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The Best Leonardo DiCaprio Films Ranked

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most recognizable and well-regarded actors currently working in Hollywood. DiCaprio got his start on television in the early 1990s, getting supporting roles on sitcoms like the short-lived "Parenthood" and the final season of "Growing Pains." DiCaprio then transitioned to film, making a name for himself as a promising young actor by appearing in several critically acclaimed movies. As he has gotten older, his roles have only gotten bigger and better, giving him one of the most impressive filmographies of any actor of his generation.

DiCaprio's work spans a multitude of genres. From action films like "Blood Diamond" and "Body of Lies" to romantic dramas like "Romeo + Juliet" and "Revolutionary Road," DiCaprio excels at fully immersing himself in any role he is given, even if some of his films don't quite hit the mark. He has also had the privilege of working with several great directors like Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Baz Luhrmann, and one of his most frequent collaborators Martin Scorsese.

With some new films on the horizon in 2021, here are 12 of DiCaprio's greatest films ranked from good to great based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings.

12. This Boy's Life

After starring in the abysmal horror comedy "Critters 3" and winning a small part in the Drew Barrymore film "Poison Ivy," DiCaprio got his big break in what would be his first collaboration with Hollywood heavyweight Robert De Niro. An adaptation of Tobias Wolff's memoir, "This Boy's Life" follows a young Tobias and his mother Caroline (Ellen Barkin) as she gets remarried to a man named Dwight Hansen (De Niro).

The film chronicles the relationship between Tobias and Dwight, as the stepfather abuses Tobias physically and verbally on numerous occasions. DiCaprio is great as a juvenile delinquent Tobias, with a performance that feels raw and emotional from beginning to end. But his relationship with De Niro's Dwight is the real center of the film. Each scene featuring the two together is intense and uncomfortable, but also helps to showcase DiCaprio's acting range at the start of his career.

"This Boy's Life" may not be the most iconic film in DiCaprio's pre-"Titanic" catalog, but the actor's die-hard fans will still find plenty to love about this early '90s family drama.

11. The Revenant

The film that finally got DiCaprio his first Academy Award for Best Actor, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's epic survival film "The Revenant" was just as intense to watch as it was to film, as reports of harsh conditions and departing crew members made headlines. Set in the wilderness of the Dakotas, fur trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is attacked by a bear and left for dead by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), who also kills Glass' half-Pawnee son. But Glass survives and sets out on a quest for revenge against Fitzgerald.

DiCaprio's role isn't very vocal, but his performance displays powerful anger and emotion in every scene he is in. He is also top notch in the film's many action sequences, with the highlight being Glass' final confrontation with Fitzgerald. Of course, Iñárritu's direction and Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography, both of which received Academy Awards, are to be commended as well. But "The Revenant" truly is DiCaprio's show, and his most physically demanding role yet.

10. The Wolf of Wall Street

A passion project of DiCaprio's for a long time, "The Wolf of Wall Street" — Martin Scorsese's fifth collaboration with the actor — follows the outrageous true story of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker whose trading schemes allowed him to live a lavish lifestyle while also attracting attention of the FBI. Jordan's life of debauchery is on full display here, whether it involves overdosing or throwing office parties that were definitely not HR-approved. Clocking in at three hours long, featuring a near record-breaking use of profanity, and stirring up controversy at its debut, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a film you have to see to believe.

Thankfully, DiCaprio does a great job of making the film watchable, even through its more uncomfortable moments. The actor gives it his all in a performance that is unapologetically crazy and funny. He's helped by an equally great supporting cast that includes Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Jon Bernthal, and Kyle Chandler. Though he lost out on many of the major awards to Matthey McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club" (who also has a minor role Scorsese's flick), "The Wolf of Wall Street" is easily DiCaprio's greatest work of the 2010s.

9. Marvin's Room

After the release of "This Boy's Life" and the early success of "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," DiCaprio starred in several other films of varying quality before striking gold with "Titanic." Some of those films, like "Romeo + Juliet," were generally well received, while others, such as "Total Eclipse," are best forgotten. The top choice among this group is definitely the lesser-known "Marvin's Room." Another '90s family drama, this film follows two estranged sisters, Bessie (Diane Keaton) and Lee (Meryl Streep). When Bessie needs a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with leukemia, Lee travels with her son Hank (DiCaprio) to her old home to reconnect with her family and help her sister.

As a troublemaking son who gets committed to a mental institution at the beginning of the film, DiCaprio's role is just as emotionally intense as the one in "This Boy's Life." His performance is made even better thanks to the strength of the film's two leads. The genuine rapport that DiCaprio has with both women is incredibly strong. The film packs a lot of drama in only 90 minutes, but DiCaprio's performance adds a lot of surprising levity to the film even in its darkest moments.

8. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

DiCaprio's most recent film, and his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, follows aging movie star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they navigate the changing landscape of the film industry, getting intertwined with the Manson family during their fateful encounter with Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie).

Tarantino's unique blend of bloody violence and dark humor is on full display in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," but the film's biggest strength is the relationship between Rick and Cliff. Though Pitt's performance as Cliff received all the awards attention, including an Academy Award win, both DiCaprio and Pitt are fantastic in their roles. They manage to be very funny while also displaying the inner conflict both men have regarding the changing nature of Hollywood. Whether their watching an episode of "The F.B.I." together, or changing the course of history by their confrontation with Sharon Tate's murderers, Rick and Cliff are some of Tarantino's best characters.

The film also receives a lot of points for its iconic soundtrack, various celebrity cameos as famous actors and historical figures, and its highly detailed recreation of 1960s Los Angeles.

7. The Aviator

While Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's first collaboration, "Gangs of New York," was good, their second collaboration two years later was an even better showcase of their talents. A sweeping epic based on the life of philanthropist and pilot Howard Hughes, "The Aviator" covers the man's career between the 1920s and the 1940s, including his exploits in Hollywood and aviation as both take a toll on his mental state.

DiCaprio perfectly captures Hughes' obsessive-compulsive disorder and the damage it does to his career and relationships, easily switching from charming mogul to paranoid recluse when the film needs it. With a nearly three-hour runtime, there is no shortage of memorable moments to find here. Some of the film's standout scenes include Hughes' tense dinner with the family of Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett), the infamous crash of the Hughes XF-11 in Beverly Hills, and the tense Senate confrontation between Hughes and Senator Ralph Owen Brewster (Alan Alda).

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning five, including a Best Actress win for Blanchett, "The Aviator" is essential viewing for any DiCaprio or Scorsese fan.

6. Django Unchained

DiCaprio's first collaboration with Quentin Tarantino had him playing plantation owner Calvin Candie, the central antagonist of "Django Unchained" who takes ownership of slave Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife of former slave and protagonist Django (Jamie Foxx). After teaming up with German bounty hunter King Shultz (Christoph Waltz), Django sets out to kill Calvin and free Broomhilda.

Despite being the film's main villain, DiCaprio's Calvin is more of a supporting role rather than a main one. Still, it's a challenging and unusual part in a challenging and unusual film, and DiCaprio is more than up to the task. He's fittingly despicable as the brutal slave owner, easy to hate but impossible to look away from. His interactions with both Foxx's Django and Waltz's Shultz make for some of the film's best moments. One particularly intense dinner scene where Calvin threatens to kill Broomhilda in front of Django and Shultz is a real standout.

Though Waltz got all the acting awards in the end, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, DiCaprio's twisted performance as Calvin is not to be overshadowed.

5. Inception

Despite not being a part of an existing franchise — which feels like a prerequisite for box office success these days — Christopher Nolan's "Inception" was one of the biggest films of 2010. A sci-fi action film featuring an ensemble cast, DiCaprio plays Cobb, a thief who enters people's dreams to steal their ideas. In order to pay off his numerous debts, Cobb takes on the difficult task of implanting an idea in someone's mind.

Like many other Christopher Nolan movies, "Inception" is unique in that it takes familiar genres and infuses them with high-concept plots to make them fresh and exciting. Nolan's version of "dreaming" takes on the form of a high-stakes heist movie, making the film feel wholly original. There are plenty of imaginative action sequences and set pieces for people to look forward to. From upside-down hallways battles to gunfights across a wintery mountain, "Inception" is one of the best examples of how you can craft an exciting action movie without relying too heavily on CGI

But DiCaprio's performance as Cobb is what the movie is really about. Both in action and in quieter moments, DiCaprio gives Cobb the emotional depth needed to really connect with audiences. His performance is made even better by his frequent battles with a dream projection of his deceased wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), making the film's stakes feel much more personal.

4. Titanic

When you think about Leonardo DiCaprio, "Titanic" is probably one of the first films that comes to mind. James Cameron's epic romance was the "king of the world" at the time of its release and held on to that title for several years before Cameron outdid himself again with "Avatar." Part romantic tragedy and part disaster film, the short-lived romance between Jack Dawson (DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) still manages to capture everyone's hearts to this day.

The connection between DiCaprio and Winslet's characters is apparent from the moment they first meet on screen. By the end of the film's first 90 minutes, you want them to be together forever. In the second part, the sinking ship jeopardizes their love and their lives. Watching Jack and Rose maneuver through the sinking ship while avoiding the grasp of Rose's fiancé, Cal (Billy Zane), is thrilling from start to finish. The final scene between them is hotly debated to this day. 

With several memorable scenes and quotes, as well as the hit Celine Dion song "My Heart Will Go On," you can't underestimate the impact "Titanic" has had on its stars, director, and pop culture in general.

3. What's Eating Gilbert Grape

This film made DiCaprio one of the youngest ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. In it, the still-rising actor plays Arnie, the mentally impaired younger brother of Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp). The film focuses on Gilbert's complicated relationship with his family, his affair with a married woman (Mary Steenburgen), and his budding relationship with a woman named Becky (Juliette Lewis).

While Gilbert is the film's main focus, the dynamic between him and Arnie is what steals the show. Both Depp and DiCaprio are great in their individual performances. Their best scene comes at the film's most intense moment, when a furious Gilbert snaps at Arnie for ruining his own birthday party and proceeds to hit him. Even with a moment as hard to watch as this, Depp still manages to make Gilbert a protagonist to worth watching. DiCaprio plays Arnie with such vulnerability that you can't help but end up loving him. 

"This Boy's Life" may have put him on the map, but DiCaprio's follow-up is his finest work from the early parts of his career.

2. The Departed

Martin Scorsese has directed many gangster crime dramas before "The Departed," but this was the film that finally landed him an Academy Award for Best Director. And although DiCaprio didn't receive any Oscar attention for his performance, he deserves just as much credit for making the film as memorable as it was. DiCaprio plays Billy Costigan, a cop going undercover to investigate mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). He learns that Costello has his own mole, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), within the Massachusetts Police Department. The film then follows both the mob and the police as each try to expose the other.

In a film filled with violence and despicable characters, DiCaprio's Costigan becomes the surprising moral center of the whole story, making him a character you root for as the tension escalates. It also helps that the film itself is a genuinely thrilling ride, giving DiCaprio and the rest of the cast plenty of great material to work with. Some of DiCaprio's best scenes include Costigan's first meeting with Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), his talk with psychiatrist Dr. Madden (Vera Farmiga), and his final bloody confrontation with Sullivan at the end.

Even after so many other collaborations, "The Departed" still stands tall as DiCaprio and Scorsese's best film together.

1. Catch Me If You Can

DiCaprio's first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, "Catch Me If You Can" has the high distinction of being DiCaprio's highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this, the film did not receive as many Academy Award nominations as Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York," which released the same year and only a few days apart from Spielberg's flick. "Catch Me If You Can" follows fraudster Frank Abagnale, Jr. from his early days of tricking his high school into thinking he's a substitute teacher to his adult years of check fraud and criminal impersonation. Almost from the beginning, he's pursued by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). 

DiCaprio is effortlessly charming as Frank, but he also manages to convey the character's human side. Particularly in the later half of the film, DiCaprio's joyfully taunting rapport with Hanks truly makes the cat-and-mouse film pop. Their best scenes together usually involve Frank narrowly escaping Carl's grasp, such as when he impersonates an FBI agent in a hotel room or sneaks off a plane through the lavatory. Massively entertaining and unexpectedly wholesome, it's a standout in DiCaprio's storied career.