Leonardo DiCaprio did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Wheeler in Revolutionary Road.
Revolutionary Road seemed set up to be an Oscar film considering it is about a very dysfunctional relationship, and with beautiful people acting very ugly. The film failed to find success when the film only received three nominations two of them for technical achievement and one for Michael Shannon's over the top portrayal of a mentally disturbed man. I must say though many of the performances in this film seem off the mark and overly ACTING, yet do not seem to dive deeper into their characters. I did like Shannon to some degree because at least he is entertaining if over the top, but most of the performances are just dull even though they are portrayed in such an obvious fashion.
Watching the film again I unfortunately find that this performance problem even finds itself in the leads as well. Kate Winslet as April Wheeler actually never really comes into her role, and frankly never knows exactly how to play her part, leaving a serious problem when it comes to Leonardo DiCaprio's performance who I have to say actually tries his best and does his best to avoid being overly obvious in his performance. Another problem though against DiCaprio though is that Frank Wheeler probably would have been better played by someone much more average looking than DiCaprio, and seeming to be more from the 50's. A great deal of the time DiCaprio never quite seems a fit for all those nice suits.
I will get through all the negatives first, but I will say before this that I do not think this is a bad performance. Another problem though with DiCaprio's performance involves the scripts own weaknesses. A major plot point is that Frank although hates his job, and being in the soulless environment is too afraid apparently to ever get out of it. The film never really finds this fear, and neither does DiCaprio. He never makes it something that is constantly weighing on Frank that keeps him in place. It just never is made vivid enough to really explain why exactly that Frank sits still in his place, and through his own actions stays there.
One other problem comes from the film's failure really to establish these characters as we come into them. Frank is suppose to be already apparently in his firm place within the company and has found his place within the repetitiveness of it all. DiCaprio never quite gets the idea of the history of Frank through well enough in his performance. He shows a bit boredom, but there is never an overarching emotion of just how much this existence pains him. DiCaprio of course does indeed show frustrations, but perhaps too casual of ones that just seem of the moment rather than something larger that has been going on for years. I will say that the film really does not give him enough time to really establish effectively though.
The other problem comes in his relationship with Winslet's character primarily in the scene where they are not at other's throats. The few scenes where their relationship seems like it might be working are severely lacking, and the two actors surprisingly, despite having it in Titanic, lack the necessary chemistry to make it work. Neither of the two actors really show why they would have every come together in the first place other than the fact they look like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. The two are emotionally stagnate even in these scenes, and it really fails to make their relationship any more than one based purely on their hate. Although it should be something more than there is, again there are too few scenes to establish again, but still with the time given the actors are unable to bring appropriate truth to their relationship.
Even with all these problems though I still don't dislike this performance, because even though he never is amazing he still is fine actually. For example, I said he really does not show the history of the man's pain in regard to being in such a job and such a life, he still adequately shows the pain of his current predicament to some degree. There is not the fear in his performance to suggest what the film wants to suggest that is keeping Frank in place. But DiCaprio actually does suggest more of a general comfort Frank does actually have in his office setting, and DiCaprio shows that this feeling grows within him once he finds that he is being recognized at his job quite naturally. DiCaprio handles this very well, but the film itself wants something out of him that he does not convey.
Although Winslet and DiCaprio's "happy" scenes are thoroughly unimpressive, their fighting scenes are better handled, by DiCaprio anyway. Winslet I feel actually doesn't transition particularly well to her extreme coldness since she comes from her somewhat awkward excitement earlier. DiCaprio though plays it straight and frankly more realistically shows Frank's frustrations. DiCaprio is actually quite good in his portrayal of his increasing anger that slowly builds up fight after fight, and is quite effective in showing just how distraught he becomes in their final bout with one another. DiCaprio though also does suggest that Frank does love her through all of this which is why he shows Frank to be as heartbroken as he is when she says she hates him.
In the end really DiCaprio is the best part of the film because he earnestly tries his best with the part of Frank. I do honestly believe though that DiCaprio was perhaps a bit miscast in the role, as never quite fits the role as well as he should. At the same time though he does fairly well in the role considering everything that is against him whether it is his overacting co-stars or the script that demands frankly more from his character than the film itself allowed for. DiCaprio still consistently tries his very best with the role, and does succeed to some degree. This is not a great performance by any means, but I still would say it is a descent performance by Dicaprio.