Almost two decades after he was left out of the Oscar race for Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio is at last poised to dominate the 2016 awards season with his performance in Alejandro GonzAlez Inarritu’s dazzling cinematic endurance test, The Revenant. And all he had to do to earn it was – spoiler alert – be mauled by an angry bear, almost drown in a frozen river, gnaw raw bison liver and crawl into the belly of his recently deceased horse for a nap.
DiCaprio, now 41, has made five films with Martin Scorsese and one each with Oscar perennials Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood, all without ever snagging a little gold man for his mantelpiece. Arguably the world’s biggest movie star, he is finally the favourite to triumph in the Best Actor (Drama) category at tonight’s Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles, viewed as a major stepping stone on the long path to eventual Oscar glory.
Hugh Glass, DiCaprio’s character in The Revenant, is a 19th-century fur trapper left for dead in the frozen wastes of the American West, who claws his way back to civilisation in search of revenge. He has only about two dozen lines of dialogue, many of them barely audible or spoken in Pawnee, and is physically disabled for much of the two-and-a-half-hour running time. “It was the most difficult film I’ve ever done,” the actor said recently – catnip for the people who pick award-winners.
His victory at the Globes and at the Oscars on 28 February would come at the expense of 2015’s winner, Eddie Redmayne, whose tasteful turn as a transgender woman in The Danish Girl has failed to set the US box office alight, despite enduring “Redmaynia” in the UK. But 2016 could be his co-star Alicia Vikander’s year; the Swedish actress has a brace of nominations from both the Globes and the Bafta awards, for The Danish Girl and for her supporting role as a fatally attractive robot in sci-fi hit Ex Machina.
The Globes differ from other major awards ceremonies by splitting the Best Picture and top acting nominees into drama and comedy. This year, the journalism drama Spotlight is the favourite to win in drama, while the financial black farce The Big Short is expected to race in the comedy lane with feel-good sci-fi blockbuster The Martian, which is likely to win Matt Damon his first Golden Globe for acting. (He shared Best Screenplay with Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting in 1998.)
Spotlight and The Big Short would make interesting Oscar rivals. Both are true stories, featuring all-star ensemble casts, each playing a group of dogged outsiders who take on a major American institution.
In the former, journalists from The Boston Globe expose the child sexual abuse scandal in the city’s Catholic archdiocese. In The Big Short, a disparate bunch of financial industry eccentrics cannily bet against the US mortgage-lending market just before it implodes.
Both make sobering viewing, but while Spotlight is a masterclass in restraint and understatement, The Big Short – made by Anchorman director Adam McKay – is brash, flashy and filled with laughs. For that reason, it may yet prove the more palatable movie for the Academy’s mainstream tastes. The Martian and The Revenant are both expected to join them in the Best picture category when the Oscar nominations are announced on 14 January.
At 78, The Martian’s director, Ridley Scott, has gone far longer than DiCaprio without an Oscar or a Golden Globe, and he is currently odds-on to win both this year. With Redmayne all but out of the running, British hopes for an acting award will rest instead in the supporting category, where Mark Rylance and Idris Elba are both nominated, for Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and the Netflix-produced war drama Beasts of No Nation respectively.
They must contend, though, with the sentimental vote for Sylvester Stallone, who reprises the role of Rocky Balboa in Creed, the best entry in his Rocky boxing franchise since the Oscar-winning 1976 original. Rylance or Elba might, instead, do better in the Globes’ television categories, where both are also nominated for the same award – Best Actor in a mini-series – for their performances in Wolf Hall (Rylance) and Luther (Elba).
While all eyes are on DiCaprio in the Best Actor category, the race for Best Actress is this year the more competitive. Brie Larson’s performance in the harrowing drama Room was adored by critics, but so far has been little seen. Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett are both brilliant in the mid-century lesbian love story Carol, but could split the vote – potentially leaving the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan to take the gong for her performance in another period piece, the low-key, lovely Brooklyn.
The Golden Globe for Best Actress in a comedy seems likely to go to Amy Schumer for her movie debut, Trainwreck. Should she win, Schumer’s speech will surely be unmissable, whether she uses it as a platform to advocate for gun control or as a chance to outdo Globes host Ricky Gervais for hilarity and potential offence. On which subject, Mel Gibson, ostracised after an anti-Semitic rant in 2006, is also to present an award.Reuse content