Pop 5: Leonardo DiCaprio Films

daniel cohen looks at leo’s best…

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Leonardo DiCaprio is easily one of the best actors working in Hollywood today. He passes the ‘I’m still good even in bad movies’ test (*cough* J. Edgar *cough*). But when you look at this guy’s body of work, he usually doesn’t have that problem. Look at the directors he’s worked with — Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron…geez louise. And now with DiCaprio off working with yet another iconic director (Quentin Tarantino), I thought we’d shuffle through the Leo library and break down the Top 5 Leonardo DiCaprio films:

5.) Blood Diamond (2006):

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Directed by Edward Zwick, a truly underrated director, this was one of DiCaprio’s 3 Oscar nominated performances, and well deserved. While a little slow at times, Blood Diamond is tense, action-packed, and gives us the wonderful pairing of DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou. Their relationship makes the film, and even as they form a bond throughout the movie, they still get at each other’s throats 90 minutes in as both need each other to recover a diamond in West Africa. While 5th on the list, it’s without a doubt one of DiCaprio’s best performances.

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4.) Catch Me If You Can (2002):

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Not only is this one of DiCaprio’s career highlights, it’s one of Spielberg’s best, and maybe his most underrated movie. Catch Me If You Can is pure fun. DiCaprio plays con-artist Frank Abagnale Jr., and it’s an absolute blast watching him con every one in his path. Pretending to be everyone from an airline pilot to doctor to lawyer, DiCaprio is the ultimate swindler, but a character you can’t help but root for, especially since we sympathize with him early on as a kid back in the days when DiCaprio could play anyone from age 16 to 33. With great supporting roles from Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken, this is a more character focused Ocean’s 11 without the stylized shenanigans.

 

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3.) The Departed (2006):

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-In a movie with Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Mark Wahlberg giving the performance of his career, DiCaprio for me was the stand-out in this awesome and tense crime drama from Scorsese. I loved DiCaprio’s Billy Costigan, a cop who goes into the scariest undercover mission of all time. And even though the character was a total bad ass, DiCaprio was able to give the character plenty of dimension, as he’s just a complete wreck at times. Plus he smashes some guy’s face in with a glass when he makes fun of him for ordering cranberry juice.

 

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2.) The Aviator (2004):

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This was the best DiCaprio/Scorsese pairing, and also the performance of DiCaprio’s career thus far. Scorsese stays consistent from the very beginning as the film focuses nearly 100% on Howard Hughes’ eccentricities. DiCaprio is simply awesome. There are moments here that boggle my mind as to how DiCaprio balances control of someone who is skirting the edge of going completely nuts. The last scene of this movie is absolutely haunting. If you love watching great acting and haven’t seen The Aviator, get on Netflix right now.

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1.) Inception (2010):

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Inception is proof that we just can’t take the Oscars seriously sometimes. While it was nominated for Best Picture and won a few awards, the fact that Christopher Nolan didn’t even get a nomination for Direction is laughable. It’s one of the most brilliantly structured films I can remember in years. And while this is really an ensemble piece, I can’t imagine this movie working without DiCaprio. The moments where he just looks beaten down as a result of going into people’s dreams for years are riveting, but it’s those scenes where Cobb has to butt heads with his deceased wife (Marion Cotillard) inside his own mind is where we are reminded of why this guy is in today’s elite acting class.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.