It all started when Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced the nominees for the 2013 Oscars. Christoph Waltz had been called for Django Unchained, but no one had said “Leonardo DiCaprio.” That wouldn’t stop this post-heartthrob and power actor, just like a glacier wouldn’t stop Jack Dawson from loving Rose.*
*OK, maybe it did.
Years had gone by of painful, self-sacrificing acting jobs that seemed to promise a nomination but never gave him a win. He had taken on mental illness (three times), the mob (twice), a sinking ship, Shakespeare, the CIA (twice) and an army of diamond hunters for the prestigious spot in the winner’s circle, but no matter what accent or haircut he donned, he had never been considered worthy. This year he had transformed into the most filthy of creatures, slave owner Calvin Candie, but received not even the batting of a golden eyelash from Oscar.
He would show them. “Catch me if you can, suckers,” he snickered into his coconut shell goblet (he always kept things from production, with or without permission).
To get in required skills — a certain type of skills — and the most complex plan within a plan within a plan that would take Christopher Nolan, three hours and a basement full of film conspiracy bloggers to explain. Hours were not an issue, however; the show would be going for at least four and a half.
First, he declined his invitation to the awards. The easiest way to evade Frank Costello and the Irish mob — i.e. the film students selected from around the country to hand out awards — would be to hit them when they least expected it.
First, Leo found a way under Jennifer Aniston’s absurdly large ballgown to sneak into the theater. One could never be too careful. The confines of the dress were worse than those of an iron mask (he had experience), but even worse was the stress when Ben Affleck thought he saw something move and decided to investigate.
He then realized that the man was actually Aniston’s husband Jason Theroux, who was only sporting the Affleck beard (apparently the look of the season now that Argo was more than just a mid-October release). Leo found himself getting closer and closer to the entrance of the Dolby Theater. No mani-cams or interviews with Robin Roberts could stop him now, as long as Hugh Jackman didn’t decide to pick up Jennifer like he did Kristin Chenoweth.
Luckily, the music-man-slash-body-builder didn’t lift anyone but his wife and Chenoweth — at the same time. Leo was safe and in the theater.
It was time for the flawless transition from Jennifer to Jennifer in a roll-and-dive-bomb move worthy of an aviator. By the time the lights dimmed, Leo was tucked safely under the champaign folds of Jennifer Lawrence’s dress. It was a sure place to stay — for now. She was due to introduce ADELE eventually, and it would be time to go another level/dress deeper.
The show was about to begin, MacFarlane coming to the stage with jokes that made the audience roar with glee and reel in discomfort. A few musical numbers, one including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe, and a William-Shatner-on-Seth-MacFarlane roast later, the first award was handed out to supporting actor.
Leo grew redder than the dress he had previously been crouching under. This was supposed to be his award. Sure, it was no Best Actor award — that was destined for Daniel Day-Lewis — but it would be enough to tie Leo with Nicolas Cage.
It went to Christoph. Leo applauded politely, grinding his teeth and looking slightly less grumpy than Tommy Lee Jones probably looked.
The show continued, and Leo listened to the winners and commented quietly on each one. “Les Miserables wins best makeup?” he asked incredulously. “There wasn’t any makeup involved — Anne was already half-dead from starvation when she came on the lot that day.” Life of Pi‘s amount of wins for technicals was fine by him, and he shook his head as hard as everyone else that there had been a tie for best sound editing between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty. “So did I have to guess both of those to win the pool?” he heard Bradley Cooper ask Lawrence.
The warmth under the dress made him fall asleep while they were giving out awards to the shorts and documentaries. The sound of the Les Miserables cast brought him back to consciousness, however, specifically when the sultry sound of Russell Crowe’s untrained voice reminded him of the body of lies the Australian had told him about how he was the second-greatest actor in the world.
The third switch was coming; Amy Adams wasn’t too far away, and the soft down of her skirt would provide a perfect nest for him while awaiting Lawrence’s return. After all, Adams had lost Best Supporting Actress to Anne Hathaway, who rivaled Taylor Swift with her surprised wonder at winning.
ADELE sang her song with water and food coloring projected on the screen behind her. Leo immediately uploaded part of the feed onto YouTube, cleverly using a group called “OneDirectionFanClub” to throw off the Academy’s pirate scouts. He had a nice spot on the aisle when he was with Amy, but he wondered if it would have been a better idea to hide in ADELE’s hair.
Lawrence returned, and it was time to bid farewell to lovely Amy and return to the “+ Juliet” to his Romeo,” the one who would get him to the stage. ADELE and her hair won for “Skyfall” after Norah Jones topped her performance by singing the simple but true “Everyone Needs a Best Friend” from Ted, and Best Score went to Mychael Danna for Life of Pi.
Ang Lee accidently stepped on Leo’s hand on his way up to win Best Director, but Leo decided not to hold it against him; Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott and now Quentin Tarantino had all failed him as directors, so maybe Lee would be the one to spearhead his Oscar-winning performance. Tarantino picked up Best Original Screenplay for Django (“Because I sold that script,” Leo snarled), and Argo won for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Finally, Jean Dujardin took the stage. Leo never thought he’d be so happy to see a French man (also sporting the Affleck beard). And then it was time; Jennifer’s name had been called as the winner for Best Actress, and he was getting there. It would take just a tiny jump to usurp the award in transfer between the unsuspecting film student and the blushing first-time recipient. They were in perfect step, like Jack and Rose doing the Irish reel.
And then disaster hit.
Their feet got more tangled than the plot of J. Edgar and Lawrence fell to her knees. Jackman tried to help, but upon seeing the bottom of Leo’s feet, knew what he was dealing with. Even a man who had played Wolverine four times knew not to get between Leo and an Oscar.
But the plan was done. He had gone too many dresses deep, and the dream was collapsing. Dejected and terrified of running into Meryl Streep and the Avengers backstage, Leo tuck-and-rolled away as Lawrence stood and delivered her breathless acceptance speech.
The mission had failed, but the evening wasn’t over. To add insult to injury, Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor, a shoe-in. Normally, Leo would have been thrilled for his old Gangs of New York pal, but it made Leo angrier than his character was in The Basketball Diaries (and pretty much every other film he’s ever been in) that Day-Lewis neglected to forfeit the Oscar to him. After all, he was the one who had convinced him to take on the presidential role. Just a mention would have been something, but even that was left out in favor of thanking Mrs. Day-Lewis. Who was this guy, a loving husband?
Leo didn’t want to listen anymore as Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov took the stage in matching beards to accept the Best Picture Award for Argo from First Lady Michelle Obama and Jack Nicholson. Sure, they were the best looking group of producers up there, as Heslov half-joked. Affleck gave the most wife-adoring speech of the night. For Leo, the whole ordeal had been a failure he wanted to forget and suppress. Maybe Ben Kingsley could help.
But as Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane ended the show with a song dedicated to losers, the sting of failure subsided some. There would be another film to make, another accent to master, another animal to save. Next year, he would be at the Oscars with a nomination and win. These losses and neglects were just growing pains.