Page 2 - Philip Seymour Hoffman Movies: Which Was His Finest Role?
Synecdoche, New York (2008) director: Charlie Kaufman
In Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Philip Seymour Hoffman played an ailing theater director whose stage production becomes increasingly elaborate, eventually blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality. This post-modernist work predictably drew praise from critics though failed to recoup its $20 million budget - nevertheless, it remains of one Hoffman's most enduring performances. Sure we could discuss the various motifs at work here, not least the Jungian psychology and theory of Synecdoche, New York effectively being a play without a play, though it's probably best to remember this insane piece of cinema as Roger Ebert's finest movie of the decade.
Capote (2005) director: Bennett Miller
Before Moneyball came Philip Seymour Hoffman's first collaboration with Bennett Miller - whose only previous directing credit with a 1998 documentary about a New York city bus tour guide. Neverthless, his movie about writer Truman Capote and the events after his writing of In Cold Blood stunned movie audiences around the world of Hoffman was the runaway winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor after also scooping a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild and Satellite Award. It is the movie role that Hoffman will perhaps be best remembered.
The Master (2012) director: Paul Thomas Anderson
It was one of the strangest and yet most beautiful movies of 2012. Paul Thomas Anderson's awesome The Master starred Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a religious movement who takes in a young drifter named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). Whether it concerned the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard became largely irrelevant, given the power and performances of The Master. Shot in stunning 65mm film stock, it was released to critical acclaim and Hoffman scored an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
If, for some bizarre reason, you're unconvinced by Hoffman's talent for acting then simply fire up The Master and wait for the scene in which a sceptical naysayer doubts Dodd's methods, calling them cultish and ridiculous. It prompts a riposte from the leader who begins to slowly unravel before losing control and instantly regretting it.
Almost Famous (2000) director: Cameron Crowe
While Philip Seymour Hoffman's movies have influenced new genrations of actors, he probably also encouraged a fair few amateur music journalists to persue the life of a scribe. In Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical movie, Hoffman plays the legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs, who takes an aspiring writer under his wing, giving him a $35 assignment to review a Black Sabbath concert. Bangs effectively invented a new style of rock music criticism during his years at Rolling Stone magazine and Creem, famously getting published in the former after sending in a hugely negative review of the MC5's Kick out the Jams and requesting a letter of explanation should it not make it into print.
Hoffman got the root of Bangs' lifestyle as a maverick critic and ultimately stole the movie in one scene, advising his young protégé about the pitfalls ahead. "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool," he said.
Doubt (2008) director: John Patrick Shanley
In arguably Philip Seymour Hoffman's most underrated movie role, John Patrick Shanley's Doubt provided the New Yorker with a platform to flex his acting muscles with precisely the write material and co-stars. Wrapped up in paranoia and suspicion, Doubt is effectively a masterclass of acting from not only Hoffman, but the unrivalled Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Viola Davis.
Based on Shanley's Pulitzer Prize winning stage play, it concerned the principal of a Catholic school (Streep), beginning to have suspicions about a priest's (Hoffman) relationship with a troubled young student.
The film's four main actors received critical acclaim and all of them were nominated for Oscars at the 81st Academy Awards. However, the power of Doubt relied heavily on Hoffman's ability to remain unreadable and audiences were left unable to make up their mind in the movie's dramatic concluding moments.