4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'

In week one of our Leo Oscar Watch, we evaluate the Chosen One's competition.

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
Universal | Fox

From the moment Leonardo DiCaprio broke onto the scene with 1993's What's Eating Gilbert Grape, he's been flirting with Oscar glory. That movie found him nominated for Best Supporting Actor at 19 years old, and since then he's been nominated three more times, all for Best Actor, and every time he's come up short.

You don't want to say he's lost four times because to be nominated is to have already won. Really. Unless your name rhymes with Feral Weep, it's tough to get that nod. But Leo's fight for an Oscar has taken on mythic proportions, with his fans finding themselves annually disappointed with the Academy for not awarding Oscar gold to the one-time heartthrob who's grown into a favorite leading man. And forget about winning for a second, Leo's performances have been full-on snubbed at least twice — once for Django Unchained and another for Titanic.

Now Leo has another movie on the way. It's called The Revenant, and it was marked for awards season glory from the outset. Not only did Leo endure one of the most grueling shoots in history as he braved the elements, ate raw bison liver, and worked with a real live bear. (By the way, no he does not get "raped" by the bear. Yeesh.) Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won Best Director and Best Picture at the last Oscars (for Birdman), and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki has won the Oscar for Best Cinematography the last two years running (Birdman and Gravity). Their leading man last year, Michael Keaton, came within spitting distance of winning the Oscar even as he competed with Leo himself. In the end, they both lost to Eddie Redmayne in one of the most uninspired Academy decisions of the year.

But the winds of change are blowing.

This year as we head into Awards Season, the word is Leonardo DiCaprio isn't just in the running. He's the man to beat for Best Actor. The first footage and photos from The Revenant have inspired the Internet to once again take up the call, "THIS IS HIS YEAR!" But this time, after the movie has screened for a handful of influential writers and industry insiders, it seems the Internet may be right.

With that in mind we're going to start keeping a close eye on Leo's fight for an Oscar. Every week from now on we'll be checking in with the awards race to see just how Leo's chances are holding up. For this first week, we'll be looking at the competition, making note of each actor who stands a chance of stealing the Oscar (once again) from Leo's grasp.

First, here's the leaderboard followed by a breakdown of Leo's rivals.

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
JJ Duncan / Zimbio

#1. Matt Damon in 'The Martian'

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
Fox

Matt Damon holds the audience's attention solo through large swaths of The Martian, and after sciencing the shit out of his Mars rescue, he's close to sciencing his way to Oscar gold. With a top 10 box office finish for the year, you can bet more Academy members have seen The Martian than almost any other Oscar contender, making Damon the most legitimate threat to Leo's Oscar.

#2. Michael Fassbender in 'Steve Jobs'

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
Universal

As Steve Jobs, Michael Fassbender holds down the year's most underappreciated biopic. He builds his own version of Jobs without ever slipping into impersonation, which is why we're sure this version of the computer pioneer's life will actually stand the test of time as more people see it. Still, the movie was a very high profile flop for Universal, which bodes poorly not only for Fassbender's chances at an Oscar, but also for Kate Winslet's. That's why we don't consider Fassbender a huge threat to Leo's big win.

#3. Eddie Redmayne in 'The Danish Girl'

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
Focus Features

In The Danish Girl, Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, the real-life first person to ever undergo sex reassignment surgery. He's coming off of an Oscar win, and with another period piece with an even more provocative story, Redmayne promises to be a force again at this year's awards. Still, buzz will really have to pick up for Redmayne to win back-to-back Oscars, so it doesn't look like he'll be able to beat Leo.

#4. Johnny Depp in 'Black Mass'

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
Warner Bros.

Johnny Depp was widely praised for bringing Whitey Bulger to life in all his terrifying glory. With that thin hair and those translucent eyes, Depp emanates menace as the infamous Boston gangster, a based-on-real-life role that could win him an Oscar nod. But it's likely a nod is all he'll get.

#5. Will Smith in 'Concussion'

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'
Sony Pictures

Movie: Concussion
Leo Threat Rank: #5

In ConcussionWill Smith plays Bennett Omalu, the real-life Nigerian forensic pathologist who took on the NFL for ignoring evidence that on-field injuries were leaving many of its former stars in shambles. He identified a repetitive brain trauma known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in former football players in high enough numbers that the NFL eventually had no choice but to take notice. The movie's hot button issue has helped it generate buzz, but right now we don't think Smith is on track to beat Leo.

The Rest of Leo's Threats

4 Actors Who Could Steal Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar for 'The Revenant'

Michael Caine: Youth
Michael B. Jordan: Creed
Bryan Cranston: Trumbo
Ian McKellen: Mr. Holmes
Steve Carell: The Big Short

Leo's still got a long road to go before finally taking home an Oscar. Anything can happen between now and February 28, and these are a few of the stars who could sweep into the race if momentum swings their way. Michael B. Jordan is at the bottom of people's predictions for the Oscar right now, but with buzz building around his performance in Creed, he could very well be in the running. Steve Carell could also find himself nominated for a second year in a row for his performance in The Big Short. Bryan Cranston and Ian McKellen both seem like long shots right now, but we can't really count anyone out.

So what do you think? Is this finally Leo's year to win?

I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google
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