Following a resounding performance against the elements, the bar for Best Actor has been set to extraordinary heights for our scruffy, albeit baby-faced Leo. This performance includes, and is very much limited to: grunting, mumbling, crawling, convulsing, dreaming, eviscerating, hunting, murdering, staring, and breathing. Hitherto this performance, there has never, ever been more of a cathartic display of method acting. Ever. No one has prepared for this role quite like our underdog Leo. Except maybe this guy:
or this guy:
HOLY SHIT. Is that the living, breathing embodiment of Daniel Day Lewis’s Abraham Lincoln? No. It is actually Abraham Lincoln. But, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as such.
But, this is beside the point. Just check out what folks are saying about Leo’s chances in attaining a shiny Oscar trophy this year:
People published four groundbreaking reasons why, including:
As if, every actor has their turn at the Oscars. It’s just their time. Think a rite of passage to other Oscars. Every actor has that.
Or this poetic excerpt from a succinct, bullet-point list brought to you by Fashion & Style:
Okay, so this is comparable to the sentence: The palm tree was passionate about its role on the beach. Or: The chicken was passionate about its role as sustenance for the human race.
Granted, I am quoting tabloids. Quite frankly, I don’t have time to skim through other critics’ bombastic praising of Leo’s performance.
Okay, here’s Kate Taylor of Globe and Mail:
Yea, his eyes are pretty intense. And his desperation for an Oscar is pretty transparent.
Now that I have just illustrated the overwhelmingly positive consensus for this film, let me say this: I didn’t care for Leo’s performance in this film. *gasp*
Now keep in mind, I am no contrarian. I am a mere moviegoing simpleton; hence my inexplicable love for the new Star Wars flick, despite it being a rehashed, marketing ploy from the commercial masterminds at Disney (still not a contrarian, really. Even if I was, get over it). Fulfilling the role of the moviegoing simpleton is tuff, man. You gotta be open to whatever hits the theatre during any particular weekend, while also keeping an open mind of the good and bad elements of that “whatever”. Since I happen to be a simpleton, everyone else is a critical expert- thus why I happen to disagree with the general public. Moving on.
Leo is good. Just not Oscar-worthy good. What is Oscar-worthy good, you ask? I am just as clueless as you are. Hence, my general frustration with the measure of quality aligned with awards. Look, Leo. Good ole Leo. You were great as a slave owner. You were great as Howard Hughes. You were whatever as a romantic counterpart on a wrecked ship. You were simultaneously revolting and intriguing as a Wall Street tycoon. Here, you are just good. Not exactly exceptional, but pretty commonplace amongst the canon of method actors (I know, pretentious statement).
As with Leo’s performance, there are other aspects of this film that are open to discussion. Hence, we dive into the endless abyss of what coulda been done betta:
Change the tagline from Inspired by True Events to Inspired by the Allure and Empty Promises of Award Ceremonies:
We all know why we’re here, in the theatre, enduring the elements with Leo and friends. Enduring this middle ground between full-fledged, racist depictions and romanticized, peaceful imagery of Native Americans. We’re here because Oscar season is getting close, folks. This follows with expectations. This is why I am declaring that Leo didn’t blow me out of the water. Hence, disappointment. Hence, why I am a bit cynical about this whole awards shindig. Hence, why am I even placing expectations on the mere promise of an Oscar-worthy performance? Iñárritu is a fine director. He has a consistent track record of expertly teasing those wet tears out of viewers’ eyes. Unfortunately, he has fallen into a downward spiral of rugged, albeit flawless, Oscary spectacle over meaningful CGI. Your nearly impossible filmmaking conditions are grounds for my skepticism. No one has gone this far to beautifully film in such a harrowing environment without a minimum quota of 35% CGI. Even Indie, low-budget flicks follow this requirement. It just isn’t possible to thrive in this dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood without giving viewers what they really want. Which brings me to my next point:
Starring MAMA BEAR & FAM with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.
Not until 30 minutes into this are we graced with the real star of the show: The casual cameo from the Mama Bear. Think about it: She was the impetus for Leo’s harrowing journey. She was the reason why the hunting party left Leo under the questionable care of Tom Hardy’s character. She was our first taste into the unforgiving and relentless nature of…well, nature! Where’s the buzz for this magnificent actress? Luckily, there is one NBC Today interview where the star manages to steal some time away from Leo’s spotlight, in which the interviewer suggests that this year may be her big break from all of the oscar snubbing in her past. She responds:
“These things are … beyond your control,” [she] told Willie Geist on TODAY Friday. “It’s in other people’s hands now.”
A bear with such humbling origins (for christ’s sake, she calls her opulent, isolated estate a forest), deserves the utmost recognition for her performance; as she physically wrestles machismo and metaphorically, attempts to halt the destruction of the white man upon indigenous populations and uncharted territories.
Also, did I just appropriate Leo’s response in an NBC Today interview for the sake of proving this bear’s remarkable performance? Indeed.
Leaked transcripts of some clueless studio executive bringing up some eleventh hour concern like, “Seriously guys, I don’t know if there’s enough racism in this one”.
Followed by: I don’t know how audiences will receive the idea of Native Americans overcoming an all white, male cast in the end.
Is there a lawsuit in the making for this bear attack?
Guys, we can’t seriously expect that audiences will appreciate this film without a ton of behind the scenes hype.
What do you mean over-budget?! And it’s past deadline?!
What is Leo doing in that one shot; the last one-the one where he looks directly at the camera. Is he making a plea to the Academy? Isn’t that too on the nose? He might as well whisper “Oscar”.
I assure you, I am not attacking Leo here. He’s been through enough Oscar snubbing. Poor Leo. The best recognition that any average, well-intentioned person has received from dragging themselves in the dirt and snow is a relentless period of inquisition from local police officers, followed by a night in the drunk tank, followed by an awkward phone call for help. Most people just don’t receive positive reinforcement for such behavior. I’m sure Leo will do just fine at the Oscars. And in life.