November 6, 2014

WATCH ME IF YOU CAN | Happy Birthday, Leonardo DiCaprio

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The only birthday gift he’d want is an Oscar.

November 11 is Leonardo DiCaprio’s 40th birthday … which is, like, 27 in celebrity years since they age slower than us. Bake yourself some cupcakes with his handsome face on it and watch these five films to celebrate the most screwed-over guy in Hollywood:

The Aviator (2004): My favorite DiCaprio film, and probably his best performance. He portrays Howard Hughes, the OCD-inflicted film mogul and aviation fanatic throughout the high and low points of his career. His case was highly unusual, to the point where he spent four months in a viewing room not leaving to bathe, relieve himself or anything. DiCaprio accurately depicted Hughes in his ruined state. In preparation for his role, DiCaprio spoke with Jane Russell, Hughes’s starring actress in his film The Outlaw to further understand the stubborn man. He also spent time with an OCD patient named Edward in order to understand the mannerisms and habits that go along with the mental disorder. DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for this performance and received a nomination from the Academy, as his thorough homework and research paid off.  However, it wasn’t good enough for a little golden man.

Wolf of Wall Street (2013): His latest film and Golden-Globe winning performance as Jordan Belfort is dynamic. We love him as much as we hate him, and want to be him as much as we wish him hell. This three-hour-long drug-induced tirade is a memorable one.  Ever since he read the novel which the film is based on in 2007, DiCaprio obsessed on making it into a film with him as Belfort. He wanted to portray Belfort throughout his career’s highs and lows as honestly as they could be onscreen. So, if you want to watch three hours of Leonardo DiCaprio screaming and cursing with an amazing cast, this is your chance … Just don’t co-view it with your grandparents.

Django Unchained (2012): Tarantino knew what he was doing when he cast the DiCaprio as unscrupulous plantation owner, Calvin Candie. Though this performance snubbed him from an Oscar nomination as the Academy favored his co-star Christoph Waltz as Dr. Schulz, it is still a great one. His teeth are grimy, and his beard is intimidating, but we love this villain as much as we hate him. Candie intrigues us with his incest-dripping relationship and love for brutality. In Django Unchained, there is a scene where he takes Hilda (Kerry Washington) and threatens to kill her. During this intense scene, DiCaprio had banged his fist on the table and cut it, credited by a piece of glass. Even though he was in excruciating pain, DiCaprio worked his way through the scene, remaining in character. Tarantino liked the take so much that made it into the final product. Seriously. Give this man his Oscar.

The Departed (2006): This Oscar-worthy performance was once more overlooked by the Academy, but the competition was stiff alone, as his co-stars included Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson, and the film did get Best Picture in its year. DiCaprio plays Billy Costigan here, a undercover cop working to unfoil a mob scheme. Once more, DiCaprio plays a character who is misunderstood and pretending to be something he is not. It takes great skill to play both ends of the spectrum as a character, as well as acting both roles. DiCaprio takes on this ultimate challenge in other films as well as The Departed and his work paid in the film paid off, as one of the main characters in an Oscar-winning film.

Catch Me If You Can (2002): Despite the real-life Frank Abagnale Jr.’s doubt, DiCaprio was an excellent choice to portray him in the adaptation of the memoir of the same name. Here, DiCaprio plays the suave Frank Abagnale Jr., a young man who charades as a pilot, lawyer and a doctor and steals millions-all before he turns 21. The smooth-talking teenager made millions illegally, met many people and went under several different names to accomplish his goals. DiCaprio has the capability of selling ice to an eskimo in this film, and nobody is as simultaneously slick and charming. His con-man nature and emotional struggles that emerge from his relationship with his father give DiCaprio the motive to do all this crazy scheming. The best part of the film? Everything is accurate to what actually happened to Abagnale Jr.

Marina Caitlin Watts is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She may be reached at [email protected]. Watch Me If You Can appears alternate Fridays this semester.