The Revenant appears to have all the qualities to win best picture, giving Leonardo DiCaprio a chance to finally crack it for Best Actor before they decide to make a film about his sad story of near misses.
The recent trailer for The Revenant has quickly generated plenty of Oscar buzz and it’s got us thinking about what exactly is required to win an Oscar, and wondering why Leonardo Dicaprio has never won Best Actor.
DiCaprio has been Hollywood’s golden boy for a long time, from adolescence to the brink of middle age he has graced the big screen in increasingly diverse roles. Leonardo is now 40 years old and quite frankly it’s a crying shame an actor this good has never won best actor, despite four nominations. He’s been consistently terrific, even before his breakout mainstream success with Titanic. Opposite Johnny Depp in 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape he was outstanding, just as he was in 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street. He’s been nominated for best actor in a leading role for The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), and The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as best supporting role for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. How The Departed (2006) missed out in all that will forever be a mystery. He’s won plenty of Golden Globes but can’t get over the line at the Oscars. Some will be familiar with the following:
The memes on the topic of his non-success at the Oscars are countless. Everyone acknowledges his talent, so what is stopping him? Has he been in the wrong films, is he out of favour with the members of the Academy, is the long wait to make it that much sweeter when it finally comes?
It would be a crime if his role as an environmental activist is affecting voters. He’s extremely passionate on the subject of climate change, drives a Prius and recently pledged $10 million to a host of environmental causes. He’s made many speeches on the matter, quoted here in the Guardian he says:
“The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore. We have a responsibility to innovate a future where the habitability of our planet does not come at the expense of those who inhabit it.”
Recent Oscar winners such as Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) have been much younger and less experienced. The desire is there for DiCaprio, although he remains humble and philosophical rather than jaded.
The Revenant could turn everything around. Due out in December of this year it seems to have the necessary qualities to make a big impact at the Oscars, with the added star power of Mad Max: Fury Road lead Tom Hardy. But what are the necessary qualities? www.independent.co.uk positions this list:
- Make a biopic
The Academy quite likes a heart-warming true story about inspirational historical figures. The Revenant gets a big tick here as it follows legendary explorer and frontiersman Hugh Glass on his journey of redemption after being betrayed and left for dead. His willpower and love of his family is sure to get those voter’s hearts beating.
- Man Up
Only 10% of performers to star in two or more Oscar winning movies have been women. That’s a rather damning statistic that suggests the Academy likes men to be celebrated. A condemnation but the fact remains, Leo is male. Tick.
- Hire a famous and/or male director
Another kick in the guts for the ladies. The Hurt Locker has been a rare exception for female directors to take Best Picture. However the ratio of male:female directors is quite high. The Revenant has Alejandro González Iñárritu sailing the ship. Last year he directed Best Picture winner Birdman. He’s a man who goes the extra mile for authenticity, evidenced by his chat with The Film Stage:
“Actors were not in sets with green screens and laughing. They were miserable! And they really feel the fucking cold in their ass! They were not acting at all!”
- Know your audience
Apparently the majority of those who vote are white, male, and at an average age of 62. So, they in no way whatsoever represent the diversity of the public who go to see films. The picture of the academy being painted here hasn’t been a pretty one so far. A tick here too.
- Silence isn’t necessarily golden
Only one silent film has ever won the Oscar, Wings in 1927-28. The more noise the better. That explains why critically acclaimed masterpiece Drive wasn’t acknowledged at the awards with Ryan Gosling really turning down the dialogue. It could also spell trouble for The Revenant. While it’s not a silent film, Leo’s character is nearly wordless. He also spoke to The Film Stage:
“It was a different type of challenge for me, because I’ve played a lot of very vocal characters. It’s something that I really wanted to investigate — playing a character that says almost nothing. How do you relay an emotional journey and get in tune with this man’s angst … without words?”
- Give it a snappy title
Long titles don’t do it for the Academy, they’re just not sexy enough. Exceptions to the rule include No Country For Old Men and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The magic number is three words or less. The Revenant is safe there. No mention of how many syllables are required, oh well. Tick.
- Make it long
Only five of the past thirty winning films have been less than two hours long. While the official runtime of The Revenant hasn’t been released yet, it’s being postured as an epic, which promises a lengthy sit-down at the cinemas. Possible tick.
- Don’t make em’ laugh
Just nine comedies have claimed the coveted statue in the history of the awards. Solemnity and suffering seem to be preferred by the sadistic voters. Judging from the story and the trailer, there won’t be much cause for mirth in the Revenant. Tick.
- Keep the British end up
Movies about Britain, starring Brits, or directed by Brits are looked upon favourably. 53% of the past thirty winners have had one of these elements on board. The Revenant has all bases covered with British actors Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Paul Anderson co-starring, along with Irishman Domhnall Gleeson. Tick.
- Go to war
Films about war, animals in war, and uplifting stories about people in wartimes are sure-fire winners at the Oscars. Unfortunately The Revenant doesn’t quite qualify, despite it’s apparent abundance of action and conflict with native Americans and other members of his company. Cross.
- Make it period
Twenty out of the last thirty winners have been set in the past, opposed to the present day or the future. Hugh Glass lived from 1780-1833. Big tick.
If there was ever a time to be confident about predicting the Best Picture award halfway through the year and without even seeing the film, it’s now. In fact the final scene is yet to be filmed due to the location being compromised by a lack of snow and a colony of bees.
However, The Revenant passes all but one of the above tests and it appears to have the right ingredients generally. Director Iñárritu is already an Oscar winner, Tom Hardy is an ‘it’ man in Hollywood at the moment and Leonardo DiCaprio has always been a magnetic figure. The fact he is constantly pushing himself creatively bodes well, this time taking on a desperate yet silent character.
The ambitious nature of the film, shot using only natural light and in sometimes harsh conditions only increases the buzz. DiCaprio spoke about some of the struggles:
“To pull off these complicated sequences, like a ballet, movement needed to be precise. When it came down to that nail-biting moment to capture that magic light, every day was like putting on a mini-piece of theater. If we lost that one hour, if we didn’t accomplish what we had to accomplish, we were there the next day.”
What do you think of the trailer?At the ripe age of forty, Leonardo DiCaprio has one of the best chances of his career to win an Academy Award.
Intensely private as far as close circles of friends go, Leonardo DiCaprio has been a mystifying man for over twenty years now. You can read more about him in Fashion Industry Broadcast’s Style Icons Vol 5: Idols, available from Amazon and all good book stores.