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Why Leonardo DiCaprio Will Have to Wait for His Oscar Moment

Leonardo DiCaprio Cindy Ord/WireImage

Why does the Academy keep snubbing Leonardo DiCaprio? Shouldn't he have a million Oscars by now? And yet he got no nomination for Django Unchained! Where's the justice!?
—Yalanda, Atlanta, via Twitter

Like many a movie fan, you're confusing the Oscars with the Nuremberg Trials. Academy Awards aren't about justice. They're about self-congratulation and a ginormous awards show aimed at garnering as many viewers and sponsorship dollars as humanly possible. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But let's not spend all of our outrage in one place.

As far as Leo's history with Oscar, yeah, it is a little one-sided. Here's what I can tell you about why.

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If it makes you feel any better, people seem to ask this question every year or so.

Back in 2011, people were screaming that Leo should have gotten more Oscar love for his roles in Blood Diamond and The Departed. (He only got nominated for the former. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences also has nominated him for his lead role in The Aviator and as a supporting actor in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. No statuette yet.)

As Tom O'Neil of the Gold Derby blog pointed out at the time, each particular snub has been its own perfect storm.

"Poor Leo has had lousy Oscar luck," O'Neil told me about DiCaprio's ill-fated nomination for Blood Diamond—the "wrong film" in a year that also included The Departed, largely considered to be the actor's better flick.

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"It's his own fault," O'Neil explained then. "If he'd agreed to campaign in lead for The Departed instead of supporting, he would've been nominated for that instead and probably would've won, riding its Best Picture sweep."

More recently, DiCaprio's lack of Oscar nods stems not from poor choices, but rather the brutal acting arena.

"The competition was too strong," Fordham University media studies professor Paul Levinson tells me. "In the future, DiCaprio definitely stands a chance."

And even if he doesn't, he won't be alone.

"Hitchcock never won one for Best Director either, and he's the greatest director in history," posits Rob Weiner, film historian at Texas Tech University. "How do you explain that?"

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Our appreciation for Leo—and the rest of the Django Unchained cast—in pictures

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