such as Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Mark Whalberg, Leonardo’s portrayal of Billy Costigan, a smart undercover cop who is in tatters psychologically while he risks his neck every time he comes out of his apartment to play the double game won accolades all over. With Blood Diamond also coming out that year, 2006 was destined to be his year. The Golden Globes and Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated him in the Best Actor category for both Blood Diamond and The Departed. More importantly he also earned an Oscar nomination for lead actor in Blood Diamond and a BAFTA nod for lead actor for The Departed. Needless to say, he won none of them. Judging fine arts, more often than not, is based on parameters which are mostly abstract which you can feel but can’t gauge. Leo, I guess, has suffered by strutting in the gray zone unapologetically.

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