List by-Jarrett Leahy
Excluding Daniel Day Lewis and Tom Hanks, there may be no finer actor over the last 25 years than Philip Seymour Hoffman. A thespian with a chameleonic ability to flawlessly float between strong leading roles and equally impressive supporting performances, Hoffman’s impact on popular film can’t be understated. All personal favorites, these 6 films contain both lead and supporting roles, each unique in their own right.
6. Doubt (2008)-A Catholic school principal becomes suspicious of a priest’s personal relationship with a troubled youth. Certainly not your typical recipe for a entertaining drama, but team up Philip Seymour Hoffman with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and you get a tense and riveting melodrama that keeps you guessing about the priest’s innocence/guilt all the way to the end.
5. A Late Quartet (2012)-The inclusion of this film over many other great choices may leave a few scratching their heads. But my love for this sublime hidden gem of 2012 only grows with each viewing. Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken and Mark Ivanir have such innate on-screen chemistry that it is completely believable they are a world-renowned string quartet who has been together for 25 years. Give this one a chance if you ever come across it.
4. The Master (2012)-There may be no more fruitful actor/director pairing in the last two decades than Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Thomas Anderson. Of the six feature length films PT Anderson has made, Hoffman has been in five, and The Master is the first that allows him to truly show off his lead acting skills. A performance that required a perfect mixture of pomp, class & a little explosive anger, there is truly no one I can picture playing Lancaster Dodd better than Hoffman.
3. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)-The second of three Hoffman/P.T. Anderson collaborations on my list, Punch-Drunk Love has a sense of humor that can politely be described as acquired taste for some, and while this unusually quirky love story is primarily the vessel to show the world what Adam Sandler could have been if he actually gave a shit, I just can’t ignore Hoffman’s sleaze-tasticly crooked mattress salesman Dean Trumbell or the eventual showdown that comes between Trumbell and Sandler’s Barry Egan.
2. Boogie Nights (1997)-The Hoffman/Anderson relationship has resulted in some pretty memorable on-screen characters, but none show off Hoffman’s uniquely gifted acting range more than Scotty J. Awkward and overweight, Scotty J is a porn shoot film assistant/audio man who desperately wants to be just one of the guys despite a not so secret crust on the new fresh faced star. The sign of a great supporting actor is being able to make everyone around him better, and no one in Boogie Nights does that as well as Hoffman.
1. Almost Famous (2000)-Reportedly Hoffman only had a four day window to film all his scenes for the film, during which he was sick with the flu. His depiction of Lester Bangs shows no signs of him being under the weather, as his portrayal jumps from the screen, exuding the over-hyper excitement of the “world’s most famous rock critic.” No one could ever accuse me of being understated when it comes to my love for this film, and Hoffman’s contribution, though small in screen time, is by far one of the most important to the lasting success of this cinematic love letter to 1970’s rock ‘n roll.-JL