Saturday, February 20, 2016

Leonardo DiCaprio is the Best at Being the Second Best Actor

Danville, Kentucky -- The 1961 Reds were the baseball equivalent of a great appetizer. The 40s and 50s were a mostly uneventful period in Reds history, aside from the All-Star Game voting scandal of '57. The good people of Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio were yearning for the return of baseball glory to their homeland. The 1961 Reds never reached the zenith of the Jimmy Maloney era Reds or the Big Red Machine, but they gave Reds Nation a reason to be passionate about baseball again and foreshadowed the triumphs to come. For years, baseball fans in the greater Cincinnati area were left with the equivalent of crumbs and table scraps. The '61 Reds, led by slugger Frank Robinson's 124 RBI, burst onto the scene and delivered the equivalent of Spiced Panko Onion Rings to the watering mouths of Reds Nation.

New appetizer at Chilis. Highly recommend.
The '61 Red-Legs won 93 games and the National League pennant, but ultimately faltered in the World Series against the New York Yankees. The '62 team was even better: winning 98 games, but finishing in 3rd place and thus missing the postseason altogether.

When the '62 Reds were by many measures a better squad than the '61 version but achieved an inferior result, it confused young Will Hart. How could such a deserving group of guys be snubbed? Yet, when the '62 Reds spent October listening to the newly-released Peter, Paul and Mary album instead of playing World Series baseball, you didn't hear Bill Henry whining. Hank Foiles didn't have a resentful sense of entitlement to the N.L. pennant even though his team was clearly outperformed by two other N.L. teams. Gus Bell didn't demand that the Reds be given the pennant the next year just because they put in a great effort in '62 while achieving no recognition.

Folks, Leonardo DiCaprio is the type of guy who expects to win the pennant after finishing in 3rd place. Nobody would deny that Leo has put in some great work as an actor. His sublime performance in Catch Me if You Can is the reason that film is one of my favorite airline-themed movies. Clearly the man has turned in some performances good enough to win Best Actor.

Yet, Leo's rendition of Hugh Glass in The Revenant is not one of those performances. Growing a beard and grunting does not an Oscar-worthy performance make, or my Uncle Cletus would've won an award years ago. This is Leo's weakest work in quite some time. Incomprehensibly moaning while vomiting and spitting on your beard is not acting. That's just a typical Saturday night at Golden Corral.

I'm not much of a movie blogger, but Leo fails the eye test. The man has been beaten time and time again by superior actors. You could go through every one of Leo's Best Actor nominations and see why he was undeserving of the win given the competition he was stacked up against. The Academy owes him nothing and shouldn't appease his ego by giving him a de-facto lifetime achievement award for the stinker of a performance he delivered as man-bear-Leo in The Revenant. In addition, awards are not given out based on how much hardship an actor endured while making the film. Yes, Leo slept in an actual horse carcass for The Revenant. Yet, Mark Hamill once slept in the corpse of a Tauntaun, but he never got a nod from the academy. When Michael Moore won an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, it was because liberals in the academy liked his movie, not because he grew up in Flint.

The academy has a race problem. But is also has a droid problem. No non-human robots received nominations in any acting categories. That's why BB-8, the fiesty astromech droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is my pick for Best Actor. The little rascal has moxie. BB-8's excited electronic whistling and the energetic motions of his dome-shaped head convey more emotion than Leo's deranged groans every could. Whose heart doesn't sink when BB-8 learns his pilot buddy Poe Dameron might be dead, causing BB-8's head to droop in defeated sorrow? Who doesn't get tingly feelings of warmth in their chest when the little roller excitedly tails Rey through the desert, like a loyal puppy dog following their best friend? One glance into BB-8's single glossy black eye reveals a wider spectrum of affective depth than any Leo character. If the goal of the Oscars is to reward outstanding performances that provoke emotion and identification with their audience, not recognizing BB-8 amounts to a criminal snub. The soccer ball shaped droid stole every scene it was in, delivering the film's true break-out performance. After all the heartbreak and divorce I've been through, BB-8 still gives me butterflies.

The Academy could give the award to Leo. Or the Academy could celebrate diversity by recognizing the accomplishments of the BB unit that has stolen hearts from all across the galaxy. It's too late to reward either Leo or the Cincinnati Reds for their past brilliance. But it's not too late for the Academy to get on the right side of history by awarding the performances that actually deserve it.