Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about who is the best actor going around today. Not just someone who is a great actor, but someone who picks a wide variety of roles and always hits the mark. To find the answer, I scoured through old reviews to see if I could find an actor who continually features in films I award high marks to.
Initially, I thought of Edward Norton. He’d certainly be in my top 5. His films (with my grades) include Primal Fear (A-), The People Vs. Larry Flynt (A+), Everyone Says I Love You (A), Rounders (A-), American History X (A-) and Fight Club (B+). However, in recent years, he’s picked a few mediocre roles such as Death To Smoochy and The Italian Job.
Looking a little harder, I found my answer. His name is Philip Seymour Hoffman. Who, you ask? He’s one of those actors who is almost always in a supporting role and sneaks through unnoticed. He’s just 36 years of age and yet he’s played characters who look younger than 25 and some who look over 50. If you’re looking for diversity, he’s the pick of the bunch. And funnily enough, he has co-starred with Edward Norton in two recent films – 25th Hour and Red Dragon. They are on a wavelength I appreciate.
Here’s a look at his recent resume…
25th Hour (B+)
Plays a conservative school teacher who has a crush on one of his students.
Red Dragon (B+)
Plays a journalist getting a little too close to a serial killer.
Punch-Drunk Love (A)
Plays an angry sex-phone hotline operator ripping money off helpless losers.
Almost Famous (A)
Plays a magazine writer and lover of music who helps a young boy develop his talent.
State And Main (B+)
Plays an old-fashioned screenwriter who encounters the dramas of doing things the Hollywood way.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (A)
Plays sly, rich playboy living up the life in Europe.
Plays a male nurse caring for a dying man whilst trying to find his long lost son.
Plays man obsessed with sex who makes obscene phone calls in stalking an attractive girl.
The Big Lebowski (B – but should be an A in hindsight)
Plays the assistant of an aging rich man who finds himself in some unwilling situations.
Boogie Nights (B+ - again, should be an A in hindsight)
Plays a sound technician for porn films with a crush of the biggest leading star.
It’s a fantastic list of films and it continued when I saw Owning Mahowny at the Brisbane International Film Festival. As I spoke of at the time, it was a tragic tale of a gambling addict who loses millions of dollars from the bank at which he works.
His films coming up include Cold Mountain (with Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger and Natalie Portman) and Along Came Polly (with Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston and Hank Azaria). Once again, they’re supporting roles and I’m sure he’ll be good. Cold Mountain already comes with great buzz and is from the director of The English Patient.
So there you have it for another week. If you haven’t made time to see a Hoffman film, do so ASAP! No matter which one you select, you’re in for a treat.