I have heard a lot of members in the Gold Derby forums saying that Leonardo DiCaprio either has been criminally snubbed by the academy or should have plenty more nominations by now. I have read comments from fans moping about how DiCaprio will never get an Oscar since he couldn’t get nominated for “Django Unchained” as if it were the last DiCaprio movie that will ever get made.
It’s starting to irritate me a little bit. DiCaprio has been one of the most successful men in Hollywood, and his fortune at the Oscars should not be overshadowed by his box office draw.
To get an Oscar nomination would certainly be an honor for any actor. To get two nominations is such a rare feat that only 72 living male actors have pulled that off, and to manage three nominations is an accomplishment only 39 living actors have done so. DiCaprio is among this last group, having reaped a trio of bids so far: “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” (1993), “The Aviator” (2004) and “Blood Diamond” (2006).
That’s quite an accomplisment considering that, at age 38, he’s younger than any other male nominated for multiple acting Oscars. Close behind is recent three-time nominee Joaquin Phoenix, who is just two weeks younger than DiCaprio, followed by Jude Law (age 40, two nominations), Jeremy Renner (age 41, two nominations), Matt Damon (age 42, two nominations), Edward Norton (age 43, two nominations), Javier Bardem (age 43, three nominations), Will Smith (age 44, two nominations), Jamie Foxx (age 45, two nominations), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (age 45), who holds the record for the youngest male among four-time nominees.
Of these 10 “junior” multiple nominees, only Bardem, Foxx and Hoffman have ever won, with one trophy apiece.
To say that DiCaprio will never win an Oscar if he hasn’t by now just sounds whiney. What we need to remember is that DiCaprio is still very young, and, as Tom O’Neil has pointed out on numerous occasions, the Oscars aren’t quick to award the young, good-looking male A-list movie stars. They might just be waiting for the “right” role to come along, and he may be in his 50s before the academy realizes he’s overdue, or perhaps once his peers start to make up the larger portion of the voting membership (remember, 86% of Academy voters are over the age of 50, with a median age of 62).
DiCaprio may not be as young as some of this year’s female nominees like Jennifer Lawrence (age 22) or Quvenzhane Wallis (age nine), but academy voters are a bit more welcoming toward younger actresses.
Also, there are many legendary actors and actresses who had to wait until they were older than 38 to win. Like Leo, they had three or more unfruitful Oscar nominations before they finally got around to winning:
- Vanessa Redgrave was 40 when she won her first Oscar, with her 4th nomination.
- Laurence Olivier was 41 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination.
- Susan Hayward was 41 when she won her first Oscar, with her 5th nomination.
- Dustin Hoffman was 42 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination (and he won another after that).
- Sean Penn was 43 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination (and he won another after that).
- Robin Williams was 46 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination.
- Gregory Peck was 46 when he won his first Oscar, with his 5th nomination.
- Shirley MacLaine was 49 when she won her first Oscar, with her 5th nomination.
- Susan Sarandon was also 49 when she won her first Oscar, also with her 5th nomination.
- Al Pacino was 52 when he won his first Oscar, with his 8th nomination.
- Robert Duvall was 52 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination.
- Michael Caine was 53 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination (and he won another after that).
- Ronald Colman was 56 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination
- Maureen Stapleton was 56 when she won her first Oscar, with her 4th nomination.
- Jeff Bridges was 60 when he won his first Oscar, with his 5th nomination.
- Paul Newman was 61 when he won his first Oscar, with his 7th nomination.
- Geraldine Page was 61 when she won her first Oscar, with her 8th nomination.
- Walter Huston was 65 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination.
- Morgan Freeman was 67 when he won his first Oscar, with his 4th nomination.
We should also remember that DiCaprio (along with other dashing A-list celebrities yet to win an Oscar like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Johnny Depp) is just that: an A-list celebrity who can still command a $20 million per flick paycheck, and can choose just about any film he wants to be in, with multiple opportunities to work with some of the most acclaimed working directors like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, and Sam Mendes, just to name a few.
While it can be tempting to say that DiCaprio was snubbed for many film roles (“Marvin’s Room,” “Titanic,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Departed,” “Revolutionary Road,” “Shutter Island,” “Inception,” “J. Edgar” and now “Django Unchained”), he would be tied for the all-time actor nominations record with Jack Nicholson if he had been nominated for all of those roles.
Perhaps more realistically, we should be looking at the impressive number of nominations he has accumulated, and how much of an accomplishment that is for someone his age.