10 Best Performances Of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ranked

Leonardo DiCaprio, a household name amongst the actors who are working in the Hollywood Industry, turned 48 on the 11th of November, 2022. He is an actor who has been in the industry for almost three decades, beginning his journey of acting in films at the tender age of 19. Throughout these years, he worked intensively on various films, giving memorable performances and also collaborating with various acclaimed directors, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and many more. Here is a list of his top 10 performances, ranked from good to best:


10. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This film marks the collaboration of Leonardo DiCaprio and acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg, along with popular actor Tom Hanks in a supporting role. The tone of the film plays out mostly as a comic drama and is based on the real-life story of Frank Abagnale Jr.; a fraudster turned owner of his own consulting firm. The actor portrays this role with a tinge of humor and a sense of innocence which perfectly gives the film its tone along with the directorial treatment of Spielberg. Here, DiCaprio lends the character a sense of humanity and makes him someone who searches for acceptance and identity.

9. Don’t Look Up (2021)

His latest film marks his acting debut with Netflix and probably consists of one of the most star-studded casts seen in recent times, with the likes of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Rob Morgan, Timothée Chalamet, and many more. Here, DiCaprio plays the role of an astronomy professor, Dr. Randall Mindy, in this satirical-comedy film tackling the serious issue of climate change in this Adam McKay directorial. The film is deeply scary and funny at the same time, and Leo delivers a top-notch performance that is hilariously serious. The scene showcasing his “Network” (1976) style outburst on live television is definitely one to look out for. He efficiently manages to evoke the sense of frustration, anger, and hopelessness that his character goes through in the film.


8. Shutter Island (2010)

This list sometimes feels more like a Scorsese-DiCaprio list of films rather than the aforementioned title, as this is the fourth time a Scorsese film is mentioned out of the total five-times collaboration, as the director perfectly brings out the best from DiCaprio. Here in this neo-noirish psychological thriller, Leo reprises the role of a detective in search of a missing inmate inside a hospital for the criminally insane. From the actors’ disillusioned eyes to their very underconfident body language, this is also another example of a captivating and haunting portrayal of a vulnerable man that evokes a sense of paranoia inside the minds of the viewers.

7. The Departed (2006)

This film does not particularly belong to any actor, as it consists of a massive ensemble that includes veteran actor Jack Nicholson along with contemporary popular faces like Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg. Yet, with DiCaprio playing the role of an undercover cop, Billy Costigan manages to put up a worthwhile and noteworthy performance. DiCaprio perfectly showcases a wide range of feelings, from the sense of fear and nervousness to being courageous and confident at the same time. The performances are one of the key factors in making this Scorsese flick a highly intense watch.


6. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

At the age of 19, this film fetched Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar nomination for “best-supporting actor.” Even though the lead of the film is Gilbert Grape, played by renowned actor Johnny Depp, it is the role of his intellectually disabled brother “Arnie,” portrayed on screen by Leonardo DiCaprio, that stole the limelight through the actor’s emotionally draining and heartbreaking performance. This was a breakthrough film that helped him showcase the range of his talent for the first time, and he, as an actor, came to be noticed in the film world.

5. The Revenant (2015)

The film marks its significance, especially for Leonardo DiCaprio and also his die-hard fans, as this finally won the actor an Oscar in the best actor category after three unsuccessful attempts and being in the film industry for over two decades. Here, DiCaprio manages to entirely shove off his stardom and go deep into the character of Hugh Glass. For this, he goes through extreme measures to properly get inside the skin of the character who is seeking revenge in the cold wilderness. He completely lets go of his personality, and one of the well-known instances that proves his dedication to his craft is that of him eating the real raw liver of a bison in front of the camera, even after being a vegan, just for the authenticity and detail.


4. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

This is the second time DiCaprio has collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on the director’s love letter to Hollywood. The character of Leonardo DiCaprio is that of a Hollywood actor, Rick Dalton, whose fame is fading with the shift in time and who captures the transitional period of America during the late 1960s. Leonardo is cast aptly, as he fits the role perfectly, along with Brad Pitt, who plays his stuntman and best friend, Cliff Booth. Here, the layered performance of the actor showcasing various vulnerabilities of the character as he can feel his stardom fading away is emotionally charged in a very subtle way, along with a dose of Tarantino Esque humor.

3. The Aviator (2004)

Another Scorsese-DiCaprio collaboration did wonders for the screen. The film is based on the life of eccentric billionaire and film personality Howard Hughes and his transformation into a reclusive person suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here, the shift and transformation are meticulously portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, perfectly embodying the larger-than-life aura of the real-life character. The film consists of iconic scenes, especially between DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett (playing the role of prominent actress Katherine Hepburn), which definitely acts out like a masterclass on acting.


2. Django Unchained (2012)

This Tarantino directorial showcases Leonardo DiCaprio’s range as an actor, where he plays the menacing slave owner Calvin Candie, an epitome of pure evil. Though this was more of a supporting role as it was primarily a film revolving around the characters of Django (played by Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz) and therefore had minute screen time, the pure evil portrayed through this character is impossible to forget. The kind of body language, expressions, dialogue delivery, and spontaneity showcased by the actor make this brilliantly written character more memorable. One would definitely love to hate him.

1. The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)

This film marked Leonardo DiCaprio’s fifth collaboration with legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. In this biopic, he portrays the real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort and perfectly encapsulates the aura and madness of a life of excess, booze, drugs, parties, money, and corruption. He hits each and every pitch right and delivers a simply flawless performance. He completely owns this film, as his performance sits right at the top of this almost 3-hour-long epic of madness. This film also earned him a nod at the Oscars, which he should have won but eventually lost to Matthew McConaughey [“Dallas Buyers Club” (2013)].


As the actor is on the verge of his fifties, one may hope that there will be more memorable performances that are yet to be showcased on the silver screen, changing the chronology of the aforementioned list. Even though the actor did not make any appearances this year, he will be back with his sixth collaboration with Martin Scorsese next year with “Killers of the Flower Moon,” where he is cast along with Robert De Niro. Other than these ten films, one may also take note of his performance in the following as Special Mentions: “Blood Diamond” (2006), “Revolutionary Road” (2008), “Titanic” (1997), “Romeo + Juliet” (1996), and “Inception” (2010).

See more: Top 10 Films Directed By Martin Scorsese, Ranked

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Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev Bandyopadhyay
Riddhadev has a major interest in watching various kinds of films, knowing about history, playing varied video games, and having a knack for politics. He is also a football fanatic. He is very opinionated but sometimes finds it difficult to express himself. Moreover, he has a piece of paper that people refer to as a degree in journalism and mass communication. At present, he is pursuing a Master's in Media Science while also trying out different activities to figure out which he does best.

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