We all know that winning a Best Actor Oscar is not so much about the quality of a performance (although that obviously counts) as a compelling narrative that Academy voters want to cheer or express a kinship with. Two years ago Matthew McConaughey‘s narrative (actor saves career from romcom suffocation by switching to quality-level roles) won over Leonardo DiCaprio‘s (gifted, much-nominated actor delivers bravura, ironically over-the-top performance and scores big-time with legendary quaalude scene). This year DiCaprio, back in the game with his all-in Revenant performance, has a new compelling narrative — he suffered, he froze, he ate animal organs, he gutted a dead horse and crawled inside the carcass, he brilliantly simulated being attacked by a bear, etc.
But the suffering thing needs to be coupled with a supplementary narrative, which is that the Wolf quaalude scene is too good, too classic and too hilarious to have been deemed insufficient for a win. Amends need to be made. This is why Leo must and shall win over Black Mass‘s Johnny Depp. Depp, no question, gives a fascinating performance as a stone-cold sociopath but what’s the narrative? I’ll tell you what the narrative is. Depp was super-rich from the Pirate movies but he needed to expand his repertoire so he manned up and found his groove by wearing a heavily hair-sprayed Whitey Bulger wig and Alaskan-husky contact lenses.
From 11.30 Sasha Stone piece about this year’s Oscar-worthy performances: “I suspect one of the biggest draws, in addition to Creed and The Martian, to encourage the younger generations to give a damn about the Oscars will be the question of whether or not Leonardo DiCaprio can pull off a victory, since his lack of an Oscar win has become practically a cultural cause célèbre. That alone is going to drive interest and ratings. My 17-year-old daughter, for instance, who has been watching me watch the Oscars her entire life, knows all too well about DiCaprio’s Oscar-less status. It’s inexplicable to her generation why this fine, versatile actor has never won. The other thing my daughter observed about the Oscars is that they only seem to reward ‘one kind of movie and they’re all the same.'”