29 year-old Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (Warner Bros., 12.17) is “stunning,” producer Michael Mann has told Empire magazine. “Particularly in the second half, when he’s playing an older Hughes. He’s pheonomenal. It’s a really excellent piece of work.” A draft of John Logan’s script that I read in ’02 strongly suggests that the $100 million biopic won’t be about Hughes’ romantic dalliances with Kate Hepburn, Ava Garner and Jean Harlow as much as his passionate devotion to the task of making machines do things the world’s never seen before. Director Martin Scorsese may well deliver a beautifully made film with superb performances, but I wonder if audiences will warm to The Aviator, given Hughes’ basic weirdness….he was really an odd duck.