So Leonardo DiCaprio was denied an Academy Award again. If he had been given a dollar for every post, tweet, or learned comment on how much these Oscars were to be his opportunity to pocket one of those statuettes, he’d be a billionaire many times over. Er, wait, is he already? Point is: Leo’s the [...]


The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

No Oscars for Leo, some other ‘Lions’


So Leonardo DiCaprio was denied an Academy Award again. If he had been given a dollar for every post, tweet, or learned comment on how much these Oscars were to be his opportunity to pocket one of those statuettes, he’d be a billionaire many times over. Er, wait, is he already? Point is: Leo’s the talk of the town… Tinsel Town and just about every other burg, capital, or wattle and daub village that has seen The Wolf of Wall Street. At least this past week, punters.

Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars. Pic courtesy AFP

I must admit I’m in two minds about this one. Leo’s a pretty talented actor, if an often petulant and tempestuous celeb. But then again, who isn’t? He may not be a Johnny Depp (contemporary comparison) or Robert DeNiro (personal/aspirational); but DiCaprio is in the big leagues with shekel-rakers-in Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mel Gibson – all of whom have been paid US$ 30,000,000 or thereabouts for a single movie appearance over the past 15 years or so. Tom Cruise should be privileged to be mentioned in the same breath as LDC. Because having seen the latter in a gamut of genres from drama (Blood Diamond) to sci-fi thriller (Inception) to comedy (Catch Me If You Can), through blockbusters such as Titanic, one is safe in essaying that Leo is by far the better actor. Having seen him deteriorate in quality from the heady days of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (he was a revelation at 14) to the ersatz entertainment of The Great Gatsby (rotten at 39), though, it would not be an easy wager to put your money on another Oscar nomination in the near future.

So why did DiCaprio bomb out of the Ac Awards yet again? Speculation is, was, and will be rife for many months of media mindlessness to come. Some might say he is too young for a first Oscar, others too old. Few will deny his good looks, but many will grudge him his glamorous reputation that overshadows serious work. As if members of the Academy really care about the quality of a performance – in, out of, or off the celluloid screen! A few pundits would be wont to critique his chances against the likes of seasoned campaigners like Matthew McConaughey, who won. A bitter and cynical breed will grudge the old fogeys and young technicians whose votes count to grind their axe against talented outsiders like Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese; some or all of whom have been put up for an Oscar – and lost – more times that they’d care to mention in their memoirs.

Now life is just like the movies. There you are, giving the performance of your life, and a whole cauldron of critics – unimpressed family, envious friends, hot spouses, cold colleagues, lukewarm associates – couldn’t give a rodent’s gluteus maximus.

Then there’s politics. After you’ve done your best winning unwinnable wars and making the world a safer place for all and sundry, you’d expect some gratitude. If not from the foreign pavilion, at least everyone in the home side. Well, fat chance, dears! Even if you’re now doing better and better – what with growth, development, progress, the trains not only running on time but also boldly going where no trains have gone recently (and the propaganda machine to prove it all) – the most you can safely bargain for is some damning with faint praise. It’s not the audience on the night you have to please; it’s the gentlemen (and Iron Lady) in the academy of insiders.

Which reminds me to mention the other greatly lionized bunch of gits who’re getting their comeuppance in the most ironic manner. When they concocted a hash of tripe to invade an oil rich nation, that was international (if gunboat) diplomacy. Now that another upstart nuclear power has done the same thing, let’s call it the Crimea of the century. Pun intended, Putin.
Of course, the new Russian Empire may be playing to the gallery, knowing full well that Uncle Sam can’t really afford to make Uncle Ned take the moral high ground on this one, with any sense of integrity. Not after Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, et cetera. On the other hand, Vladimir may not be dealing with a full deck of cards, as Frau Merkel has mused. If that is the case, the old cold war may have just had a fire lit under it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Rasputin.

In the meantime, life imitates art. No Oscar for Leo. No kaddish for Weinstein, no kudos for the wise guy who thought he could make the UN resolution go away, but wouldn’t – so there! – just so that we could show how tough we are. Genius, Einstein! (We could have been pragmatic, with the “mistakes were made route” to rob the finger-pointing West of their putative case. We could have been politically savvy and implemented the LLRC recommendations, to steal the diasporic Tigers’ thunder. We could have been purposeful and built better reconciliatory bridges alongside the roads, railway lines, and running water channels). No orchids for Ms. Blandish, no orchards – just graves in poppy fields – for the tough guys who drummed up WMDs so that they could invade Iraq. Wise you ain’t.

Our own Lion in Winter (nominated three years running for playing true to stripe – sorry, type…) is in good company for virtuoso performances across the genres: David Cameraman for clicking a selective take on The Killing Fields. Navi Pillory for running with the hare but hunting with the hounds in Sophisticate’s Choice. V. Lotofme Putin for being a mad Cossack in The Crimean War. Angela Murky for a tough as nails role in The Iron Lady. G. Lessofme Peiris for being without gravitas in Gravity. Sent-Senator Jaunt Kerry for being pi-faced and double-minded in American Hustle.

And. The. Oscar. Goes. To.

(Tune in at the end of March to find out, would you, there’s a dear.)

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