Considered one of the greatest actors of his generation, Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio continues his stronghold on Hollywood and modern-day cinema. With nearly three decades in cinema, he’s delivered some of the most memorable characters and performances, bringing in more than $6.5 billion in box office receipts, placing him in the top 10 highest-grossing leading actors of all time.
To celebrate DiCaprio’s birthday (on Nov. 11), Variety ranks his 21 best film performances of his career so far.
Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.
A frequent collaborator with some of cinema’s most influential filmmakers, he’s worked multiple times with Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Baz Luhrmann, and most often with Martin Scorsese.
DiCaprio’s run on the awards circuit has brought about many rewards. It began with the best supporting actor nom as the mentally disabled Arnie for Lasse Hallström’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993). Still, it would take 11 years for him to return to the Oscars despite worthy efforts, including the box office record breaker “Titanic” (1997) from James Cameron and the sly fraudster Frank Abagnale Jr in “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) from Steven Spielberg. His second nom would come as famed billionaire Howard Hughes in Scorsese’s best picture-nominated “The Aviator” (2004), for which he also won the Golden Globe for best actor (drama). He followed it up with his turn as a South African diamond smuggler in Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond” (2006), the same year as his work as an undercover cop in Scorsese’s best picture winner “The Departed.”
The megastar nabbed his first nom as a producer “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), becoming one of few actors ever nominated for acting and producing in the same year.
But DiCaprio’s winning dance with the Academy finally came as frontiersman Hugh Glass in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” (2015), which also won two other statuettes for directing and cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki). He would tack another mention to his impressive resume as faded television star Rick Dalton in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” (2019), which brought Brad Pitt his first acting win.
As of 2023, DiCaprio has appeared in 10 films nominated for best picture, which ties him with Cate Blanchett and Jack Nicholson as the second most of any actor. The current record-holder is his “Killers of the Flower Moon” co-star Robert DeNiro, with 11.
Read the list of his best performances below, along with the clip of the most vital scene from each film.
Honorable mentions: “Body of Lies” (2008); “The Quick and the Dead” (1995); “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998); “The Beach” (2000); “J. Edgar” (2011)