Today we’ve ranked the top Leonardo DiCaprio performances and three that were 100% Oscar-worthy.
He’s one of the most talented, versatile, and unsung (Oscar-wise) actors of our generation.
And although he’s appeared in some amazing films, some of the ones which didn’t do as well at the box office are often the ones where his performance was off the scale.
Here we’ve listed Leo’s top 11.5 performances – not films – to date.
P.S. The top 3 were so difficult to number because they’re all as phenomenal as each other in different ways.
WARNING: The next section contains spoilers
11. Catch Me If You Can
In Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg’s only movie together to date, Leo plays the part of Frank Abagnale: a true story about a young man who stole millions of dollars successfully pretending to be a doctor, a lawyer, and a co-pilot – all before he turned 21.
And it’s DiCaprio’s charm and charisma that really make this a stand-out role for him. Although he’s a huge crook, you can’t help but admire him and fall (a lot) under his spell.
10. Romeo + Juliet
No list of Leo’s top performances would be complete without a nod to Romeo + Juliet.
Although this wasn’t his first starring role, it was a film that really cemented his place in the spotlight (and on thousands of bedroom walls). Not only did he act his socks off, but he also looked good doing it. Young Leo could hit me with a truck and I’d still apologise.
Next on our list of Leonardo DiCaprio performances ranked is Titanic. Although Titanic has gained a reputation for being nothing more than a soppy chick flick with a well-known soundtrack, it’s so unwarranted because the film is fantastic.
There aren’t many other actors who, in under four hours, could go from meeting a girl for the first time to convincing us that he loves her enough to die for her… not just once, but twice.
Whether or not you like the story, whether or not you like the film, the fact remains: Leo’s performance was outstanding.
Although this is one of my favourite Leo movies as a whole, I don’t think this role allowed him to showcase his talent as much as some of his other ventures – hence why it comes in at number eight.
Playing the role of Cobb – a thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology – we watch as his story unfolds in a surprising and tragic way. Leo’s performance makes us grieve for the enormous loss that he bears a lot of guilt for.
7. Shutter Island
Here’s another film where Leonardo DiCaprio has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
Playing the role of a U.S. Marshal, we’re constantly kept in suspense as to what the shocking truth is that he uncovers. But the way that truth is played out is what makes this one of Leo’s top performances. Everything about it is first-class. And the ending is in another Inception-Esque mind-bender…
6. The Wolf Of Wall Street
Next on our list of Leonardo DiCaprio performances ranked is The Wolf of Wall Street. Despite having a director and two actors that I love, I’m in the minority of people who didn’t enjoy this film. But, of course, DiCaprio was undeniably brilliant.
Leo’s portrayal of obscene Wall Street broker, Jordan Belfort, was played up to the hilt. But while Belfort is a deplorable figure, DiCaprio manages to inject sympathy into the man throughout the film, transforming this scheming con artist into someone you both loathe and pity at the same time.
5. The Great Gatsby
Every time I watch this film, Leo’s performance always tugs at my heartstrings in a way that few others ever have.
DiCaprio plays a man who’s completely besotted with a woman he fell for before he went away to war. She married someone else, and he spends the rest of his life trying to become wealthy enough to win her back.
Although he plays a character who’s ever-optimistic, you see his total vulnerability around Daisy. You see the pain when he wants her to tell her husband that she never loved him. It’s one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s most compelling and moving performances, and one that I feel is entirely underrated.
4.5. The Aviator
You’re probably wondering why this gets a .5 score. Well, I found the first half of this film to be painfully slow. To the point of almost turning it off – but then Leo came into his own and I was completely engrossed until the end credits.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Howard Hughes – record-setting pilot and perfectionist film director – who suffers from germophobia and psychological illness. It’s when this becomes more prominent – to the point of insanity – that DiCaprio really shines.
If you manage to survive the first half, you’ll be blessed with a performance that’ll keep you glued to the screen.
4. Django Unchained
This is the only film (aside from arguably The Man In The Iron Mask) where Leo has really played the bad guy – and boy, does he deliver.
A brutal Mississippi plantation owner who forces slaves to fight for his own entertainment, DiCaprio is the inhuman monster you just love to hate.
And although he was initially uncomfortable with the number of racial slurs he had to use, Samuel L Jackson and Jamie Foxx encouraged Leo to take his character to the extreme.
Considering he famously slammed his hand through glass in an incredibly tense scene – but kept acting until the cameras stopped rolling – I’d say he nailed it.
3. The Departed
Most people didn’t think Martin Scorsese could top his previous gangster masterpieces, but The Departed’s eye-wateringly good cast, masterful directing, and suspense-filled story make it a mob movie to remember.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as the undercover cop infiltrating Boston’s most notorious gang is all kinds of perfection. “I got to play somebody who was constantly in angst, having 24-hour panic attacks, which is something I never got to do before,” said DiCaprio.
You feel his fear, anger, vulnerability, loneliness and fatigue throughout the film. You worry for him, root for him, hope for him, and despair for him.
For these reasons – for the complexity of emotions Leo had to display and provoke from the audience – I rate this above Django and Wolf Of Wall Street which others may score higher.
It took Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese just one day to decide to do it, and it’s still the only film that bagged Scorsese an Oscar for Best Director. But if we had to pick just one film to be remembered for, this is a damn fine one to choose.
2. The Basketball Diaries
Based on Jim Caroll’s autobiographical work, The Basketball Diaries is a dark but compelling film that captures the hidden side of addiction.
Leo plays the part of Jim: a young boy who goes from being a talented high school basketball star to a strung-out heroin addict turning tricks for drugs.
Despite playing the lead role at just 19 years old, Leo’s stellar but heart-wrenching performance accurately depicts the horrific descent of an addict.
The desperation to score, excruciating pain going through withdrawal, and shame at prostituting himself for 35 bucks is all depicted so believably, you could easily be watching a fly-on-the-wall documentary.
But it’s gritty films like these that Leo is born to play. Even Carroll himself said, “I came out of the theatre after seeing The Basketball Diaries thinking, ‘Leonardo DiCaprio can do anything.’”
Make no mistake, this is not a happy film. It’ll leave you feeling desolate and depressed. But if you never watch it, you’ll have missed out on one of DiCaprio’s all-time greatest performances.
1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
And here we are. At the top of Leonardo DiCaprio top-ranked performance. Surprised at the film? Unfortunately, the best performances are sometimes in films that don’t deserve them. This is one of those films.
Although Johnny Depp plays the lead role and does so admirably, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s depiction of an autistic teenager that steals every scene.
In his first oscar-nominated role, 19-year-old Leo brings sensitivity and authenticity to a part that might have come across as distasteful. In fact, his performance was so convincing, several Hollywood film critics were surprised to find out that Leo didn’t actually have a disability in real life. If that’s not a sign of incredible talent, I don’t know what is.
The fact is, Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Arnie Grape is simply sublime. From the improvised ‘nose flick’, the subtle hand gestures and mannerisms, to the way he blinks just that little bit slower and ever so slightly out of sync. This is the kind of talent that you just can’t teach. You either have it or you don’t.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is not a great film. Not by a long chalk. But if you want to see one of the finest bits of acting you’ll ever have the privilege to witness, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.
And that’s our list of the top 11.5 Leonardo DiCaprio performances ranked and 3 that were 100% Oscar-worthy. Are there any we missed out that you would like to have seen on the list? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out more from our movie pages HERE.
Book To Movie Adaptations Coming Soon
It seems that Hollywood is on an adaptation bender these days. With the upcoming Dune film to the To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix franchise, there is a lot of money to be made in book to screen adaptations. And there are a ton of them in the works. Here’s 15 book to movie adaptations that will soon be coming to a screen near you.
1. The House of Gucci – November 24th, 2021
You don’t have to wait long to watch this true story unfold. Written by Sara Gay Forden, the book goes into the real-life whodunnit of the murder of Maurizio Gucci. Starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, this film is coming out this November.
2. Where the Crawdads Sing – June 24, 2022
This bestseller is going to premiere next summer on Netflix. The book, written by Delia Owens follows Kya; a young woman with a turbulent life, who becomes the prime suspect in a mysterious murder. Daisy Edgar-Jones is set to play Kya.
3. The Nightingale – December 23, 2022
The Nightingale, written by Kristin Hannah, follows the lives of two French sisters after their lives are torn apart by World War Two. The film stars sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning and is set to be released on 23 December 2022.
4. The School for Good and Evil – 2022
Written by Soman Chianani, The School for Good and Evil is a middle-grade standout. It takes place at twin schools that kidnap two children every year. Alongside the children of famous fairy-tale heroes and villains, these children are then trained at either the School for Good or the School for Evil. Eventually becoming the next generation of fairy tales. This film has big names in the cast, such as Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, and Kerry Washington. The main characters Sophie and Agatha will be played by Sophia Ann Caruso and Holly Sturton. Shadow and Bone mainstay Kit Young will also be in this adaptation. It has wrapped filming and will come out sometime in 2022.
5. All Quiet on the Western Front – 2022
Who else remembers reading this in school? The classic was written by Erich Maria Remarque and chronicles the horrors of World War One. The book is being adapted as a film by Netflix. It’s going to be directed by Edward Berger and will star Daniel Bruhl. This is actually the third time the book has been adapted for the screen and will premier in 2022.
6. House of the Dragon/ Fire and Blood – 2022
Rejoice Game of Thrones fans, there’s more coming your way. Based on the book Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin, this Game of Thrones spin-off follows the Targaryens 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It’s being produced by HBO and will be a ten-part limited series. It’s set to premiere in 2022.
7. Bridgerton (Season 2) – 2022
The pandemic hit Bridgerton has also been renewed for season two. The second season will cover The Viscount Who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn. This love story will centre around Anthony Bridgerton. There’s no official release date, but speculation puts it at 2022.
8. A Discovery of Witches (Season 3) – 2022
AMC +’s Discovery of Witches has been renewed for season three. The show is based on Deborah Harkness’All Souls Trilogy. It centres around actors Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as a vampire and witch who fall in love. It’s set to premiere sometime in 2022.
9. Shadow and Bone (Season 2) – 2022/2023
Netflix’s Shadow and Bone has been confirmed for a second season. It will cover the events of the second book, Siege and Storm. It’s also unclear if it will dip into the Six of Crows duology. You can read more of our coverage of season two of Shadow and Bone here.
10. Ninth House – TBD
Written by the same author of Shadow and Bone, Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s adult fiction series. It follows Yale freshman Alex Stern, who has the ability to see ghosts. She is hired to oversee the dark magical dealings of Yale’s secret societies and gets caught up in forces beyond her imagination. Picked up less than two days after its release in 2019, Ninth House is in the works for an Amazon series adaptation. The show does not have a release date yet and is still in pre-production. Leigh Bardugo is currently writing both the sequel and the show, according to her Instagram.
11. They Both Die at the End – TBD
When Mateo and Rufus are told that they will die, they befriend each other to enjoy their last day. After the project fizzled out at HBO, They Both Die at the End has now been picked up for a tv show by Entertainment One. The show will also be written by the author of the book, Adam Silvera. There is no release date yet.
12. The Selection – TBD
A staple of 2010s dystopian fiction, The Selection by Kiera Kass is right up there with Divergent and the Maze Runner. The Selection follows America Singer, who is selected to compete in a Bachelor-like competition to select the next Queen. What feels frivolous quickly becomes a high-stakes competition for the fate of the country. The Selection is set to premiere on Netflix as a movie. Haifaa Al-Mansour is attached to direct. You can expect to be able to watch The Selection in mid-2021.
13. The Red Queen – TBD
Another mainstay of mid-2010’s dystopia is the Red Queen series, by Victoria Aveyard. The Red Queen is set in a world divided by blood colour. The silver-blooded have superpowers and rule over the kingdom. The red-blooded are powerless; living in poverty and serving as cannon fodder to the war. But when red-blooded Mare Barrow reveals the power to manipulate lightning, everything changes. Elizabeth Banks is executive producing and directing The Red Queen for a TV series at Peacock. She will also play a key role. We’re still waiting on a release date, but Aveyard has co-written the pilot.
14. Blackout – TBD
Blackout is a collection of short stories following black teenagers who stumble upon love in the middle of a blackout in New York City. Authors include Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, and Ashley Woodfolk. The collection is going to be adapted into a six-part anthology on Netflix. The Obamas are actually producing Blackout under their flagship Higher Ground banner and Temple Hill. There is no release date yet.
15. Long Way Down – TBD
Written by Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down takes place in the sixty seconds the main character decides whether or not to murder the man who killed his brother. It’s being adapted into a feature film by Universal and is produced by John Legend and Michael De Luca. There is no release date yet.
That’s our list of 15 book to movie adaptations coming out soon. Which one are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out the five things you missed in Bridgeton Season One HERE.
Read iMDB information on The House of Gucci HERE.
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