It was decided weeks and weeks ago – Leonardo DiCaprio will win Best Actor for being cold in The Revenant. Everybody knows this. Everyone in his category knows this. Even science knows this. Have you seen the Best Actor analysis on FiveThirtyEight? There’s basically no way he can lose at this point because, as they point out, here are the nominees:
The Academy is weighing five legendary performances on which to bestow the best actor award: Leonardo DiCaprio in the first fifth of "The Revenant," Leonardo DiCaprio in the scene with the bear, Leonardo DiCaprio toward the end of "The Revenant," the part in "The Revenant" with Leonardo DiCaprio and the bison liver, and Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Departed." I can't wait to see who wins this category.
Usually though, when it’s this much of a foregone conclusion, like Daniel Day-Lewis, for example, the industry is a lot more… respectfully resigned? Leo’s upcoming crowning, however, well, does it feel different to you?
At the Directors Guild Awards this weekend, where Alejandro G Inarritu was given the top honour, making it a very tight 3 way race for Best Picture between The Revenant, Spotlight, and The Big Short, Matt Damon was there in support of Ridley Scott. While on stage, Matt decided to highlight the difference between The Martian and The Revenant. That there was no suffering on his movie. That there was no going over budget. That they not only met their budget but even finished on time.
“Every night at 6 o'clock, the horn blew and Ridley and I went to dinner. And that's how you make a movie, and we finished the film really early and we saved 2 million bucks. And Leo – we weren’t cold at all. I’m just sayin’. There’s another way to do it.”
Jokes, jokes, of course, of course. Just a little friendly teasing. But… is it? Many of the people in that room are also Oscar voters. Maybe Matt’s giving them something to think about.
And he’s not the only one. Johnny Depp, who missed out on an Oscar nomination, was honoured last week at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. During a lengthy discussion about his career with Leonard Maltin, Johnny talked about working with Leo on What’s Eating Gilbert Grape:
“I respect Leo a lot. He worked really hard on that film, researching and showing up ready to work — and I tortured him. I really did. He was always talking about these video games. ‘No, I will not give you a drag from my cigarette while you hide from your mother again, Leo,’ [I would say].”
I’m not sure this is how Leo wants to be remembered. Don’t forget that for a while it was rumoured that many Academy members saw him as a young, cocky punk. And he’s tried so hard for so long to not be Jack Dawson, not be that annoying kid brother, not be anything but a Serious Filmmaker who works on Prestige Films with Acclaimed Directors. It’s an interesting image parallel he’s been fighting, both with the audience and with his peers. A large part of the audience insists on holding on to Titanic. And part of the industry still sees the boy from that era too. That’s what they’ll be looking at when he’s on stage holding his Oscar on February 28th.
Attached - Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon at the Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon yesterday in Beverly Hills.