Could DiCaprio finally win coveted Oscar?
COULD this finally be Leonardo DiCaprio's year?
Twenty years after his first Oscar nomination, the 39-year-old actor is hoping that he may at last win one of Hollywood's most prized statuettes come Sunday night in the United States (Monday morning Singapore time).
Matthew McConaughey has been the front runner for the best actor Oscar for his turn in Dallas Buyers Club - but DiCaprio is cited increasingly as a possible come-from-behind winner.
Critics have lavished praise on the actor for his portrayal of financial crook Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf Of Wall Street, fuelling speculation that Oscar voters could finally give him the Academy Award.
DiCaprio portrays the debauched and drug-fuelled New York trader from his early days through his relentless rise to the top of Wall Street in the 1990s, and then his disgrace at the hands of investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The hilarious scene where he struggles across the floor to get to his car, his limbs paralysed by an overdose of Quaaludes, risks becoming one of his defining screen moments, along with the prow-of-the-ship scene in Titanic with Kate Winslet.
"Look, there's a lot of disgusting behaviour in this movie," DiCaprio - who took home a Golden Globe for the role - acknowledged at a recent lunch for this year's Oscar nominees.
"We wanted this to be a cautionary tale, and we wanted to portray accurately this darker nature of our culture."
While he has never won an Oscar, he was first nominated at the age of 19, for 1993's What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, and then again for 2004's The Aviator and 2006's Blood Diamond.
But his work in films including Romeo And Juliet (1996), Gangs Of New York (2002), The Departed (2006) and Shutter Island (2010) was overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The bitterest pill to swallow was doubtless Titanic (1997), which won 11 of the 14 Oscar categories in which it was nominated - but DiCaprio did not even earn a best actor nod.
"Now that DiCaprio is on the brink of the big 4-0, it's time to do the right thing and honour one of the finest actors of our generation with an Oscar while he's still in his prime, instead of some paunchy supporting role a decade later," said Mr Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast. The actor will be 40 on Nov 11.
Mr Joey Berlin, head of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, was more cautious about DiCaprio's chances. "I believe Leo has been honoured to receive Oscar nominations and I don't believe he has been 'snubbed' by the Academy," he told AFP.
"Winning an Oscar is incredibly rare and difficult, and many screen legends never won one. Leo is a great star and he may win this year, but just to be nominated again is very special."
In a normal year, DiCaprio's Wolf portrayal would have made him a near shoo-in for the best actor Oscar. But this year is not typical, with a bumper crop of films and performances vying for the votes of the Academy's 6,000 voters.