Last night, in case you’ve managed to avoid society for the past day or so, Matthew McConaughey picked up his first Oscar for his sterling work in Dallas Buyers Club, capping an incredible career turnaround for the now prolific Texan. But a lot of news this morning seemed to inexplicably centre on Leonardo Di Caprio’s failure to pick up a statue for his equally strong work in The Wolf of Wall Street.
First things first, every single actor can come out and say they’re "not that bothered" about getting an Oscar, but that’s bullshit - they are. Sure, some might care more than others and some might campaign to try and win one, but that doesn’t make it any more worthy an accolade, especially when you look at the names over the years who either won late, or not at all.
There are very few actors taking the kind of risks that Leonardo Di Caprio does regularly; with the possible exception of Christian Bale, Di Caprio is arguably the best actor of his generation and certainly part of the conversation for bravest. While the likes of Bale, Fassbender, Cooper and Gosling all take similar risks, not one of them does it with the weight of expectation that Di Caprio has been burdened with - a burden that came with success. Not only does he handle it with class, he does so by consistently picking superb, often edgy and cerebral work with disconcertingly large budgets - studios will stump up the bobs if he’s the star because the audiences trust him.
McConaughey’s Oscar is well deserved; not only is he impressive on the big screen, his work in HBO mini-series True Detective is layered, tortured and beautiful - the man is on fire. But if he hadn’t won last night, he’d still be doing the same superb work. While it’s an obvious cherry on top, that’s really all it is - unless you're McConauhey's bank manager.
Di Caprio was a huge reason why Wolf of Wall Street got made; he persuaded Martin Scorsese to take it on and he was game on the promotional trail. Naturally enough he wanted it to succeed at the highest possible level, which to the masses is The Academy Awards; but having been in the business for as long as he has, he knows better than anyone how the Hollywood system works - ‘Wolf’ and he never really stood a chance.
I guess in a nutshell it doesn’t really matter if Leonardo Di Caprio was awarded by his peers last night. It will happen eventually as the work he’s doing has evolved to place where fiscal success is matched by the quality of the production, it just has to be the right year.
Regardless, audiences will continue to back Leonardo Di Caprio by putting bums on seats all over the world. Great directors will continue to want to work with him, and he'll continue to get 'tough sell' films not only made, but to a level profitability.