16 Best Leonardo DiCaprio Movies You Must See

Updated June 24, 2018
11 min read

Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor that everybody loves. And why not? He is one of the very few actors who has been entertaining us with some stupendous performances for the last 25 years. He might have become famous after Titanic, but he was doing some great acting long before that. After the huge success of Titanic, he used the fame to make Avant-grade films that otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of the day.

Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for ‘The Revenant’ recently, but we know that is not going to stop him. If anything it will only motivate him to keep pushing boundaries of acting forward. It will be interesting to see how his career shapes from here on, considering the list of his upcoming films simply looks irresistible. If he continues to work with his favorite directors, that includes the likes of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tanrontino, we are sure to witness many more great films from his stable. For now, let’s focus on what he has already done.

Most of the movies featuring DiCaprio are good, but today we are going to list down the top Leonardo DiCaprio films that prove he is one the greatest actors working today. You can also watch some these Leonardo DiCaprio movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime.


16. The Beach (2000)

With a gifted cast that includes actors like Dicaprio and Tilda Swinton, ‘The Beach’ undoubtedly presents some of Boyle’s best work in artistic terms. The plot creates the characters of Richard and Sal, who meet on the pristine island of Ko Samui after Richard is left a map by Daffy, a stranger who commits suicide. Their relationship with each other and the island is explored through various territorial events like bonfire parties and agricultural tasks. The interesting dynamics of their emotional intellect and mental vulnerability owing to the island are vaguely put forth. Even though panned by critics and negatively spoken of by the director himself, ‘The Beach’ presents a medley of sacrifice and love in the utmost appealing of fashions. One of the early Leonardo DiCaprio movies that truly showed his immense talents.


15. The Great Gatsby (2013)

Say what you will, but ‘The Great Gatsby’ despite being a problematic film has its share of moments. In a richly conceived film, Luhrmann manages to carve out an identity for himself, populating his stunning visual-style with a sense of bereavement and pretense that is hard to ignore. And really, how can you ignore the towering screen presence of Leonardo DiCaprio as the Great Gatsby. You may not have liked the film, but it is difficult to not like Leo’s performance. He plays the suave but broken Gatsby to perfection.


14. Gangs of New York (2002)

Directed by Martin Scorsese, ‘Gangs of New York’ explores the street gang culture in New York set before the Civil War. The film was been praised for its raw intensity and the some fantastic acting. What else do you expect when you have Daniel Day-Lewis channeling Bill the Butcher and Leonardo DiCaprio playing Amsterdam Vallon. While the film itself may not be among the strongest Scorsese’s work, but the performances surely are memorable.


13. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Directed by Steven Spielberg, this biographical crime drama movie is a fun watch from beginning to the end. Spielberg utilizes DiCaprio’s boyish looks, his charms and his ever-confident attitude with great effect to play a cunning thief with an effervescent charm. Tom Hanks, the Mr .Nice Guy, plays the cop.


12. Body of Lies (2008)

If you want to see two of the greatest actors of this generation thrown in together in a single film directed by one of the greatest directors of this generation, watch ‘Body of Lies’. Director Ridley Scott ensures that the action does not compromise the plot of the film, which is indeed complex, with many layers. While the plot does have its pitfalls with some misplaced plot points, ‘Body of Lies’ is an exceptional genre film. You can’t really go wrong when you cast Leonardo Di Caprio and Russel Crowe in leading roles. A well balanced, vivid portrait of the CIA in the Middle East and a startlingly realistic take on terrorism.


11. The Departed (2006)

The Departed

When Martin Scorsese is in the driver’s seat, you know you are in for a ride. And what a ride The Departed is. Buoyed by terrific performances all around, the film went on to win Best Picture and Best Director awards in the Oscars. The film is actually a remake of Hong Kong thriller ‘Internal Affairs’ and revolves around an undercover cop and a mole in the police who attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.


10. Titanic (1997)


A magnum opus. This James Cameron directed film saw Leonardo DiCaprio in a romantic avatar and gave him an unattainable fame. Though, after this, he purposefully avoided to star in any big-budgeted romantic dramas (till ‘The Great Gatsby’ happened). The film itself despite being lavish and grand scale also provided a good platform for both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to display their acting chops.

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9. Revolutionary Road (2008)


Reunited with Titanic (1997) co-star Kate Winslet, the pair do some of the best work of their careers as a young couple in suburbia fifties, trying to make a life for themselves. DiCaprio is excellent as Frank, married but with a wandering eye, content in a world his wife finds miserable. ‘Revolutionary Road’ is easily one of the most underrated works of Leonardo DiCaprio.


8. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)


Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as mentally challenged Arnie was a revelation, and so remarkable that very few believed it was a normal actor in the part. The work made clear the young actor was the real deal, and not only that but an actor of astounding talent. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. And yes, Johnny Depp was lead in the film, but it was Leo who deservedly received all the attention.


7. Blood Diamond (2006)

A war thriller, set in Africa, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a smuggler with a good heart. The film follows Archer, who with his strong survival instinct, has made himself a key player in the business of conflict diamonds. Political unrest is rampant in Sierra Leone, and his own life is in chaos, but upon meeting Solomon and Maddy, Archer’s life changes forever as he is given a chance to make peace with the war around him. Leo received nomination for Best Actor, but he deserved much more for this film. Final scenes in the movie will make you teary-eyed, and if you haven’t watched this movie yet, now’s a good time.

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6. Django Unchained (2013)


‘Django Unchained’ is unpretentious in its intentions right from start, and plays throughout as an unflinchingly gruesome tale of revenge with plenty of bloodshed and bullets. But at the same time, it’s unapologetically funny, where even in the most violent scenes you might find yourself laughing. And that’s where the strength of the film lies. ‘Django Unchained’ has four brilliant performances: Foxx brings an unbridled tenacious resolute to Django with his stoic portrayal of a slave on a mission. Brimming with charm, chutzpah, and humor, Waltz plays Dr. Schultz in a supremely crafted performance. Leonardo Di Caprio in his first full-fledged negative role holds the screen like no other. The sheer spitefulness that you generate for his character is the testimony of Leo’s caliber in playing a loathsome and ruthless Calvin Candie.


5. Shutter Island (2010)

‘Shutter Island’ is one of the best psychological thrillers made in this century. It is set in the 50s and stays true to the film noir style of building a mystery; with a curious lead detective shrouded in his own mystery unveiling simultaneously with the plot, frequent flashbacks that disrupt narrative flow, lingering presence of a femme fatale, supporting characters that are embedded with curiosity rather than solutions, tragic universal event preceding the plot that lends a dark or glum ambience. Like a rat in a cage, DiCaprio is again superb as a Federal Marshall. He is remarkable in capturing the many emotions needed to create this complex character. This is easily one of his most daring performances.


4. Inception (2010)

The most celebrated actor and the most celebrated director of this millennium joined hands to make a science fiction movie which is inarguably one of the greatest of this decade so far. Dom Cobb is a man who is separated from his children in the States and is willing to do anything it takes just to get back there with his children. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb to the finest detail. Dom Cobb is one of the most layered characters Nolan has ever written and DiCaprio makes the character his own portraying the emotions, guilt, determination and selfishness each to the finest detail.

When you have countless forums, articles, blog-posts, think-pieces being written about a spinning (or falling) top, it is enough of evidence of the popularity and influence of ‘Inception’ in pop-culture. And I have no doubt in my mind that it will remain a fodder for discussion and arguments for years to come. But the greatest service that ‘Inception’ did to science-fiction movies is that it made them cool again. It is true that ‘Inception’ more than a Leonardo DiCaprio film is a Christopher Nolan film. Unlike other movies on this list, where Leo is kind of irreplaceable, here any other good actor in place of him would have done just fine. Having said that, he does bring something special to his character: a vulnerability that he is so good at portraying. The film needed it. His character needed it.


3. The Aviator (2004)

DiCaprio got the perfect opportunity to shine in this biopic depicting the early years of legendary Director and aviator Howard Hughes‘ career from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Director for Martin Scorsese and Best Actor for Leo. There could be a debate on what the order of his best performances should be, but this is unarguably one of Leo’s best three performances to date.


2. The Revenant (2015)


Brutal, unflinching and starkly beautiful, ‘The Revenant’ stretches the boundaries of cinema in every aspect imaginable, and at the forefront of it is an exceptionally courageous performance from Leonardo Di Caprio, who finally received the deserved Oscar glory.  Enough cannot be said about this performance of DiCaprio, who for long periods of time in the film says nothing, throwing himself into the film with an unmatched intensity — one of the great physical performances in the history of the cinema. Watch his face, his eyes, growing colder and meaner as we see watch his punished body come back from the dead in what is surely a miracle of survival. Incidentally, ‘The Revenant’ means back from the dead or after a long absence, and though DiCaprio often appears ghost-like moving through the wilderness, his character is very much alive, and focused in every way on getting back.


1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is an understandably divisive film; to some people, it’s too flashy and over the top while for some others it’s moral compass is flawed. I agree with both the assessments, but cinematically, it is the most daring and audacious Martin Scorsese has been since ‘Goodfellas’. Scorsese is a very courageous filmmaker, but ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is a true testament to the extent he is willing to go for his craft. A satirical comedy-drama about the real-life convicted Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is hilarious, witty and incredibly addictive. Scorsese has never been about dishing out life lessons through his cinema; they have always been about people, their lives and the perversity of fate. And in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, we see a despicable group of men doing despicable things and having a great time, without any retribution.

Scorsese underlines the irony of Belfort’s life and how rights, wrongs and morality are just human constructs that can easily be manipulated. Belfort is conning us just like conned his other victims and like all them, we are naïve participants. Brilliant. Just brilliant. And the major part of this brilliance is Leo’s performance. The film gave him an apt opportunity to display the acting range he has. Truly, one of the greatest performances of this century.

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