It may have been the night’s most predictable result, but Leonardo DiCaprio’s Best Actor win for his role in The Revenant still felt like Oscar doing right by an actor nominated five times in this category, first for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? back in 1993, when he was 19. Fox’s campaign for The Revenantfocussed heavily on how much DiCaprio suffered for his art – all crawling around in the dirt, chewing on raw Bison liver and braving sub-zero temperatures. He beat out four actors whose films, at least, featured plenty of indoor shooting; Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Matt Damon for The Martian, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs and last year’s winner Eddie Redmayne forThe Danish Girl.
But for all the surety of his win this season – DiCaprio had picked up every major acting prize on his route to the Dolby Theater – the 41-year-old actor was still visibly relieved when the envelope was opened. “The Revenant was the product of an unbelievable cast and crew,” he said in his speech. “First off to my brother in this endeavor, Mr. Tom Hardy. Tom, your fierce talent on-screen can only be surpassed by your friendship off-screen. To Mr. Alejandro Iñárritu, as the history of cinema unfolds, you have forged your way into history these past two years. What an unbelievable talent you are. Thank you to you and Chivo for creating a transcendent cinematic experience for all of us. “
DiCaprio thanked Fox and New Regency and called out Arnon Milchan before thanking people “from the very onset” of his career, including Michael Caton-Jones, who cast him in This Boy’s Life, his regular collaborator Martin Scorsese and Rick Yorn. “And to my parents: none of this would be possible without you.” In fact, on the carpet earlier DiCaprio revealed he’d brought his mom with him tonight. In Mike Fleming’s interview with the Oscar winner published earlier this month, he revealed she would drive 45 minutes each way, twice a day, just to take DiCaprio to a better school.
He finished his speech with a climate change plea. “Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant follows DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass, a fur trapper abandoned by his colleagues when he’s savagely attacked by a bear. Left for dead and double-crossed, Glass crawls his way to safety, dodging Native American warriors and fixing to take his revenge on Tom Hardy’s John Fitzgerald, who murdered his son and conspired to take his share.