Leonardo DiCaprio has been chasing the Oscar dream since he was 20 years old. His first nomination came thanks to his supporting role as a mentally handicapped child in 1994’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and since then he has been nominated two more times - for lead roles in both The Aviator and Blood Diamond. But each time the star’s potential moment in the Oscar spotlight has come, it has gone by just as quickly.
So now here we are in 2014. For the second time in his career, DiCaprio has received a nomination for a performance in a Martin Scorsese movie, this time the title in question being The Wolf of Wall Street. While the film has been surrounded by controversy due to its extreme amounts of sex, drugs and adult language, one thing that most critics have been able to agree on is that the star is at the top of his game in his performance. He has already won Best Actor – Comedy trophies at both the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice Awards, and he is definitely considered a contender among the five other names who are up for the Best Actor Oscar this year as well. But is this the year that DiCaprio should win?
The star certainly deserves the recognition of a nomination. Starring as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, an insanely rich stockbroker with a taste for extreme excess, DiCaprio is more magnetic than he’s ever been while also portraying one of the most despicable, sleazy protagonists of the modern era. As much as you want to punch the guy in the teeth, it’s insanely fun and funny to watch his own interpretation of the American dream unfold in the most extravagant way possible. Belfort is slime, but you love DiCaprio for doing it so well.
More than just a great singular performance, the star’s work in the film demonstrates an impressive range that we don’t always get to see from him. As he said in the opening of his Golden Globes acceptance speech, "I never would have guessed that I would have won for Best Actor in a comedy." Since maturing out of being a teen actor, DiCaprio has almost exclusively done dramas with a darker edge, but the Wolf material brings out a bright charisma in him that just knocks you to the floor. Given how often things are done over and over in Hollywood, perhaps the greatest achievement here is doing something completely different.
Brilliant as the Wolf of Wall Street star is, however, he also happens to be competing in what is probably the most stacked single category on the docket this year. Like DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey just took home a incredibly well-deserved Golden Globe for his turn in the true life drama Dallas Buyers Club, but one must also consider the heart-stopping performance of Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave, Bruce Dern’s stellar black-and-white turn in Nebraska and Christian Bale’s weird-but-engaging con artist portrayal in American Hustle. The category is so stacked that the best way to find the proper winner may just be to throw a dart at a list of their names.
Is this the year that Leonardo DiCaprio should win his Oscar? Is Jordan Belfort the character he should go down in the record books for playing? Answer our poll below and explain your choice in the comments section.