Leonardo DiCaprio received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Howard Hughes in The Aviator.
Leonardo DiCaprio is usually a charming, and very energetic screen presence. This is true for his performance as Howard Hughes which is an incredibly challenge role. He uses his usually charm in the right way though, and does adjust it to fit Hughes' personality, which makes him change it to a sort of a quiet charm. He is never obviously trying to be charming in his romantic scenes at all, DiCaprio makes it clear that Hughes simply just asserts himself in command, even when he looks like he is not trying to do this. DiCaprio is perfect in showing Hughes' quiet determination in a fashion that fits Hughes perfectly.
DiCaprio properly loses his charm though throughout the film though as Howard Hughes' obsessive compulsive disorder slowly gets the better of him. DiCaprio handles the disorder very well, and how it causes Howard's disintegration. DiCaprio handles the small indications at first, as something clearly effecting Hughes inside, but outwardly it seems just an odd quirk that Hughes does. Later though a minor dirty spot can cause Howard just to stare at it until it is gone, and DiCaprio makes this a really problem that effects Hughes so much he is almost unable to function because of something so minor.
DiCaprio handles this whole part of Hughes expertly, because he does not only ever focus on the direct effects of the disorder, but also the other effects. DiCaprio slowly loses Hughes charm, very realistically as he becomes more paranoid about just about anything around him. He loses all of his positive aspects slowly, as his disorder becomes worse. All the mannerisms that Hughes slowly gains such as his injury, and his obsessive repeating of sentences are well handled by DiCaprio not all making them seem forced but completely natural to the Howard Hughes.
DiCaprio does something interesting in his performance which is show his possible recovery since he slowly loses what he has but never completely during this film, even though it is quite clearly suggested at the end that he is going to lose everything. It is fascinating because DiCaprio shows him at the brink when he sits naked in his room urinating in bottles, which DiCaprio actually makes it believable that he is doing it, because he showed that Hughes disorder slowly brought him down to this point. But at the same time DiCaprio manages to show that Hughes partially pulls himself up to face his war profiteering charges. DiCaprio is particularly strong in these moments because he shows his pain in performing the slightest task because of his disorder, but also shows that Hughes is not completely gone, and still has his quiet persuasion, and charm left in the hearing scenes, which DiCapario handles simply brilliant.
I really do not want to sound negative because this is a great performance but I never fully saw him as Howard Hughes I did in a way someone rather just like Howard Hughes. Being completely Howard Hughes though is something no actor probably could do entirely, and DiCaprio became very close which is incredible achievement considering the incredible challenge of Howard Hughes.