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(Photo by New Line/courtesy Everett Collection)

25 Fresh James Caan Movies

James Caan rose to prominence with the 1971 gridiron tearjerker Brian’s Song, portraying cancer-afflicted Chicago Bears halfback Gale Sayers. Song was the most-watched TV-movie ever at the time, and earned Caan a Leading Role Emmy nomination. He matched that a year later with an Oscar nom for his performance as the reckless Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. Though those were the only major movie and TV nominations of his career, Caan would impact and shape the industry for decades, including starring in Michael Mann’s directorial debut (the stone-cold Thief) and Wes Anderson’s first (Bottle Rocket), putting a page in the book of great Stephen King adaptations (Misery), and appearing in Jon Faverau’s critical and commercial breakthrough, Elf. Caan appeared in almost every season of Las Vegas, and his final released project was 2021’s retirement community-set romantic comedy Queen Bees.

We look back and celebrate on Caan’s seven-decade career with his best Fresh films. Alex Vo

#1

The Godfather (1972)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 113895%
Critics Consensus: One of Hollywood's greatest critical and commercial successes, The Godfather gets everything right; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it established new benchmarks for American cinema.
Synopsis: Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, this mob drama, based on Mario Puzo's novel of... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#2

Misery (1990)
90%

#2
Adjusted Score: 95006%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.
Synopsis: After a serious car crash, novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#3

Elf (2003)
85%

#3
Adjusted Score: 91313%
Critics Consensus: A movie full of Yuletide cheer, Elf is a spirited, good-natured family comedy, and it benefits greatly from Will Ferrell's funny and charming performance as one of Santa's biggest helpers.
Synopsis: Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves.... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#4

Bottle Rocket (1996)
85%

#4
Adjusted Score: 88782%
Critics Consensus: Bottle Rocket is Reservoir Dogs meets Breathless with a West Texas sensibility.
Synopsis: In Wes Anderson's first feature film, Anthony (Luke Wilson) has just been released from a mental hospital, only to find... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#5

El Dorado (1967)
100%

#5
Adjusted Score: 101467%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Heartless tycoon Bart Jason (Edward Asner) hires a group of thugs to force the MacDonald family out of El Dorado... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hawks

#6

Thief (1981)
79%

#6
Adjusted Score: 84002%
Critics Consensus: Thief's enigmatic conclusion will rob some audiences of satisfaction, but it's an authentic and sleekly rendered neo-noir, powered by a swaggering James Caan at the peak of his charisma.
Synopsis: A highly skilled jewel thief, Frank (James Caan) longs to leave his dangerous trade and settle down with his girlfriend,... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#7

Brian's Song (1971)
92%

#7
Adjusted Score: 47258%
Critics Consensus: Buoyed by standout performances from James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, Brian's Song is a touching tale of friendship whose central relationship transcends its standard sports movie moments.
Synopsis: Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) are teammates on the mid-1960s Chicago Bears. At a time... [More]
Directed By: Buzz Kulik

#8

The Rain People (1969)
83%

#8
Adjusted Score: 46734%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Upon learning that she's pregnant, housewife Natalie Ravenna (Shirley Knight) leaves her husband and embarks on a road trip of... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#9

The Gambler (1974)
80%

#9
Adjusted Score: 36240%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: New York City English professor Axel Freed (James Caan) outwardly seems like an upstanding citizen. But privately Freed is in... [More]
Directed By: Karel Reisz

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 75699%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fiona Flynn (Moya Farrelly) and Kieran O'Day (Aidan Quinn) cross the class divide to find love in 1930s Ireland. Fiona... [More]
Directed By: Paul Quinn

#11

Slither (1973)
75%

#11
Adjusted Score: 28156%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Fresh out of prison for car theft, Dick Kanipsia (James Caan) goes to visit a fellow ex-con, Harry Moss (Richard... [More]
Directed By: Howard Zieff

#12

Comes a Horseman (1978)
64%

#12
Adjusted Score: 63254%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Determined single woman Ella Connors (Jane Fonda) struggles to maintain her ranch despite constant attempts by Jacob "J.W." Ewing (Jason... [More]
Directed By: Alan J. Pakula

#13

Dogville (2003)
69%

#13
Adjusted Score: 75012%
Critics Consensus: A challenging piece of experimental filmmaking.
Synopsis: A barren soundstage is stylishly utilized to create a minimalist small-town setting in which a mysterious woman named Grace (Nicole... [More]
Directed By: Lars von Trier

#14

Rollerball (1975)
69%

#14
Adjusted Score: 70608%
Critics Consensus: In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.
Synopsis: The year is 2018 in a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries. A violent futuristic game known as Rollerball... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#15

Bolero (1981)
67%

#15
Adjusted Score: 33057%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The lives of diverse musicians and dancers intertwine before World War II, during the Holocaust and throughout the 1960s.... [More]
Directed By: Claude Lelouch

#16

Countdown (1968)
67%

#16
Adjusted Score: 18582%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A scientist (James Caan) replaces a military officer (Robert Duvall) as an astronaut on a space-race moonshot.... [More]
Directed By: Robert Altman

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 67388%
Critics Consensus: Honeymoon in Vegas is a light screwball comedy that has just about what you expect (and nothing you don't).
Synopsis: After losing $65,000 to professional gambler and con man Tommy Korman (James Caan), penniless private investigator Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage)... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Bergman

#18

Flesh and Bone (1993)
65%

#18
Adjusted Score: 66398%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Haunted by memories of his father murdering a family, Arlis Sweeney (Dennis Quaid) prefers to keep to himself, focusing his... [More]
Directed By: Steve Kloves

#19

The Yards (2000)
64%

#19
Adjusted Score: 67197%
Critics Consensus: Featuring strong performances and direction, The Yards is a richly textured crime thriller with an authentic feel.
Synopsis: After serving time in prison for taking the fall for a group of his friends, Leo just wants to get... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#20

Dick Tracy (1990)
64%

#20
Adjusted Score: 66525%
Critics Consensus: Dick Tracy is stylish, unique, and an undeniable technical triumph, but it ultimately struggles to rise above its two-dimensional artificiality.
Synopsis: Hard-boiled detective Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) is searching for evidence that proves Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice is the city's most... [More]
Directed By: Warren Beatty

#21

A Bridge Too Far (1977)
63%

#21
Adjusted Score: 64040%
Critics Consensus: A Bridge Too Far is a war movie too long, although top-notch talent on both sides of the camera keeps the end result consistently watchable.
Synopsis: Late in 1944, the Allies seem to have the upper hand in the European land war. A combined British and... [More]
Directed By: Richard Attenborough

#22
Adjusted Score: 22469%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When Jeanne (Geneviève Bujold), a young woman, falls for a photographer named Francis (Francis Huster), he convinces her to leave... [More]
Directed By: Claude Lelouch

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 50751%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A sailor falls in love with a prostitute but finds it difficult to cope when she resumes her former lifestyle... [More]
Directed By: Mark Rydell

#24

The Glory Guys (1965)
60%

#24
Adjusted Score: 13418%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Inspired by the Battle of the Little Bighorn, this Western follows a selfish military leader, Gen. Frederick McCabe (Andrew Duggan),... [More]
Directed By: Arnold Laven

#25

Red Line 7000 (1965)
60%

#25
Adjusted Score: 46833%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Tensions become magnified when three stock-car drivers bring their personal problems to the racetrack.... [More]
Directed By: Howard Hawks