Dreaming of another hit
|Average User Score||7.5|
|Titanic (1997) 74|
|Best Opening Weekend||$41.1m|
|Shutter Island (2010) 63|
Leonardo DiCaprio, who rose to teen stardom in the early ’90s and ascended to permanent A-list status after dreamily reciting Shakespeare in Romeo + Juliet and co-starring with the Titanic, is a versatile performer who’s had a hard time shaking his baby-faced image. Even though he’s starred in more mature fare like Blood Diamond and Revolutionary Road, it sometimes seems as if audiences feel that he’s playing dress-up.
Inception looks to change that, with DiCaprio playing dream-spy Cobb, a modern man who’s looking to pull off one last mission to achieve emotional fulfillment. Teaming this time with The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan, DiCaprio is also able to play an entirely original cinematic character who is neither sourced from a literary adaptation (The Beach, Gangs of New York, Revolutionary Road, Shutter Island, etc.) nor based on a real-life character like his Howard Hughes in The Aviator or Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can. After this, though, it looks like he might be returning to that wheelhouse by playing famous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in an upcoming biopic from director Clint Eastwood and writer Dustin Lance Black.
Below, we look at the actor's five highest-scoring releases before this week -- as well as his five least-acclaimed movies. (We've added in a pair of older, non-scored films where we felt they belonged.) Whether or not Inception would qualify for inclusion on the "best" list below still remains to be seen; at the time of publication, the new film ranks below DiCaprio's five best works.
|1||What's Eating Gilbert Grape||1993||n/a||n/a|
|"The film's real show-stopping turn comes from Mr. DiCaprio, who makes Arnie's many tics so startling and vivid that at first he is difficult to watch."
-- Janet Maslin, The New York Times
DiCaprio’s performance as Gilbert Grape’s (Johnny Depp) developmentally disabled brother Arnie in Lasse Hallström’s brilliant adaptation of Peter Hedge’s novel is surely one of his all-time best performances. DiCaprio’s emotional performance was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. His portrayal of Arnie is so real that DiCaprio completely disappears in the role, leaving a lasting impression even to this day.
|"DiCaprio's performance is a revelation only for those who have underestimated him."
-- Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
|Martin Scorsese directed this remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs that starred DiCaprio as undercover police officer Billy Costigan, who infiltrates a Boston organized crime ring run by Jack Nicholson’s eccentric crime lord. DiCaprio put on his seriously intense face and rocked a Boston accent to play with the boys (including Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg) in this machismo-fest filled with guns, dirty rats, and exploding heads aplenty.|
|"DiCaprio shines, dispelling fears that he hasn’t the weight to carry such a complex, forceful role."
-- Simon Braund, Empire
|Teaming with director Scorsese once again after their first collaboration, Gangs of New York 72, DiCaprio played engineer, industrialist, philanthropist, and aviator Howard Hughes in a big old-school Hollywood biopic. DiCaprio’s handling of Hughes’ troubling obsessive-compulsive disorder is strong, but DiCaprio’s perpetually youthful face makes it hard to buy him playing the man as he advances in age. It’s a suitable portrayal of the icy jack-of-all-trades in a movie more concerned with craft than with actual emotion.|
|4||Catch Me If You Can||2002||76||7.6|
|"As an actor DiCaprio has long been known for his ardor, not to mention his tiresome self-seriousness, but working for Spielberg, he plays his scenes with a comic deftness I thought he didn't have in him."
-- John Powers, LA Weekly
|DiCaprio teamed with director Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks in the story of real-life con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., who conned millions of dollars, primarily as a check forger. Mustering up a handful of charm, DiCaprio deftly embodies a man who assumes so many identities that he loses sight of who he really is. His Frank is so completely realized that some of his best scenes are simply those where he converses back and forth on the phone with his pursuer, Hanks’ FBI agent Carl Hanratty.|
|"The formula at work here would have been right at home in silent melodramas, and it is to the credit of the vigorously spirited DiCaprio and the emotionally accessible Winslet that the relationship comes to life as engagingly as it does."
-- Todd McCarthy, Variety
|The former biggest movie of all time (before Avatar took the throne) starred DiCaprio as starving artist Jack Dawson, who as fate would have it finds the love of his life in Kate Winslet’s engaged Rose DeWitt Bukater on the famous doomed ship. DiCaprio’s romantic chemistry with Winslet completed his ascent to the A-list that began with his turn in Romeo + Juliet 60 the year before. Even with writer/director James Cameron’s script, DiCaprio managed to break hearts with his most-seen performance to date.|
|DiCaprio played Josh and attempted to save his town from the Gremlins-like furry alien Crites and to answer any lingering questions left over from Critters 2. Coming from television, where he already had a part in the first TV adaptation of Parenthood, Critters 3 would be the young actor’s first shot at a role on the big screen. Perhaps the experience was traumatic, since DiCaprio has never returned to the science-fiction/horror/comedy genre.|
|"Allen's canniest hire of all is Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays a bratty, destructive young star, juicing the proceedings with a power surge that subsides as soon as he exits."
-- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
|With massive success came the predictable chance to work with Woody Allen. DiCaprio’s turn as bad-boy heartthrob star Brandon Darrow seems to poke fun at young stars who trash expensive hotel rooms and look great doing it. The black-and-white photography looks great, but most everything else is quite terrible. DiCaprio, clearly subverting his Titanic role by using several color metaphors and generally behaving like a jackass, fares slightly better than lead Kenneth Branagh.|
|"Whether he's smacking into an iceberg or flopping topless onto a sandy beach, DiCaprio is still maddeningly lightweight."
-- Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
|Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) helmed this adaptation of Alex Garland’s acclaimed novel about a group of backpackers in Thailand who experience a brutal dose of reality in their island paradise. DiCaprio took on the lead role of Richard after the originally cast Ewan McGregor departed. Unfortunately, indie fave McGregor was perfect for the part of the (as-written, British) protagonist who gets in way over his head, whereas DiCaprio, consummately American, was still trying to shake his heartthrob status after Titanic.|
|4||The Basketball Diaries||1995||46||8.5|
|"Basketball Diaries is an earnest, botched effort to do justice to Carroll's book. Amazingly, though, even with Kalvert's lack of style and vision, the greatness of DiCaprio's performance is undiminished."
-- Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
DiCaprio’s first taste of the biopic, a genre that would dominate his career, started with this filmed version of the autobiographical book of the same name by poet/musician Jim Carroll (“People Who Died”). Playing the author in his youth, DiCaprio is certainly game to play the artist/street thug, but is let down by an all too simplistic (drugs are bad) and boringly predictable telling of a life filled with sex, drugs, and violence.
|5||The Man in the Iron Mask||1998||48||7.6|
|"This dopey swashbuckler offers little action but lashings of DiCaprio's soft, hairless flesh."
-- Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide
|This hodgepodge adaptation of the works of Alexandre Dumas feels more like the adventures of four musketeers. DiCaprio (in his first post-Titanic lead role) plays both villainous King Louis XIV and his more heroic twin brother Philippe. Not even attempting a French accent, DiCaprio hams it up with other paycheck cashers Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gérard Depardieu, and Hugh Laurie in this oddly flat non-starter. At best, it’s a guilty pleasure; at worst, it’s a verbose bore.|
What do you think?
Which DiCaprio films are your favorites -- or least favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.