In the wake of the untimely passing of the incredibly talented Philip Seymour Hoffman, TailSlate has taken a look at his filmography and chosen five of his film performances that are our favorites. The criteria we used was to ignore films for which he won or was nominated for an Oscar, or a BAFTA. They are presented in chronological order, as we didn’t want to pick any one of these as a favorite. Please note that we limited the number to five to prevent simply reviewing his entire filmography and extoling his virtues in every film he was ever in.
Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia were the big name stars in 1994’s When a Man Loves a Woman. They portrayed an unhappily married couple whose relationship is worsening due to the wife’s alcoholism. Philip Seymour Hoffman had a small role as “Gary”, one of the other people in treatment at the rehab center Ryan’s “Alice” goes to. They become friends and spend time together after their stays in rehab end. Obviously his own addictions from earlier in his life gave him a special insight into the part. It was the an excellent performance.
In 1999 he and two-time Oscar winner Robert DeNiro starred in Flawless. Hoffman portrays a transgendered male using the moniker of “Rusty” who is trying to save up the money to have sexual reassignment surgery. DeNiro is “Walter”, a much-celebrated police officer who lives in the building and doesn’t think much of Rusty or the other “tranny” neighbors. Walter suffers a stroke and hires Rusty to help him recover his speech through music lessons. Another performance by Hoffman where he brings a character to life from the pages of a script.
Lester Bangs was a real rock and roll music journalist and Hoffman portrayed him in 2000’s Almost Famous. Only knowing of the real man through reading words written by and about him it’s still quite clear that Hoffman nailed this role. It’s interesting that Hoffman portrayed a man who wrote this about the tragic drug overdose of Janis Joplin, “It’s not just that this kind of early death has become a fact of life that has become disturbing, but that it’s been accepted as a given so quickly.” Words that could have easily been intended for Hoffman himself.
2000 was also the year that State and Main, written and directed by David Mamet, was released. It starred Hoffman, William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alec Baldwin, David Paymer and Julia Stiles. It’s the story of trying to make a film titled “The Old Mill” that’s been forced to relocate filming to a village whose mill burned down years ago. Rookie screenwriter “Joseph Turner White” is the role Hoffman played and he put on an amazing display of the blocked writer.
Known as Pirate Radio in the U.S., the film was titled The Boat That Rocked in Great Britain and it is a British film/story. Starring Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost and Hoffman and it is a historical comedy (fictional) about how broadcasters set up shop on ships outside the territorial waters of Great Britain and competed with the BBC’s radio programming. Writer/director Richard Curtis says that the character of American DJ “The Count” that Hoffman played was loosely based on a real BBC1 DJ of the era. Hoffman steals nearly every moment of every scene of this film that he appears in.
What are your favorite performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman?