Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Leonardo DiCaprio

I recently watched two good movies featuring Leonardo DiCaprio – "Blood Diamond" and "The Departed" - and I was very impressed with both of his performances. In the first one he plays Danny Archer, a former mercenary from Zimbabwe turned into a smuggler in Sierra Leone, who embarks on a journey through rebel territory to help an indigenous fisherman, who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields, to find his family and recover an extraordinary rough stone. Leo gives a great performance, building a very credible white African character, even when it comes to the accent. On the second of the movies, Leo plays Billy Costigan, an agent of the Massachusetts State Police who works undercover within the Irish mafia in the area of South Boston. Paired with a handful of great actors – Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, etc – Leo manages to shine over all of them, building a character that will for sure be remembered for many years. Born five days before me, in Hollywood, his debut was “Critters 3” (1991), a very bad comedy-horror movie which nobody should ever watch; but in 1993, Leo appeared in two quite good movies: “This Boy’s Life” (co-starring with one of his favourite actors, Robert De Niro, and Ellen Barkin) and, especially, one of my all-time favourite movies, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”, from Swedish director Lasse Hallström, in which he co-stars with Johnny Depp and Juliette Lewis, playing Arnie Grape, an autistic kid who insists in trying to climb up on the water tower of the little village his family lives in. Leo received his first Academy Award nomination (Best Actor in a Supporting Role) for this movie, and lost it to Tommy Lee Jones (“The Fugitive”). Then, he continued having quite good roles in not-so-good movies, like “The Basketball Diaries” (a drug-troubled kid), “Total Eclipse” (Arthur Rimbaud) and “Marvin’s Room” (the angry teenage son of a harried mother, played by Meryl Streep). Then, in 1996, he made a major impact with his staring role in “Romeo + Juliet” (next to Claire Danes), but superstardom only came the following year, whith “Titanic”, the highest grossing film ever, in which he plays the poor boy in love with the rich girl (Kate Winslet) onboard the “unsinkable” ship. Even though the movie remains tied with “Ben-Hur” for most Academy Awards, Leo himself was not even nominated, which anyway is not a sin, as I think that the movie itself, despite its success, is clearly over-rated. After that, he went through a somehow bad period with appearances in quite low-quality movies like “The Man in the Iron Mask”, “Celebrity” (may Woody Allen forgive me…), “The Beach” (how could Alex Garland allow it?!) and “Don’s Plum” (you’re lucky if you haven’t heard of it). In 2002, he was back to the grand stage, led by Martin Scorsese in “Gangs of New York”, in which he plays Amsterdam Vallon, side-by-side with Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz; and by Steven Spielberg in “Catch Me If You Can”, in which he plays Frank Abagnale Jr, a young con artist tracked down by a FBI agent played by Tom Hanks. Two years later, he received his second Academy Award nomination (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role) for playing Howard Hughes in his second movie under the direction of Martin Scorsese, the very good “The Aviator”. He would lose the Oscar again, this time to Jamie Foxx (“Ray”). Leo received a third Academy Award nomination for his leading role in “Blood Diamond”, and he lost yet again, three days ago, to Forest Whitaker. But no matter how many times he will lose the Oscar (Martin Scorsese lost it 5 times, before he got it this year!), the truth is that Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio isn’t any longer the guy who plays the rebel kid; he is and he will remain a great actor!


Blogger Pedro said...

I totally agree. Actually I thought of writing about it. Fortunately I didn't as I'm sure I wouldn't do it as well :-)

I haven't seen yet the performance of Forest Whitaker but my expectations are quite high.

I also believe that the performance of Leonardo di Caprio is remarkable, specially considering the complexity of the character, a double agent, consumed by the stress or fear.

And also because the performance of Will Smith is impressive, showing (at least to me) a whole new actor in a dramatic role.

6:58 AM  

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