Wednesday, November 24, 2010

FYC: Leonardo Island

One of the smartest FYC moves I've seen in terms of a screener making full use of its identity as an Oscar campaign is for Shutter Island. The disc didn't come with the typical eyebrow raising desperation of "please nominate us for every category that exists!", but narrowed its focus. The cover only suggests Picture, Director & Actor.

In fact, one might say that the packaging squints so hard to focus that it grows a the great crease of a worry line right before your eyes. All the better to remind you of its identical twin that Leonardo DiCaprio has grown between his eyes over the years. That worry line serves him so well in this anguished performance.

But, there's more. As you open it up -- remember this is a Shutter Island ad -- it becomes an orgy of Leos. Brilliant move, that. By charting his growth as an acclaimed child actor to massive adult star, all the way from that critically acclaimed leading debut This Boy's Life (1993) to 2010's Inception (sneakily swallowing up the vote splitting competition, in order to better serve Shutter Island) it basically uses the visual language of FYC: Career Tribute Nomination.

Given that Shutter Island came out very early in the year and that the Best Actor category still looks to be in flux, this could actually work. Unlikely sure but not out of the realm of possibility.

And hasn't 2010 actually been quite a year for him. Isn't he having a year comparable to Sandra Bullock's in 2009? The comparison doesn't spring up naturally, exactly. Leo's big year didn't feel like a breakthrough year since he had no career valley to bounce back from. Nor did he really have something to prove in terms of acting prowess. But consider the strange popularity correlations between Sandy's 2009 and Leo's 2010. For this exercize we have to forget all about All About Steve (2009)  but who would object to doing so?

1. Big Beloved Headliner Star
2. First movie of year  that's right in star's wheelhouse (romantic comedy The Proposal | Scorsese drama Shutter Island) opens and becomes big domestic hit in the 100+ range.
3. Riskier followup opens just five months later (Sandra's The Blind Side | Leo's Inception) and becomes a massive blockbuster in the $250+ range.

Isn't that... odd? Box office and timing between releases is pure coincidence you could say as devil's advocate. But how's this for an eery detail: If you compare Sandra's twin blockbuster 2009 grosses with Leo's 2010 double your difference of (domestic) bank is a miniscule $182,000. Isn't that crazy?

I'm not suggesting that Leo will suddenly become the golden boy who wins a surprise Oscar in February or that his marriage will fall apart in scandal directly afterwards (he's not even married!) so the comparison is strained. Furthermore, nobody expected Sandy to become an Oscar winner (until the happening was under way) and everyone has expected that about King Leo from day one. But beloved massive careers do have unifying elements no matter who the stars are; the industry and the public root for said star to succeed ...and to eventually win the most coveted movie prize of them all.

FWIW, Leo's best performances imho.
  1. What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)
  2. The Aviator (2004)
  3. The Departed (2006)
  4. This Boy's Life (1993) 
  5. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
  6. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  7. Shutter Island (2010)
  8. Titanic (1997)
  9. Revolutionary Road (2008)
  10. (Everything else blends together qualitatively for me, as something like charismatic coasting at regular best and callow confidence at irregular worst. So I eagerly await a full top ten. He's only 36. Decades of movie triumphs presumably await.)

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