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Leonardo DiCaprio turns 47 today. The Oscar-winner’s films have grossed more than $7 billion worldwide and earned him widespread acclaim as one of the greatest actors of all time.
His next film, “Don’t Look Up” (directed by Adam McKay; co-starring Jennifer Lawrence) hits theaters Dec. 10 and Netflix Dec. 24.
To wish the California-born actor and six-time Oscar nominee a happy birthday, we’ll share our 10 favorite films of his.
Read our picks (and honorable mentions) below:
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Headlining the biggest movie of all time wasn’t easy in 1997, not even for young heartthrob Leo fresh off of a handful of acclaimed performances. Under the direction of James Cameron, DiCaprio and co-star Kate Winslet steered this disaster epic towards box office and Oscar history, becoming the highest-grossing movie ever and then winning 11 Academy Awards including best picture. Playing fictional passenger Jack Dawson, DiCaprio had charisma, and film propelled him to permanent global superstardom.
As evil slave-owner Calvin J. Candie — the cruel proprietor of Candyland in Quentin Tarantino’s alternative history revenge fantasy — DiCaprio chewed up as much scenery as he could through his rotten teeth, cigarette holder and thick Southern accent, even in the company of brilliant performers like Samuel L. Jackson and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz. Leo clearly relishes cruising through the rhythm of Tarantino’s patented dialogue, right down to that final and fateful bite of white cake.
Baz Luhrmann’s ambitious adaptation of the William Shakespeare play was a smash hit thanks in large part to DiCaprio’s star power and grasp on the text, convincingly translated to a younger audience. This modernization of the feud between the Capulets and Montagues, in which they brandish firearms referred to as swords, is often remembered for his technical achievement but remains one of the most impactful Shakespeare works on the big screen, with DiCaprio and co-star Claire Danes’ chemistry leading the way.
Alejandro G. Inarritu’s gorgeously filmed but totally harsh survival adventure starring Leonardo DiCaprio tells a powerful story exploring the brutality of man and nature. While often hard to stomach due to the difficult conditions in which its characters struggle to live and the desperate measure they take to do so, Inarritu’s film does it beautifully, thanks primarily to staggering scenery and unparalleled cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki. DiCaprio fills nearly every frame of it, bringing the all the intensity required to pull it off, and win his first Oscar in the process.
It kinda feels like Martin Scorsese making a Stephen King adaptation, but it’s actually author Dennis Lehane that inspired this underrated gem featuring one of the best performances of DiCaprio’s career (in a stellar year, but we’ll get to that). He plays a U.S. Marshal investigating the disappearance of a murderer who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. Full of lingering dread and disturbing imagery, Scorsese nails the tone in one of his only entries into the horror genre in this twisty tale, dutifully led by DiCaprio’s earnest performance.
Every Quentin Tarantino film feels like its own love letter to movies, but he went above and beyond with this 1969-set character study, his latest piece of revisionist history that sought to adjust our focus on the tragic murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson family. He did so through the unlikely eyes of Hollywood has-been Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman and best bro Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) whose respective journeys reflect a shift in American culture, as Los Angeles becomes no country for old men when hippies, peace and love roll into town. A series of showcases for DiCaprio and Pitt, and just a pure delight for longtime fans of the writer/director.
A remake of the Korean crime film “Infernal Affairs,” this crime saga deftly tells a complicated story of undercover operations keen on infiltrating the Boston mob, thanks to great lead performances from DiCaprio and Matt Damon. While perhaps not Scorsese’s greatest work, this highly entertaining cops-and-robbers drama sees Leo at his most stressed-out on screen, juggling the dangers of his undercover work wherein he could made and murdered at any moment along with the personal anguish of his family that led him down the path.
Michael Caton-Jones’ underrated domestic drama explores the relationship between a rebellious 1950s teenager (DiCaprio) and his abusive stepfather (Robert De Niro), based on the memoirs of writer and literature Professor Tobias Wolff. Young Leo, before he became a big star, certainly teased the potential he’d later realize throughout his career in this tenderly made coming-of-age film showcasing the stars’ talents (as well as Ellen Barkin, as his mother) DiCaprio hilariously recalled a big fight scene between the pair where he learned crucial lessons in acting from De Niro, like how to rein it in sometimes.
In some ways the ultimate DiCaprio experience, this adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s book follows his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. A cautionary tale in excess told the way only Martin Scorsese can tell it, buoyed by DiCaprio’s animated, physical, Oscar-nominated performance as the disgraced businessman. Usually serious and anguished on screen, Leo clearly has a ball this time working opposite Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie in one of Scorsese’s funniest (if overstuffed) films to date.
The anchor of Christopher Nolan’s $160 million “mind heist” sci-fi flick, DiCaprio plays a thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology before he’s given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. Based on an original idea and no pre-existing property, comic book or video game, Nolan’s film remains as inventive and brilliant as ever, complete with eye-popping visual effects and set pieces delivered on a magnificent scale. But it’s really the humanity of its characters, sold so potently by DiCaprio and co-star Marion Cotillard, whose past nearly derails all he and his team hope to achieve in one of this century’s most exciting films.
Honorable Mentions: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Celebrity (1998), Blood Diamond (2006), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Aviator (2004)
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Sandra Bullock’s 10 best movies ranked
Keanu Reeves’ 10 best movies ranked
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