PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN could earn a warm welcome into nearly any discussion about acting. You might kick off conversation about the awards appeal of Daniel Day-Lewis or the maniacal devotion of Joaquin Phoenix, but in mentioning these or any other of today’s foremost acting talents, you’d be compelled to divert attention to the player we lovingly called PSH.
But the topcoat lining Hoffman’s stardom was always a little bit softer that those of his peers. Despite the due praise Hoffman has garnered from the public and the cinematic community alike, he would never be called a movie star. Not an Oscar shoe-in. Why? Because Hoffman was a craft actor — so invested that the very notion of performance was the furthest thing from the minds of anyone watching him found a role. Hoffman wouldn’t just create characters, but entire worlds around him. Upon stages built by creative giants like Charlie Kaufman, the Coen Brothers, and his frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson, Hoffman apprehended every vacant molecule of the stories he was helping to tell, injecting his color and meat therein.
One thing that distinguishes Hoffman from the powerhouses of his stature is the absence of a standout role. To some, Hoffman solidified his genius as Lancaster Dodd, Anderson’s titular Master. Others remain tortured by Hoffman’s turn in the 1995 drama Happiness, wherein he topped the lot of haunting performances by challenging the lengths to which an actor might exemplify human corrosion. But the darker side of storytelling did not keep a stronghold on Hoffman — finding his big screen footing in the action favorite Twister, Hoffman experimented with joy just as often, and to results just as fruitful. Few can forget the stiff shoulders of Jeffrey Lebowski’s pasty, perturbed lackey Brandt, a would-be throwaway character who Hoffman turned into one of the Coen comedy’s funniest elements.
And while nobody is rallying for Along Came Polly’s placement in the cinematic hall of fame, just try and claim you didn’t crack a smile at Hoffman’s introductory pratfall, or his climactic boardroom speech. Hoffman could make any material watchable. But quickly enough, studios and directors learned that he was a force that could turn great material into unprecedented screen work.
As such, there are so many viable answers to the “What’s your favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman performance?” question. Friends and colleagues to whom I have posed the quandary this afternoon have cited everything from Capote to The Savages to Twister to Magnolia to his aforementioned comic bout in The Big Lebowski. For me, it will always be Synecdoche, New York — a movie that dared to tackle the boundless regimens of art, life, time, and sadness in such a vast way, and that through the unique power and humility of Hoffman did so with such articulation.
There are actors who offer tremendous spectacle, who can thrill the masses with a one sheet alone, who live up to the demands of the Academy year after year. Hoffman might not have topped any of these lists, but he pervaded every single one of these conversations — and this versatility is something few actors, even the best of the best, have managed. He has excelled at the dramatic, the chilling, the goofy, and the humane. Every corner of the cinematic world provided him an easel for genius. And now, looking back at his career of adventure flicks, comedies, psychological dramas, and probing stories of the human condition, we realize that there was no type of performance at which Philip Seymour Hoffman was not, in truth, a master.
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Awards season is in full swing, and with tonight's Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG for short) — the 19th time the ceremony has taken place. Airing live on TBS and TNT on Sunday, January 27 (at 5PM PST/8PM EST), some of the biggest movies of the year are making tracks towards the Big Night (aka the Academy Awards), while television shows like Homeland and Modern Family will see if they can continue to dominate.
Will 30 Rock go out with big wins? Will Maggie Smith continue to not show up (yes, of course)? Check out the winners (in bold), which will be updated live, below!
THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
Bradley Cooper / Pat - "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
Daniel Day-Lewis / Abraham Lincoln - "Lincoln" (Touchstone Pictures)
John Hawkes / Mark - "The Sessions" (FOX Searchlight)
Hugh Jackman / Jean Valjean - "Les Misérables" (Universal Pictures)
Denzel Washington / Whip Whitaker - "Flight" (Paramount Pictures)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Jessica Chastain / Maya - "Zero Dark Thirty" (Columbia Pictures)
Marion Cotillard / Stephanie - "Rust And Bone" (sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence / Tiffany - "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
Helen Mirren / Alma Reville - "Hitchcock" (FOX Searchlight)
Naomi Watts / Maria - "The Impossible" (Summit Entertainment)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Alan Arkin / Lester Siegel - "Argo" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Javier Bardem / Silva - "Skyfall" (Columbia Pictures)
Robert De Niro / Pat, Sr. - "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
Philip Seymour Hoffman / Lancaster Dodd - "The Master" (The Weinstein Company)
Tommy Lee Jones / Thaddeus Stevens - "Lincoln" (Touchstone Pictures)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
Sally Field / Mary Todd Lincoln - "Lincoln" (Touchstone Pictures)
Anne Hathaway / Fantine - "Les Misérables" (Universal Pictures)
Helen Hunt / Cheryl - "The Sessions" (FOX Searchlight)
Nicole Kidman / Charlotte Bless - "The Paperboy" (Millennium Entertainment)
Maggie Smith / Muriel Donnelly - "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (FOX Searchlight)
Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture
Argo (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (FOX Searchlight)
Les Misérables (Universal Pictures)
Lincoln (Touchstone Pictures)
Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Company)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Kevin Costner / "Devil Anse" Hatfield - "Hatfields & Mccoys" (History)
Woody Harrelson / Steve Schmidt - "Game Change" (HBO)
Ed Harris / John Mccain - "Game Change" (HBO)
Clive Owen / Ernest Hemingway & "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (HBO)
Bill Paxton / Randall Mccoy - "Hatfields & Mccoys" (History)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Television Movie Or Miniseries
Nicole Kidman / Martha Gellhorn - "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (HBO)
Julianne Moore / Sarah Palin - "Game Change" (HBO)
Charlotte Rampling / Eva Delectorskaya - "Restless" (Sundance Channel)
Sigourney Weaver / Elaine Barrish Hammond - "Political Animals" (USA)
Alfre Woodard / Ouiser - "Steel Magnolias" (Lifetime)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Drama Series
Steve Buscemi / Enoch "Nucky" Thompson - "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)
Bryan Cranston / Walter White - "Breaking Bad" (AMC)
Jeff Daniels / Will McAvoy - "The Newsroom" (HBO)
Jon Hamm / Don Draper - "Mad Men" (AMC)
Damian Lewis / Nicholas Brody - "Homeland" (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Drama Series
Claire Danes / Carrie Mathison - "Homeland" (Showtime)
Michelle Dockery / Lady Mary Crawley - "Downton Abbey" (PBS)
Jessica Lange / Sister Jude - "American Horror Story: Asylum" (FX)
Julianna Margulies / Alicia Florrick - "The Good Wife" (CBS)
Maggie Smith / Violet, Dowager Countess Of Grantham - "Downton Abbey" (PBS)
Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin / Jack Donaghy - "30 Rock" (NBC)
Ty Burrell / Phil Dunphy - "Modern Family" (ABC)
Louis C.K. / Louie - "Louie" (FX)
Jim Parsons / Sheldon Cooper - "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet / Cameron Tucker - "Modern Family" (ABC)
Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Comedy Series
Edie Falco / Jackie Peyton - "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)
Tina Fey / Liz Lemon - "30 Rock" (NBC)
Amy Poehler / Leslie Knope - "Parks and Recreation" (NBC)
Sofia Vergara / Gloria Delgado-Pritchett - "Modern Family" (ABC)
Betty White / Elka Ostrovsky - "Hot In Cleveland" (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Mad Men (AMC)
Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC)
Modern Family (ABC)
Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
The Office (NBC)
SAG AWARDS HONORS FOR STUNT ENSEMBLES
Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Motion Picture
The Amazing Spider-Man (Columbia Pictures)
The Bourne Legacy (Universal Pictures)
The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Les Misérables (Universal Pictures)
Skyfall (Columbia Pictures)
Outstanding Action Performance By A Stunt Ensemble In A Television Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Game Of Thrones (HBO)
Sons Of Anarchy (FX)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
Screen Actors Guild 49th Annual Life Achievement Award
Dick Van Dyke
What do you think of this year's winners and losers? Shocked? Happy? Sad? Let us know, in the comments below!
[Photo Credit: Mark Davis/Getty Images]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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Let's face it the world of Hollywood pirating — with its peglegs eyepatches shoulder parrots and bounty of other swashbuckling tropes — is pretty silly. Even a high seas adventure like Pirates of the Caribbean has the ridiculous Jack Sparrow to help it hobble along. Pushing the comedy can only work in pirate movie's favor and Aardman Animation's Pirates! A Band of Misfits goes all out seizing the absurdity with a flare only British sensibilities could conjure. The film is a treasure trove of design and technical wizardry but for those less interested in the intricacies of stop motion animation Pirates!'s simple story packs plenty of low-key laughs that viewers all ages can pick up.
The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is at wit's end. While he's enjoyed his time leading a ragtag group of wannabe pirates including Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin) Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen) and his number two Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) a lifestyle of eating ham and barely making ends meet is losing its luster. When Pirate Captain shows up to the annual Pirate of the Year submission day he's once again outdone by Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) who rides in on a whale full of gold. Driven by competition Pirate Captain reassembles his crew hits the open waters and begins a new wave of pillaging. It's all for naught until the pirates cross paths with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who identifies Pirate Captain's "parrot" as an extinct dodo bird. Suddenly the pirates have a new (and lucrative) calling: science.
There's an unexpected intelligence to Pirates!. The movie based on a children's book of the same name centers on Pirate Captain's mid-life crisis delves into the world of 18th century science and pegs Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) as the mastermind bad guy behind the elimination of the pirate occupation. That gives the accompanying adults plenty to chew (and laugh) on but director Peter Lord doesn't stray away from an ol' fashioned slapstick routine. There's a marvelous stray bathtub sequence halfway through the film a wild ride through Charles Darwin's old tudor house that's a true spectacle. But even a simple gag involving baking soda and vinegar exploding sud bubbles is expertly crafted and executed by Lord.
The stop motion technique never feels limited in Pirates! even with a great deal of walking and talking scenes. Gideon Defoe's script is elevated by the vocal performances; Grant is perfectly cast as the faux-burly Pirate Captain while Martin Freeman's perfected "timid skeptic" routine from The Office and Sherlock is once again on full display. The Aardman team continues to have a knack for gesturing their puppets uniquely natural and human. Even with all the enormous pirate ships detailed cityscapes and dazzling action Pirates! is at its best when it focuses on the sillier calmer moments.
The tangibility of Pirates! A Band of Misfits comes through in its physical stop-motion animation techniques but also its genuine heart. There's a rare reality to the storytelling even at its most fantastical. While the film doesn't hit the same emotional chords as some of Pixar or Dreamworks' best you would need an X-marked map to find a Hollywood cartoon as sweet and heartfelt. So don't walk the plank on this one — board with kids in tow immediately.