I was just-re-reading my very first, morning-after Departed review (posted on 9.21.06), and I almost started to tear up a little bit about the Leonardo DiCaprio Best Actor campaign that might have been if the people running Warner Bros. marketing hadn’t cocked things up by deciding to go the favored-nations route and calling him a Best Supporting Actor nominee along with Nicholson, Damon, Wahlberg, Baldwin, etc. Brilliant work, guys.
“The Departed doesn’t exactly throb with thematic weight,” I began. “It’s just a feisty, crackling crime film — a double-switch, triple-fake-out dazzler about lies and cover-ups and new lies to take the place of old lies, and about the psychic toll of being a two-faced informer and living in a whirlpool of anxiety and dread. And it’s Leonardo DiCaprio, more than costars Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin or Mark Wahlberg or anyone else, who exudes the vibe of a hunted, haunted animal — a guy so furious and frazzled and inwardly clenched that he can barely breathe.
“Don’t even talk about Leo’s Amsterdam Vallon in Gangs of New York or Howard Hughes in The Aviator or Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can. In fact, somebody ask those guys to please leave the room and wait for us in the car. We’ll be out later.”