Philip Seymour Hoffman has been one of the finest actors of my lifetime, and the news of his untimely death on February 2nd genuinely broke my heart. He was known as a genuinely good guy around the profession, so from a personal perspective it is awful news and from a selfish movie lovers perspective we’ve lost a man who was sure to bring countless more roles to life.
It is my belief that not only was Hoffman one of the best actors of my lifetime but had his life not been taken I am sure that he would have eventually gone down as one of the finest actors of all time. Here at Movie Melt, we’ll pay tribute as best as we’re able, with my list of the Top 10 Philip Seymour Hoffman movies of all time.
10. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) & Mission Impossible 3 (2006)
I’ve been forced to put a tie in place for tenth place, as my first choice was Hoffman’s wonderful role as Gust Avrakotos a CIA Agent working with Hank’s character. He earned an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and brought a crude humor to the role without hurting its credibility. But an underrated role for Hoffman is his turn as a pure villain in Mission Impossible 3, which I think was the role of the series.
9. The Big Lebowski (1998)
One of Hoffman’s funniest roles is a small one, but was one of the standout performances in a film that was full of fantastic actors. He played The Big Lebowski’s weird personal assistant and was truly hilarious for the Coen Brothers in one of their early films.
8. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
A film that I find is lesser known but certainly very good is Sidney Lumet’s thriller about two brothers who plan to rob their own parent’s jewelry store, but of course things go horribly wrong. Hoffman played the bolder of the two brothers, but he brought as much depth to this character as any he’s portrayed, which made much more of this film that would have occurred had someone else filled the role.
7. Almost Famous (2000)
One of the best films about a generation of all time, Almost Famous gave Philip Seymour Hoffman an opportunity to play real life music critic Lester Bangs, and boy did he play him. This was just another example of how he could take a role that didn’t really ask for much on paper and turn it into one of the best in the film. You’ll see that there is a trend building where that is concerned.
6. Happiness (1998)
This role in a lesser known film called Happiness is one of his most daring early roles, one that many actors wouldn’t dare take on, but one which certainly helped put him on the map. He plays a strange loner who lives next to a woman who he is obsessed with, leading to his making a series of weird and disgusting phone calls. He plays a disgusting character, and somehow still manages to bring a depth to him that is much more than that.
5. The Savages (2007)
Another lesser known film is this masterpiece about a brother and sister who are forced to care for their sick father. Hoffman plays the brother, a professor and author with a successful career, but whose life is not as fantastic as it appears on the surface. He and Laura Linney are incredible and this understated film proves both funny and heartbreaking at the same time.
4. Boogie Nights (1997)
Another early role, his part as a gay movie sound man that is in love with one of the main characters. He is absolutely dynamic in his small part of this massive ensemble cast, but he provided one of the best roles in Paul Thomas Anderson’s porn industry story. This is truly one of the roles that put him on the map.
3. The Master (2012)
A more recent hit, and yet another reunion with director Paul Thomas Anderson, here Hoffman played Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a mysterious cult/group known as The Cause. The role earned him yet another nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and for good reason. It is a performance like few that you’ll ever see, and although you never quite know what to make of Dodd, you know that you are witnessing greatness.
2. Doubt (2008)
One of my personal favorite films, and another Best Supporting Actor nomination, came from Hoffman’s role as Father Flynn, who is accused of molesting young boys. The film truly embodies its title, as we constantly doubt what we think we know about Flynn, and much of this is due to the master class performance Hoffman was able to deliver.
1. Capote (2005)
Of course, our top spot is saved for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s crowning achievement and the role that earned him his one Academy Award win for Best Actor. He plays the eccentric real life author Truman Capote, during the time when he was writing his most famous work ‘In Cold Blood.’ His physical and vocal transformation was incredible, as was his perfect performance which showed the author’s good and bad sides to perfect measure.
Needless to say, many incredible films and performances have been left off this list, including guilty pleasure favorites of mine like ‘Along Came Polly’ and ‘Twister.’
His role as a male nurse in ‘Magnolia.’ Many more. A good guy and incredible actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman will be missed beyond measure and hopefully his death raises awareness about the issues of heroin abuse in society.
Rest in peace sir.