From that point Leo's star started to rise steadily again. More Award nominations, Box-Office Muscle, and respect of peers and the general public until you got to 2006, when it became clear - even if still painful to admit - that any serious discussion of Best Actors Under 40 simply HAD to include Leo in the Top 5, if not at the apex. (I've done this list before, informally, but it's out of date; someone remind me - we WILL do it again.2)
1 Leo's career path reminds me of Justin Timberlake. Initially N*SYNC was the best of the "boy bands," and you'd even bob your head in the car to "Bye Bye Bye" (or if no one was looking, do that puppet-dance thing). But actually LIKE N*SYNC? Not if you were a guy, or a girl over 22. When Timberlake hooked up with Britney it seemed all over. But then they broke up, he wrote the scathing "Cry Me a River," unabashedly emulated MJ's sound, produced some pretty decent pop songs, and started banging every smoking hot chick he could find. He even killed as a SNL Host. Suddenly it was far more acceptable to be a Timberlake fan. Uh, not that I am. No, not at all....
2 Both Matt Damon and Jon Hamm will fall from the Under-40 ranks in a few months, so the impetus is on. Thank the Light, we've still got some time for Freddie Prinze Jr.
3 ...Although maybe not by everyone. A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about her upcoming baby. She named him Leonardo DaVinci ____, to help inspire the child to greatness. The middle name was necessary, she claimed, "so the world will never be confused who he was really named after." I was too scared to ask whether her fear was that people would think her son was named after DiCaprio, or the Ninja Turtle. Personally I would be fine with the Teenage Terrapin being the namesake. After all, Leonardo did lead. You'd want to avoid Raphael, who was cool, but, if my sources can be believed, quite crude.
4 Leo Movies I have not seen - Haven't yet traveled with Kate and Leo in Revolutionary Road, but no one has been falling all over themselves with praise. This writer's eyes haven't seen Leo's first real movie, This Boy's Life, and can't find anyone who has, though by all accounts it is good. For some reason I have not digested What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, for which Leo got an Oscar nomination back in the day before becoming a household name. The Wikipedia plot account sounds absolutely ghastly, but I'm assured by Koz and Kaida that it's quite good - Kaida said it was the "feel good gigantic woman retarded boy house burning pool drowning face slapping movie of the year." Well then. I'd have to check my journal, but I'm pretty sure I have not seen The Basketball Diaries - though I did watch a lot of the Columbine coverage several years later, so I think I'm okay. Finally, I have not yet had a day with Leo at The Beach. For what it's worth, when I called Carlos to see if he had any insight on the movies I'd missed (or Leo in general), I found the Wolf-Cat in surprisingly eloquent form. Besides explaining the evolution of late '90s Boy-Bands to a "Doctoral Thesis-Defense" degree, Carlos had this to say: "Leo's best movie was Romeo + Juliet. His best character was the guy in Basketball Diaries. But his best performance, in my opinion, was in The Beach." All right, Wolf-Cat; now you got me curious.
6 Source Music is previously-recorded music you put into a film - usually pop songs or classical pieces. They can be "in" the movie - like on the radio or TV, or part of the soundtrack. This is opposed to Score, which is composed directly for the film. (Think Star Wars.) Yes, I realize I put 6 before 5, but that's because 5 references Source Music so heavily that if you didn't already know what it was you'd have to go back and read the next footnote again. Who loves you? Who loves you? That's right: Uncle Hypey.
5 The Mount Rushmore concept is pretty simple - four people (or fast food restaurants or TV shows or whatever the case may be) that define the very best of your subject. I would want to take some time to hash it out, but off the top of my head, my Mount Rushmore for Directors using Source Music would be Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann and I was going to say John Hughes, but I just looked at his IMDB page, and though he had some all-time greats as far as Source Music goes, he only directed a few films, so we'll leave the fourth spot open, for now.
7 I am absolutely going to have to write a review for Romeo + Juliet, as it deserves to take its rightful place among the movie gods. Maybe a running diary, with time-stamp cues so you can watch and read my comments at the appropriate time? I'm tempted.
Reviews for several of these films can be found at Movie Hype.
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