Tag Archives: django unchained

Leonardo DiCaprio’s 10 Best Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio in his mid-40s has already had a career spanning a quarter century.  From a child star on Growing Pains, DiCaprio quickly became a young actor to watch in films like A Boy’s Life, Marvin’s Room, and then rocketed to one of the most famous people on the planet after the Titanic phenomenon.  DiCaprio, very smartly, took a good break after Titanic to separate himself, and then started learning.  He attached himself to directors, most notably Martin Scorcese, and started honing his craft.  The thing about DiCaprio is: he gets better after every film.  He takes something from it.  He pushes himself.  He’s always trying to add to his already formidable bag of tricks.  While the projects he chooses don’t always pan out, it’s never because of a lack of effort from DiCaprio, and he’ll take things even from imperfect films and grow.  Inception, The Revenant, Catch Me If You Can, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street…..DiCaprio’s just getting warmed up, and I don’t think we’ve seen his best performance yet.
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Top 10: Movie Villain Monologues

If The Incredibles taught us anything, it’s that if you can get a villain monologuing, you’re likely to find out what they’re up to….and quite possibly live (or not) to regret it.  WatchMojo has delivered another fantastic list focusing on the greatest monologues from movie villains in screen history.  I would take issue with some of their placements, and I’d swap out a few, but these are 10 amazing scenes.  It’s no mistake that of the actors featured in these roles, five were nominated for Oscars for these performances and four won.  Some of these moments we’ve broken down before like Silva’s Rat Monologue in Skyfall and Colonel Jessup on the stand from A Few Good Men, but a few of these just jumped to the lead in future installments, because each one is worthy of examination.  Watch, enjoy, and weigh in with what other movie monologues you think were worthy of inclusion on the list.Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Trailer Time: The Hateful Eight Trailer #1 (2015) *Go West, Tarantino!*

In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

It’s a cryptic plot summary, but those who know Tarantino know it’s going to get a whole lot more complicated…..and then a lot of people will get shot.  This is Tarantino’s second Western in a row.  I thought Django Unchained was a brilliant nod to past spaghetti Westerns with unbelievable performances from Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio.

I also thought the last half-hour of the film went totally off the rails and the climactic shoot-out was so over-the -top as to be almost laughable.  However, the film did continue to show a progression in maturity in Tarantino’s writing, something that’s continued to improve as he’s aged.  The Hateful Eight has a fantastic cast and will be sure to figure into Oscar talk when it debuts on Christmas Day 2015 (this would be a very weird Christmas choice).

The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio

Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters and composers to assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the latest 10 movies the artist has done, rate them and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 greatest movies and give them the same treatment to compare what they have been doing to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is/has been a regular on a TV show we’ll also grade the seasons individually; artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Though only in his early forties, Leonardo DiCaprio has already amassed an impressive body of film work.  Overcoming the status of teen idol, he’s made increasingly wise and challenging decisions in his projects and is today one of the actors whose work I most look forward to.  Also his middle name is Wilhelm.  I had to work that in somewhere.

Kirk Cameron, Growing Pains, Leonardo DiCaprio
AHAHAHAHA, remember this? No? Well, nine-year-old DiCaprio started off on the dying gasps of Kirk Cameron’s sitcom Growing Pains. He was to Growing Pains what Oliver was to The Brady Bunch. This only has relevance to his acting career as a starting point and as a way for me to mock him as a child which I am in no way above.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Marvin's Room
DiCaprio’s film career started not long after and he quickly rose to critical prominence for starring with Robert DeNiro (who he eventually would replace as Scorcese’s go-to actor) in A Boy’s Life, Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (for which he received his first Oscar nomination) and the very underrated Marvin’s Room with Diane Keaton.

Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic

Then he broke movies.  He, Kate Winslet, Jim Cameron and a billion teenage girls broke movies.  I was in high school when Titanic came out and I remember being at the mall (because that’s where you were supposed to be when you were a teenager) and watching as hordes of my classmates emerged from the theater sobbing so hard they could barely breathe THEN GOT BACK IN LINE TO DO IT AGAIN!

There are some people who hate Titanic just because of the total saturation it had on pop culture during the year of its dominance and because that damn song was on every radio station all day every day.  I had the happy experience of having it blasted in my house because my brother had just broken up with his first girlfriend it was “their song”.  Oh you’d thought I’d gotten over that?  MONTHS, bro, it was MONTHS!  Ahem.  Titanic.

I genuinely think Titanic is an awful movie.  Removing all of the hype and the phenomenon from it, it is a three-hour slog with a horrible script.  Cameron never writes great scripts, but the pacing and action are usually so taut you just go with it.  This movie is (brace for the pun) glacial.  I was rooting for the iceberg.  I was chanting the iceberg’s name (presumably “Iceberg”).  By the time the Titanic’s grip on America’s attention loosened, I was not a fan of DiCaprio’s.  I may have developed a facial tick connected to the sight of him.  But then he did something really, really smart.  He disappeared for about five years.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me if You Can
From 1997 when Titanic came out to 2002 when he released Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can, DiCaprio popped up only in 2000 for the forgettable The Beach. He stayed off the radar. I think it was that savvy move, coupled with reappearing partnered with Scorcese and Spielberg films, that allowed him to be taken seriously as an actor by people who pigeonholed him as a teen idol (like me).  He has from then on made very calculated, very directed choices in his projects that have developed him as an actor to the point where today he’s not instantly associated with the “King of the World” moment.

Gangs was an important film for DiCaprio because it marked the beginning of his ongoing partnership with Martin Scorcese.  DiCaprio has now appeared in five Scorcese films, the latest of which (The Wolf of Wall Street) today earned him his fourth Oscar nomination.

Catch Me If You Can is a wonderful film that gets overlooked in the canons of the principals (Hanks, DiCaprio, Spielberg), but it’s a fantastic movie.  The film got stolen a bit by Christopher Walken, who plays DiCaprio’s father, but the story of the con man Frank Abagnale is, if anything, underplayed in Spielberg’s film.  The real story of his varied impersonations of various professions should be read by any fan of a good non-fiction yarn.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Blood Diamond
In the following years, DiCaprio would do two more Scorcese films, The Aviator and The Departed, the latter winning Best Picture.  I think The Aviator is a great performance, but not necessarily a great movie.  I have tried really hard to like The Departed (even watched it again for this article) and I can’t.  To me, it’s the same issue I have with most of Scorcese’s work: it’s a lot of profane rambling without any compelling narrative.  Obviously that’s a minority opinion and for whatever reason I thought The Wolf of Wall Street, which is more profane than The Departed, worked.

The real gem of that period of DiCaprio’s to me is Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond.  I don’t think there is any harder accent to pull off than South African (possibly Kiwi).  DiCaprio puts in one of his best performances as a mercenary helping Djimon Honsou search for his son.  It’s a powerful, powerful film.Inception, Cobb, Leonardo DiCaprio
We have not, since this column began, had the chance to highlight anyone who was in Chris Nolan’s Inception.  DiCaprio, who leads one of the best ensembles one could ever ask for, is outstanding in what I truly believe is the best film released in the last decade (It’s this or The Dark Knight for me).  I could write two thousand words on Inception alone, the brilliance of its nuance, complexity and the ambiguity of its end, but suffice to say that anchoring that film gave DiCaprio a special place in my movie memories vault for life.Leonardio DiCaprio, Django Unchained

One thing DiCaprio has not gotten a chance to do was play the villain, but Tarantino gave him a loathsome plantation owner in Django Unchained for which he probably should have won his first Oscar (DiCaprio now with four noms is getting to the point where he’s going to be considered “due” soon and win for something undeserving as is Academy protocol).  The entire dinner scene is one of the ugliest, white-knuckled, tense moments I’ve ever seen.  It rivals the opening of Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.

So let’s tally up the last ten DiCaprio films:
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)…….8.75
2. The Great Gatsby (2013)……………….4.75
3. Django Unchained (2012)……………….8.75
4. J. Edgar (2011) …………………………………..5.75
5. Inception (2010) ………………………………10.00
6. Shutter Island (2010)………………………..9.50
7. Body of Lies (2008) ………………………….. 5.00
8. Revolutionary Road (2008) …………… 3.50
9. Blood Diamond (2006)………………………9.50
10. The Departed (2006) …………………….. 5.50

Leonardo DiCaprio

Owing mostly to my tastes on The Departed and Revolutionary Road (Mendes and American ennui are not a good combo for me), both of which others might rate much higher, DiCaprio’s current average is only 7.1 (which still is not by any means bad).

1. Inception (2010)…………………………………10.00
2. Blood Diamond (2006) ……………………..  9.50
3. Catch Me If You Can (2002)……………   9.50
4. Shutter Island (2006) ………………………..  9.50
5. Django Unchained (2012) …………………  8.75
6. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)………,,..  8.75
7. Marvin’s Room (1996)…………………………  7.75
8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)..,,,.7.75
9. Gangs of New York (2004) …………………..6.25
10. The Aviator (2002) ………………………………6.00

Solid greatest average on par with Will Smith’s.  DiCaprio still has thirty to forty years of films left in him so this is a very early evaluation of his body of work and already he’s made his mark.  I see growth in his acting with every project he takes on and I truly believe his best performances are in his future.Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street, Oliver Stone

Oscar 2013 Not-so-live Blog and Wrap-Up

Best Picture 2013
Best Picture 2013

What a weird, wild Oscars.  Eleven different films got Oscars.  Life of Pi got the most little gold men with 4, but Argo took home Best Picture with only 3.  Also winning 3 was Les Miserables; Django Unchained, Skyfall and Lincoln all picked up 2.  Three for a Best Picture is the fewest Oscars since Crash won, but unlike that year, Argo’s win was well-deserved.  I actually had very few qualms with the choices made, which is even rarer.  Killing Time’s predictions went 14/20 and most times I was happy to be wrong.  On a night as odd as last night, 70% isn’t too shabby.

I thought about live blogging the show on Twitter, but thanks to the miracle of connectivity, that would have meant everyone’s phones would have been bonging and bleeping every other minute and I couldn’t do that to-say-my mother in law without dire familial consequences.  So here is my stream of consciousness Oscar log.

7:00 – 75% female house majority has E! broadcasting red carpet banality.  For someone who operates their wardrobe on the Charlie Brown model, listening to people break down dresses like football plays is agonizing.

8:30 – Thank God!  Here we go: showtime.  Go Argo & Pi!  Will be attempting to measure the amount of time that could have been saved had my suggestions for reforming the show (see last week’s Top 5) been implemented.  Forgot to include acceptance speech shock collars and auto-host replacement in my list…

8:35 – Shatner?  ….and a song about boobs.  Five minutes in and two musical numbers.  Forget measuring wasted time.  Have a suspicion already that will prove a frustrating pursuit.

8:37 – LOL Sock puppet Flight.  Nice.

8:39 – Musical Number 3.  I have absolutely no alcohol…

8:41 – Musical Number 4.  Seth MacFarlane’s monologue is just like an episode of Family Guy.  Islands of laughter in a sea of awkward silence….except all the targets are sitting there.

8:45 – First award!  Best Supporting Actor to…Christoph Waltz!  Wow, didn’t think he’d get another so soon.  Thought this was a DeNiro v. Jones toss-up, but happy to be wrong.  He owned that movie.

8:55 – How did someone manage to de-funny Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy?  WOO HOO! Paperman for animated short and Brave for feature!  How long before they just name this trophy the Pixar Oscar?

9:02 – Cast of the Avengers giving out Cinematography and F/X.  Cinematography to Pi (Skyfall deserved that) and F/X to Pi.  Beginning of a run? LOL Jaws theme chases F/X winner off-stage.  Should be the new standard practice.

9:12 – Costumes to Anna Karenina.  Predictable in giving it to the film that least deserved it.  Ugh, Oscar nominated film Mirror Mirror.  That’s a phrase now.

9:15 – Makeup to Les Miserables over the Hobbit?  What the what?

9:17 – 50 years of Bond tribute begins.  How do you make Halle Berry look ugly?  Just wow.  First montage of the evening.  47 minutes for a montage must be an Oscar telecast restraint record…..and there’s musical number 5.  Goldfinger has not aged well.  On any level.

9:30 – Shorts/Documentary awards.  Time for traditional nap and/or snack making.

9:47 – Yeah, 150 years IS too soon for that Booth/Lincoln joke.  Yikes.  Affleck heard one too many.  He’s turning on MacFarlane. 

9:48 – Jaws 2 Boring Acceptors 0

9:50 – Amour gets Foreign Film. 

9:53 – Travolta introduces ode to musicals (which is odd because this whole show has been oding musicals since it began).  Montages 2-4 and musical numbers 6-8 by Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Mis casts.


10:05 – Scientific and Technical Awards montage

10:08 – Sound awards.  Mixing to Les Miserables (over Zero Dark Thirty?) and Editing is a TIE?  WOW!  Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall tie.  I cannot remember the last time there was a tie. (Research: last one was in 1986 for Best Documentary; only five in Academy history)
Jaws 3 Winners 0; people are looking terrified giving their speeches.

10:15 – Chris Plummer hating on MacFarlane too.  Supporting actress to Anne Hathaway.  No surprise and totally deserved.  Les Mis has 3 now…making a run?

10:28 – Film Editing to Argo; finally one for Argo.  Nine different films have already won a trophy.

10:30 – Adele performing the only nominated song that matters (musical number 9)

10:44 – Production Design to Lincoln?  Okay ten different films.

10:50 – I’m just going to estimate my suggestions would have shaved an hour off this show as we sleep through the Governor’s Awards.

10:57 – Clooney and the annual death montage (#5).  RIP Ernest Borgnine, Jack Klugman, Michael Clarke Duncan and Ray Bradbury.  Oh good Streisand makes musical number 10. 

11:05 – Score to Pi and song to Adele and Skyfall!  Adele’s got half of an EGOT!

11: 20 – This show is dragging badly.  Screenplays to Argo & Django, very nice.

11:24 – I want to play Unicorn Apocalypse!  These ads, culminating in the Tim Burton one, make me want to play this game.  I want it to exist.

11:28 – Lol @ cocaine trees.  Best Director goes to Ang Lee.  Best of the ones that were nominated.  Kudos to not giving it to Spielberg.  That movie was good in spite of his sloppy directing, not because of it.  Ok, so is Pi taking this now?  Argo only has 2 and Lincoln is clearly out of it…

11:35 – The French guy from The Artist whose name I cannot commit to memory is the new F. Murray Abraham.  This is the last time anyone will hear from him.  Best Actress to Jennifer Lawrence…should have been Chastain..AND SHE’S DOWN!  DRESS CASUALTY ON THE STAIRS!  Nice recovery though.

11:40 – Biggest lock of the night.  Daniel Day Lewis gets his third Best Actor and no one was even in his league.  Classy funny acceptance speech.  Can’t believe Streep got bored and opened the envelope during the clips lol.

No idea who’s taking Picture at this point

11:45 – Nicholson and….the First Lady? Present Best Picture to….ARGO!  Yes!  Awesome for Affleck and a worthy best picture.

11:55 – Of course there’s another musical number.  Eleven different musical numbers to only five montages.  I swear I’ll never make fun of montages again.  See you next year, Oscars!