A lot of people think that this will be finally be the year of Leonardo DiCaprio. ScoopWhoop’s Oscar poll shows that as well -- with over 80 percent respondents picking the actor to win the Best Actor trophy. The buzz around the world about the movie, and the performance, also seems to be on similar lines.
But I disagree. I disagree not because The Revenant is a bad movie. It is a visual masterpiece, based on the 19th-century real-life tale of survival of Hugh Glass, which transports you into an era far removed from the present. It's a world where the outdoors are harsh, unforgiving and spectacular.
But I disagree, because as good as Leonardo is in the film, it simply shouldn’t be adjudged as the best performance of the year. Tom Hardy, the antagonist-in-chief, holds your attention far more than Leonardo... there is a visceral, evilness that seems to envelop him and he should definitely take home the Best Supporting Actor. But sorry Leo, you should have to wait.
Matt Damon in The Martian owned the screen -- he was entertaining, funny and made you share his despair. By the end, you were egging him on -- you were firmly in his corner. That was a magical performance. Honestly, Leonardo simply doesn’t do that.
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl is masterful in a not-so-great movie. Redmayne’s transformation for the film is remarkable, and it’s without a doubt that his emotionally raw performance carries the entire production. The film could have been researched better, but instead it ends up glossing over the real issues. But Redmayne does what Leonardo fails to do -- he shines in a difficult role.
Leonardo, on the other hand, at times seems to sleep walk through the role. The much-talked about bear attack is grisly in detail, but that’s about it. There are moments but an actor has a few in every movie. The intensity never seems to infuse a certain edginess to the performance. In fact, it is a disappointment. When you've heard so much about it, you certainly go in expecting more.
The views of one of the voters for the Oscars, published in The Hollywood Reporter, seem harsh, but hit the nail on the head. Here's what the voter said:
“I rule out Leonardo immediately because it's a ridiculous performance. They are running his campaign based on how hard it was to make the movie, right? I'm tired of hearing about it — that's what he gets paid for! I mean, this was not Nanook of the North, for Christ's sake. Give me a break. He got millions of dollars, and I would assume they had heaters. The fact that he's never won before? He's a young man, he still has time.”
Indeed, he still has time. Given that Leonardo has come close to winning the trophy with masterful performances in Catch Me If You Can, The Wolf Of Wall Street, The Departed and so many other movies, to finally see him win it for The Revenant would be a travesty of sorts.
Those were performances worthy of the award, make us admire him and earned our respect. Unfortunately, The Revenant act is just not in the same league.
Despite what I think about it, Leonardo will probably win. But it will be as big a tragedy as him not winning an Oscar so far.
Feature Image: The Revenant's Official Facebook Page.