Monday, 16 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: Bruce Dern, Scott Wilson, and Roberts Blossom in The Great Gatsby

This adaptation of the Great Gatsby though it could have used a little more vibrant direction, and there is a black hole at the center of it I still found to be a rather compelling film. This is in part due to the screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola but also due to the overall ensemble. Although there is that black hole in the center of it with Robert Redford in the titular role, who despite being well cast seems indifferent to the film, which is rather problematic for Gatsby a man with a passion infused purpose. The rest of the performers though make up for this including two of the main supporting actors of the film, and technically a minor one.

The two major ones though are Bruce Dern who was not Oscar nominated despite being nominated for a Golden Globe for portraying Tom Buchanan the lecherous husband of Daisy (Mia Farrow) the object of Gatsby's affections, and Scott Wilson who was not Oscar nominated as George Wilson the working class husband of the woman, Myrtle (Karen Black), Buchanan is having an affair with. Both roles honestly could have been simplified through the performances. In Dern's case Tom is a truly despicable character who even beyond his lechery indulges in brief physical abuse of his mistress, and espouses on his views on white supremacy. Meanwhile Scott Wilson's George is a fairly simple minded gas station owner who only slowly comes to even realize that his wife his having an affair despite the fact that she and Tom do little to hide it. In both circumstances they avoid any simplicity that lesser performances could have entailed. Dern in no way hides the miserable nature of Tom portraying the vile smugness when espousing his beliefs, and the limited selfishness when berating his mistress. Dern still makes Tom a human being if a vile one. In even his cruel scenes with Myrtle Dern portrays it less as Tom being intentionally sadistic, but rather depicts it the troubling reaction of a spoiled man who is not getting something exactly as he wants it. This is pivotal though in Tom as he does love Myrtle and this is shown in Dern's performance. I also love Dern in the scene where he spends time with Gatsby and Daisy. Again Dern's terrific by not playing into a villain but rather bringing an awkwardness and even shyness in Tom as he tries to hide his distress while struggling with his wife's infidelity. Obviously what Dern brings to the role doesn't make Tom any more sympathetic, even his pains involve a severe hypocrisy but what he does do is create a three dimensional role that could have been a one note villain. This leads to there even being some real power to Dern's performance particularly when a terrible tragedy occurs as Dern realizes the heavy loss in Tom, which doesn't make him a better man, but does show that he's human.
Scott Wilson, as usual really, excels with his brief screentime initially revealing just a real earnestness in his George. Wilson brings the right simplicity of attitude that grants an understanding to his initial blindness. He delivers his early moments just with the proper friendliness of a man of his nature where it would be beyond him to second guess his wife. We don't see him learn of the truth but we do see him after he has discovered it. Wilson is great in revealing just the quiet subdued pain in the man who really doesn't want anyone to know about his foolishness, yet Wilson brings such a palatable distress as the man speaks to finally figuring everything out. Wilson's George ends up carrying out the second most horrific act in the film, however what he does in the role creates a direct sympathy for the poor man's plight. Even when committing the violent act at the end of the film. Wilson is very moving by portraying the sheer weight of the emotional anguish that propels the man to his horrible actions. Again a role that could have just been the fool, or just a plot device. Wilson is neither as he offers a real insight into George's suffering, and makes him a victim rather than a villain.
Roberts Blossom did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mr. Gatz in The great Gatsby.

My favorite performance in the film though is a rather short one by Roberts Blossom, yes then old man in Home Alone, who offered something rather special to that film as he does the same here. Blossom doesn't appear until the last ten minutes of the film as Gatsby's father with Gatsby's real last name Mr. Gatz. Blossom appears late after the tragic death of his son. What Blossom does here is absolutely remarkable in such short time, and yes I'll admit I have a particular affection whenever an actor can do so much with so little. He appears and underlying to begin with he is wholly heartbreaking in every moment as the loss of his son is felt in every moment of his performance. In every halted breath, and stumbling moment in his physical performance Blossom exudes the sheer grief that the man is suffering through. The extent of his sadness is so well realized as Blossom shows a man just barely keeping it together as he attends his son's funeral. This is not merely a heartbreaking depiction of grief, which it is, but there is such a richness to this portrayal that goes beyond that despite how potent and poignant that aspect of his performance may be. Blossom brings a certain discovering in his depiction realizing the man finding out what it is his son became though with that there is a sense of confusion of the man trying to come to terms with what his son became. Blossom finds that confusion but also a bit of pride as he speaks of his son's ambition and his search for his son. Blossom finds everything that that his son meant to Mr. Gatz, and everything that his loss meant to him. Although he's only onscreen for a few minutes I found his worked resonated more than any other in the film. It went even beyond that because as much as this performance works as such a powerful portrayal of a father's bereavement he also made me care more about Gatsby than Redford ever did. Blossom finds the tragedy of the man who gained everything only to lose it all, and he didn't even play that character. This performance is a testament to what a great character actor like Roberts Blossom can do even in the most minor of roles.


Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on these films and the casts.
The Discovery
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore
The Hero

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could you watch the Luhrmann remake during 2013. For me, it's easily his most watchable film without having seen Strictly Ballroom, whereas I found Australia somewhat boring yet still tolerable to watch.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And your top ten David Warner acting moments.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could Blossom move up the 1990 supporting overall.
Also, will you be re-evaluating Gazzo for The Godfather Part II.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Not really a fan of the movie. I definitely liked Dern a lot less - found him to be rather miscast and a little over-the-top, whereas Edgerton was terrific in the 2013 version. I don't really remember Blossom though I have the feeling I might like him more on a rewatch and Wilson was pretty good actually, perhaps my favorite among those three. My ratings for the cast:

Redford - 2
Farrow - 2
Waterston - 2.5
Dern - 3 (he still had his moments)
Wilson - 3.5
Chiles - 3.5
Black - 4

As for the remake:

DiCaprio - 4.5
Maguire - 3
Mulligan - 4
Edgerton - 4.5
Clarke - 3.5
Debicki - 3.5
Fisher - 2.5

Calvin Law said...

For me,

Redford - 1.5
Farrow - 3
Waterston - 3.5
Dern - 3.5
Wilson - 3.5
Chiles - 3
Black - 3.5

DiCaprio - 4
Maguire - 3.5
Mulligan - 4
Edgerton - 4.5
Clarke - 3
Debicki - 4
Fisher - 3

Henry W said...

Folks, if American History X was made this year, who would be a good fit for the character of Derek Vinyard (played by Edward Norton in the original)?

Luke Higham said...

Henry W: Ben Foster would've been the perfect choice if it was made 7 or 8 years ago. But it's hard to come up with any great american actors under the age of 30. I'd probably say Will Poulter or Jack O'Connell.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: If Hawkins does get a five for Maudie, do you think this could be one of the all-time great years for Lead Actress.

Luke Higham said...

Gazzo's up to a 4.5. :)

Michael McCarthy said...

Regarding Gatsby, I definitely do think Leo did a better job than Redford, but good god did I hate Luhrmann's remake. It's actually my least favorite film of his.

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Your thoughts on Richard Harris in Juggernaut and Christopher Lee in The Man With The Golden Gun.

Louis Morgan said...

Chuck is an above average I'd say take on the story of the guy who Rocky is based on. It's never great by any means as there is nothing here where it finds some unique take on a biopic nor does it do anything too stunning with the story that's there. Luckily that story that is there is compelling enough and they at least bring that out in film in large part due to the anchor at the center of the film.

Yes I'm saving Schreiber.

Watts - 2.5(She's more than fine has nice chemistry with Schreiber however there just isn't that much of her here.)

Moss - 3(Falls just slightly near caricature at times but she never goes too far in that regard. She's mostly effective in portraying a far less appealing chemistry with Schreiber emphasizing enough of a warmth with far more frustration for the man's actions.)

Gaffigan - 3(He's pretty enjoyable as the stupid best friend just bringing that right type of energy of the guy far too eager to help his friend make the wrong decision.)

Hall - 2.5(Mildly convincing Ali take, nothing great but he serves his purpose within this story.)

Spector - 3(Actually makes for a very convincing Stallone where a caricature would've probably sufficed to be honest. He doesn't get to go much further but hey if someone were to do a biopic on Stallone he'd be a fine choice.)

Perlman - 3(Perlman's presence is usually welcome and that's the case here. Perlman doesn't bring the usual sort of trainer affection though, he doesn't make the character cruel by any means however he emphasizes a certain business sense at all times, and just a minor bit of bluster needed for a trainer and manager.)

The Discovery is a colossal waste of a potentially interesting concept. The film just never seems to know where to go whether it wants to go with the larger implications of the concept, the cult around the builder, or the more personal story around the leads. I suppose a great film could've covered all these concepts but this is not a great film. It sort of meanders around them with the "twist" seeming last minute even in the filmmakers mind.

Segel - 2.5(Although he was great in The End of the Tour I'm not sure he is the best fit for a purely dramatic film at least evidenced by this performance. He never quite finds the right approach for the role, and he seems particularly lost in the final act where a more emotional performance was needed. I would say it probably would have been a better idea to have Jesse Plemons in the lead quite honestly.)

Mara - 3.5(She really doesn't have any chemistry with Segel which is a major problem however I do find Mara is a naturally compelling enough of a performer at least to make something out of her role. She manages at least to hit her emotional moments related to her character's depression. She gives the best performance here but that isn't saying a lot.)

Plemons - 2.5(Wasted as a one note character, he does his best to provide a bit of substance but there just isn't anything there.)

Keough - 3(She's mostly wasted as well though she's quite good in her single scene of focus in granting the moment of emotional desperation needed. Again a waste of an actor though.)

Redford - 2.5(He's okay when just being the callous scientist however he leaves a bit to be desired as the cult leader. I will say a problem is the writing as the film never seems sure what the nature of the character is suppose to be, and Redford isn't able to clear up this confusion.)

Calvin Law said...

I thought Keough was kind of terrible, actually.

Louis Morgan said...

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore is an interesting twist by Macon Blair to the Jeremy Saulnier sensibility it's easy to see why they like working together as they seem to have a similair mindset. Blair's work here is a bit more lighthearted though and I will say that is when the film is at his best. Blair finds some nice humor and a bit of pathos in the same type of "atypical revenge thriller" we saw with Blue Ruin. I will say though when he gets more extreme, more closely to Saulnier's style, I found the film less effective as it loses itself a bit tonally, and I think it would have benefited from not going quite as extreme. It's not a great debut but it's a good one.

Lynskey - 4(Nice to see Lynskey in a leading role once again as she brings such a natural quality to her work, and this works particularly well in creating this "non-hero" hero for the film. She finds the right tone herself throughout, even when the film loses it a bit. She brings enough of a vulnerability and distaste yet with the right soft touch in being the Death Wish for some one who got their computer performance. It's an endearing performance that keeps a sense of fun while bringing enough real emotional stakes to the story.)

Wood - 3(He's fine here in portraying just a looney, not so tough, tough guy. He stays very light here, but it works for the character, and I liked his sort of detached chemistry with Lynskey.)

Yow - 2.5(He's not bad but kind of forgettable in the role as the main villain. He doesn't really much of an impact either way.)

Levy - 3(I guess she specializes in the amateur thief. She actually is the best of the "villains" as she manages to find some genuine menace by so naturally realizing the unpredictability by portraying the off-kilter nature of her somewhat drugged up and slightly mad character.)

Graye - 1.5(Now here is a distinct lack of menace along with a bit of tiresome ham. He plays up his role a little too much and isn't even all that memorable despite that. It is actually pretty hard to pull of the weasel it seems, and he doesn't pull it off.)

Louis Morgan said...

Maudie creates a sense of place and sets up scenes for its actors, then kind of calls it a day. I never found it offered all that much insight into the story, and seemed to leave most of it two its actors, thankfully the actors are up to that task.

Hawkins - 5(She's great in what is an incredibly risky performance considering just how mannered her work is in every regard. She completely excels in making all of these feel wholly natural though. Never does it feel like acting at any point and she beautifully embodies the character both in terms of the physical disability of the character but also the meek manner in which she interacts. In the wrong hands this could have felt like the worst kind of playacting but Hawkins pulls it off. In doing the surface so well though she brings further into revealing such a moving portrait of the woman slowly discovering sort of her place through her artwork and to a certain extent her husband. She has particularly great and unique chemistry with Hawke that finds honesty with such a different type of onscreen relationship. She's terrific in itself by so carefully portraying the growth of Maudie she never makes the warmer moments sudden, but rather builds to them earning each one by also realizing so much coldness and pain within them.)

Saving Hawke.

The Hero is an extremely predictable tale of the old man trying to redeem himself. There's no surprises here and as a story of its nature this doesn't standout beyond a single element. It's not terrible as these films go, but it is alost just barely decent.

Saving Elliot.

Prepon - 2.5(Found her performance pretty underwhelming much of the time. She's okay in the scenes of being a pretty indifferent love interest but in the more dramatic moments she leaves something to be desired.)

Ritter - 3(Limited but she at least delivers in all of her scenes with Elliott. There is nothing new about this role, but Ritter does a decent enough rendition of a simplified version of the song.)

Offerman - 3(He brings a nice bit of humor as just the "best friend" role. The role isn't anything special either, but Offerman has enough personal charm to make a nice little impact.)

Katherine Ross is wasted.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: well lookie there, you were right. This could be an amazing year.

So glad you loved Hawkins Louis, and presumably Hawke, even though I definitely liked the film a lot more than you.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: We have Hawkins in The Shape Of Water, Frances McDormand in Three Billboards, Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird, Carey Mulligan in Mudbound and Jessica Chastain in Molly's Game who could all potentially get 5s. Winslet and Streep (Spielberg should get the best out of her) will get 4.5s at best.

Louis Morgan said...

And to thin out the heard a bit due to those saves, since this year is not worth a 10 set, yet anyways.

Edgerton - It Comes at Night - 4.5(Edgerton nicely picks up the slack for the vagueness of the film which asks about 8 questions but refuses to answer a single one. Edgerton, as he obviously proved in Loving, is great at that slow burn, subtle emotion. He definitely delivers in terms of creating that internalized intensity of a man in such severe situation, though I do wish the film lead to a more impactful outburst, however that has nothing to do with Edgerton. He delivers in every moment even when the film doesn't. In addition he brings the right nuance to this offering just enough warmth in the family scenes, and bringing just a brief lightness when the character describes his past as a teacher. Edgerton brings as much complexity to his character as he possibly can, and makes up for a bit of the film that refuses to move past its initial concept.)

Farrell - The Beguiled - 4(The more I think about this remake the more I think Coppola utterly missed the mark by completely misunderstanding the material at hand as evidenced most strongly by her statement regarding the exclusion of Mae Mercer's character from the 71 version. This isn't a story about the good women versus a bad man it is about a group of flawed people. Farrell's does bring what is desired out of the role even with the meat removed. Farrell here is a basic Lothario with his game being fairly obvious which works well enough for his purpose. I don't think there is much depth to his portrayal of the character here, and I do greatly prefer Eastwood's take. There's nothing wrong with Farrell's performance though and it's really the writing that prevents him from going any further with the role.)

Fassbender - Alien Covenant - 4.5(I will say his performance very much seemed like Ridley Scott going "well the scripts not there, nor am I really going to try that hard when it comes to directing, so Michael if you could just act well enough to make these scenes compelling". Now to Fassbender's credit this is an entertaining performance and the best thing about the incredibly disposable film. The writing of the nature of the androids is very weak, but to Fassbender's credit he is compelling in of himself. That is in portraying the cold fascination he brings to David, and the scene, though it doesn't really quite work, where he speaks to Elizabeth Shaw he does manage to find a bit of real emotion there. His Walter is properly blunt and straight forward as he should be right down to his accent that sounds as artificial as the man, don't know if that was the point but I'll give it to him. Fassbender doesn't make the film a good film, but he does deliver on his end even when Scott, and the writers really didn't on theirs.)

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: You must be happy that Kaluuya is still on the saves list.

94dfk1 said...

I did get the feeling Ridley Scott was really banking on Fassbender doing his thing and relying on him a lot haha

Omar Franini said...

Louis: can i have your thoughts on this trailer? I saw it last night and Daniela Vega gives a terrific performance, she would be my best actress winner so far with Hawkins a close second.

Louis Morgan said...


1. "I am truly a happy man" - A Christmas Carol
2. Brandt and Kiesel's goodbye - Cross of Iron
3. Reformed Scrooge - A Christmas Carol
4. Death sentence - Little Malcolm
5. Confronting O'Rourke - Bofors Gun
6. My Photo - The Omen
7. Proper Corduroy - Little Malcolm
8. Evil's plan - Time Bandits
9. Diarrhea - Cross of Iron
10. Coal is costly - A Christmas Carol

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I am :)

Louis: your top 10 Kyle MacLachlan acting moments.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Has Warner gone up to a 4.5 for A Christmas Carol.

Calvin Law said...

Also, I think we were kind of lucky in a way that Scott waa too busy to do Blade Runner 2049. I still prefer the original vastly, but Scott's current form indicates that Villeneuve was probably the better choice.

Luke Higham said...

Louis & Calvin: I just discovered that if Hawkins does get a five for The Shape Of Water, she'll be the first actress to get two in the same year.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: There's three other Warner performances that you should review.

Morgan - A Suitable Case For Treatment
The Ballad Of Cable Hogue
and Time After Time (My personal favourite of his)

Louis Morgan said...


Well the aesthetic is certainly there is all I can truly say from this trailer. Looks intriguing enough though I hope it isn't something like what Youth was for me, which was style covering over the lack of substance in the drama. Nothing indicates that from this trailer though otherwise than it seems to have a lot of style.


Well I must have mistyped when I originally gave my thoughts on him since he should have always been a 4.5 for his ghost of Christmas future scene alone.



1. "I am the FBI"
2. Heartbreaking
3. Into the Light
4. "How's Annie?"
5. "Shall I call Mr. Strawberry?"
6. "HI!"
7. A good Arm Wrestle
9. Killing Darya
10. Rock throwing and Tibet

Anonymous said...

Luke: What rating would you give Warner for Time After Time?
Louis: Your thoughts on Mary Kay Bergman's voicework in South Park.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'd give him a five. He's very chilling in his bank scene with Mary Steenburgen and has really amazing chemistry with Malcolm McDowell especially in a brilliant monologue where he explains why he feels that he completely belongs in a violent society in 1979 instead of Victorian London whereas McDowell believes in a peaceful world but his dreams are completely thrashed by the reality that he witnesses in the present day.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 20 dennis hopper acting moments

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Is Kidman still a 4.5 for The Beguiled or has she been downgraded? I thought she and Farrell were easily the best of the cast.

Matt Mustin said...

Finally caught up with IT. What a terrific piece of work. Scary, funny and heartfelt, just beautifully done. Muscietti's direction I think was pretty excellent in how the film is almost dripping with a constant dread. The best part of the film though was how well-realized the bonding between the kids is.

Liberher-4(First of all, he deserves credit for making his stutter completely natural. Beyond that he's good at being basically the leader of the group and is particular effective in showing how much his grief weighs on him.)

Lillis-4.5(She's excellent from her very first scene as she shows exactly who she is right off the bat. Throughout the film she's perfect with how she interacts with the others, and effectively makes herself a part of the group in a very specific way. She's also frankly incredible in the scenes with her father.)

Skarsgaard-4.5(He certainly gets a lot of help from the direction, but he never lets it overwhelm him, and he easily could have. Instead, though, the direction amplifies what Skarsgaard does, and his mannerisms and in particular that absolutely perfect voice he uses completely succeed in making Pennywise the very specific kind of terrifying IT needs to be.)

Taylor-4(He's the right amount of shy and sweet. He could've gone overboard with both, but he never does, instead he manages to be extremely endearing.)

Wolfhard-3.5(He's enjoyable enough at being the kid who's meant to be kind of annoying, but I also found him legitmately grating at points, which may have been intentional, I don't know.)

Grazer-4.5(He's excellent and very amusing at first showing the degree of his hypochondria. Then as more happens and more is revealed he becomes quite heartbreaking.)

Oleff-3(He doesn't have a lot to do, but he works with all the other kids perfectly.)

Jacobs-3.5(Also not much to do, but like all of the kids, he's very natural and fits in with the others perfectly. Plus the one big scene he does have he absolutely nails.)

Hamilton-3(He's an effectively cruel bully.)

Scott-3.5(He's perfect at first at being an innocent, curious child who slowly becomes terrified. Then later he's actually pretty haunting.)

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Your cast and director for a 2010s version of Apocalypse Now? I think Alfonso Cuaron would do a great job.

Matthew Cofrancesco said...

Louis: How would you rank the films of Sam Peckinpah that you have seen?

Louis Morgan said...


I will say I don't think anyone ever went to South Park for the nuance and richness of its vocal performances. Having said that her original work though did effectively establish a wide variety of a admittedly fairly broad characterizations that worked well for the show. Her voices were unique though to those characters in a fairly Mel Blanc sort of way, and have stood as the basis for all future use. Also it's fair to say when the show ever allowed for any more nuance, few chances there were, that was delivered by her though there weren't too many examples of that.


No, part of the reason I liked her performance was it seemed to allude to the complexity of her character that was lost in translation (pun not intended).



11. The Sicilian - True Romance
12. The Ending - The American Friend
13. Hiding at Feck's - River's Edge
14. Hitler's Rally - The Twilight Zone
15. The Journalist Leaves - Apocalypse Now
16. Meeting Ripley - The American Friend
17. The Fear - Easy Rider
18. Beaten boy - The Twilight Zone
19. Watching Dorothy perform - Blue Velvet
20. Moon's confession - True Grit


1. The Wild Bunch
2. Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
3. Cross of Iron
4. Straw Dogs
5. The Getaway
6. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid


Apocalypse Now directed by Alfonso Cuaron:

Willard: Oscar Isaac
Hicks: Jimmi Simpson
Chief: Sterling K. Brown
Lance: Blake Jenner
Clean: Abraham Attah
Kurtz: Daniel Day-Lewis
Killgore: Jeremy Renner
The Photojournalist: Walton Goggins

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Thanks. DDL is one of the very few actors I could see as Kurtz nowadays.

Luke Higham said...

Has anyone ever seen Damien: Omen II. I actually found it to be a fairly good sequel compared to the original and far more watchable than one of the worst films of all-time, The Exorcist II: The Heretic. The acting's fine (William Holden's quite effective when he realizes that his Nephew's the Antichrist) and the story's horrifying enough though rather silly at the same time. The deaths are even more ridiculous though not as impactful when the original characters had more relatability/development and the score is great again.

Having said that, I think I would've cared much more for this film if they went the slow burn route again and story wise, I would've kept Damien as a child yet not have the focus on him. I would've loved to have seen David Warner again (Someone we could relate to from the original) as Keith's twin brother who's trying to find out the truth behind his brother's death, his connection to Robert Thorn and his mission to kill the Antichrist.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Nope, but I'm glad to know that Holden is good.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: When I said the film was horrifying enough, that was more to do with the score amplifying it than anything else and although I enjoyed it for what it was, I'm pretty sure everyone else will feel that it's ridiculously silly.

With Holden, I was only referring to one scene and he's fine to good the rest of the time. Again, I would've preferred to have seen Warner back in the lead role with a far more compelling storyline, cause Teenage angst Damien just isn't scary compared to child Damien.