Forrest Gump did everything from fighting in the Vietnam War to running a successful shrimping business to being the inspiration for John Lennon’s Imagine to give Tom Hanks one of his two Best Actor awards in 1994. One year later, Ben Sanderson suffered through extreme alcoholism in Leaving Las Vegas, giving Nicolas Cage the honour. King George VI overcame a stutter in The King’s Speech to nab the Best Actor trophy for Colin Firth in 2010. Ron Woodroof was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at a time when the disease was highly stigmatized in Dallas Buyers Club to give Matthew McConaughey the trophy in 2013.
As for Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant? Yeah, he had to go through just a tad more.
The cries of Give Leo that damn trophy already! have peaked with the release of The Revenant. Award shows, in the grand scheme of things, don’t have a lot of true meaning. Sure, it makes for fun water cooler talk and provides content for trivia nights. But if Leo never wins an Oscar, he’ll still continue to be Leonardo frickin’ DiCaprio. The money, the fame, the women. Yeah, he’ll be alright. So let’s not feel too bad for him if he misses out again.
That being said, can we just give him the damn trophy?! I mean, what more does he have to do? Let’s take a quick look at what Hugh Glass, played by Leo, had to go through. (SPOILER ALERT)
- In one of the most I want to look away but can’t scenes I’ve ever seen, Leo is viciously attacked by a grizzly bear. He miraculously survives but not by much. He has to be carried around on a stretcher for the next hour of the movie and he’s essentially rendered mute and immobile.
- He is then abandoned by the majority of his fellow fur trappers, leaving two in charge of getting him home. And to make things worse, before they abandon him, he’s forced to helplessly watch his son get stabbed to death prior to getting half-buried in a makeshift grave. Ugh.
- He is then forced to escape a group of Arikara by being whisked away by some heavy rapids. He floats down the violent rapids while doing his best to avoid sharp, jutting rocks before being flung down a waterfall. He, once again, miraculously survives.
- After bravely rescuing a young girl from being raped (allowing her to exact her revenge), Glass steals a horse and races off. After a peaceful night’s sleep, things get difficult again. He’s awakened by another group of Arikara, forced to flee on his horse and (in a scene not unlike Wile E. Coyote), he rides his horse right off a cliff, injuring himself further and killing the horse. The only thing missing was him pausing in the air before plummeting down. This guy just can’t catch a break.
- After regaining consciousness, in order to make it through the night, he cuts open the horse, pulls out its remains and gets all nice and cozy inside the carcass.
- When Glass is finally found by his men, the hunting party leader says “Jesus Christ, what happened?” Leo’s line back should have been “You don’t want to know.”
As the movie went on, I found myself watching it through the lens of This is Leo doing whatever he needs to do to finally win that Oscar. He’s leaving it all on the floor. He’s pulling out all the stops. He’s going through all this shit and just daring the Academy to not give him the statue.
Apart from Leo’s performance, which I hope wins him Best Actor, this was a remarkable movie. It was unlike any other movie I’ve seen. And in a world where it’s hard to produce truly original and unique content, this is a difficult task to achieve. Like the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit or Yeezus, this movie felt groundbreaking. Everything from the score to the sound effects to the spit and blood on the camera lens. I was sucked in from the first frame to the last.
One more thing. From 2007 to 2014, Jon Hamm was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at the Emmys for his portrayal of Don Draper on Mad Men. That’s eight straight nominations. Last year, he won his first and only. One for eight. When he won that award, there was a sense that an incredible actor had finally got his due for an amazing character.
So come on, Oscars. Let’s let the world breathe a collective sigh of relief and hand the trophy to Leo this time around. This will be his fifth acting nomination at the Oscars. It’s not quite eight but still, let’s give him this one.