Monday, 10 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: James Caan in Dogville

James Caan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying The Big Man in Dogville.

Dogville follows the dissolution of a secluded town through the town's relationship with a woman hiding from the mob.

The woman, Grace (Nicole Kidman), is running from The Big Man played by James Caan. Caan briefly appears in hand, and in voice early on as a dark figure in the back of a car driven by two men who appear to be mobsters. The voice offers a reward for her whereabouts, but then disappears with his men not to return until the final act of the film. James Caan finally appears as Grace, after having been psychologically and physically abused by the townspeople, goes to see The Big Man who is revealed to be her father. Caan's performance is essential to the film as he has much to fulfill in very little screentime. The first being the sheer presence of a figure known as the Big Man, well this being James Caan him being a believable mobster is basically a given, but it goes beyond that. What Caan must also find is whatever this relationship with Grace is in a few seconds, a relationship that we have had some slight indications of but it is not until now that we see what it truly is.

Caan's performance measures up to these expectations particularly in regards to his relationship with Grace. Kidman and Caan are perfect together as they find this complex relationship between father and daughter in only a few minutes. Caan's fascinating in that he does exude this sort of underlying warmth in the way he speaks to her. There is also the right familiarity between the two  as even in this point of a certain difficulty the history between the two is felt through the performance. There is that apparent love of sorts in Caan's manner as he speaks to her, but this is only a facet of it. Their conversation touches their relationship but it is most dependent on the town as the two speak of essentially their different views of the world and people in particular. Caan's brilliant in his approach as The Big Man explains his view that dogs should not be forgiven of their crimes against Grace's initial belief that they essentially do not know better. Caan dominates the conversation in his portrayal of The Big Man's assurance of this view. There is not an inherent morality in this that Caan portrays but rather he presents it as this innate knowledge and in doing so effectively presents his philosophy to Grace. Caan portrays the Big Man wholly in control of this view, and there is a certain passion through not being directly overt about it, bur rather through that sheer control of it. Now within that conversation, that could have been purely cerebral, it is not. As in the presentation of this view Caan reveals The Big Man's history with grace, in that odd tenderness even if he is giving an apology for having shot at her. Caan makes it all the more personal though in the persuasion is less of some devil tempting her view, but rather there is even almost earnestness to accept his view which is to see the world without any blinders, or at least according to him. Caan is persuasive though again not by showing this to be finally a good man, no one is good within Dogville, but rather someone who appears to stand without a single delusion within the film's world. This is an excellent performance by James Caan as he makes his impact that not only establishes his character, his relationship with Kidman's but also realizes the pivotal denouement for the film.

77 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Great performance, though I'm starting to think Isaacs could come 2nd from this lineup. Yoo's definitely winning.

Please review Jason next. :)

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Your Rating and Thoughts on Michael Fassbender in Alien: Covenant.

Anonymous said...

Great performance by Caan.
Louis: So, I've read that Chayefsky envisioned Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Paul Newman for the role of Howard Beale. What do you think of these choices?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I can't imagine anyone other than Peter Finch in that role.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Impossible to imagine anyone besting Finch. Stewart I do think had it in him based on his showman scenes in Anatomy of a Murder and the intensity of Vertigo. Not sure about Fonda, as he never quite let loose in the way needed for Beale. Grant and Newman seem wrong, but hey they could have always pulled a Bogart in Treasure of Sierra Madre.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I agree. Finch was amazing.

Calvin Law said...

Would you consider Caan to be a one-scene wonder, Louis?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Yes.

Robert MacFarlane said...

A 5 for me.

Charles Heiston said...

Love Caan so much here. As i love the film.

Yoo is winning no doubt.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: Is there any chance of Cruise going up to a 5 for Edge of Tomorrow? He gets better on every viewing for me.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

It's not out of the question.

Calvin Law said...

I'm hoping Emily Blunt will get bumped up to a 4 soon.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Blunt is my runner-up for Supporting Actress that year.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what's your thoughts on Stacey Keach, Hart Bochner and Abe Vigoda in Mask of the Phantasm?

Alex Marqués said...

Cruise is solid in that film, but... a 5, really? I'm not sure it's a performance of that caliber when compared to Cruise's very best work, or that year's best performances, as much as we want to see as many 5s as possible in this blog (that maybe should go to other 4.5s with more uniqueness/strength). But hey, to each his own I guess. ;)

Calvin Law said...

Alex: I see what you mean, but in my opinion I think this scene alone tempts me to bump him up to a 5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOwbSfAtazc

Matt Mustin said...

Alex: Yeah, I can't imagine even considering giving Cruise a 5 for that. Granted, I also think that movie is wildly overrated.

Calvin Law said...

Also, Dunkirk reactions have been coming in. Looks like it's very much a director's film.

Alex Marqués said...

Calvin: that's a good scene, I just think a 5 should go to a very special performance, many 4.5s have excellent individual moments. Then again, that's my opinion.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Is this Caan's second or third-best performance.
Also, would you consider upgrading Billy Bob Thornton for The Man Who Wasn't There?

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: No surprise there. The script has little exposition, the score's a major highlight apparently. I still think we could get a 5 from Rylance or Murphy.

And I feel this maybe Nolan's United 93.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Alex: To me Edge of Tomorrow is the ultimate take on Cruise's movie star persona. Cage is a deconstruction of his usual role, essentially having to earn the right to be a Tom Cruise action hero. Not mention a lot of smaller moments in the performance become more poignant on multiple viewings (his face when waking up after the barn sequence, his final reaction in the ending).

Alex Marqués said...

Nice analysis, I guess I'll have to rewatch it then.

Calvin Law said...

I watched The Discovery. Don't, it's pretty bad. Whole cast apart from Jesse Plemons (to an extent) is dull.

But I also watched the pilot to Breaking Bad and I must say I see what everyone's on about now. How swiftly it kicks off, love how there's not a second wasted.

Alex Marqués said...

Calvin: and it gets better and better from there :)

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Is the Siskel and Ebert website being shockingly slow for you? or is it just me?.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: It could be going through maintenance. It says that my flash player needs updating as well.

Calvin Law said...

Tarantino's next movies is apparently going to be focused on the Manson murders. I have to say I'm a bit worried about how his style will translate to a depiction of a real-life tragedy, but if he pulls off a stylistic change like David Fincher did with Zodiac, we might have something intriguing on our hands.

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: I feel exactly the same. I'm worried he'll be too exploitative. Even in his best movies, he often falls back on that in moments.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I'm okay with Tarantino violence under most conditions, but that specific story sounds like a bridge too far.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Third, and maybe.

Calvin:

Although there is certainly a risk in the subject matter, I am glad he's not doing another revenge based film.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: What are your exact rating and thoughts on Ellen Greene in Little Shop?

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Greene - 2(For me it's a great example, though that is not a good thing, of the difference between a stage and film performance. Greene not only reprises the role but she very much reprises the technique. She presents Audrey wholly as caricature, which is very common in performances in broad stage musicals. In film though it is too broad, even for a musical comedy. Her Audrey is a whole bunch of overt mannerisms, from her accent, delivery to even the way she walks, that you'd certainly see in the back rows, but with film everyone has the same view where it just seems way too much even with this material because she is a lead. She fails to capitalize on the nuance that film allows something that is seen in Moranis's portrayal. Funny enough, even though she is technically the most talented singer out of the main cast members, her delivery of even the songs seems to have just a bit too much bluster even to it. Greene's approach very much leaves Audrey at this distance unfortunately as she always stays a surface cartoon.)

Calvin Law said...

I myself enjoy Green when she's singing, but outside of those sequences her performance becomes fairly grating.

Louis: that's true, though I was hoping for a horror film on his behalf.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Whenever I mentioned I hated Greene's performance in a 2500+ member film group, I got a shocking amount of backlash over it. Apparently it's a fairly beloved performance, whereas I didn't understand a single word she said *or* sang. (Weirdly, no one seemed to care when I said I don't think 70's De Niro was anything special).

Alex Marqués said...

"I don't think 70's De Niro was anything special" Woah, I know you're usually a contrarian but I just can't figure that out. At all.

I'm very disappointed about Tarantino, because I feel we'll never get anything as original and unique as his 90's output again. I mean... a movie based on real events depicting a psychopath? It just feels wrong for him, and I'm afraid he won't be able to balance his writing/style excesses and just go over-the-top with the violence. I'm not optimistic about this.


Robert MacFarlane said...

Alex: What can I say? Taxi Driver did absolutely nothing for me. Hell, I thought Scorsese's own cameo was a better performance.

Alex Marqués said...

When it comes to acting, not even Deer Hunter or Godfather II?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Godfather Part II he was good, but only like 5th best of that cast. I need to rewatch Deer Hunter.

Charles Heiston said...

I think De Niro in Raging Bull is overrated. His 70's work was fine for me. His work in The Deer Hunter was excellent. Beyond that he was fine.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: My favourite work from De Niro was in Goodfellas, then The Deer Hunter.

Alex Marqués said...

Blasphemers!! :D

Luke Higham said...

Alex: What's your favourite De Niro performance. :)

Alex Marqués said...

Probably Taxi Driver (so brilliantly unnerving), but I'm not 100% sure (Raging Bull and King of Comedy are close, among others).

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the In the Dark of the Night song.

Anonymous said...

Luke: My favorite De Niro performance is probably Raging Bull. To me, 1980 Lead is a tie between De Niro and Hurt.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I quite like that song. :)

I think he's fantastic in Raging Bull and TKOC, though Fellas and Deer Hunter have had an even greater effect on me.

I still think he's great in Taxi Driver, though I'm starting to prefer his work in Mean Streets from 3 years prior.

Michael McCarthy said...

De Niro's performance in The King of Comedy is one of my all-time favorites.

Luke Higham said...

Joe Pesci's out of retirement. YES! YES! YES! :)

omar said...

Luke: What a great cast is going to be! Keitel, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino with Scorsese.

Louis and everyone else: Talking about the new Tarantino movie, who would you cast as Manson? Rumours say that DiCaprio is going to be, but I'm not that confident, i could see someone like Phoenix doing better, but these are only speculations.

Anonymous said...

omar: I like DiCaprio, but I would prefer someone else for Manson.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'd prefer if they cast someone rather or completely unknown.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your thoughts on "Walter & The Dude visit Larry" scene from The Big Lebowski.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I quite enjoy the song. Now to be sure it has some questionable moments, the "She'll be gone" phrase end, and some lyrics are a touch questionable even for song lyrics, as well as it is definitely just a part of the Disney ripoff. I still enjoy it largely for the faux-metal orchestration, particularly in the chorus where it is amplified by the evil choir, though I will say the imagery doesn't quite match the song.

Omar:

Technically he should be a bit younger so I'd say Adam Driver.

Charles:

Hilarious on every front. From Goodman's intensity as though he is detective, to Bridges's annoyed frustration rounded out perfectly by the spaced out look of the kid. It only gets better as the "confrontation" continues into to sheer insanity from mistaken identity, I particularly love Goodman's "woah woah" to calm things down after acting with such sheer rage only a moment before.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Are you glad Pesci's back, even if it's a one-off.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Of course.

Luke Higham said...

If I had to choose a known name for Manson, I'd go with Aidan Turner, though that's if it isn't directed by Tarantino.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Gregg Berger's Skyfire and Grimlock performances.

Anonymous said...

Your cast and director for a 2010s The Hill and Magnolia, Louis?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Also your top 10 Martin Landau acting moments and Albert Brooks top 10 acting moments.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

His Skyfire is actually pretty good as it stands out as a softer voice with at least just a touch of nuance to it in portraying sort of an inherent humanity within the character to suggest his motivation for his change. His Grimlock is quite one note, particularly cartoony for even a cartoon, though it does work for character when in the smaller doses.

Anonymous:

Magnolia directed by still PTA:

T.J. Mackey: Leonardo DiCaprio
Stanley Spector: Jacob Tremblay
Rick Spector: Scoot McNairy
Gwenovier: Ruth Negga
Jimmy Gator: Michael Keaton
Rose Gator: Patricia Clarkson
Claudia Gator: Mia Kirshner
Donnie Smith: Simon Pegg
Linda Patridge: Samantha Morton
Earl Patridge: Stacy Keach
Thurston Howell: David Hyde Pierce
Phil Pharma: Paul Dano
Officer Jim Kurring: Ethan Suplee
Solomon Solomon: Jason Mantzoukas
Narrator: Still Ricky Jay

The Hill directed by Steve McQueen:

Joe Roberts: Tom Hardy
Major Wilson: Liam Cunningham
Sergeant Harris: Michael Fassbender
Sergeant Williams: Dan Stevens
George Stevens: Ben Whishaw
Jacko King: Idris Elba
Monty Barlett: James Corden
Jock McGrath: Graham McTavish
Medical Officer: Gary Oldman



Anonymous:

Landau:

1. "I have no Home" - Ed Wood
2. Suicide attempt - Ed Wood
3. "Pull the Strings" - Ed Wood
4. "I could have played Frankenstein" - Ed Wood
5. "I plan on dying soon" - Ed Wood
6. Film Idea - Crimes and Misdemeanors
7. Plan 9 scene - Ed Wood
8. Confronting Jack - Crimes and Misdemeanors
9. Family Dinner - Crimes and Misdemeanors
10. Catching Dreams - Tucker

Brooks:

1. "No more pain" - Drive
2. Sweat - Broadcast News
3. The Knife treatment - Drive
4. Unrequited romance - Broadcast News
5. "Las Vegas a Christmas Place to be" - Lost in America
6. "Where's the money" - Drive
7. "Stay here we'll go bowling" - The Simpsons
8. Berating his wife - Lost in America
9. "Be like Boy" - The Simpsons
10. Bad Stand up - Defending Your Life

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Love that 'Hill' cast. :)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your 1940's cast for The Hill.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: With the 91 Lead overall, are you still gonna keep that caption beside Keanu Reeves. 'His Role Of A Lifetime'.

94dfk1 said...

I was also working on a 2010s Magnolia, but the only ones I had in mind were Anne Hathaway as Linda Partridge and Jake Gyllenhaal as TJ Mackey haha.

Louis: How do you think DiCaprio would've done in Wahlbergs role in Boogie Nights?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

You'll have to wait and see.

Anonymous:

40's The Hill:

Joe Roberts: Laurence Olivier
Major Wilson: Victor McLaglen
Sergeant Harris: Michael Redgrave
Sergeant Williams: James Mason
George Stevens: Dirk Bogarde
Jacko King: Rex Ingram
Monty Barlett: Peter Ustinov
Jock McGrath: Rhys Williams
Medical Officer: Herbert Marshall

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

I'm sure he would have done well, but I don't know, he might not have been as pure as Wahlberg, so to speak.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the "We're in a lot of trouble" scene in Network.

Calvin Law said...

Walton Goggins as Manson.

Calvin Law said...

Also Louis, that alternate Magnolia cast is awesome, especially Keaton as Jimmy Gator.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Other names in consideration.

Crudup
Bale
Evan Peters
Leto
Phoenix
Harington
Reedus
Dano
McNairy
Will Forte

Source: Variety.com

Luke Higham said...

If I'm being honest, I'd like to see Peters as Manson. He's great in American Horror Story.

Calvin Law said...

Actually Will Forte has the perfect look from that list. Peters would be interesting. Seriously, this is a project that has 'in bad taste' written all over it but if QT pulls it off I'll be impressed.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: If the film's set during the Tate murders then Peters would easily be my choice out of that list.

94dfk1 said...

Luke: Bale in a Tarantino film? Now that's interesting, even if he doesn't end up getting cast.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Well as with any Finch scene it is downright brilliant in terms of writing, directing and performance. The writing could not be more biting or predictive, the directing could not be more dynamic in capturing both the earnest spirit of Beale's madness and the shallowness of his presentation, and then there is Finch in all his glory.