Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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Casting Coup Tuesdays: Tender Mercies

Tender Mercies
Best Picture - nominated
Best Director, Bruce Beresford - nominated
Best Actor, Robert Duvall - WON
Best Original Screenplay, Horton Foote - WON
Best Original Song, "Over You" - nominated

Tender Mercies is unusual, even considering the number of unassuming, reflective movies that came out in the 1980s. It's quieter than most, there's no obvious climax, most things are left unsaid. There's only one "big" moment, and it belongs to Betty Buckley, in one of her three scenes. There are plenty of big moments that don't involve caterwauling or screaming, but they happen within. The characters may be in or around show business, but they don't make a business of showing, at all.

In many ways, it's a beautiful film, and not because of the Texas landscape. Good God, decidedly not! The beauty lies in its little moments: a flyer posted for a fan's band, a game of catch, a couple gardening together, a lullaby sung privately, away from us. And best of all, it introduces a recovering alcoholic, without having to show them falling off the wagon. I've always felt that twist, while believable, is often used as a crutch. Horton Foote needs no such crutch to keep his story in motion.

Could such a film be made today? If so, what would it look like? Allow me to speculate.

The daughter of Mac and Dixie, who wants to get back in touch with her father...and away from her mother!

Originally played by: Golden Globe Nominee for Best Actress (Switch)
Ellen Barkin (Diner, Drop Dead Gorgeous)

My Choice:
Dove Cameron (TV's Liv and Maddie, Barely Lethal)
The Disney star can convey not quite innocence, but a naiveté, mixed with enough knowledge of the world to make bad decisions.

Dixie's manager, who also worked with Mac. At times, he helps Mac, since the two have so much history together. At other times, he lets Mac hang himself, since the two have so much history together.

Originally played by:

Wilford Brimley (Cocoon, The Firm)

My Choice:

Bill Engvall (Delta Farce, Catching Faith)
A fatherly demeanor, and one who can do a lot with very little. Personally, my favorite of the Blue Collar Comedians.

Mac's ex-wife, a glamorous country-western superstar. She hasn't forgotten Mac's drunken, abusive past - especially since it was all aimed at her.

Originally played by:

Betty Buckley (CarrieAnother Woman)

My Choice: Academy Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Winner/BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Actress, SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Shakespeare in Love)

Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man, Mortdecai)
I know Betty wasn't - not cinematically, anyway - but I've always felt it takes a superstar to play a superstar. Gwyneth has that, plus the voice, to do the role justice.

A widow with a son who takes Mac in as a lodger. Sings in the choir, doesn't allow alcohol in the house, but tries in small ways to encourage Mac to return to music.

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Crimes of the Heart), Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Tender Mercies), SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (No Country for Old Men)

Tess Harper (Silkwood, Frank)

My Choice:

Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Big Short)
Isn't it strange, the way some actors just seem perfect for a role? To me, that's Karen as Rosa Lee.

Songwriter, former country-western music star, 'til the alcohol did him in. Repairing his life and soul with the help and love of Rosa Lee.

Originally played by: Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Actor (Get Low), Academy Award Winner for Best Actor (Tender Mercies), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Apocalypse Now), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actor (Tender Mercies) and Best Supporting Actor (Apocalypse Now), SAG Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (A Civil Action)

Robert Duvall (Newsies, The Judge)

My Choice:

Josh Lucas (Sweet Home AlabamaThe Lincoln Lawyer)
Underrated, charming enough to have wed both Gwyneth and Karen, but also someone who looks his age. And could probably identify with the younger-superstar-turned-older-whozat storyline.

Can this cast hold a candle to the original? Who would you cast?

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