As we all saw last night, Leonardo DiCaprio comfortably won the Best Actor (Drama) gong at the Golden Globes and firmly cemented himself as the obvious choice for Best Actor at the Academy Awards in February.
We're over a month and a half out from the Oscars, with the final nominations being announced on Thursday. However, looking at last night's win and Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in The Revenant, this is all merely a formality. He's got it sewn up.
Or has he?
The Golden Globes has, historically speaking, been a reasonably good gauge for how the Oscars will shake out. In the last ten years, almost all of the winners in the Actor and Actress categories have won in the Oscars. It means, more than anything, that there are no surprises. What usually happens is the Best Actor (Comedy / Musical) and Best Actor (Drama) become the two leads and are essentially pitted against one another. Last year saw Michael Keaton in Birdman square off against Eddie Redmayne in Theory of Everything.
By all accounts, Michael Keaton was robbed - but that should come as no surprise. Birdman took aim at the very nature of how we view stardom and the Hollywood machine. A film like that was never going to go over with Academy voters. This time around, there are no wily, sarcastic films on show.Leonardo DiCaprio's lack of Oscars has been the butt of a joke for several years now. For better or worse, DiCaprio's taken this in his stride and continuously sought to improve himself with each passing year. Last year saw DiCaprio channel capitalist hedonism with Wolf of Wall Street. The year before that, Django Unchained saw him in rip-roaring as the venomous Calvin Candie whilst The Great Gatsby saw him reunite with Baz Luhrmann. DiCaprio can never be accused of repeating himself.
With The Revenant, DiCaprio gave his most feral and single-minded performance as Hugh Glass. A near-mute trapper who goes on a odyssey in the American wilderness, the film's shoot became a gruelling experience that saw DiCaprio's endurance tested, both physically and emotionally. In short, it has everything one needs to win an Oscar.
Gary Oldman went through a phase like DiCaprio in the '90s. He began the decade by starring in Oliver Stone's JFK as Lee Harvey Oswald, arguably the most hated man in America. The film became such a cultural phenomenon that it reopened the investigation into Kennedy's assassination. An Oscar for Oldman was assured in Best Supporting. Instead, the nomination went to Tommy Lee Jones. Next up was the critical / box-office smash Dracula, where Oldman played the titular role. His performance was equal parts tragic, malevolent and romantic, disappearing fully into the role with the unique makeup work. Oldman won a Saturn Award, but no Oscar there. 1997's Nil by Mouth, which he wrote, directed and starred in, is often cited as one of the best British films ever made. It scored huge acclaim in both the BAFTAs and at Cannes, but was virtually overlooked by the Academy Awards.
This trend continued throughout the '90s, with Oldman receiving strong reviews for his performances - but a grand total of zero Oscars. Each and every performance was better than the last until the beginning of the '00s, Oldman turned to more straightforward, commercial output. He starred in Ridley Scott's sequel to Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal, as the heavily-disfigured Mason Verger and refused a credit in homage to Boris Karloff. Next, Tiptoes - a film about the dwarf community - became a laughing stock and was widely panned by critics, although Oldman's performance was credited as being the best thing about it. Oldman would then sign on to play Sirius Black in the Harry Potter franchise, starring in four of the films and alternated this with his work for Christopher Nolan in the Dark Knight trilogy. All huge, commercial, tentpole pictures that Oldman brought his unique talents to - none of them deemed Oscar-worthy.
Leonardo DiCaprio has never shied away from commercial work, either. He starred in the brilliant Inception in 2010 and worked with Steven Spielberg in the crowdpleasing caper Catch Me If You Can all the way back in 2002. However, if he doesn't win out here for The Revenant, he could very easily decide to chuck making bold choices with his career and opt for the safer, easier option like Gary Oldman did. He'd certainly have no shortage of work, either. But, more importantly, could anyone honestly blame him? With eleven Golden Globes nominations to three wins and four Oscar nominations to zero wins, there is no real certainty that DiCaprio could win out on Oscar Night. Facing that rejection, yet again, can do something to you. It certainly did something to Gary Oldman.
Leonardo DiCaprio's often been called this generation's Robert DeNiro; each partnered with Martin Scorsese on no less than five occasions, DiCaprio earning one of his three Golden Globes for his role in The Aviator as Howard Hughes whilst DeNiro won his one and only Golden Globe for Raging Bull in 1980. However, when we look now at Robert DeNiro's career, it's clear there was a turning point for him. It may not have necessarily correlated with winning an Oscar or not winning one, but there came a time when he decided to give serious acting a rest. Oldman had it too, although one might argue he's working his way back with roles in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Child 44. The question is when DiCaprio will face that turning point in his own career. It could come a lot sooner if he doesn't win out on Oscar night.
He's already signed on for The Devil In The White City, a gruesome thriller based on America's first serial killer, H.H Holmes. Beyond that, however, is anyone's guess.