If, two days ago, you had asked me who I thought was the greatest actor of this generation (i.e. born after 1950), I might have answered Jared Leto or Christian Bale or Ryan Gosling or Michael Fassbender or Ralph Fiennes or Denzel Washington or Russell Crowe or even Leonardo DiCaprio, but I think the odds are high that I would have said Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Hoffman pretty well blew me away with every single one of his performances. If you look at every review I have written which featured a Hoffman performance, you will find that I highlighted Hoffman’s awesome acting ability, often noting that he stole films in which he was not the lead actor. In the list of top actors which I wrote for this blog four years ago, you will see that I called Hoffman “the master” (that was before he starred as “the master” in The Master) and I wrote that he should have won a handful of Oscars by then.
He was excellent in Capote, for which he did win an Oscar, and in many other films I will not list here. My favourite Hoffman performance was in my favourite of the films in which he starred: Magnolia. He played my favourite character and was my favourite actor in that ensemble masterpiece. My favourite film in which he had a lead role was Doubt, my fourth favourite film of 2008. The most recent Hoffman film I have seen (not counting The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which I do not count as a Hoffman film, though he also did well there) is the beautiful A Late Quartet, in which he was his usual brilliant self in one of the four equal lead roles.
I cannot begin to imagine all the wonderful performances Hoffman might have given us if he had not been lost to us at such a young age. I’ve heard that he was a kind, gentle sensitive man and that I can imagine. He was a true artist and the film world has lost one of its best. Thanks, Philip; you will be missed.