Unpacking Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar 'Snubs'

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There's a growing chorus that seems to be saying that if Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't win an Oscar this year it will prove that everything is wrong with the Oscars. But let's look closer at the notion of Leonardo DiCaprio: Oscar reject. 

Earlier this month, Marlow Stern at The Daily Beast wrote that DiCaprio's loss for The Aviator "set off a string of Academy Awards injustices aimed at the former teen idol, who at this point has been screwed over by the Academy more than a surgically-enhanced extra on the set of Entourage." Today, Salon's Dan D'Addario argues that the reason DiCaprio doesn't win is that he doesn't take on the roles that typically win Oscars, "playing a famous person, or undergoing some notable transformation." And then there's the Twitter chorus that simply wants Leo to win

The chorus of frustration over Leo's lack of Oscar success has been going on for some time now, but there have always certain caveats to the argument.

DiCaprio's turn in The Aviator is certainly the stuff that Oscar voters love—it's a biopic with physical transformation from a big deal director. But while you may not be a fan of Jamie Foxx's winning performance in Ray, DiCaprio's Howard Hughes wasn't exactly iconic at the time, nor has it become so in the decade since.

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Tom O'Neil of Gold Derby explained to E! in 2011 that Leo didn't win in 2006 because he was nominated for Blood Diamond instead of The Departed, since Warner Bros. asked him to campaign as supporting for the Scorsese movie.  

In 2008, when he wasn't nominated for Revolutionary Road, you can credit that to the fact that the Academy on a whole did not show much love to the movie, only nominating Michael Shannon in the supporting category.

DiCaprio had no movies in 2009, but was back in 2010 with Shutter Islan(a movie moved out of Oscar season, which was probably for the best) and Inception, and you have to save the Inception related Oscar-outrage for Christopher Nolan's directorial snub, after all, since it isn't really an actor's movie.  

The fact that DiCaprio didn't get nominated for Django Unchained last year is perhaps one of his biggest injustices, considering it seems like he lost out due to the success of his co-star Christoph Waltz, who had just won for a different yet similar part in Inglourious Basterds (and was probably a lead besides).

DiCaprio's nomination for Wolf is his fourth, but even if he doesn't win this year—and he probably won't—he may not have to wait much longer to be rewarded, as so many are worried he will be, for a sub par later-in-life performance. (His Scent of a Woman or his Color of Money.) Marlon Brando was nominated three times before he won for 1954's On the Waterfront. Gregory Peck has four nominations before being awarded in 1962 for To Kill a Mockingbird. DiCaprio will make a lot more Oscar-caliber movies. He almost exclusively works with established directors with good Oscar track records.

If you really want to be worried about an actor not getting his due, let's remember that Bruce Dern is up for Nebraska this year. The 77-year-old character actor has only been nominated once before. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.