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Top of the World: 10 Spanish Speaking Movies

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This past semester at university I had a Contemporary Spanish Cinema course. It was optional, but I took it for my own curiosity as, I have to admit, I don’t think I had seen any Spanish movies before. Here I mean Spanish from Spain. Some names were familiar, such as Almod贸var, but I still didn’t really know what to expect and if I would like it or not. Well, I did. The teacher was interesting and I loved almost all the movies we watched! The course is over now, but in good memory of it I’ve decided to do a…. top list! However, here I won’t only include Spanish movies from Spain, but Spanish speaking movies in general. So, some South American movies will be included on this list (actually, I think there’s only two) and movies produced by Spain, but not Spanish speaking won’t be included (here I can think of The Others with Nicole Kidman. We watched it in class, it’s very good, but not a word of Spanish is spoken in it).

Before I start the top, here are some new, and not so new warnings:

As I’ve just discovered the world of Spanish movies, I haven’t seen them all! So it’s no use saying “you should have put this film on your list.” If I haven’t seen it, I just haven’t, so I can’t include it. Among all the Spanish films I saw, I think that maybe 4 or 5 are not included in the list, so it’s not that much as you can see. And those are not like the “obvious” Spanish films that everybody should see. But of course, if you are curious to know if I have seen some particular film that might be among the 5 that are not on the list, you surely can ask! 馃檪

I don’t say that any of these films are better than another one. This is a very subjective list. These are my personal favourites. Please respect my choices.

My course was about聽contemporary Spanish Cinema, meaning that the list doesn’t include Spanish movies from the 40s or the 50s for example. The oldest one is a 1980’s movie. However, if you know some good “old” Spanish films I should watch, please don’t hesitate to recommend them!

I think it would be important to mention that I did see all these films in class, but most of my viewings were related to the course, except for one.

All the Almod贸var’s films I saw are included in this list.

Ok, here we go!

10.聽La Mala Educaci贸n (Bad Education) – Pedro Almod贸var, 2004

I chose this film for my final essay of Spanish Contemporary Cinema and I got an…. A! 馃榾 Look what the teacher said about my text: “This was an excellent paper, with an outstanding engagement with both historical context and literature on the subject. Great work! Only as a minor comment, the paper, is 1000 words larger than the word count asked for, be sure to double check these things (I appreciate the effort but usually its better to try and not overdo too much). At any rate, this paper shows an excellent engagement with course topics and it was very insightful and complete assignment.” 聽Ok, I write too much, but hey! I got an A you know! 馃槈

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9.聽Flores de otro mundo (Flowers From Another World) – Ic铆ar Bolla铆n, 1999

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8.Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al bored de un ataque de nervios)– Pedro Almod贸var, 1988

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7.La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in) – Pedro Almod贸var, 2011

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6.XXY – Luc铆a Puenzo, 2007

A very interesting and touching Argentinian movie about the complex subject of intersexuality. I actually saw this one in a different class.

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5.Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) – Pedro Almod贸var, 1999

Definitely my favourite Almod贸var’s film so far, and the first I’ve seen.

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4.El laberinto del fauno (Pan鈥檚 Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro, 2006

Ok, I think everybody knows this one. I loved it, but I actually thought she would spend more time in the labyrinth!

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3.聽Pa Negre (Black Bread) – August铆 Villaronga, 2010

Another great聽film about Spanish Civil War, still with the mean guy from Pan’s Labyrinth. Here I cheat a little as the film is not in Spanish, but in Catalan.

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2.Y Tu Mama Tambi茅n (And your Mother Too) – Alfonso Cuar贸n, 2001

Another pretty well-known film. I watched it because of Gael Garc铆a Bernal and I was not disappointed. Amazingly shot. A Mexican movie. The only one I watched that was not related to the course (or any other course if I think of XXY)

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1.聽Tambi茅n la lluvia (Even the Rain) – Ic铆ar Bolla铆n, 2010

The film that made me discover Gael Garc铆a Bernal. I didn’t know what to expect from this film, but it’s just amazing. The story is breathtaking and the actors are excellent. Not to be missed.

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Here it is. I know there’s much more I have to see such as Almodovar’s Talk to Her or聽Diarios de motocicleta聽with Bernal, but these films gave me a good preview聽of how great Spanish cinema is. If you are like me five months ago and haven’t seen any Spanish films, I hope this list will be useful to you!

It was good to be back! See you soon! 馃檪

And Happy New Year too!

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Top of the World: 9 Leo DiCaprio Films

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Just… too adorable ahah 鉂

Today, one of my very favourite modern actors, the one and only Leonardo DiCaprio, turned 42! Young and still full of talents!

For the occasion, I’m presenting you my top 9 of my favourite movies of his! Why 9? Sounds a bit odd I know, but the simple reason is that I’ve seen 11 of his films, and there’s two of them that I didn’t really like, so I don’t see the use of including them in the top! It was The Revenant and The Great Gatsby. Leo is not the reasons why I didn’t like those movies! More like just the movie itself…

Of course, these are my personal choices and just list my own favourites. 馃檪 Don’t hesitate to share your choices with me!

Ok, here we go:

9. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

Quite a cast.

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8. Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Not sure I understood everything, but despite that I liked it!

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7. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

A bit long and a bit too much, but overall I appreciated it.

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6. Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010)

Weird film, but one you don’t forget!

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5. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

Normally not a fan of Tarantino’s films, but I exceptionally loved this one. Leo is delightfully evil!

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4. Catch Me if You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)

Gotta love Spielberg 馃檪

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3. The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004)

IMHO, what the best DiCaprio-Scorsese’s collaboration

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2. Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)

Well, a 聽Leo DiCaprio’s top without this guilty pleasure wouldn’t be a real one. Anyway, I love this film, find it entertaining and Jack is such a cool character聽馃檪

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  1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape! (Lasse Hallstr枚m, 1993)

I think it’s for this film or The Aviator that Leo should have won his first Oscar! Gilbert Grape is a delightful film. Love it.

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Hope you appreciated the top!

Happy birthday Leo! 馃檪

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Little-Miss-Sunshine-Desktop-2

Little Miss Sunshine: A Winning Script!

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We’re already at week 3 of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Wow! Time is flying! This week theme’s is “The crafts”. Participants will explore stuff such as costumes, music, special effects cinematography, etc. On my side, as an ex-screenwriting student, I’ve decided to explore this area and write about Little Miss Sunshine‘s screenplay. It won the Oscar in 2007.

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I’ve always preferred classics to contemporary movies, but there are some exceptions and Little Miss Sunshine is one of them. This hilarious comedy is not only my 7th favourite film of all times, but also my favourite film of the 21st century. I saw it so many times, but never get tired to. The reason why this is so excellent and entertaining is precisely due to its unbeatable script. This one was written by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Hunger Games: Catching Fire,聽Star Wars Episode聽VII: The Force Awakens).聽

Little Miss Sunshine has a very creative story. Olive Hoover (Abigail Breslin) has been selected to participate to a beauty pageant contest that will take place at Redondo Beach, California: The Little Miss Sunshine contest. Olive lives in Albuquerque, New-Mexico, with her rather original family: her father, Richard Hoover (Greg Kinnear) believes “there are two kinds of people in this world: winners and losers”. There are 9 steps to understand that. Her mother, Cheryl (Toni Collett) is overstrained聽and constantly has arguments with her husband. Cheryl’s son from a previous marriage, Dwayne (Paul Dano), has made a vow of silence: he won’t talk until he’ll reach his dream of being a test pilot. Cheryl’s homosexual brothers, Frank (Steve Carell), is welcomed in the family after having been admitted to the hospital (he tried to commit suicide, but, fortunately, he failed it). Finally, Richard’s father (Alan Arkins) known has “Grandpa”, is an old heroinoman obsessed with sex. This might be 聽a quite peculiar family, but I swear it’s certainly one of the most entertaining of movie history. The only solution for Olive to participate to this contest is that all the family goes with her. That would be quite an adventure!

Before going further, let me advise you that this article contains spoilers. This is not in my normal habits, but as I’ll discuss the script in its entirety, it’s hard to avoid.

For the sake of this article, I’ve returned to my old student habits and decided to read the original script as well, just to notice what were the difference between it and the final film. There aren’t many, but some details can be noticed: in the original script, it’s the Harvey and not the Hoover, some dialogue were deleted from the original script, some moments were put at different places. In the original script, they live in Maryland, not in New-Mexico. Olive is described as the tallest among the Little Miss Sunshine participants (it’s the opposite in the film). In the original screenplay, there’s a scene when Dwayne and his uncle Frank swim in the ocean at Redondo Beach. Richard Hoover compares the Little Miss Sunshine Official to Eva Braun, but this was deleted in the final product. But these are just some little details and their modifications don’t change a lot to the film. As a matter of fact, I think the final product is better and it’s this that won the Oscar. So, that’s what we’ll focus on today. As a matter of fact, the most important difference between the original screenplay and the final one is the ending: in the original one, the film was supposed to end with a picnic scene after the Hoover had left the contest. This scene has been deleted from the film, but you can see it in the special features on the DVD.

Little Miss Sunshine has every ingredients to be a winning screenplay. We’ll start with the characters. I love how they are introduced to us at the beginning of the film: starting with Olive who is watching a beauty pageant contest on television with a great intensity. We then move to Richard Hoover, who his presenting his “nine steps programs” to a rather small number聽of people. Then, Dwayne is presented to us. He’s doing some strengthening exercises and crosses a date on a calendar (we’re later discover why). We immediately know that Grandpa is an heroinoman has he is introduced to us inhaling this white powder. Cheryl is introduced to us as a stressed woman and, finally, the title appears “LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE” as we are introduced to a very unhappy uncle Frank. It’s hard to choose who is our favourite character because they all have something unique. The film wouldn’t be the same without one of them.

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What’s very interesting to see about those characters are their evolution. In a great screenplay, the characters don’t necessarily have to change, but an evolution has to be considered. They have to “learn something” in a way. The Hoover family has to face many problems, but, in the end, this journey will make them realize that what matters the most is that they can count on each other and they all are stronger together even if some of them can first deny that (Dwayne “hates everyone“…). This is even more important in a road movie, because this type of film doesn’t only present a physical travels, but also a “spiritual” one. 聽In other words, the evolution of the character becomes even more important in a road movie. All along the film, we learn to know and appreciate each one of these characters. Richard Hoover can annoy us at first, but he’s probably the one who will learn the most out of this adventure. Grandpa seems crazy, but he has a great heart. Frank seems desperate, but, somehow, he’ll learn to have fun in this adventure. Dwayne will have to face a great disappointment, but he’ll learn that giving up isn’t necessarily the best solution. Olive is NEVER ready to give up. She’s a courageous little girl. Cheryl will make understand to her family how they are important to her.

Little Miss Sunshine‘s screenplay also includes a bunch of unforgettable lines: funny, wise, touching, memorable ones, etc. Of course, reading the script was much enjoyable because of these. The dialogues in this films are unique and, added to the originality of its characters, the result is nothing but perfect. As examples, here are some of my favourite lines from the film. There are many, but it’s hard to choose just a few!

1-聽Grandpa:聽聽A real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning he doesn’t even try.

2-聽Olive: I’d like to dedicate this to my grandpa, who showed me these moves.

Pageant MC:聽Aww, that is so sweet.

[Audience applauds]

Pageant MC: Is he here? Where’s your grandpa right now?

Olive:聽In the trunk of our car.

3- Richard:聽Oh my God, I’m getting pulled over. Everyone, just… pretend to be normal.

4- 聽Richard: Sarcasm is the refuge of losers.

Frank聽: [sarcastically] It is? Really?

Richard聽: Sarcasm is losers trying to bring winners down to their level.

Frank聽: [sarcastically] Wow, Richard, you’ve really opened my eyes to what a loser I am. How much do I owe you for those pearls of wisdom?

Richard聽: Oh, that ones on the house.

5- Grandpa [to Dwayne]: Dwayne? That’s your name right? Dwayne?

6- Richard Hoover: There’s two kinds of people in this world: winners and loosers

7- Frank [after they have pushed the car]:聽No one gets left behind! No one gets left behind! Outstanding soldier!

8- [ in the Van]:

Frank: [reading Dwayne’s notepad] “Where’s Olive?”…

Sheryl: Oh!

9- 聽Pageant Assistant Pam:聽[as Dwayne walks by] Are you authorized to be here?

Dwayne: No.

10- 聽Officer Martinez: Okay, you’re out. On the condition that you never enter your daughter in a beauty pageant in the state of California, ever again. Ever.

Frank: I think we can live with that.

11-聽Frank: Good night Dwayne.

Dwayne: [scribbles on notepad] Don’t kill yourself tonight.

Frank: Not on your watch Dwayne. I wouldn’t do that to you.

Dwayne: [on notepad] Welcome to hell.

Frank:聽Thanks Dwayne. Coming from you that means a lot.

12- Grandpa:聽聽Every night it’s the fucking chicken! Holy God Almighty! Is it possible just once we could get something to eat for dinner around here that’s not the goddamned fucking chicken?

13-聽Olive [takes off her head phones and grandpa suddenly puts a pauses to his ongoing swearing] What are you guys talking about?

Grandpa: Politics.

14- Frank:聽聽Have I mentioned that I am the preeminent Proust scholar in the US?

Etc…

Of course, a great screenplay doesn’t only need great lines, but also great moments. This mission was perfectly accomplished by聽Michael Arndt. I’ve already talked about the characters’ introduction at the beginning of the film, but there are many more unforgettable moments in this film. 聽These one are numerous: the scene when they have to push the van to make it move, when the “kidnap” dead’s grandpa at the hospital (how death can become funny…), this heartbreaking scene when Dwayne learns he’s colourblind, this hilarious scene when they are stopped by the police because the van’s horn is stoked and won’t stop to honk and, of course, Olive’s dancing number who’ll surprise everyone. But there is much more.聽As a matter of fact, the film itself is one big unforgettable moment.

I think you’ll all agree to watch some of these moments…

Apart from its excellent screenplay, Little Miss Sunshine also won the Best Supporting Actor’s Oscar (for Alan Arkin) and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Abigail Breslin). Too bad it didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar. In my opinion, it deserved it more than The Departed. That could have been another interesting thing to write about for the Oscar Snub week.

I hope that you have all seen the film as it is so wonderful. Next step, I highly encourage you to read the script. It’s a nice read and it doesn’t take too long:

Little Miss Sunshine’s Script

To read more about this week’s Oscar theme (the crafts), I invite you to take a look at the other entries:

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: The Crafts

Also, a big thanks to Once Upon a Screen, Paula’s Cinema Club and Outspoken and Freckled for being our awesome blogathon’s hostess.

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Leonardo DiCaprio

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon 2015 (week 2: Oscar Snubs): Leonardo DiCaprio deserves an Oscar

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When he was about 19, Leonardo DiCaprio received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as a 17-18 years old boy suffering of Asperger鈥檚 syndrome in the movie What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape (Lasse Hallstr枚m, 1993). Eleven years later, he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his stunning performance as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004). Leonardo DiCaprio received a total of four Oscar鈥檚 nominations (the two other ones were for Blood Diamond and The Woolf of Wall Street), but he never won a single one. For the occasion of the second week of The 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon 2015: Oscar Snubs, I鈥檒l try to explain to you why DiCaprio, who is an actor I adore, should have won an Oscar or should win one. For this, I鈥檒l focus my text on his performances in What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape and The Aviator.

Playing the part of someone with a mental disease like in Gilbert Grape and The Aviator is never something easy. Actors have to be well prepared to be convincing. Leonardo DiCaprio explained how he prepared himself to play to part of Arnie Grape in What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape: “I had to really research to get into the mind of somebody like that. I spent a few days at a home for mentally retarded teens. We just talked and I watched their mannerisms. People have these expectations that mentally retarded children are really crazy, but that isn’t so. It’s refreshing to see them because everything’s so new to them.” (Leonardo DiCaprio). So we can see that it was a role he took seriously, because he decided to prepare himself for it. The result was, of course, unforgettable and we perfectly understand why he received this Oscar nomination. DiCaprio also chose to prepare himself well for the role of Howard Hughes in The Aviator. For that, IMDB informs us that he spent a day with Jane Russell to hear her memories and impressions of Howard Hughes. Remember, Jane Russell starred in the movie The Outlaw directed by Howard Huges. IMDB also informs us that Leonardo DiCaprio spent some time with an actual OCD patient named Edward. One more time, he was well prepared and gave us a wonderful performance. Leonardo DiCaprio also said: 鈥減ortraying emotionally ill characters gives me the chance to really act.鈥 That was a chance for him to prove that he was a great actor and he succeed.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Arnie GrapeLeonardo DiCaprio as Howard Huges

Arnie Grape and Howard Hughes are two persons having a mental disease, but they are also two very different persons. One is so endearing and the other one is so crazy, but not in the good way. One is full of life, the other one is unrealistic. One as a great complicity with his big brother, the other one is full of secrets. Yes, these are two very different characters and this is something that shows perfectly DiCaprio鈥檚 versatility. Of course, these are not the only movies that show his versatility. He is a nice and brilliant man in Titanic or a truly awful person in Django Unchained. Honestly, I was never disappointed by a Leonardo DiCaprio鈥檚 performance. Some were better than some others, that鈥檚 sure, but I never saw (well, for the moment) a performance of him that deserved a Razzie Award! However, the first DiCaprio鈥檚 film I saw that really amazed me (and my mother) was Catch Me If You Can, directed in 2002 by the King of Entertainment, the one and only Steven Spielberg. I remember watching it with my mother on our very small TV at our country house and after that we were like 鈥淥h he is such a great actor!鈥

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet Leonardo DiCaprio, Django UnchainedLeonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me if You Can

But let鈥檚 get back to What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape and The Aviator. What amazed me in these performances is all the moves, the gestures, the tics that DiCaprio did to make his characters true and alive. Arnie Grape and Howard Hughes are two very physical characters. Some movie characters are alive only with their voice and the actor鈥檚 charisma, but that can鈥檛 be the case for Howard Hughes and Arnie Grape and that鈥檚 something DiCaprio understood perfectly. With Howard Hughes, the eye movements are very important. We can see that in the moment when DiCaprio blinks because he feels assaulted by the flash of the cameras. The hand moves become also important because they show the nervosity of this character. The hands moves are also important for the character of Arnie Grape because it鈥檚 a way for him to express himself. If you remember in the movie, Arnie Grape sometimes makes this move, flicking his finger against his nose. That was a gesture created by DiCaprio himself. He explained that this was like a “brain wipe… like Arnie is massaging the inside of his brain.” There, we can see that the actor doesn鈥檛 only know how to act, but also how to develop his acting and the characters he plays. He can go ahead of what he already knows. About The Aviator, I love the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio can express his emotions sometimes only through his gaze or his face moves. This is something full of subtlety that not everybody can do. Some actors just exaggerate this acting aspect, but I don鈥檛 feel like it was the case for DiCaprio in The Aviator.

The voice and the way of speaking an actor chooses for his character is also something important because that shows another aspect of the character鈥檚 personality. For Arnie Grape, Leonardo DiCaprio has to talk like a five year old boy and for The Aviator, well, was he speaking with Howard Hughes voice? Well, anyway, he used a voice that fits perfectly the character and that shows his eccentricity. On another subject, something about acting that his very important for me is the chemistry between the actors. Of course, I love that when it鈥檚 a good chemistry. For What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape, I felt like DiCaprio as a truly great chemistry with the leading actor Johnny Depp, but also with Juliette Lewis. For The Aviator, I felt like he has a great complicity with Cate Blanchett. Well, did they really have a great chemistry in real life? I鈥檝e heard in an interview about Gilbert Grape that Depp and DiCaprio enjoyed working together. For The Aviator, well, he confirmed that Cate Blanchett was the perfect actress to play the part of Katharine Hepburn.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny DeppLeonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett

Leonardo DiCaprio鈥檚 performances for What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape and The Aviator amazed me for two different reasons: for the first film it was because he was capable to make his character so endearing and also because it was something so different from what I’ve seen of him before. For the second one, it was because he knew how to make his character so fascinating. He played both characters with such serious and energy and he was very convincing for both performances. I would have like to see him win an Oscar for one of his performances. I think he deserves one and I hope we won鈥檛 have to wait 20 years for that. Well, I once read on the web Leonardo鈥檚 answer to people like me, who want to see him win an Oscar. He explains that he was an actor because he like this profession and not for winning an Oscar. That鈥檚 not his first objective. I also felt like he is not the type of person to be jealous. When he lost is Aviator鈥檚 Oscar to Jamie Foxx in 2005, he simply said that he wasn鈥檛 surprised by that. He accepted the fact that he didn鈥檛 win and that鈥檚 something wise.

Leonardo DiCaprio

I haven鈥檛 seen all Leonardo DiCaprio鈥檚 films, but I can鈥檛 wait to see more. So far, the ones I have seen are Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, The Great Gatsby (I didn鈥檛 really like the film, but DiCaprio鈥檚 performance was great), Inception, The Aviator, What鈥檚 Eating Gilbert Grape, Django Unchained, Shutter Island and The Departed. I think next one will be The Woolf of Wall Street. I would like to finish this text by revealing you Leonardo DiCaprio鈥檚 ten favorite films, because the man loves classics just like me! These are: The Bicycle Thief, Taxi Driver, Lawrence of Arabia, 8 陆, The Third Man, Yojimbo, Sunset Boulevard, Shining and East of Eden. Sunset Boulevard is also one of my favorite 10 movies. J That was a great fun to talk about a more contemporary actor. It was something different for my blog!

Leonardo DiCaprio