By now it has become an accomplished fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a problem with Leonardo DiCaprio. Freakish as it may sound, along the years it became notorious that the Academy does have a problem with certain people. Surely, they had a problem with Richard Burton. And with Peter O'Toole, when he was at the top. And with some directors, like Hitchcock (of all people!) It's very odd, but it's the way it is.
DiCaprio's performance (at age eighteen) in What's Eating Gilbert Grape was not one of the best by a supporting actor in 1993. It was one of the greatest performances by any actor in the entire history of films. As simple as that. The fact that it didn't make him go home with the best supporting actor Oscar will remain forever one of the freakiest episodes involving the Academy Awards. Since then, he has been nominated for this and that, but never won. In 2008 he was seen in Revolutionary Road, as Kate Winslet's husband. They were both exceptionally good. His performance in particular represents the very best of the great American tradition in acting. The fact that it didn't get him even a nomination means that the Academy is not what it claims to be. More likely, it's an odd organization run by people who either don't know the first thing about films and the people who make them, or quite simply don't care. In any case, it's not to be taken seriously.
They have just announced this year's nominations. Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar was left out. I happen to be an actor myself. The year 2012 marks the 40th anniversary (in September) of the first time I went out there on the stage and did what actors do. Since then I've done quite a few things, mostly on the stage, sometimes on TV, seldom (alas) in films. I don't think I can be accused of boasting if I say that I know two or three things about acting. Just enough for me to be able to say that Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover having been left out of the best actor's list of nominees is an appalling act of contempt for the fact that acting is an art. It's a slap on the face of actors all over the world.
I really don't know if I missed something. Did DiCaprio ever say or do anything that the Academy took badly to the point of openly ostracizing him in such a massive way?
Well, what's done cannot be undone and that's the way it is with them. By having his amazing talent overlooked by the Academy, Leonardo DiCaprio will have to keep company with other minor performers who, according to whoever decides these things, may have been good enough to satisfy their undiscriminate fans, but certainly not to go home with an Oscar in their hands. People like Charles Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Orson Welles, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Liv Ullmann, Max Von Sydow (unless he finally wins this year!!), Marcello Mastroianni, Claude Rains (who didn't win even for his fabulous Captain Renault in Casablanca), Jean Arthur, Thelma Ritter, Dirk Bogarde, Lynn Redgrave, Giulietta Masina, Myrna Loy ...
I don't know. It seems to me that the list of actors who never won the Oscar is more impressive than the list of the ones who did.