Matt’s Top 5 Favorite Leonardo DiCaprio Performances
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most diverse actors in the history of cinema. While he was great in “The Revenant,” in my opinion the movie as a whole was a bit lackluster. But there’s no denying that DiCaprio’s résumé is nothing short of brilliant and astonishing. I consider him to be the actor of my generation, not only because of his star power, but also his performances and memorable moments in cinema will be remembered and studied for a long time.
This is a tough list for me to create, especially when choosing only five. But, 10 would honestly be harder when you think about it. So, with that said, here are my top five favorite Leonardo DiCaprio performances.
#5. Jack Dawson – Titanic
I have to start off with this one because it’s the first film I ever saw him in. My 7-year-old self didn’t have the brainpower to respect DiCaprio at the time. To be honest, I was kind of jealous of him because all of the girls in my third grade class would only talk about him instead of paying attention to me. All is good though, as I grew older and watched the film a bunch more, I started understanding and enjoying his performance as Jack Dawson. His fun, free-living personality and loving character is timeless in cinema and makes his death at the end one of the most tragic I’ve ever seen. Rose would’ve never been able to live without Jack Dawson, and “Titanic” wouldn’t have been able to stay afloat as long without Mr. DiCaprio.
#4. Danny Archer – Blood Diamond
Since Danny Archer is my favorite protagonist of all-time, it’s safe to say I love DiCaprio’s performance as the Zimbabwean diamond hunter. The story of “Blood Diamond” keeps everything together, but Archer and Solomon Vandy’s relationship drives the story forward. They are two excellent performances that couldn’t have been done by any two others. Some of the best of DiCaprio’s talents can be see throughout Archer’s character arc as he creates a despicable man who has a good heart, leaving you angry with tear-shined cheeks in the end.
#3. Calvin Candie – Django Unchained
DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson were the best parts of “Django Unchained.” I consider the film to be pointless in most regards, because it just doesn’t give me enough reason as to why it was made in the first place, but I will watch it again specifically for DiCaprio’s performance as Calvin Candie: 100% evil and 100% enjoyable to watch. This performance demonstrates the diversity DiCaprio is capable of. Take Jack Dawson, Richard from “The Beach,” King Louis XIV and Philippe from “The Man in the Iron Mask,” and Frank Abagnale Jr. from “Catch Me If You Can” and compare it to Calvin Candie. You’ll see how his riveting performance as Candie captivates you in the same way the other performances do, except instead of swooning over DiCaprio’s good looks, you’ll be horrified by Candie’s wickedness.
#2. Billy Costigan – The Departed
Everyone loves those Boston accents, even someone like me who’s an avid New York Yankees fan. When I first heard of “The Departed” and saw the cast list for the first time, DiCaprio is the only one who stuck out in my mind. In 2006, the only DiCaprio performances I had seen were from “Titanic,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and snippets from “The Man in the Iron Mask.” I hadn’t seen DiCaprio in an R-rated film that is full of cussing quite yet. So, when I saw him on the cast list, I was a bit taken back and surprised. Without my parents knowing, a friend and I got his mom to buy us tickets to “The Departed,” and we went with adolescent anticipation. DiCaprio honestly blew me away with his performance as Billy Costigan. Not because of the insane amount of cussing that most teenagers love to mimic, but he literally played one of the best characters I had ever seen on screen. It introduced me to DiCaprio’s dark side a.k.a. his truly brilliant side as an actor, making me that much more interested in studying the art of acting itself.
#1. Frank Wheeler – Revolutionary Road
This is one DiCaprio performance that not too many people have ever heard of, in my experience at least. It’s understandable, since “Revolutionary Road” wasn’t that big of a blockbuster like “Titanic,” “Inception,” and “The Departed,” but the film has some of the best conversations/scenes of dialogue in cinema. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet team up again after their lovers’ tragedy in “Titanic,” and you really get to see how far they’ve come as actors in the 11 years since Jack & Rose sank into our hearts, especially DiCaprio himself. While DiCaprio has always portrayed great characters that have great strengths and weaknesses. This is the only performance of his that I would classify as him portraying an actual human. Every time I watch this film, he captivates me to the point that I forget I’m watching a piece of art. It’s a wonderful experience that will leave you heartbroken in the end, and that’s mainly because of the death of Wheeler’s ambition and adolescence.
DiCaprio is fantastic in everything he has worked on. Yes, most of the films have great directors who are masters at framing, composition, and blocking, but none of the films would be as great if they didn’t have DiCaprio. Just like he’s the real reason “Titanic” could stay afloat for as long as it did, DiCaprio is the wind in the sails for his films, which will allow them to voyage through the ocean of cinema until it doesn’t exist any more.