Back in 2016, everybody waited with bated breath as Julianne Moore went onstage at the 88th Academy Awards. Having won the Oscar for Best Actress the year before, she was tasked that year to present the Academy Award for Best Actor.
The nominees were as follows: Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo," Matt Damon for "The Martian," Eddie Redmayne for "The Danish Girl," Michael Fassbender for "Steve Jobs," and Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Revenant". Everyone knew who was going to and who deserved to win, but still, it felt like a complete surprise when DiCaprio finally won an Oscar.
One of the most talented actors of our time, his journey to winning an Oscar was legendary. Everyone knew he deserved one, even by one of his first performances as 'Arnie Grape' in the 1993 dramedy film, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?". He was 19-years-old at the time and it was his first Oscar nomination. The stellar supporting performance led to a flurry of lead roles, mostly on the romantic side due to his boyish good looks.
Perhaps his most famous role in this film genre was Jack Dawson in the James Cameron romantic epic, "Titanic". He was so good in that film that we even have two posters of it with his autograph on it. It was in this film that he proves he was capable of leading a big studio film, and yet the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn't even recognize his work there with an Oscar nod.
His next nominations would come with "The Aviator" (2005) and "Blood Diamon" (2007). They were two exceptional performances, both far different from each other, that showed his range as an actor and his dedication as a performer. Alas, he didn't win on both accounts. In "The Wolf of Wolf Street" (2014), DiCaprio was so convincing as this big investment guy from the 1980s that the Academy nominated him for an Oscar again. And in fact, his performance there was so good that we had to get his autograph on the movie poster as well. But still, he wasn't given the award that year either.
In fact, there were even some performances of his that were so noteworthy, he deserved Oscars for them as well. There was his turn as a sinister plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained (2012). It's even said that the scene where he bloodies his own hand with shattered glass was actually real; proof of his dedication to his craft. His was such a chilling performance that we also had to get his autograph on the movie poster for our collection.
Then there's "The Great Gatsby" (2013) which reunited him with his "Romeo + Juliet" (1998) director Baz Luhrmann. Despite the role of Jay Gatsby as one of the most familiar characters in American literature, DiCaprio still made it his own. But unfortunately, he wasn't even nominated for both performances.
Despite all these losses he's faced before, however, DiCaprio wouldn't classify his own life as a sad one. In fact, compared to many of his contemporaries, all who've one their own Oscars for their performances, this actor's life has been far more rewarding. This is mostly because, when he's not working in front of the camera, he's lending his name and influence to a number of charitable causes and institutions that help improve people's lives. In fact, his childhood home in Los Angeles was an event turned into a public library for students unable to buy their own textbooks and other resources.
But his biggest cause to date is probably is environmental activism. Right after filming "Titanic" in the late 90s, DiCaprio established his eponymous foundation set up to raise awareness for environmental causes. It seeks to spread knowledge on global warming, preserving the Earth's biodiversity, and promote renewable energy.
With his strong dedication to saving the planet, he's won multiple awards from various environmental institutions; accolades that might even hold dearer than his own Oscar. They include the Martin Litton Environment Award from Environment Now and Environmental Leadership Award from Global Green USA, among others. He's even worked with world leaders in furthering this cause, such as former Vice President Al Gore and Pope Francis.
Furthermore, he's even worked behind the camera to further his environmental causes. For instance, he personally funded and worked as an executive producer on "Cowspiracy," a documentary that showed the dangerous impact of animal agriculture. He even got Netflix to put it up on their platform for all the world to see. In "The 11th Hour," DiCaprio also produces as well as narrated and briefly starred in the award-winning documentary that highlighted global warming and climate change. This was the work that really solidified his reputation as a protector of the Earth.
So if you think that just because Leonard DiCaprio is to be pitied for having only won one Academy Award in his decades-old career, you're wrong. Because beyond the business we call the show, this talented actor has shown that he knows deserves all the recognition for his dedication and devotion to helping others and the environment. All of his charitable achievements are worth more than an Oscar, though giving him another won't hurt either!