Top 10 Philip Seymour Hoffman Performances

Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. Big role or small, good guy or bad, he always strived for the best. Often considered one of the finest actors of his generation, Hoffman impacted the way we think about acting. He could slip so fully into his roles, viewers could forget they were watching a portrayal and not the real person. These are the career highlights of a master of his craft. In honor of his tragic passing on February 2nd, 2014, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 Philip Seymour Hoffman performances. Special thanks to our users offbeat08, Princess Caticia, cdelatorre97, Javier Dejesus, William Key, Andrew A. Dennison, Awesome One, Elliot Thomas, perryhigh, Nana Amuah, Philip Folta, Marc Nadeau, Tyler Fuentes and Onofre Ramirez for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.

Top 10 Philip Seymour Hoffman Performances


Big role or small, good guy or bad, he always strived for the best. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Philip Seymour Hoffman performances.

Often considered one of the finest actors of his generation, Hoffman impacted the way we think about acting. He could slip so fully into his roles, viewers could forget they were watching a portrayal and not the real person. These are the career highlights of a master of his craft.

#10: Owen Davian
“Mission: Impossible III” (2006)

After a slew of more artistic or indie movies, Hoffman finally brought his talent to the major Hollywood market in this blockbuster franchise. While the overall movie is just so-so, Hoffman’s performance as a chillingly wicked and villainous arms dealer elevates the movie as a whole and brings the conflict to a realistic level. And who can forget the scene where we get double the Hoffman fun?

#9: Andy Hanson
“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)

This one may’ve hit close to home for Hoffman, as his character is in a desperate situation, struggling with drug addiction and potential embezzlement charges. Andy enlists his brother to help him stage a robbery to cover his tracks, but it goes awry and his life begins disintegrating at an even more rapid pace. Acting with such sensitivity, understanding and obvious remorse, Hoffman is at his best in this critically acclaimed film.

#8: Lester Bangs
“Almost Famous” (2000)

As the real-life journalist Bangs, Hoffman is a mentor to the film’s young protagonist, warning him of the cool rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and informing him of his role as a behind-the-scenes writer. Instead of a cliché, an impersonation or a caricature, Hoffman’s depiction of Lester Bangs is earnest: there’s a truth to his words that would have been cheesy in the hands of a less capable performer.

#7: Freddie Miles
“The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)

Hoffman played suspicious so well. Freddie is your typical super rich guy: he’s smarmy and self-important, but also a pretty fun guy. Even though he likes to have a good time, he doesn’t let Tom Ripley fool him; Freddie’s the only one astute enough to see past his con. Hoffman’s intelligence as an actor shines through in this role, as he’s often displaying one thing but keeping his eye on another.

#6: Phil Parma
“Magnolia” (1999)

Throughout his career, Hoffman took turns playing both the villain and the good guy; but his role as a kind nurse caring for a dying TV producer is by far one of his most sentimental characters. Despite his heavy interactions with his patient, Hoffman’s character brings lightness to the film as he shows concern for a man in his final hours and helps fulfill his dying wish.

#5: Gust Avrakotos
“Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007)

In a movie filled with acting greats, Hoffman proves he always brings his A-game – and earned an Oscar nomination at the same time. As true-life CIA operative Gust Avrakotos, Hoffman is eccentric, in your face, and all over the place; but he brings energy to the film that’s missing when he’s not onscreen. Hoffman is able to perfectly balance his unhinged behavior with comedy, to give viewers a memorable experience – and this film is a perfect example.

#4: Father Brendan Flynn
“Doubt” (2008)

As an actor, Hoffman could mask his character’s true motivation while making viewers believe everything he said. His ability to make audiences trust him is the cornerstone of this film, as he portrays a priest accused of child abuse. Father Flynn allows Hoffman to be both cheerful and suspect, allowing the viewer and characters to truly question what is going on. Hoffman handled the subject with such finesse; he earned his third Oscar nomination.

#3: Scotty J.
“Boogie Nights” (1997)

In a movie with so many standout performances, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle; but Hoffman rose to the challenge. Many critics consider this his “breakout” role; despite the fact he’d previously been in over a dozen film and TV productions. As Scotty, Hoffman portrays a gay production team member who’s in love with porn star Dirk Diggler. Hoffman handles himself with such skill; his role comes off as both comical and heartbreaking.

#2: Lancaster Dodd
“The Master” (2012)

Dodd is the leader of a religious cult, and with Hoffman portraying him; it’s easy to see why people would follow him. At his best when playing characters whose motivations are unclear, Hoffman earned his fourth Oscar nod by acting sophisticated and charming, while also being controlling and condescending. The relationship he creates with Joaquin Phoenix’s character is a strange father-and-son, controller-and-controlee bond – and it’s captivating to watch.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- George Willis, Jr. “Scent of a Woman” (1992)
- Brandt “The Big Lebowski” (1998)
- Allen “Happiness” (1998)
- Jon Savage “The Savages” (2007)

#1: Truman Capote
“Capote” (2005)

This is the kind of performance that will stand the test of time. As the titular character, Hoffman is broken, needy, and brilliant. The film follows Capote as he writes his famous novel, “In Cold Blood,” and forms a relationship with his subject. Hoffman’s performance isn’t just an impersonation of the eccentric author; it also gets to the root of his humanity and drive. Thanks to his willingness to do the character work, Hoffman earned his first Academy Award.

Do you agree with our list? Which Philip Seymour Hoffman performance was your favorite? For more character-driven Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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