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.
Hogwarts Houses For MCU Characters
Since its conception, Hogwarts houses have been a deciding factor in getting to know people. How someone answers “what Hogwarts house are you in?” can tell you a lot about a person. But where do some of our favourite MCU characters shape up when faced with the sorting hat?
Tony Stark/Iron Man- Ravenclaw
While Tony could be argued for almost any of the houses, Ravenclaw suits him best. Most of his development comes from the pursuit of knowledge. Aside from being one of the smartest characters in the MCU, he is constantly learning and improving upon his technology. He tends to approach large problems from a strategic and pragmatic standpoint, especially in his later films. Admittedly he can be brave and somewhat self-servingly ambitious. But who he is at the end of his arc and the way that he solves problems points to Iron Man being in Ravenclaw.
Steve Rogers/Captain America- Gryffindor
Is it even a question? Steve Rogers is definitely a Gryffindor. From day one, he has always strived to do what’s right. And he subtly wants a bit of glory for it too. He’s a natural leader and has always rushed into danger without a thought. He is undoubtedly driven by bravery and righteousness and is through and through a Gryffindor.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow- Hufflepuff
Natasha is tricky. She could truthfully swing in any direction. It may seem strange to put a spy in Hufflepuff, but if nothing else, Natasha is loyal. She cares deeply for those close to her and has shown that she’s willing to die for them. Her characterization throughout the MCU has been lacking, but her solo film has shown her to be fiercely loyal.
Bruce Banner/The Hulk- Ravenclaw
Another Ravenclaw. Similar to Tony, Bruce is very intelligent. While he seems to be less inclined to want to fight battles than Tony is, he is constantly learning. His relationship with the Hulk can even be characterized this way. By a desire to learn how to control him, then to understand him, then to become him. His arc is one that is driven by knowledge.
Thor is always looking to prove himself. Even though he can lift the hammer, he is constantly looking for validation that he is worthy. He’s not usually afraid of much, and when he is, he faces it anyway. What makes Thor a Gryffindor though is his desire to be the hero. He’s not in Slytherin because he doesn’t desire to rule. He’s not ambitious, he just wants validation.
Peter Parker/Spiderman- Gryffindor
Peter is another hard one. He’s intelligent like Bruce and Tony, which could throw him into Ravenclaw. He’s loyal to his friends, which could put him into Hufflepuff. But at his core, Peter is in Gryffindor. The proof is in one of his first lines in the MCU. In Civil War, he tells Tony, “if you can do the things I do, and you don’t, then bad things happen because of you. (paraphrased)” He feels that because he’s special, he has to act. And unlike Steve and Thor, Peter is almost always afraid. He faces his challenges in spite of that. And while he wants to have a normal life, and a typical High School experience, he selflessly puts himself on the line. Once again, Peter is not looking for recognition, he’s just trying to do the right thing.
Dr Strange- Ravenclaw
Lots of Ravenclaws in the MCU. For Dr Strange, there really isn’t any other option. He is completely driven by the pursuit of knowledge. And while recognition came with that, we see with his journey into the mystic arts that his true motivation comes from learning. He’s a very similar character to Tony Stark, and both of them are textbook Ravenclaws.
Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch- Hufflepuff
Like Natasha, Wanda is driven by her relationships. She is faithfully loyal to her brother, then Vision, then her family. She is definitely motivated to protect and care for those she loves. Including creating an entire alternate reality to be with them! Wanda is brave and intelligent, but at her core, she is loyal.
Finally, a Slytherin. Once again, was there any other option? Loki is characterized by his cunning and ambition. He wants to rule. And he doesn’t get there by rushing into battle. He gets there by being sneaky and clever. Loki is a Slytherin through and through.
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel- Slytherin
This may not feel like the obvious choice for Carol, but she definitely portrays characteristics of a Slytherin. She’s the best, and she wants people to know it. She’s confident and clever, and she likes attention. We don’t know her very well yet, but from what we’ve seen, she seems to relish in the attention her efforts provide. She is good, helpful, and ambitious.
T’Challa/Black Panther- Hufflepuff
T’Challa is also driven by loyalty. But while he is protective of those he loves, his true loyalty is to Wakanda. He’s not king because of ambition, he’s king out of duty. Everything he does is through the lens of “what is best for Wakanda?” While it’s a bit unconventional, his loyalty to Wakanda characterizes him as a Hufflepuff.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man- Gryffindor
At first, it appears that Scott would be in Hufflepuff. After all, he is very motivated by his relationship with his daughter. But if he were truly 100% driven by that, he would have made different choices. He would not have betrayed Hope and Hank and teamed up with Captain America without their permission. He also would not have stolen from his company and landed in jail in the first place. But both of those above decisions do characterize him as a Gryffindor. He wants to be in the action, and he doesn’t always consider the consequences. Scott isn’t really looking for recognition and is not that ambitious, but he does want to be involved in the big events. He wants to help people, and he bravely faces battles. Sometimes without discretion.
Do you agree with our picks for these MCU characters in Hogwarts Houses? If not or if we’ve missed any out, leave us a comment below.
Check out our review of Black Widow HERE.
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