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Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin ... see more see more... , Alan Alda , Ian Holm , Danny Huston , Gwen Stefani , Jude Law , Adam Scott , Matt Ross , Kelli Garner , Frances Conroy , Brent Spiner , Stanley de Santis , Edward Herrmann , Willem Dafoe , Kenneth Walsh , J.C. MacKenzie , Vincent Laresca , Justin Shilton , Chris Ufland , Josie Maran , Nellie Sciutto , Rufus Wainwright , Sam Hennings , Stanley DeSantis

Martin Scorsese directed this fast-moving, epic-scale biopic documenting the life and loves one of the most colorful Americans of the 20th century, Howard Hughes. The Aviator follows Hughes (played by... read more read more... Leonardo DiCaprio) as the twentysomething millionaire, having already made a fortune improving the design of oil-drilling bits, comes to Hollywood with an interest in getting into the picture business. It doesn't take long for Hughes, with his passion for airplanes, to jump from producer to director of his first major film project, a World War I air epic called Hell's Angels, which took three years to complete thanks to the shift from silent to sound filming and Hughes' relentless perfectionism. However, the film was a massive hit, and the eccentric inventor became a mogul in Hollywood, making Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) a star and enjoying a romance with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). But Hollywood's old-boy network never fully accepted Hughes, and in time his passion for flying began to reclaim his attentions as he began designing new planes, setting air speed records, flying around the world, and risking his life testing aircraft. Hughes also found time to romance Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) and founded his own airline, Trans-World Airlines, though as his ideas became bolder, his approach became more eccentric, and he gained many powerful enemies, including the head of Pan-American Airlines, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), and Senator Ralph Owen Brewster (Alan Alda), who attempted to prove that Hughes' radical design ideas were actually part of an effort to bilk taxpayers for millions of dollars through government contracts. The Aviator's star-studded cast also includes John C. Reilly, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, and Frances Conroy. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Flixster Users

79% liked it

203,905 ratings

Critics

87% liked it

213 critics

DVD Release Date: May 24, 2005

Stats: 9,724 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (9,724)


  • February 21, 2014
    It's quite a good performance by DiCaprio but overall the film is not that compelling and, unfortunately, is too long.
  • June 7, 2013
    An interesting biopic well-acted by DiCaprio. Nothing very bold about the film but it is well shot.
  • fb733768972
    September 11, 2012
    fb733768972
    Leonardo DiCaprio is stunning in the role of Howard Hughes, a millionaire film director at heart, but his soul is within his aviation career, building planes for the war. This film may not be perfect, but the writing and direction is. The flaws are in the plot and order of events... read more. With questionable dialogue and cheap CG effects, "The Aviator" might as well be a fictional story, but the backstory of this legendary director/aviator is far too compelling to look away from. I cannot say that I love this film, but I absolutely loved the camerawork and the performances. "The Aviator" is but a fantastic film to add to the Scorsese shelf, but fails to provide any spectacular moments to remember in the future. I highly enjoyed this film for what it was!
  • fb791220692
    August 5, 2012
    fb791220692
    'The Aviator' doesn't go deep enough into the enigmatic character to make you truly care about him, which is a problem given that its almost three hours. Still, Scorsese knows how to make authentic, larger-than-life scenes and he also gets a lot of mileage out of the talented cast.
  • February 17, 2012
    Leonardo DiCaprio seems to work well in any film, as long as there is a well-recognized director attached. He does great with directors such as Baz Luhrmann, Clint Eastwood, James Cameron, and Christopher Nolan, but when it comes to working with Martin Scorsese, he casts a brigh... read moreter light than ever imaginable. Like in THE DEPARTED, a slightly more recent collaboration, he takes on a thoroughly-convincing accent, though this time Southern rather than Bostonian. His personality given into portraying such a manâ"a man who lives the former half of his life as one of the most successful ever, and the latter half suffering increasingly from chronic pain and OCDâ"is grand, heartbreaking, and riveting. Maybe his performance as Hughes doesnâ(TM)t begin to match his effort as cop Billy Costigan in THE DEPARTED, but itâ(TM)s the number one highlight of the film.

    Often, with THE AVIATOR, it is hard not to see the screenplay intertwined with the resulting images and audio of the film. That is to say, the acting, cinematography, and directing is so carefully, beautifully, robustly concentrated that we can imagine how they originated as the text in John Loganâ(TM)s script. The cinematography, of the three forenamed, may be the very best. Combine the split-screen tactics used by Martin Scorsese with Howard Shoreâ(TM)s jazzy, nostalgic score, and you begin to sit wondering whether you are watching a colorized version of a 1930s film. Itâ(TM)s just that utterly convincing.
  • November 25, 2011
    The Way of the Future.

    Saw it again! Epic Film! This truly is one of the best films ever made by Martin Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio. A superb biopic of Howard Hughes, the man that changed aviation as we know it. Fantastic Film! If you haven't watch this film before you really shou... read moreld, cinema at it's best right here.

    Focusing on his early years (from the 1930 production of 'Hell's Angels' to the 1947 test flight of the Blue Spruce, when he was 42), this is the story of how young Howard Hughes transformed a small fortune into a massive one. The son of the Texan inventor of an amazing drill bit who died when he was 18, leaving him with 75% of the "Hughes Tool Co.", Howard Hughes quickly moved to Los Angeles to become a Hollywood film producer, where he helped launch the career of Jean Harlow and other starlets, and producing such classics as Hell's Angels, The Front Page, Flying Leathernecks, and Scarface (the 1932 original), eventually owning RKO Pictures. Hughes' legend came not from focusing on just Hollywood, however, as he simultaneously branched into industry after industry, including aviation in 1932 (including TWA Airlines), and during WWII, defense, leading to the creation of the (infamous) Spruce Goose, a flying boat of immense size. After WWII, Hughes' expansions continued, with an electronics company that was integral to the evolution of the satellite, and Hughes' several Las Vegas casinos (though this film may be ending before he moves there). This film will also focus on Hughes' romances with Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner.
  • October 10, 2011
    As much as I like Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator left me feeling oddly left out of the life of Howerd Hughes, but definitely in on how many women he went out with, most notably Katherine Hepburn. Despite the loose ends, and the distant feel, Cate Blancett ste... read moreals the screen as Katherine Hepburn, and Ian Holm is great as well, but I feel Leonardo DiCaprio always acts the same in all the movies. The Aviator has a great story, but failed to get me connected to the man it's all about.
  • September 4, 2011
    Roll up roll up...Scorsese's second big historical epic, this time recounting the life of tycoon Howard Hughes from the 1920's to 1947. Again Scorsese uses DiCaprio for his main role yet for once I think we see the best of DiCaprio in probably his finest performance so far.

    The ... read morefilm is epic in cinematography as well as casting and direction with every frame highly detailed and given amazing depth with the score.  Every scene and every shot looks perfect and seems to have been done with painful attention to accuracy and setup, the clothes the cast wear to the amazing sets are all beautifully done whilst the story of Hughes life is handled with care and includes a large range of big names from both show business and the financial world, I'm unsure if its all accurate but it damn well seems like it when watching.

    A long film yes but it doesn't feel like it as there is so much going on throughout the film with so many people popping in and out of Hughes life, along with his personal conquests, that you find yourself wondering about what all these other people did and what happened to them, it makes you wanna read up on the whole history of it all. Its also really interesting to see many Hollywood legends portrayed by modern day stars and I was impressed at the levels of dedication shown, Blanchett, Beckinsale and a small cameo by Jude Law as Errol Flynn were all superbly done, especially Blanchett who clearly spend allot of time nailing Hepburn. DiCaprio is the star of this piece though for sure with a brilliant performance as Hughes that almost became annoying as he portrayed Hughes' compulsive disorder to nerve jangling levels, started to make you twitch watching him do it haha Can't forget about the amazing costume department though and their work, everyone looked so good in their duds, faultless right down to the massive amount of extras in many scenes.

    From the creation of his epic 'Hell's Angels' to the obsessive and devoted creation of his aircraft through to the courtroom drama's between himself, Trippe and Senator Brewster to the finale and his flying of the Hercules 'airboat'.....this film is never dull even though I really thought it would be hehe probably one of the most accurate period films I've seen and a surprise from Scorsese really.
  • July 8, 2011
    A very full and vibrant portrait of the aviator himself, Howard Hughes. Taking on one of the heavyweights of history, especially in the world of the motion picture, director Scorsese and title actor Leonardo DiCaprio bring the heat to a maudlin and intricate story that could only... read more be told with glitz, glamour, and aeronautics. The eccentricities and overpowering presence of Hughes is encapsulated in DiCaprio's performance, just as altruistic of the audience as his previous roles. Here is a man with obsession issues towards germs, women, and the grand plan for his ascension to fame through motion pictures and aviation, truly donning the title of The Aviator. The supporting cast is packed with the Old Hollywood set, including Kate Beckinsale as a demure Ava Gardner and Cate Blanchett, perfectly cast, as the strong headed Katherine Hepburn. All praises of her actually becoming the actress are correct, as everything I've read on Hepburn is perfected by Blanchett's exhaustive research and watchful interpretation, in no way mimicking. As the film progresses from a simple tale of genius gone haywire to the mentally culpable later years that stranded Hughes in his own mind, the face changes from DiCaprio seasoned as a character, and becomes an almost perfect imitation of Welles' Citizen Kane. Much of Kane is filtered into this film, that of a high minded and rich inclined figure with all the trappings of wealth and none of the sympathies of a nation intent on seeing the mighty fall. Not on par with Kane, The Aviator does go raw, showing all that Hughes failed in, but climbed back from obscurity to accomplish. Along with the perfectly tuned soundtrack and airplane effects, this is one of the better made films of the decade, the truest look at insanity through persecution since Frances.
  • June 23, 2011
    A good film. Leo DiCaprio was phenomonal and the fact it was a true story just made me even more intrigued.

Critic Reviews


Richard Corliss
February 3, 2010
Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine

This handsome movie is an oddly well-behaved one to come from the preternaturally energetic Scorsese. Full Review

David Ansen
November 1, 2007
David Ansen, Newsweek

This almost-great epic has one foot in legend: it's a vision of an American titan that could have sprung from the insides of Hughes's own obsessive, perfectionist head. Full Review

Geoff Andrew
June 24, 2006
Geoff Andrew, Time Out

Despite a pacy, technically brilliant but otherwise slightly ordinary first half-hour or so, Scorsese's Howard Hughes movie is his best since The Age of Innocence. Full Review

Nathan Rabin
September 26, 2005
Nathan Rabin, AV Club

It's a measure of The Aviator's complexity and ambiguity that it can be read equally as a celebration of rugged, capitalist individualism and as a leftist critique of cutthroat free-market competition. Full Review

Stephen Hunter
May 20, 2005
Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

Its primary appeal is its speed: It rushes along, from scandal to air crash to movie romance to Senate hearing, each anecdote well realized but never tarried over. Full Review

Eric Harrison
April 21, 2005
Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle

This undoubtedly is the movie Scorsese set out to make, and he made it exceedingly well. Still, we can fault him for choosing to celebrate its subject instead of examining him. Full Review

Jonathan Rosenbaum
December 27, 2004
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

By and large I think this movie's chief function is to give Scorsese an opportunity to indulge in the pleasures of big-time filmmaking and to treat the audience to a heady dose of glamour. Full Review

Desson Thomson
December 24, 2004
Desson Thomson, Washington Post

We may enjoy watching the spectacles, but we don't much care for, or even have a feeling for, the guy in the cockpit. Full Review

Moira MacDonald
December 24, 2004
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

While we leave the film without much more of an understanding of Hughes' legendary obsessions than we did upon entering, we nonetheless leave with a sense of having been glamorously, thoroughly entert... Full Review

Roger Moore
December 24, 2004
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

It's history and biography and, as Scorsese, Logan and Orson Welles before them affirm, a distinctly American story. Full Review

Critic ratings and reviews powered by RottenTomatoes.com

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Facts


    • Howard Hughes: You want to go to war with me?
    • Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster: It's not me, Howard. It's the United States Government. We just beat Germany and Japan. Who the hell are you?
    • Noah Dietrich: I've gotta tell you, the board over in Houston has been getting a little concerned about the cost of this operation out here.
    • Howard Hughes: Ah! would you stop showing them the books, Noah?
    • Noah Dietrich: That be illegal Howard
    • Howard Hughes: Well, maybe it's a little naughty.
    • Katharine Hepburn: I've been famous - for better or worse - for a long time now... I wonder if you know what that really means.
    • Howard Hughes: Yeah, I got my fair share of press on Hell's Angels. I'm used to it.
    • Katharine Hepburn: Are you? Howard, we're not like everyone else. Too many acute angles. Too many eccentricities. We have to be very careful not to let people in or they'll make us into freaks.
    • Howard Hughes: Kate, they can't get in here. We're safe.
    • Katharine Hepburn: Oh they can always get in. When my brother killed himself there were photographers at the funeral. There's no decency to it!
    • Howard Hughes: You know I get these ideas Kate these crazy ideas about things that might not be there.
    • Katharine Hepburn: Yeah
    • Howard Hughes: Sometimes I truly feel like I'm losing my mind and if I did it would be like flying blind.
    • Katharine Hepburn: You taught me to fly Howard, I'll take the wheel.
    • Howard Hughes: The way of the future, the way of the future, the way of the future...
    • Howard Hughes: Good, and you made what, $5200 dollas a year at your last job? I'll pay you ten thousand.
    • Noah Dietrich: I guess i'll be working teice as hard.
    • Howard Hughes: You'll be working four times as hard. I just got you at half price.
    • Howard Hughes: Don't tell me I can't do it. Don't tell me it can't be done.

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The Aviator Trivia


  • Since her premature death at age 26, she has become known as the original "Blonde Bombshell". She was most recently portrayed in the movie "The Aviator". Who is this actress?  Answer »
  • What singer portrayed Jean Harlow in "The Aviator"  Answer »
  • he directed "taxi driver", "the aviator" and "goodfellas".  Answer »
  • Martin Scorcese & Leonardo Dicaprio have collaborated on 2 films. They are...  Answer »

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