Silver Screen Spotlight: Leonardo DiCaprio

Beginning this month, I'll be starting a new series of posts related to the biggest and most influential stars on and off the big and small screens today. At the end of each month, I'd like to offer one actor, actress, director, or other impacting crew member of a popular film out there in the world today, and spotlight the many films I've enjoyed from them. From the biggest names in Hollywood to the hidden gems found in the occasional indie flick, my love for film is affected profoundly by the actors I see on screen (as well as the directors behind the screen). So, without further ado, my first spotlight is The Revenant's Leonardo DiCaprio:

Once an actor who would show his face in a film and not matter to most beyond his boyish charm and voice as smooth as butter, Leonardo DiCaprio soon blossomed into one of the most renowned actors of our generation. Now picking his roles very selectively, whether he stars as a violent slave-owner in 2012's Django Unchained or a staple figure of history like J. Edgar Hoover or Howard Hughes, DiCaprio has become an elusive shadow that only appears on the big screen every few years to do nothing but wow us. A Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated actor multiple years in a row, DiCaprio has changed the game in terms of how far an actor will go to get the people talking.

One of the earliest roles I saw Leo take on was Christopher Nolan's mind-bending crime thriller Inception, where he played the conflicted dream-stealer Dom Cobb. Ultimately becoming one of my favorite films -- for both Leo's acting and Nolan's masterful direction and concept -- this 2010 epic was surely one of the most influential films that I saw before I began writing movie reviews. Not truly embracing my passion for film until a few years later, this spectacular thriller introduced me to the masterful actor that was DiCaprio. While it may not be the best role of his career, Leo's portrayal of a man haunted by his past and driven to perform the impossible has always been amazing to watch in the film.

A few of my other favorites from the actor include 1993's What's Eating Gilbert Grape, one of the actor's first major roles, as well as 2004's The Aviator and 2013's The Great Gatsby. Playing the mentally-challenged kid brother to Johnny Depp's Gilbert Grape, the first time I saw DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, I knew that was the beginning of his career as a dramatic actor. Offering up a touching and innocent portrayal of a boy who just wants to live up to his potential in such a dull place as Iowa, DiCaprio was astonishing in this film. With that, it was mesmerizing (as well as very humorous) to see his character progress throughout the film. Another great display of the actor's craft was in 2013's retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless tale of mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. Alongside fellow favorites of mine, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton, DiCaprio gave one of his most entertaining performances as the elusive Gatsby. Providing Baz Luhrmann's fantastic period-piece with a cunning yet frightened performance as the central millionaire, this remained one of my most memorable portrayals done by the actor.

Within this fast-paced world where time flies so very quickly, there were many films from Mr. DiCaprio that have forever eluded my attention. From the biggest collaborations of DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese, such as The Departed and Gangs of New York, to the one film I have never watched all the way through: Titanic, these films forever remain on my watch list, as their brilliant direction and writing continue to fuel my attention, as well as the desire to see Mr. DiCaprio in some of his best works.

A film I've surprisingly only seen one time, Quentin Tarantino's
Django Unchained offered another mesmerizing role for DiCaprio
Probably one of the actor's most transformative roles I've ever seen would have to be this year's brilliant look at one man's tale of vengeance and determination in The Revenant. One of my most anticipated films of the year, offering up yet another mesmerizing direction by Birdman's Alejandro G. Iñárritu, as well as the reuniting of DiCaprio and actor Tom Hardy since Inception, The Revenant made me feel something I've never felt while watching a DiCaprio film. Yeah, I actually felt sorry for Leo as he crawled across the chilling terrain of both Canada and Argentina, all with few lines and very chapped lips. Nevertheless, this film definitely delivered one of the actor's most dynamic and emotional performances in a while. Now nominated for the big Academy Award for his role as frontiersman Hugh Glass -- after winning both the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Awards -- I'm fairly sure this fantastic and highly dedicated actor has got this one in the bag.

What's your favorite role by Leonardo DiCaprio? Who's the most memorable director you've seen the actor work with, besides Martin Scorsese? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below, and tell me what actor, actress, director, or writer you'd like me to spotlight next!  

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