Leonardo DiCaprio made a lot of people happy last night.
First and foremost: the Internet, which has long been clamoring for him to win an Oscar and finally end his long list of snubs.
And while the Oscar party is still over a month away, Leo fans, or Dicapri-bros as I’ve just decided to call them, have more reason than ever to believe this could be the year.
DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for his performance in “The Revenant,” a film by critical darling Alejandro González Iñárritu.
The film, which also won the award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, is a brutal survival-and-revenge tale based on the true story of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who explored the upper Missouri River in the 19th century.
In the film, Glass, played by DiCaprio, (spoiler alert) fights rain, snow, several people, and a freaking bear, all to stay alive and exact revenge on the man who killed his son.
The movie and DiCaprio’s performance are receiving massive praise, and both are favorites to win in their respective categories as we move into Oscar season.
When DiCaprio took to the stage last night, he gave an impassioned speech with an unexpected shoutout.
DiCaprio’s words, which were made slightly more emotional thanks to the swelling play-off music that started a minute prior, are already receiving tons of media coverage and attention from fellow actors:
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most socially active actors in Hollywood.
He’s long been an advocate for climate change and protecting fragile ecosystems with his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and in 2014, he spoke at the UN Climate Change Summit as an official UN Messenger of Peace.
So he’s always tried to use his celebrity voice for good.
However, some have criticized his words, noting that the conversation about the depiction of indigenous people in the film was not present until now:
Indeed, “The Revenant,” which follows DiCaprio’s character as well as those played by British actor Tom Hardy and Irish actor Domnhall Gleeson, isn’t really about the indigenous people of the 1820s frontier.
But critics have noted that the depiction of the indigenous tribes in the film was multidimensional and complex, rather than one homogenous group of “natives” as Hollywood is wont to do. As reviewer Kate Taylor said, “Another intriguing aspect of the film is its depiction of the indigenous people, divided into various competing tribes, sometimes viciously attacking each other and the Europeans, sometimes happy to engage in peaceful trade.”
The conversation about the treatment of indigenous people in Hollywood, and in general, is one we need to have.
Here in America, that ugly part of our history often is ignored, and Native Americans are largely without voice or representation, especially in the media where they are often treated as stereotypes or punchlines.
Around the world, indigenous people face exploitation of their resources and land every single day. That’s a problem that won’t be solved by a movie or even a Golden Globes speech by a Hollywood heavyweight.
In 1973, Marlon Brando made an award show statement of his own by refusing to accept the Oscar for Best Actor in “The Godfather.” In his stead, Sacheen Littlefeather, an American Indian rights activist, went on stage and spoke of the mistreatment of Native Americans in film.
That was 43 years ago, and little has changed.
Sometimes, though, if you say something loud enough the whole world hears it. So good on DiCaprio for doing what he can to give a voice to the voiceless on a night when even his win was overshadowed by the bizarre face he made when Lady Gaga bumped into him on her way to the stage.
Watch DiCaprio’s full speech here:
Original video from NBC/YouTube.