Best and worst Leonardo DiCaprio movies

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August 28, 2020

Best and worst Leonardo DiCaprio movies

Since A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio's career began with a Matchbox car commercial in 1989, critics and the public alike have agreed he's worth watching. The 1990s heartthrob rode on the helm of the Titanic with Kate Winslet, with Celine Dion playing in the backdrop, and fell in love at first sight with Claire Danes through aquarium glass in "Romeo + Juliet," among other unforgettable love scenes among his dozens of movies.

Some of DiCaprio's greatest cinematic moments in his nearly 30-year film career have him portraying real-life characters, from millionaire eccentric Howard Hughes in "The Aviator" to grifter/forger Frank Abagnale in "Catch Me If You Can." It was one of those biographical portrayals that landed him his lone Academy Award for Best Actor in 2015's "The Revenant." When not starring in blockbuster films, DiCaprio is an activist fighting the climate crisis with the Leonard DiCaprio Foundation, which he started in 1998. "Clean air, water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics, it is a question of our own survival," says DiCaprio.

To determine which of DiCaprio's movies are the best (and worst), Stacker consulted IMDb's user ratings as of August 2019, with ties broken by total votes. All feature-length DiCaprio films were considered; cameo appearances were excluded. Not all movies show DiCaprio at his finest; "Don's Plum" in August 2019 made headlines in the New York Post as the 2001 film DiCaprio doesn't want his fans to see. Anomalies aside, DiCaprio has worked with some of the best directors in the business, from Steven Spielberg to Martin Scorsese (DiCaprio played a big role in earning Scorsese his lone Academy Award for Best Director for "The Departed.")

Read on to see Stacker's list of the best and worst Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

You may also like: Best and worst Al Pacino movies

#29. Critters 3 (1991)

- Directed by Kristine Peterson
- IMDb user rating: 4.4
- Votes: 10,156
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 86 min

After starring in commercials, a soap opera, and a couple of television series, Leonardo DiCaprio began his film career debuting in this low-budget, science-fiction horror film about furry aliens who eat everything in sight at a shoddy L.A. tower apartment. The third film in a series of four, which began with the same critters eating a farm and then a town, “Critters 3” features DiCaprio as Josh, the slumlord’s stepson, who fights against the aliens with a new family of tenants.

#28. Poison Ivy (1992)

- Directed by Katt Shea
- IMDb user rating: 5.4
- Votes: 16,114
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 90 min

Leonardo DiCaprio’s second major motion picture was “Poison Ivy,” a movie about a poor street-smart girl played by Drew Barrymore who infiltrates herself into a wealthy family. Rolling Stone rated the 1992 film #22 out of #27 of Leo’s worst to best movies. Even IMDb reports that the film, which featured Barrymore’s first lead role, was the only non-speaking role in DiCaprio’s career.

#27. Don's Plum (2001)

- Directed by R.D. Robb
- IMDb user rating: 5.8
- Votes: 3,782
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 89 min

The black-and-white indie film "Don’s Plum" features Leonardo DiCaprio as a young adult in L.A. who shares his life stories weekly with friends at a local diner. Then-aspiring actors Tobey Maguire and DiCaprio banned the movie from being showed in the U.S. or Canada for a few reasons, including DiCaprio’s unflattering portrayal as the character Derek. He and Maguire reportedly ad-libbed derogatory remarks in this student project, which the actors say was never supposed to be a feature film.

#26. Celebrity (1998)

- Directed by Woody Allen
- IMDb user rating: 6.3
- Votes: 22,911
- Metascore: 41
- Runtime: 113 min

DiCaprio took a self-mocking role in famed director Woody Allen’s “Celebrity” alongside other A-listers, including Charlize Theron, Winona Ryder, and Melanie Griffith, as a Hollywood pretty boy. Like the notorious “Don’s Plum,” “Celebrity” was also shot in black-and-white; this one earned a 41% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

#25. The Quick and the Dead (1995)

- Directed by Sam Raimi
- IMDb user rating: 6.4
- Votes: 79,263
- Metascore: 49
- Runtime: 107 min

Opposite Sharon Stone as an arrogant young gun-slinger in “The Quick and the Dead,” then-21-year-old DiCaprio owes his part in the film to the leading lady, who reportedly paid his salary since Sony didn’t want to foot the bill. When Stone enters the town of Redemption circa 1881 to avenge her father’s death in a gunfighting tournament, she meets DiCaprio’s character, called “The Kid,” who wants to prove his skills to his father, played by Gene Hackman, the town’s power-hungry dictator.

#24. J. Edgar (2011)

- Directed by Clint Eastwood
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Votes: 116,573
- Metascore: 59
- Runtime: 137 min

Though nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Federal Bureau of Investigation founder and 37-year director J. Edgar Hoover (who served below eight presidents), DiCaprio was denied the accolade, which went to George Clooney for his performance in “The Descendents.” Portraying the iconic figure under Clint Eastwood's direction willingly cost DiCaprio $18 million when he slashed his $20 million per-movie fee to $2 million to work with one of Hollywood's most revered directors. "He could have made a lot of money just doing spectacle movies with all kinds of CGI," Eastwood told the Hollywood Reporter.


#23. The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

- Directed by Randall Wallace
- IMDb user rating: 6.5
- Votes: 147,345
- Metascore: 48
- Runtime: 132 min

His first post-"Titanic" film, as the King of France Louis XIV, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a power-hungry ruler only interested in women and wealth while his country starves to death. But DiCaprio does not just play the quintessential villain; he also acts as the king’s twin, Phillippe, who was hidden at birth but still lives and breathes behind an iron mask. The contrived plot point that paired DiCaprio with himself won the 1999 Razzie Worst Screen Couple Award.

#22. Total Eclipse (1995)

- Directed by Agnieszka Holland
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Votes: 12,407
- Metascore: 42
- Runtime: 111 min

As the eccentric true-to-life English poet Arthur Rimbaud, who has an affair with his mentor Paul Verlaine in this black-and-white period piece, DiCaprio powerfully portrays the short but intense life of the writer who died of cancer. Rimbaud’s passionate and violent relationship with Verlaine, played by co-star David Thewlis, leads to violence, which sends Rimbaud traveling the world seeking serenity from his past. Though Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer gave "Total Eclipse" a 25% rating, it received a higher audience score of 61%.

#21. The Beach (2000)

- Directed by Danny Boyle
- IMDb user rating: 6.6
- Votes: 209,943
- Metascore: 43
- Runtime: 119 min

Unlike DiCaprio’s more historical portrayals, this turn-of-the-century film––based on Alex Garland’s novel of the same name––has DiCaprio playing Richard, a young American seeking adventure on a sacred island in the Gulf of Thailand. Though the A-lister got nominated for the 2001 Razzie Worst Actor Award and the 2000 Teen Choice Actor, he lost both, proving he was, in fact, neither the worst nor the best actor that year.

#20. Marvin's Room (1996)

- Directed by Jerry Zaks
- IMDb user rating: 6.7
- Votes: 23,719
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 98 min

Opposite Hollywood’s major actresses Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton in the story of an estranged family’s reunion, Leonardo DiCaprio received rave reviews from revered film critic Roger Ebert, who would later critique the actor’s entire career. The film received 84% from Rotten Tomatoes, and DiCaprio won the 1997 Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actor, giving the A-lister another accolade for his work.

#19. Romeo + Juliet (1996)

- Directed by Baz Luhrmann
- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- Votes: 196,872
- Metascore: 60
- Runtime: 120 min

Leonardo Dicaprio depicts Romeo opposite Claire Danes’ Juliet in the film adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy, directed by Baz Luhrmann, who also directed DiCaprio in “The Great Gatsby.” DiCaprio received two best actor awards from Blockbuster Entertainment and the Berlin International Film Festival for his role in this film, which was rated 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.

#18. Body of Lies (2008)

- Directed by Ridley Scott
- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 200,716
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 128 min

Co-starring Russell Crowe, whom DiCaprio also acted with in “The Quick & the Dead,” “Body of Lies” is an espionage thriller in which DiCaprio plays a CIA agent who races against time to stop a wave of terrorist attacks in the Middle East. In a 2008 interview, DiCaprio discussed the making of the film, which received 58% from Rotten Tomatoes and three out of four stars from Roger Ebert, and the physical toll of performing stunts––like a torture scene––in the political piece he called pertinent to the time.

#17. This Boy's Life (1993)

- Directed by Michael Caton-Jones
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 42,963
- Metascore: 60
- Runtime: 115 min

Leonardo DiCaprio was reportedly handpicked by Robert DeNiro to portray American short story writer Tobias Wolff during his youth in the memoir-based movie. However, DiCaprio to this day believed he blew the audition. At the time, Roger Ebert called DiCaprio a “relative newcomer” in his 3.5 stars movie review of the film, which also received a 76% from Rotten Tomatoes.

#16. The Basketball Diaries (1995)

- Directed by Scott Kalvert
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 94,950
- Metascore: 46
- Runtime: 102 min

"The Basketball Diaries" is a biographical drama about Jim Carroll, a New York Catholic teenager (DiCaprio) who spirals into heroin addiction (there was reportedly a drug consultant on set) and prostitution after being a star basketball player at an elite school. Film critic Roger Ebert suggested Leonardo DiCaprio was miscast, giving the movie two out of four stars. Carroll says he did not know who DiCaprio was when told who would play him, but admitted more people read his book by the same name, an edited collection of his own diaries, after the movie. Mental Floss reported that DiCaprio first refused to work with actor Mark Wahlberg, who plays Mickey in the film. 

#15. Revolutionary Road (2008)

- Directed by Sam Mendes
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 179,908
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 119 min

Back together again after making movie history with “Titanic,” Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet depict the 1950s couple named Wheeler from Richard Yates’ 1961 novel of the same name. While Winslet walked away with a 2009 Golden Globe for Best Actress, DiCaprio’s nomination lost to winner Mickey Rourke for his role in “The Wrestler.” DiCaprio told The Telegraph that the movie is about people who are trying to be happy, even risking it all to avoid a mundane life. “She is the best actress of her generation and a longtime friend of mine and I have been looking to do something with her for years,” DiCaprio said of Winslet.

#14. The Great Gatsby (2013)

- Directed by Baz Luhrmann
- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 437,610
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 143 min

Playing Jay Gatsby, the lead character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s renowned 1925 novel of the same name, DiCaprio captures the eccentricities of a party-throwing millionaire who vies for the love of a married woman named Daisy. Gatsby is closely watched by the character Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire, who writes about the millionaire from the estate cottage he stays in. Filmed in 3D, “The Great Gatsby” is acclaimed for its visual effects and won two Oscars for Best Costume and Production Design.

#13. The Aviator (2004)

- Directed by Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 310,252
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 170 min

Hollywood movie producer Howard Hughes likened himself to an aviator, and Leonardo DiCaprio depicted the iconic historical figure life so well he walked away with the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2004, alongside an Oscar nomination. At the time, DiCaprio was in a five-year relationship with famous Victoria's Secret model Gisele Bündchen (who is now married with two kids to NFL quarterback Tom Brady), even bringing her to the coveted Oscar ceremony for the film, which won Cate Blanchett the award for Best Supporting Actress.

#12. Gangs of New York (2002)

- Directed by Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 374,814
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 167 min

As the character Amsterdam Vallon, Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this 1862 tale of a young man seeking to avenge his father’s death in Five Points, N.Y. Working for the first time under Scorsese, who was nominated for an Oscar as Best Director for this film, DiCaprio felt he could call himself an artist after working with the director. Scorsese would later win his first Oscar for Best Director for his work with DiCaprio in “The Departed.”

#11. What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

- Directed by Lasse Hallström
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 198,860
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 118 min

This Leonardo DiCaprio classic, which earned him Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actor as the mentally challenged teenager Arnie, received rave reviews, including a rare 90% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. As the younger brother to Gilbert, played by Johnny Depp, DiCaprio deserved his Oscar nomination, according to Roger Ebert. On the 20th anniversary of the movie in 2014, director Lasse Hallström told Entertainment Weekly how DiCaprio would remain in character off-set.


#10. Titanic (1997)

- Directed by James Cameron
- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 966,195
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 194 min

Leonardo DiCaprio will forever be remembered as Jack Dawson, a poor young poet who is in love with an aristocrat named Rose in the epic film “Titanic,” one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. Along with 11 Oscar wins and four Golden Globes, “Titanic” also made headlines for breaking records––including the film’s $200 million budget, which was the most expensive ever when released, and its three-month #1 streak in American theaters. DiCaprio was nominated for the 1997 Golden Globe for Best Actor, but lost his nod to Peter Fonda for his role in “Ulee’s Gold.”

#9. Blood Diamond (2006)

- Directed by Edward Zwick
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 466,040
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 143 min

Playing ex-mercenary Danny Archer from Zimbabwe, Leonardo DiCaprio earned nods from both 2007 Oscars and a Golden Globe nod for Best Actor, which he lost, as Roger Ebert correctly predicted when he named winner Forest Whitaker as the inevitable Oscar winner for his role in “The Last King of Scotland.” However, the political thriller based around the search for a rare diamond did receive 63% from Rotten Tomatoes and positive reviews from The Guardian.

#8. The Revenant (2015)

- Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 629,658
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 156 min

DiCaprio’s portrayal of real-life fur trapper and explorer Hugh Glass, who found redemption while left for dead by his comrades, landed the actor his first Oscar for Best Actor in 2016 after almost a dozen prior nominations. The story of Glass, who was mauled by a bear and withstood a bitter winter in the wildnerness, “is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit,” according to DiCaprio’s website. DiCaprio also walked away with his third Golden Globe for Best Actor.

#7. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

- Directed by Steven Spielberg
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 729,490
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 141 min

Depicting Frank Abagnale Jr., a notorious New York native and real-life con man in the 1960s, DiCaprio stars opposite A-lister Tom Hanks as the FBI agent who tracks him down in a whirlwind of events and race against time. Playing the working-class runaway teenager, who before the age of 21 swindled millions while posing as a Georgia doctor, Louisiana lawyer, and Pan Am pilot, DiCaprio pulls off the youthful, good-looking charm the role requires. The movie received rave reviews with Rotten Tomatoes, scoring 96% fresh.

#6. Shutter Island (2010)

- Directed by Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 1,017,601
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 138 min

In just one of his many Martin Scorsese films, Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a U.S. Marshal who is sent to find a missing patient from Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital, but he ends up questioning his own sanity in this psychological thriller. The film earned a 68% Rotten Tomatoes rating and 3.5 out of four stars from Roger Ebert, who said, “in its own way, it is a haunted house movie.”

#5. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

- Directed by Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 1,048,521
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 180 min

Playing the real-life Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who went from penny stocks to millions while abusing drugs, women, and power in the late 1980s, earned DiCaprio a Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2014. After making this film, DiCaprio announced taking a hiatus for environmental purposes. True to his word, DiCaprio committed himself to his namesake foundation, which has funded more than 200 projects, given $100 million in grants, and served 50 countries.

#4. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

- Directed by Quentin Tarantino
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 50,695
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 161 min

His second collaboration with writer/director Quentin Tarantino has DiCaprio playing fading actor Rick Dalton trying to revive his career in the summer of 1969. His sidekick and former stunt double, Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt, serves as his driver and bodyguard as the comedic buddy drama interweaves '60s pop culture into the plot, from Charles Manson to Bruce Lee. The film has received both critical praise (earning an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes) and criticism for its liberal interpretation of history, while DiCaprio’s performance has been lauded as among the best of his storied career.

#3. Django Unchained (2012)

- Directed by Quentin Tarantino
- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 1,225,512
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 165 min

DiCaprio portrays Calvin Candie, a slave and plantation owner, in Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist Western, "Django." During one of the critically acclaimed film’s many intense scenes, DiCaprio’s character slams his hand down on a table during an argument with Samuel L. Jackson, onto a broken shot glass. DiCaprio never broke character and finished what would become the take used in the movie, despite the real blood spurting from his hand.

#2. The Departed (2006)

- Directed by Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 1,087,038
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 151 min

For his work alongside Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg in “The Departed,” Leonardo DiCaprio walked away with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, while director Martin Scorsese won his first and only Oscar for Best Director. As a rookie cop in South Boston and a mole for the Irish American mob, DiCaprio’s character Billy must decide between his loyalties and his life. DiCaprio was nominated for a 2007 Golden Globe for Best Actor; he lost to Forest Whitaker for his role in “The Last King of Scotland.”

#1. Inception (2010)

- Directed by Christopher Nolan
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 1,860,789
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 148 min

DiCaprio’s highest-rated film about dream-sharing technology might just be the one that left moviegoers scratching their heads the most. As an international fugitive involved in corporate espionage, DiCaprio’s character Dom Cobb is a skilled thief who enters others’ dreams to steal valuable information and sells it to the highest bidder. Discussing his personal dream state with NPR, the A-lister said the idea of “a completely unreliable protagonist” is why he accepted the role under director Christopher Nolan, with whom DiCaprio says he spent hours a day for two months discussing the movie’s plot.

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