Why can’t Leo win?

For every winner, there are other nominees who are not as lucky: losers. Countless actors aren’t ever even considered for an Academy Award, but Leo seemingly holds a special place as the Academy’s ultimate loser. Of course, calling him a loser is debatable, since getting nominated is a feat in itself. Nominations are supposed to represent acting excellence, which they usually do faithfully, so being nominated for an Oscar is veritably a gold star of cinematic brilliance. However, losing in the lavish Academy Award ceremony means one doesn’t get a snazzy gold statuette, which might sting more than not being nominated at all.

As many at Graded and around the world know by now, Leo once again lost the battle for Best Actor in this year’s Academy Awards. The eventual winner, Matthew McConaughey, won for his role in Dallas Buyers Club; ironically, Mr. McConaughey also starred alongside Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street, the very film for which Leo was nominated in this category. Countless (obsessive) fans envisioned Leo winning his first Academy Award that night, but to their dismay, it was “close, but no cigar” again.

So why did he lose? Plenty have tried to generate reasons, ranging from the unrealistic—“the Academy simply never wants him to win”—to the viable: “maybe Matthew was just better and every year he was nominated, someone happened to be a smidge better than him?” I’d hope and argue the second is the real reason, but, then again, who knows what’s going through the Academy’s mind sometimes (The Butler, anyone? Remember Oprah?). Either way, as a fan of Leo and a person who’s recently seen The Wolf of Wall Street, I think the best explanation as to why he’s never won and didn’t win this year lies within a Vanity Fair article entitled The Pitt-Hanks Continuum.

The article, by James S. Murphy,  offers an in-depth analysis of Leonardo’s role and how it translates in terms of Academy Awards success. It explains why he lost, and it’s a cogent argument with corroborating and well-grounded arguments. It’d even make for a fascinating TOK-esque discussion. Murphy’s piece asserts something fairly simple: Leo is just too cool for an Academy Award. Cool actors don’t win Academy Awards because they’re essentially not relatable.

Although Leo did an incredible job embodying a Wall Street mogul, it wasn’t an immense stretch compared to some other nominated actors. He wasn’t donning a cowboy hat and riding mechanical bulls as a person living with AIDS, nor was he portraying a slave laboring away on a plantation for twelve years. He was just a wealthy businessman with little raw emotion. That said, it’s not exactly his fault, considering he starred in an R-rated dark comedy competing against actors in tear-jerking dramas. Perhaps, as the article clearly states, the most important element overall, is that he did not “invite the audience to share his position.” He did not capture the audience and make them feel exactly what he felt through every struggle and conflict, but rather kept movie-goers as spectators watching his character’s life unfold before them.

Despite falling short of Oscar gold throughout his cinematic career, Leo will most likely win one day. Even if he doesn’t win for Best Actor, who knows? Maybe he’ll pull a Brad Pitt and win for producing the Best Picture.

Source: vanityfair.com