Top 10 Leonardo DiCaprio Performances

He has gone from child actor, to heartthrob, and Oscar worthy performer. Over the course of his career, this performer has never shied away from more dramatic content, including playing two versions of himself, a modern re-imagining of Shakespeare's Romeo, a drug addict, a man trying to survive the sinking of the Titanic, and even a special needs child. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our top ten favorite Leonardo DiCaprio performances.
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Top 10 Leonardo DiCaprio Performances



This actor is much more than just a pretty face. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our top ten favorite Leonardo DiCaprio performances.

#10 – King Louis XIV/Philippe: “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998)


Kicking off our list is the film that gives us two Leos for the price of one. This movie has DiCaprio playing two radically different characters simultaneously, and by convincingly portraying a pair of identical twins, he makes us both love and loathe him. It’s hard not to sympathize with the good-hearted boy who’s forced into solitary confinement, but it’s equally hard not to detest the egomaniacal womanizing tyrant.

#9 – Jack Dawson: “Titanic” (1997)


We would not have let Jack drown! Kidding aside, next up is the larger-than-life film about a larger-than-life ship that proved Leo’s larger-than-life star power. Girls everywhere fell for DiCaprio as the artistic, working-class scoundrel. Even though Leo is now embarrassed by this performance, without strong acting, this film would have sunk to the depths like its namesake in an ocean of special effects.

#8 – Romeo Montague: “Romeo + Juliet” (1996)


This is the role that made Leo a Hollywood sex symbol a full year before he boarded the RMS Titanic. Playing the most romantic figure of all time, DiCaprio props up this modern retelling of the beloved Shakespeare classic by doing what he does best: keeping female viewers entranced with his swoon-worthy delivery of iconic lines, especially while clad in shining armor.

#7 – J. Edgar Hoover: “J. Edgar” (2011)


Many were surprised when DiCaprio was cast as famed FBI director J. Edgar Hoover: ignoring their physical differences, Hoover was uncharismatic and guarded, which makes Leo’s subtle performance in this Clint Eastwood biopic that much more inspired. His talent shines through makeup, false teeth, toupees, dental implants and prosthetics that take him from age 36 to 77, and while the film earned mixed reviews, DiCaprio’s work garnered him a Golden Globe nomination.

#6 – Frank Abagnale Jr.:”Catch Me If You Can” (2002)


Taking full advantage of Leo’s charm and dashing good looks, this film features our baby-faced 28-year-old star as a 16-year-old identity-stealing rascal. Even beside acting greats like Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken, DiCaprio steals the show: he effortlessly brings the real-life adventures of this teenage thief to the big screen, and oozes confidence and magnetism every step of the way.

#5 – William “Billy” Costigan Jr.: “The Departed” (2006)


As the central focus of this masterful Martin Scorsese ensemble cast, DiCaprio takes on the role of an undercover cop who attempts to infiltrate the Irish mob. The result is a dramatic tour-de-force, where DiCaprio struggles with a deadly situation that is spiraling out of his control. Arguably the most mature role of his career, it also allows Leo to add never-before-seen grit to his screen persona, Boston accent included.

#4 – Danny Archer: “Blood Diamond” (2006)


2006 saw DiCaprio give an even grittier performance in this film, and for his trouble he earned an Oscar nod. His part as a Zimbabwean mercenary involved in a diamond industry conflict seems far removed from his other roles, but it’s similar in that the character openly struggles with his inner demons and allows DiCaprio to demonstrate his dramatic skills. Most memorable of all was his mastery of the incredibly difficult South African accent.

#3 – Jim Carroll: “The Basketball Diaries” (1995)


This demanding role gives us an early glimpse of the star’s talent. Based on Jim Carroll’s autobiographical novel, the movie has Leo in the lead as the most talented member of a basketball team who gets sucked into a world of addiction and prostitution. Though the film was treated harshly after its release, it shows us just how willing and able DiCaprio is to take his characters to exceptionally dark places.

#2 – Howard Hughes: “The Aviator” (2004)


This Scorsese biopic truly sees DiCaprio transform into the infamously off-balanced, speed-talking aviation visionary who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He brings passion to his representation of this powerful moustache-wearing Houston native, and conveys the real-life billionaire’s aging process in both tone and evolving maturity. The result was a well-earned Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, since Leo managed to grip his audience and never let go.

#1 – Arnie Grape: “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993)


Taking the top spot on our list is DiCaprio’s career-defining and spectacularly convincing role as a mentally disabled child. Fresh off his days on “Growing Pains,” DiCaprio uses believable mannerisms and his ability to make a character both loveable and genuine to earn the first Oscar nomination of his career. Thanks to this heartbreaking performance, Leo proved he’d be a presence around Hollywood for years to come.

Do you agree with our list? Which of Leo’s movie roles is your favorite? For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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