Sunday, 24 January 2016

So, is Leonardo Di Caprio winning his Oscar for The Revenant? Here are some facts and my opinion

Now we are in those 5 or 6 weeks between the Oscar nominees are announced and the award ceremony. A time that not many people care about but that I'm really into. And this year, the buzz about the big day seems to be divided between the lack of diversity and Will Smith's boycott to the golden prize, and Leonardo di Caprio's Best Actor Nomination. And if you're in Ireland, Saoirse's Ronan Best Actress nomination for Brooklyn (along other Irish artists that are running for a statue of their own).

Now, this is not the first time Leo gets a nod: 2005 - The Aviator, 2007 - Blood Diamond (plus 2014 - Wolf of Wall Street production, and 1993 - What's Eating Gilbert Grape Best Suporting Actor); but since the last time he got it, he has become some sort of Internet meme, and as some would say, his win would "break the Internet".

I saw The Revenant, film for which he is nominated, and it's ringing many Oscar bells:

✔ Based in a true story, which apparently is crazier than the movie.
✔ A 156 minutes drama.
✔ Set somewhen in the recent past, during the last 200 years of American history, telling very stylishly portrayed all-American stories, just like previous winners Argo, 12 Years a Slave, The Artist, The Hurt Locker, No Country for Old Men... should I continue?.

However, there are also some signs that he might go home literally empty-handed:

✔ Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who made Birdman, the film that got him awards for Best Movie & Best Director last year, and managed to give Michael Keaton a nomination in Leo's same category, which at the end, he didn't win (despite giving an amazing performance) thank's to Eddie Redmayne (who played Stephen Hawking on The Theory of Everything). Which takes me to...

✔ Eddie Radmayne is nominated again, for his role as Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl...

✔ And this movie combines two Oscar magnets: Eddie Radmayne and a serious and dramatic context for a man to put on a dress on the big screen. Sounds weird? Let's remember that Jared Leto -until then known for being the lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars, with some low profile acting roles-  won an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) for playing Rayon, a fictional trans woman.

✔ Besides that, The Revenant could fit in the category of Isolation Survival Drama [a movie that manages to upset agoraphobic and claustrophobic people at the same time: one person, alone in the immensity of the ocean/space/desert but at the same time, confined to a little space risking death if they make the wrong move], one that I talekd about in a post last year. This includes movies such as Gravity, Life of Pi and 127 Hours, which always get some nominations, but rarely nail the big performances.

But enough of discussing the movie itself... What about Leo's performance? 
I'd say it was great, and deserving of recognition, but the emotional range of it was too dominated by pain, sadness and anger, which makes sense because of the story, but doesn't really allow a very wide range of emotions. 
And speaking about displaying emotion in a Isolation Survival Drama, if we compare Leo's Hugh Glass in The Revenant to Matt Damon's Mark Watney in The Martian (also a Best Actor and Best Movie contender), you'll see what I'm talking about.
In The Martian, Mark is also hurt, hungry, isolated (in freaking Mars) and his team asumes he's dead and leaves him to die (showing much more remorse about it, but still). Yet, this guy shows frustration, but also a bit of madness, happiness about the little things, surprise and hope. In fact, I'd say Matt's flaw is the opposite to Leo's, his character seemed sometimes masochistically thrilled to be there and perhaps it was missing a bit of darkness.

And I have to say it, there is something about this character that feels worn out, almost like a remix of many other of his roles...

✔ A man from a vintage era...

✔ That seems to be in control...

✔ Until something goes wrong...

✔ And then he suffers...

And yes, not all his movies follow this exactly, and he doesn't die or goes mad in all of them. I won't tell you the ending of The Revenant, but it's not a spoiler to say that he goes through a lot after the bear from the trailer unstiches him like an old doll.

So, is he winning an Oscar this year? I really think he will, but I wouldn't bet much money on it either.

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