Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-worthy Portrayal of Hugh Glass

Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role – an award that he has yet to win, despite outstanding performances over the years. He received the nomination for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant.

DiCaprio has been nominated to receive an Oscar for Best Actor five times: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and the Revenant (2015).

awardoscarThis year, DiCaprio is running against an extraordinary group of actors: Bryan Cranston, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, and Matt Damon. In 2013, DiCaprio lost the award to Matthew McConaughey for his portrayal of Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyer’s Club – a movie which chronicled the struggle of an HIV-positive straight male in the 70’s who worked his way around regulations to deliver unsanctioned treatment to AIDS patients in the United States.

According to Vanity Fair, McConaughey “lets the audience share all his rage grief and fear.” This contrasts with DeCaprio’s portrayal of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, which was a movie that was meant to be watched, but not experienced.

This year may prove to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year – he has already won a Golden Globe, a British Academy Film Award, and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for his role.

Moreover, his performance in The Revenant was closer to the Hanks side of the “Pitt-Hanks Continuum” described in Vanity Fair’s article, “Why Leonardo DiCaprio Didn’t Win the Oscar.”

The article argues that the “cool actor invites admiration, envy, and desire, much more than empathy, because he is unreadable. His characters leave you wondering what it would be like to be them, without ever imagining that you could.”

Photo by Colin Chou

In The Revenant, DiCaprio is anything but cool. He is a character desperate to survive. He is a character who witnessed his son’s murder while he was constrained to a stretcher made of branches and furs.

As a result, the audience feels the fury that powers his crippled body across the frozen grounds. We feel the pain of the numbing cold and biting winds. We taste the raw bison liver that he eats to combat starvation.

It was a performance that spoke with few words, but is sure to yield an Oscar win for DiCaprio.

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