After four nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio's latest film, The Revanant, may finally be the charm for an Oscar win

By Alynda Wheat
January 08, 2016 03:45 PM
Twentieth Century Fox

How badly does Leonardo DiCaprio want that Oscar? Three words: raw bison liver. That’s right, the actor munched on a real bison liver for a scene in The Revenant, opening wide on Jan. 8. When you’re willing to spend nine months of your life on a film shoot, freezing your tuchus off for the pleasure of gnawing on raw offal in director Alejandro Iñérritu’s esteemed presence, you want an Oscar like people in hell want ice water.

Which isn’t to say that Leo doesn’t have a right to be thirsty. After all, he’s been nominated for the golden guy four times, and he deserved it many more times than that. (Seriously, Academy, no love for Leo in Inception, Shutter Island, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, Gangs of New York or Revolutionary Road? Y’all trippin’.) But – and I say this with well-founded optimism – this could finally be Leo’s year. Dust off your mantle, DiCaprio, here’s why you could (finally) win.

1. Goodwill
The fact is, Hollywood likes the guy. He’s not only a verifiably talented actor, he works hard to champion his projects. He does the awards-season circuit without seeming unctuous, and he’s always professional on set. Those may not seem like big-deal credentials, but you’d be shocked at how many actors come up short.

2. Weak Competition
That’s not to say that his competitors for this year’s award season gave less than stellar performances, it’s just that so few of them are getting any traction. No one is really talking about Bryan Cranston in Trumbo, Matt Damon in The Martian or Johnny Depp in Black Mass. Spotlight and The Big Short were such impressive ensemble efforts that it’s been difficult for stars like Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell and Christian Bale to break out. Michael Fassbender seems to have peaked early for Steve Jobs, and no one has even paid attention (in this country, anyway) to Tom Hardy‘s phenomenal work in Legend. That leaves Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, but he’s got two strikes against him. First, he won the Academy Award last year for The Theory of Everything. Second, the best thing about The Danish Girl is Alicia Vikander. That leaves a clear lane for Leo.

3. It’s Leo’s ‘Turn’
Granted, the whole notion of someone having a “turn” is bunk, but look at Leo’s resume and tell me he doesn’t have a sparkling body of work. In his 37-year career (!), he’s filmed with the very biggest directors, including Christopher Nolan, Sam Mendes, Danny Boyle and Quentin Tarantino. He has such a tight partnership with Martin Scorsese that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton look at each other and say “damn!” If they give it to Leo for The Revenant, no one is going to think back on that win with regret.

4. He’s Terrific in The Revenant
Which brings me to the most important point: Leo is really good in the movie. As Hugh Glass, a wilderness guide left for dead by fur trappers, he communicates suffering and tenacity in every small gesture. He holds the film, with its epic two-hour and 36-minute running time, on the strength of his eyes – which, for a good swath of the film, are all he can move. He’s nothing short of mesmerizing, even in the face of The Revenant‘s brutal violence and Emmanuel Lubezki’s breathtaking cinematography. Arguably, his is indeed the very best performance of the year. (Read our full review here).

So, in short, Leo is not only well poised to win the Oscar this year, he actually deserves it. After all, man does not live by raw bison liver alone (if, God willing, he lives at all). Shiny gold statues help.