Do Oscar Voters Really Hate Leonardo DiCaprio?

A-list actor is loved by top directors such as Christoper Nolan and Martin Scorsese, so why no love from the Academy?

By Leslie Gornstein Feb 21, 2011 6:30 PMTags
Leonardo DiCaprioJun Sato/WireImage

Leonardo DiCaprio gets great roles from top directors, so why do Oscar people hate him?
—Cay, via the inbox

It's true that Martin Scorsese is a huge fan (the two just announced another team-up, The Wolf of Wall Street). And it's true that Leo is absent from this year's Oscar ballot.

But do you think that a vote for, say, Forest Whitaker (who killed it in 2006's The Last King of Scotland) meant "hate" for DiCaprio? I think I hear your mom calling.

Now, let the adults sort out Leo's awards season woes:

Because even if Oscar voters don't "hate" Leo—and, really, grow up—they sure haven't voted for him.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has nominated him three times, for Blood Diamond, The Aviator and as a supporting actor in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. No statuette.

So why has he never won? And why no nominations for Shutter Island, Catch Me If You Can, Gangs of New York, Romeo + Juliet, The Basketball Diaries, Revolutionary Road, Inception? (I refuse to say Titanic.)

"Poor Leo has had lousy Oscar luck," says Tom O'Neil, who heads the awards-race blog Gold Derby. "He would've won four years ago if he'd been nominated for the right film, but he had two rival roles in the running and he got nominated for wrong one—Blood Diamond.

"It's his own fault," O'Neil explains. "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."

That's right. The studio behind The Departed asked DiCaprio to campaign for a supporting nod, and he agreed. Big mistake in hindsight, O'Neil tells me.

Now. On to 2011.

"This year he had two roles in competition again, and he split his votes and got skunked for both," O'Neil says. "This year, fault falls with the Oscar gods."

There's another element at play here, too, and there's nothing Leo can do about this one.

"Leo also suffers from what I call the Slap the Stud Syndrome," O'Neil tells me. "The old guys who vote for the Oscars treat that Best Actress race like a beauty pageant. Look who's won over the past decade: Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman."

Right. Now look at the guys who have won, say, Jeff Bridges. Nice looking. In a 61-year-old kind of way.

"Voters go out of their way not to give it to young male heartthrobs—like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Leo," O'Neil insists. "Those old geezers in the academy seem to be saying to the young handsome chaps: You can't have it all, kid. You have fortune, fame and all the dames you want, so we have to deny you something."

And if that isn't hate, it certainly does smack of another emotion: jealousy.