The Guest List: The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

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It’s time for another stellar edition of The Guest List! This week features my dear friend Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger! If you don’t already subscribe to or follow her amazing site, I highly suggest you head over there immediately following this incredible top 10 and do so! Her website spans the wonderful world of film, literature, and so much more. She recently completed the “Potter Perceptions” with Eric over at theipc and we’ve started an awesome book club that’s very exclusive ;).

If you want to submit your very own top 10 to The Guest List, here’s how!

All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish.

Also, please don’t forget to vote for the best films of 2013 by clicking on “Vote” in the main menu above. I believe today is the last day to partake, but I need to double check. If it’s closed, I’ll still be accepting votes via the email above, so you have no excuse.

I’m going to turn things over to Zoe now, enjoy!

Top 10 Leonardo DiCaprio Roles: by Zoe

So Joseph has been on me for a while now for a Top Ten list and I have been floundering. What could I do? What was I going to put on a Top Ten list? Before I knew it, I gave myself way too many options, and then had to spend time narrowing down the list. It took a while, but I think that this one could be rather suiting seeing as The Wolf Of Wall Street is to hit cinemas soon (and by cinemas, I hope that we here in South Africa are lumped in with everyone else for a change). Today I want to talk about my Top Ten Leonardo DiCaprio Roles.

First off I want it known that I am a ridiculously huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio (if you haven’t picked up this already, well, let’s just put it out there). He is the kind of actor that when I see his name attached to a project I am there to check it out, for better or worse. I think it is scandalous that he does not have an Oscar yet, and think the Academy is blind, rigged, or stupid to have overlooked him for so long. Never mind that, what does the Academy really know anyway? Leonardo DiCaprio is a truly phenomenal actor with immense amounts of talents and a thrilling persona the moment he appears on screen. Yes, I am gushing, but whatever. He deserves the praise, and is honestly one of the best actors out there today, and one of my favourites (if you happened to miss that so far :P).

So let us begin looking at the candidates and why.

Dominic Cobb – Inception (2010)

I want to start with Inception. I think this is the best movie of the decade so far and that was determined through a lot of serious deliberation, a huge list and a showdown of note. I had a lot of people involved and the battle rages, but Inception won. It is a great flick with a great cast and a great story – so it really could only be great, right? Exactly. But not only that, Leonardo DiCaprio was our lead, and he was amazing to say the very least. Leonardo was the tortured soul, the pained man who misses his family, carries deep regrets and suffers from a terrible past. He is mysterious and slightly unapproachable on a certain level, and gives off the air of a man who wants to ache alone, and for the most part he does. He portrays a man that is in control and knows what he is doing, yet on the edges he is so frayed that he is barely keeping it together. Mal is stalking him in his heart and in his mind and in his dreams, and his paranoia later manifests itself. Dom needs to live his life, but he has chosen to walk on the fringe of it – both in his waking world and his dream world. His performance gives me goosebumps every time, and how he reveals parts about himself and his past seem to bring him great pain. DiCaprio simply becomes Dom Cobb, and it is difficult to separate from the idea that this was just a role for him.

dom cobb inception leonardo dicaprio-1

Calvin Candie – Django Unchained (2012)

I was so excited for Django Unchained. I probably damn near drove half my fellow bloggers, my friends, and the internet up the wall with my anticipation for this film. Then I got to it. Not only was it a Tarantino film that had me all excited, there was also Christoph Waltz to look forward to. But for me, most of all, I was looking forward to seeing Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, whoever and whatever that character was supposed to be. I was loving the movie, but on the edge of my seat for something like an hour before DiCaprio finally made his appearance, and a damn fine one it was at that. Candie is a crackpot loony I tell you. Smart, wealthy, a despicable racist and a flourishing businessman, DiCaprio brings the goods to the table here. He shone in here, and was bloody mindblowing. He was despicable, his teeth needed some serious work, he was sly and underhanded and intelligent as hell, he was unforgiving and cruel and he just plain down worked every aspect of Calvin Candie. The moment DiCaprio appeared on the screen he demanded every inch of your attention; he commanded it. It was well-deserving, too. He had the audience fluctuate between fascination and repulsion. Simply spectacular.

calvin candie django unchained leonardo dicaprio

Billy Costigan – The Departed (2006)

This is a role that I go back to time and time again to check out. Alright, for one I am a massively huge fan (I want to get that in there and understood haha) of this film, and think it is damn near perfect. For me it is a lovely long movie with a great story and fantastic cast, but this isn’t about the movie. This is about DiCaprio, and how much I appreciated what did for this character – for me, he really nailed the role of the rat in the Costello’s Irish Mafia. To watch him, hopeful and excited to graduate a police officer was pretty cool, but then to see him shot down and taken for a fool by Queenan and Dignam was pretty rough. His whole life story was ripped apart, and then he was made the offer to go into the system and come out to infiltrate Costello’s gang. Naturally, to prove he can, Billy goes undercover. DiCaprio manages to capture how Costigan’s hope fades, how his fear sets in, how he manages to keep his discomfort and terror to himself, and how he was a damn fine infiltrator, but also how his secret life was bleeding out into his real life, and how much of a problem it was becoming for him. DiCaprio never loses sight of the fact that Costigan is living an incredibly dangerous job and an intricate lie, and that it poses threats to his life and wellbeing all the time but that he manages to hang in there by the skin of his teeth. His hope, determination, anger, fear and resentment are all real emotions for DiCaprio, hence making the experience of watching Costigan such a joy.

billy costigan the departed leonardo dicaprio

Frank Abagnale Jr – Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This is one of DiCaprio’s most enjoyable roles for me. There was enough drama in here for it to be serious, because it was, at the end of the day, but enough humour in it to not let it become overly serious and lose sight of what made this film work. DiCaprio was brilliant – he gave Frank Abagnale Jr life that otherwise could have been forgotten or overlooked. He gave him zeal. I don’t think that anyone could have done it quite the same as DiCaprio. He was the right age, he was the right amount of cocky, he waltzed around there like a sly conman and had everyone convinced of all the things that he was doing – even he was convinced half the time he was who he said he was. You could identify with a scared young man who reinvented himself, and the reasons that he did so. DiCaprio played the role like it was his childhood he was re-enacting, and the feeling was authentic. He delivered his lines with fervour, and was just so well suited to tackle the role of a hunted young man. I loved the way DiCaprio strutted his stuff in a pilot’s uniform, but all the laughter and games runs out when soon his fear and desperation, his loneliness sets in and takes over. Frank’s life is falling apart, his real one that he has buried underneath his lies, as well as his fake little one he has put together. His uncertainty reins, and DiCaprio is simply brilliant in conveying Frank.

frank abagnale jr leaonardo dicaprio

Teddy Daniels – Shutter Island (2010)

DiCaprio had this role worked out down to a tee. There were some gripes about this flick that people had but whatever, but I thought it was a great piece of film. Teddy Daniels was brooding, moody, sharp as a tack, intent on figuring things out and serious about his job. He was so immersed in what he had to do, what he had to work out, how he had to prove himself, and DiCaprio managed to realise each and every one of those things about his character. Following Teddy, the story is new to you, and I have to give DiCaprio respect for never letting on about where the story would progress to and how it would end. A lot of actors that know where the twist in a movie comes manage to spoil it earlier on, whether by accident or whatever the case, the cat hops the bag. DiCaprio really is one of those actors that is able to separate where the character is now and where the character will be later on, and you can take the journey with him. It is a natural progression, as though he, too, has no idea where anything is going. I thoroughly enjoyed him in here, and felt his fire, confusion, anger, fear and resignation in this flick.

teddy daniels shutter island leonardo dicaprio

Howard Hughes – The Aviator (2004)

I feel that this was truly one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s defining roles. It was a good one, and the one role that a lot of people are familiar with and feel very strongly about. I thought it was a stand up part that he played, and DiCaprio shows you how Hughes was a regular guy, albeit a little whimsical and with a different type of zeal to life, and then takes you down the path of mental instability and the total breakdown that came. He portrayed Howard Hughes like he had lived the life of the aviator, the producer, the director, the rich man. He played it as though it was simple, even the mental decline and disturbing state we found DiCaprio to be on later. It was a good performance that cannot really be faulted in my opinion. DiCaprio was strong, constant and steady. It had a definite sense of both magic and realism, which can only be expected to be felt in a life like that led by Howard Hughes, and DiCaprio shows us that. He delivered a strong character and a believable man. I enjoy this movie, and every second that DiCaprio is on the screen is truly well worth it to me.

howard hughes the aviator leonardo dicaprio

Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby (2013)

You know, there were so many mixed views on The Great Gastby, and some issues were well-founded (and here I am specifically talking about that silly soundtrack), but overall I thought the movie was actually pretty good. But Leonardo DiCaprio truly carried a lot of the movie for me with his portrayal of Jay Gatsby, the mysterious millionaire with a heart that yearns for nobody other than Daisy. DiCaprio showed us the mystery, the wonder, the excitement, the hope and the depression. He was Jay Gatsby, caught up in his dream, building his life on one woman, someone he simply had to have. He showed how Gatsby was supposed to be regal but fell short of the mark a little bit, making his character and the origins he speaks of seem slightly questionable. He was enigmatic and powerful, but also lost and confused, and you can see this when DiCaprio plays him. I thought he was very well cast for the role.

jay gatsby the great gatsby leonardo dicaprio2

Jim Carroll – The Basketball Diaries (1995)

So I got to this after I was waxing lyrical about DiCaprio over on Mark’s site, and he asked if I had seen The Basketball Diaries. I had not and put it on my list quickly to watch, and I finally got around to it. I am shocked that it took me so long to see it! DiCaprio was actually just brilliant in this (not that I really expected anything else), and took us on the journey of a cheeky young boy who loses his life, soul and opportunities in the world to the evil that is heroin. He started out fairly enough, a naughty boy but still with a life of promise, somewhat shy but all over the show, and his character changes and grows as he admits how he dabbled with heroin, felt like a hero and a rockstar because he had control of it then the gradual slip and decline into drug dependency. He was really young when he did this, twenty one if I am correct, but he plays the part as though he has far more years’ experience to speak of. His desperation and addiction are disgusting to watch, and you cannot even really pity someone that would do that to themselves, though DiCaprio still manages to have you root for him the entire way through, demonstrating that he is not all bad.

Jim Carroll the basketball diaries leonardo dicaprio

Frank Wheeler – Revolutionary Road (2008)

Then there is Frank Wheeler. This is also a movie that I only watched recently but that I must say I thoroughly enjoyed. I went in knowing nothing about it but got worried when it started that it would be some soppy romance. Yes, I am going to come right out and hate on it, I am not a fan of romance films. However, this proved to be a pretty decent drama, though I suspect one of the biggest reasons it worked out so well was the life and fire that DiCaprio gave Frank. He was the loving husband and father, and then soon he was the dejected man who hated his job and despised his life, who was crushed out and blown off by his wife. That, too, soon spun around and he was the excitable man with his little dreams, but doubt was disseminated early on when offered a promotion. He is in an uncomfortable and unsure position, and DiCaprio lets you know that. He revels in his dream a while longer, but when reality comes crashing in around his ears, he makes the decision on his own, and must live with it. The heartache he goes through, the uncertainty, is laid bare for all viewers. His anger that gushes out at the best of times, as well as how loving and caring a person Frank is is demonstrated by DiCaprio effortlessly.

frank wheeler revolutionary road leonardo dicaprio2

Amsterdam Vallon – Gangs of New York (2002)

I know there are a lot of complaints about DiCaprio in Gangs of New York and I must say that I find it rather unfounded. I thought he was just fine in here. Granted, it may not be my favourite film of all time, but it was a long way from a bad one. He played the gangster, the wronged orphan rather well. He was the man on a revenge mission, who wished to avenge his father, the man who would not be the overlooked boy that he once was. I thought that he and Daniel Day-Lewis played off of each other very well, and worked nicely. DiCaprio was good at playing the leader of the gangs that rose up and competed against The Butcher, and Vallon was a decent character. Though he was not the biggest draw of the film, DiCaprio and Day-Lewis were just amazing together, lending a lot to one another’s characters. DiCaprio is worth checking out in here, I really thought that it was a good one to check out and an enjoyable to watch, to see the angsty boy put in his place, but rise up and fight back, to find himself, learning lessons about respect and honour throughout his personal course.

amsterdam vallon gangs of new york leonardo dicaprio

Honourable Mentions:

Richard – The Beach (2000)

Arnie Grape – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

Danny Archer – Blood Diamond (2006)

Romeo Montague – Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Roger Ferris – Body of Lies (2008).

That’ll do it for this week’s edition of The Guest List. Another BIG thank you to Zoe for contributing! Don’t forget to vote and submit your very own top 10 to The Guest List. Everyone have a great weekend!

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on January 3, 2014, in The Guest List and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.

  1. Victor De Leon

    Awesome list. Glad to see Django, Shutter Island and Inception up there! Good job!

  2. Fine list, Zoe. I remain a big fan of his Frank Abagnale Jr in Catch Me If You Can, too.

  3. That’s a good list; I would include Jordan Belfort on the list somewhere, but these roles are all very good, as well.

  4. Great list Zoe, all really good choices. I think Leo makes the smartest choices for roles of anyone currently working today. He just has an uncanny knack for choosing roles that help him excel as an actor.

    • Thank so much! I completely agree with that statement Smash! He doesn’t have bad roles or forgettable ones, just solid ones and all incredibly well chosen!

      • I just saw The Wolf of Wall Street a couple of nights ago, and it was another stellar choice for him. If you haven’t seen that one yet, you should definitely try to see it in the theatre. It was an awesome movie.

      • I have been counting the days until it releases here, which will be next Friday and you will DEFINITELY find I will be out there to see it!

  5. Wow thanks for the beautiful words Joseph! This was SUCH a fun feature and I am thrilled to have participated! I will shoot you a mail on my top movies later!

  6. Great list, love it, and love DiCaprio too. He takes on great roles and does wonderful things with them and he never disappoints me. Good stuff!

  7. Cool list. My favorite performance of his is The Aviator, which shows both his star power and ability to handle serious dramatic work. It’s still the best that I’ve seen from him. Nice work!

  8. Great work Zoe. I love me a bit of Leo too. Also enjoyed his turn in This Boy’s Life opposite De Niro.

  9. Great list Zoe! Shutter Island was amazing from Leo. Catch Me If You Can was underrated. The Wolf of Wall Street is opening soon over here and I’m sure you will be revising the list to include it 🙂

  10. I’m a HUGE fan of Dicaprio too. Great descriptions of each role. Well done Zoe!

  11. Solid list, but nothing too challenging. Lists are always difficult sometimes when they’re not too specific. But Leo’s great in everything, so I guess making a list is a little harder than I first thought lol. My favorite is Catch Me if You Can

    • Teehee, he is great, but when I sat back and had to pick the performances apart and decide what made them grand it changed the ballgame. Ah, that movie was brilliant!

  12. Brilliant list here. Leo is just a great actor. Catch Men If You Can is my favourite.

  13. How is Arnie not in the top 10? That was Leo’s best performance EVER! Also, you must reserve a space for “Wolf of Wall Street” b/c I guarantee you that will shoot up towards the top of your list.

    I don’t agree w/ the “Revolutionary Road” pick b/c Leo over-acted and actually came across amateurish next to Michael Shannon. Shannon’s precise acting completely overpowered Leo’s shouting. “Revolutionary Road” is one of my favorite movies, though. I loved the material and the way it was presented. Michael Shannon gave an Oscar worthy performance that would only lose to Ledger’s Joker performance, and with Seymour-Hoffman’s performance from “Doubt” the 2008 best supporting actor has to be about the most loaded category I’ve ever seen. Ledger not only gave an Oscar worthy performance, but the performance of a lifetime. It’s almost as if he came to this world to prepare for that role, and then gave it, and left after his purpose had been fulfilled. But I guess that’s another subject for another day…

    I don’t understand how Jack from “Titanic” doesn’t even get an honorable mention. I know you don’t like romance films, but still, his acting was pretty solid there. This list is RIGGED!!! 🙂

    • I loved him in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He’s such a talented actor and I thought long and hard about this. Not the easiest top ten I’ve ever drawn up. I am so excited to see The Wolf Of Wall Street it’s not even funny. We finally get it next week!

      Michael Shannon was AMAZING in Revolutionary Road, it was truly one of his finest performances and kept me riveted whenever he was on screen. I liked DiCaprio in this film, it worked for me. Ah, Heath Ledger. What a loss his death was. He was thrilling, and what he did with The Joker was simply astounding. I wouldn’t even be lying if I said it was my all time favourite performance from an actor.

      Despite what people think about Titanic, there were some good performances in it. DiCaprio gave a solid performance and he played it well, but there are certainly better roles he has done in my opinion that showcase his talents so much more!

      • I would put Ledger’s Joker performance in the top-tier performances of all-time. My personal #1 would be Billy Bob Thornton in “Sling Blade”. Sean Penn in “I Am Sam”, Leo in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, and Brando in “The Godfather” would fall in the same tier. I actually have a page dedicated to my top favorite performances. Check it out if you get a chance. http://garylee828.wordpress.com/best-performances/

      • Those are some pretty awesome choices. I will definitely check out your list!

  14. Great choices. I think my favorite is probably Leo in Catch Me If You Can but he was also amazing in Django Unchained. Such an excellent actor – I also can’t believe he’s not had an Oscar.

  15. What was that western with Sharon Stone? I liked that one too.

  16. Sorry to get to this so late – been a busy few days!! GREAT post Zoe!!

  17. Ackk!!! Just stumbled out of a convenient power outage so I’m coming in a bit late, but I can’t praise this list enough Zoe! Fantastic job! Though I’ve yet to see a couple on this (Aviator, Basketball Diaries and Revolutionary Road) I fully, completely, utterly and absolutely endorse these choices!! 😀

    You put into words, exactly how I feel about his Dom Cobb and Frank William Abagnale, Jr.

    • Eeeek! Tom I am so happy we agree! You should really check them out, they are totally worth it!

      Yay! Then I did what I set out to do – capture what DiCaprio struck within me, and hear is resonate with others!

  18. Great list Zoe! I would definitely have his performance in Gilbert Grape on my list, he’s just amazing in that. Glad to see Gangs of New York get a mention though, it’s such an underrated film I think.

    • Thank you kindly Chris! I haven’t seen What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in so long but I love it. I’ve been thinking of buying it recently, found a store selling it for like R20.00 (the equivalent of $2.00), though I was rushing through at the time.

      Gangs of New York truly deserves far more credit than it was given. I found it to be highly entertaining, flaws and all.

  19. A great list that’s hard to argue with but I would’ve included Arnie Grape in the ten. That’s my favourite of DiCaprio’s

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