Friday, 19 December 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2006: Jean Dujardin in OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies

Jean Dujardin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath the titular character of OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is a funny movie about basically a French James Bond, although the character technically predates Bond, who must foil an evil plot in Cairo.

Jean Dujardin does seem as a perfect French Bond, especially for the Connery type of character. Dujardin just has that look about that says international secret agent the moment you look at him. Dujardin is such an exceedingly charming performer here with that smile of his that's just perfect to say the least. Dujardin frankly makes suaveness look so easy as he carries himself with that secret agent cool to such a degree. His whole manner is just right that Dujardin makes the OSS 117 seemingly quite cool although this is part of what makes his performance work so well here. The thing is OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is less like Goldfinger or Dr. No, and much more akin to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. His intent is also much closer to Mike Myers's performance from that film than it is Connery's from the Bond, but the great thing is, unlike Myers, Dujardin definitely has the look down.

As he proved later on even more successfully in his international breakout work in The Artist Dujardin is a master physical performer. The collaboration between director Michel Hazanavicius and Dujardin really could not be more perfect. Where Hazanavicius is so consummate in terms of recapturing the visual styles of old, Dujardin is equally so, if not perhaps more so, in capturing the performance style of old. Although yes Connery's performances had a different less absurdest intent, Dujardin is fantastic in the way though he just brings about the essence of that work. The physical movements just have this certain rhythm about them, and there is just something how he maneuvers within the camera just so brilliantly captures the way suaveness was portrayed back in the 60's. It's amazing how Dujardin is able to accomplish this and really I'd love to see him tackle on another style of performance in the future.

The thing is OSS 117 is not exactly a great spy, although he somehow manages to get the job. He's a bit of an idiot to say the least although not exactly quite in a normal way. I mean he does kinda seem to have spy abilities. This is a great combination by Dujardin here because he probably could play a more serious version of the character we not too many tweaks. This is particularly great early on when you see kinda the cracks in his character and its almost a bit hard to notice them at first because Dujardin almost always carries himself with that same confidence you'd expect from a Bond like character. He delivers his lines often with a great assurance that this is a slick costumer who knows exactly what it is that he's doing. This causes it to be particularly funny when he slips up such as showing his obvious lack of knowledge when it comes to dealing with the assignment he is on, or even something rather simple like thinking that Egypt still would have a pharaoh in the 20th century.

OSS 117 isn't just an idiot but he's more than just a little bit of a jerk to. He has a constant disregard for any foreign society or religion and seems to specifically avoid attempting to learn or appreciate anything about it. In addition to that he even forgets his supposed friend that he believes he is avenging in his current mission, while harboring thoughts about his friend that seem a little too strong so to speak, although OSS 117 would vehemently deny any such accusations about his sexuality. On top of all that OSS 117 does not even mind punching out a woman or two if they were to get in his way. The thing Dujardin is absolutely hilarious in depicting all of this since he shows that his behavior barely even seems to phase him. What is so great about Dujardin's performance, and what really makes it so successful at being comedic is that he almost always somehow stays very charismatic and still feels like a James Bond type.

Dujardin consistently brings out the humor out of every situation where it his through the way he so sincerely plays the brazen stupidity in OSS 117's words, but also makes so many of his action scenes comedic gold just by the way he performs them. I have to say I particularly enjoyed the scene where he takes down all the men in the message parlor, there's just something especially funny about the way Dujardin does it. This is just a very entertaining performance by Dujardin and it is something special as broadly comic performances go. Dujardin goes the extra distance with his work as he pretty much doing something to entertain every second he's on screen. Although this is certainly a technical achievement so to speak in his great replication of a certain type of performance, but most of all this is just a really fun performance to watch.


Psifonian said...

Good to see some love for Dujardin in this series. He's great fun. I hope he gets to play a Bond villain soon.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a really fun performance. Louis, I'd like to know your Top 5 performances by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain

luke higham said...

For the last comment, ratings as well.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I second Psifonian's suggestion of Dujardin as a Bond villain. If not him, then Denis Lavant.

Michael Patison said...

Psifonian: I completely agree. I requested him and love this series. In combination (I think this one is a better movie, but Lost in Rio is probably funnier) they are two of my favorite foreign language movies of recent times.

I also 100% agree on the Bond villain idea. In fact, I was thinking about actors I'd love to see play Bond villains a while ago while rewatching Skyfall, and he was #1 on my list.

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Bejo.

One thing I also think works so well with Dujardin's performance of OSS 117's general jerk-ness is not just how charismatic he is, but also how he is so unassuming in being such an ass. Most character's who act in the same way as him in movies you dislike because they know they are jerks and continue to be so because they want to be. Dujardin maintains that strange air of innocence, though, in addition to making his reactions to people when they are offended by him simply hysterical.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Hey Louis, have you seen Conversations with Other Women? I believe it would be 2006 by your rules. Anyway, Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter are both great in that.

Anonymous said...

Louis can I ask, do you know who has the most winning requests overall so far?

Anonymous said...

If you know that is?

Anonymous said...

In fact does anybody know who has the most winning requests?

Matt Mustin said...

Jean Dujardin is one of those actors who I just enjoy watching. He has almost unmeasurable charm, especially in The Artist. I haven't seen this one.

RatedRStar said...

I will always remember my evil smug reaction to him beating George Clooney at the oscars in 2011, for me that is one of oscars greatest decisions.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: It is either RatedRStar or Psifonian.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Psifonian has a lot of unclaimed wins.

Matt Mustin said...

By the way, I saw Interstellar again this week, and I have to say...I'm gonna bump my rating of Casey Affleck's performance up to a three. Simply because of the fact that despite his character being literally pointless, he actually brought something to it. There's a couple moments where he's actually really good.

JackiBoyz said...

Psifonian has unclaimed wins but RatedRStar has all the Hong Kong wins (Minus Leslie Cheung) most of the classic wins and the bonus review requests like The Mission and Suicide Room.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Hey Psifonian, if you don't want to claim anyone I'll gladly take a few off your hands.

luke higham said...

Psifonian: Me too

Louis Morgan said...

Psifonian: Dujardin seems tailored made to be a Bond villain it must happen.



1. Silkwood
2. Sophie's Choice
3. Adaptation - 4.5
4. Manhattan - 4
5. Kramer vs Kramer


1. Dogville
2. The Hours
3. Cold Mountain
Billy Bathgate (?)

Really Haven't seen that much of Kidman actually.


1. I'M Not There
2. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
3. Elizabeth
4. Blue Jasmine
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Little Children
3. Hamlet
4. Sense and Sensibility
5. The Reader


1. Winter's Bone
2. Silver Linings Playbook
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
4. The Hunger Games
5. X-Men Days of Future Past


1. Two Days, One Night
2. Public Enemies
3. Inception
4. Midnight in Paris
5. Nine


1. Take Shelter
2. Zero Dark Thirty
4. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
4. The Tree of Life
5. Interstellar

Michael Patison:

Bejo - 3.5(She's a good straight woman to Dujardin's insanity. Her reactions though are pretty great showing both the needed confusion and exasperation without ever becoming a stick in the mud)

You're right his naivety is also what it work so well.


Not sure since I take note of the performance not the winner of the request.

Hmphrrrppphhm.....requests I believed are marked as non-transferable.