Thursday, 30 October 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1977: Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Richard Dreyfuss did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is about a man who's life is changed after encountering an Unidentified Flying Object.

Roy Neary is rather odd to be our "hero" for the film because many of his character traits are more often looked at problematic. Even before he meets the UFO we see Roy with his family where he is probably a little too short with both his wife and children. I suppose it was very important to have Dreyfuss in the lead, oppose to someone like Jack Nicholson, because in Roy's semi outbursts in this early scene Dreyfuss does not have an overt intensity about himself. Dreyfuss simply has that average guy quality in his performances so even when he lashes out against the various annoyances that his family provides for him Dreyfuss does not make Roy seem like a psychopath but rather just a rather exasperated father. Of course technically speaking Roy only becomes worse though when he is called away to check on a downed power line only to accidentally come into contact with an alien spacecraft.

After coming in contact with the alien Roy becomes obsessed with it which seems to go even further than even a normal obsession from a more normal human intrigue. His mind clearly has been directly changed by the influence of the ship as he never stops thinking of a single physical structure. This is a unhealthy obsession actually as it causes him to lose both his job as well as his family. Dreyfuss's performance is important here because he never makes Roy's seem irresponsible man or a cold man even though Roy is basically closing himself off from his present day reality in this obsession. Dreyfuss is good in portraying this as just kinda an overwhelming pull in Roy that is forcing him to constantly think about structure. Dreyfuss does not even show it to be a problem so to speak, but rather something that has become in Roy's nature. Although the obsession is still self-destructive Dreyfuss does a fine job of making it seem less severe than it is. 

Roy after finding out the physical location that matches the shape in his mind he sets off to reach it despite apparently being evacuated do to an apparent leak of poisonous gas. Dreyfuss's role becomes relatively simple at this point as Roy just continues to try to reach his destination despite there being many obstacles in his path. Dreyfuss though continues to be good in the role as he quietly reflects how each thing affects Roy's demeanor. On one hand he's good in portraying the determination but as well as the frustrations at each obstacle that even includes the U.S. army. Dreyfuss though is probably best in portraying the eventual wonderment as Roy seems closer to his objective showing it to be a truly profound discovery whenever he sees something relating to the aliens. He helps create the grandeur of the final scenes as he basically realizes the event as Roy finally fulfilling this uncontrollable need that motivated since he saw the UFO. Richard Dreyfuss does not given an overly complex performance here. Frankly by not making Roy anything but a normal guy going through these things he manages to make his character's actions less troubling. Dreyfuss gives a good performance by avoiding bringing too much pathos to Roy, and just helping to create the wonderment the aliens are meant to evoke in this film.


luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the film and ratings & thoughts for the rest of the cast.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Dammit. Oh well, I'm glad you liked him. Would you have preferred him to be nominated for tbis?

Louis Morgan said...


I like it well enough I guess. It has some great atmosphere at the beginning for example. I do think it to be somewhat slow going though. I find the payoff is good but far from amazing.

Garr - 2.5(She's fine but can't overcome just how thankless the part is)

Dillon - 3.5(I like her performance as kind of a miniature version of Dreyfuss's performance. I always find Dillon has a certain sweetness that's always endearing anyways as well as has some decent chemistry with Dreyfuss in their scenes together)

Truffaut - 3(He's decent enough in a ridiculously limited role of just basically giving some exposition between his own scenes of wonderment, but to be honest I actually preferred Bob Balaban)

Balaban - 3(He basically has the same exact role as Truffaut except he always speaks second. Balaban though I think infuses a little bit more character in between the margins as I particularly like the scene where he somewhat awkwardly indicates that he knows how to read maps)


I suppose, although his performance in The Goodbye Girl has slowly grown on me.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Yes I see you've moved him above Woody Allen in the ranking. What are your top 10 performances in the sci fi genre?

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I don't really care for the movie. It was not bad but it was very boring... Dreyfuss was good though. I remember being quite baffled by Melinda Dillon's nomination. I should rewatch the movie, maybe I'll like it more when I'll see it again.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

The main problem I have with the film is that the film as a whole doesn't earn the ending, which is very moving in my opinion and brilliantly directed/acted.

Anonymous said...

Louis, who are your picks for Best Supporting Actress for the 60s? I know your pick for some years:
1962: Angela Lansbury - The Manchurian Candidatr
1963: Patricia Neal - Hud
1964: Lila Kedrova - Zorba the Greek
1967: Anne Bancroft - The Graduate
1968: Ruth Gordon - Rosemary's Baby
But I really don't your picks for 1960, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1969. Who would you pick for those years?

Louis Morgan said...


Sci-Fi Top Ten:

1. Sigourney Weaver - Alien 3
2. Christopher Lloyd - Back to the Future
3. Ian Holm - Alien
4. Michael J. Fox - Back to the Future
5. Veronica Cartwright - Alien
6. Malcolm McDowell - A Clockwork Orange
7. Sharlto Copley - District 9
8. Sam Rockwell - Galaxy Quest
9. Sigourney Weaver - Aliens
10. Sam Rockwell - Moon


1960: Jean Simmons - Spartacus
1961: Pamela Franklin - The Innocents
1965: Shelley Winters - A Patch of Blue
1966: Machiko Kyo - The Face of Another
1969: Susannah York - They Shoot Horses? Don't They?

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts/ratings on:

Geraldine Hull in Harvey
Ralph Richardson in Richard III
Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter in Rear Window
Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

Louis Morgan said...

Hull - 2.5(I've never been able to get behind her performance as I've always found it just simply to be not that funny. She's always very theatrical and over the top which would be fine if she was amusing. Her semi-dramatic scenes are okay but make up for very little of her screen time)

Richardson - 4(I do wish Olivier had cast Welles in the role, as he originally intended, but Richardson is good as the only man more amoral than Richard himself. Richardson's good by having that cold killer's edge, but with a slyness of a man who obviously loves the game of conquering the kingdom)

Kelly - 4(Easily her best performance I would say. Her whole glamor routine actually works into the part and she's has a rather natural chemistry with Stewart in their early scenes together. When the story becomes darker though she shifts gears well even though I do think she's perhaps a bit overshadowed by Stewart and Ritter)

Ritter - 4.5(She's great fun in all of her scenes. This is probably her very best example of her doing her earthy wisdom thing. I particularly like the very dark humorously quality of her performances as she is so matter of fact in her idea of the grisly murder)

Stanwyck - 5(A fantastic performance as she has such a devilish allure in her performance. You completely believable Neff throwing his life and career out of the window for her. She's terrific though by giving such a falseness in her emotionality as she puts on the scared wife face yet there is something so soulless beneath. Her best moment though is the murder scene where her happiness seems to be the most emotionally honest moment of her performance)