Following a series of screenings in Los Angeles last week, the media is abuzz with conjecture that Leonardo DiCaprio’s role in The Revenant may be Oscar worthy at last. It would sure be a long time coming for the 41-year-old DiCaprio, an industry favorite who's been nominated but winless four times. His very first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor, was earned way back in 1994 for his portrayal of a developmentally challenged teen in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. That was followed by three Best Actor nominations for The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Four nominations, no wins — though we can’t exactly feel sorry for the guy, considering he has won two Best Actor Golden Globes for The Aviator and The Wolf of Wall Street.
It’s fair to say DiCaprio was a legitimate contender for any of his previous Oscar nods, so if he’s struck out before, what makes this time different? Because this time is different. The Revenant, which hits U.S. theaters Christmas day and international theaters Jan. 9, will be Leo's biggest boon yet. Predicting Oscar winners is perhaps more an art than a science, but it certainly seems like factors have finally converged to make the once-teen heartthrob a likely, almost inevitable, winner for that coveted gold statue. Here’s why.