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Phillip Seymour Hoffman leaves large film legacy in spite of youth

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Acclaimed character actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died on February 2 from a drug overdose. Though he was only 46 years old, the Oscar winner saw a film and television career spanning over 60 titles. Five of his films, including two “Hunger Games” sequels, are yet to be released. Whether working in indies or major studio releases, Hoffman always got himself noticed. His portrayal of best-selling author Truman Capote brought him Best Actor Oscar gold for 2005’s “Capote.” Three Supporting Actor nominations followed for his CIA agent in 2007’s “Charlie Wilson’s War,” his priest suspected of child abuse in “Doubt” (2008) and his cult leader in “The Master” (2012). Those films plus the recommendations below offer a great sampling of the variety of his work.

Hoffman’s big screen breakthrough came with 1997’s “Boogie Nights.” He plays an authentic looking 1970’s painfully troubled fellow named Scotty J. in writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic rise and fall of a porn star played by Mark Wahlberg. Hoffman became an Anderson favorite and worked in three more of his films.

In 2006, he took on big-budget action movie villainy in “Mission: Impossible III.” He plays a ruthless arms dealing murderer pursued by Tom Cruise. It’s also the big screen directorial debut of J. J. Abrams.

“The Savages” is a small but powerful 2007 film pairing Hoffman and Laura Linney as troubled siblings coming together to care for their ailing abusive father (Philip Bosco). Like so much of Hoffman’s work, it’s funny, touching and painful. Linney and the screenplay received Oscar nominations.

A recent example of a role literally fitting Hoffman like a glove is Art Howe in “Moneyball” (2011). He’s a slouchy, surly, set in his ways baseball team manager who refuses to give new GM Brad Pitt’s ideas a try. It’s a low key performance that just looks, sounds and feels right.

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