5 Best Films Where Philip Seymour Hoffman Is the Lead

Redditor u/taylortailss recently inquired, “What is your favorite movie where Philip Seymour Hoffman is the lead actor? As I go through some of my favorite films, I notice that a huge chunk of these have PSH as either a main or side actor, and I wanted to see how yall favored the films he has starred in/lead-in.” 

They elaborated, “I'm looking for main character suggestions but won't limit this post to strictly that. If PSH plays a minor character and nails it, and you love that, please share it with me! I look forward to seeing what you all think! Thank you in advance!”

Redditors responded, and Capote had the most upvotes. GhostOfTheSerpent agreed, “Such a spectacular performance. I'm so glad he won the Oscar for Best Actor.”

1. Capote (2005)

Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in the titular role of the American novelist Truman Capote in this biographical drama. 

It follows Capote as he travels to Kansas to cover a story about a murdered family in Kansas. He ends up becoming close with the accused on death row.

Philip Seymour Hoffman also won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for his performance in the film. GrooveMonkeyPump stated, “Capote for sure but for the supporting role, I have to go with Along Came Polly. He was hilarious!”

Redditor Aciuaciu replied, “I agree. Also, his performance in Nobody's Fool as the rookie cop always knocks me off the couch. He's such a perfect jerk! And Boogie Nights. That is the movie that made me fall in love with his work.”

2. The Master (2012)

The Master is a psychological drama film. Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) struggles with PTSD from World War II and becomes a drunk and troubled drifter. 

Freddie meets Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) on a boat. Lancaster is the leader of “The Cause,” a charismatic religious movement. 

They form a bond despite other members viewing it as a threat. The movie was seconded, thirded, fourthed, and fifthed by Redditors' agreeing with the vote. 

Redditor NiteSwept admitted, “I often go to YouTube and watch the scene where the man interjects at the rich persons' dinner/get-together. His monologue and acting are absolutely perfect—amazing writing and delivery.”

Then they quoted The Master, “You travel down the river, around the bend, you look back, and you cannot see around the bend, can you? But that does not mean it is not there, does it?”

3. Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Synecdoche, New York follows theatre director Caden Cotard (Hoffman), who struggles with his work and women. 

He is creating a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play. Redditor bipolar_paradise admitted, “Exactly what I was gonna comment.”

However, Fishtank-Brain stated, “It's probably not better than Being John Malkovich, but it's on the same level.”

4. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)

Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) convinces his younger brother, Hank (Ethan Hawke), into a scheme for committing the perfect crime: to rob their parents' (Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris) jewelry store. 

Naturally, things don't go accordingly, and the family's patriarch begins hunting the criminals for vigilante justice, unaware that the criminals he is hunting are his children.

Ahmari90 agreed, “He killed that role, so good!” Redditor taylortailss expressed, “This is my personal favorite, but I haven't seen all his films yet.”

5. Doubt (2008)

Set in 1964, a charismatic priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), advocates for reform so that the first Black student is accepted to St. Nicholas School. 

Sister James (Amy Adams) implies to Sister Aloysius' (Meryl Streep) that Father Flynn is giving the new student too much personal attention. 

So without any evidence, Sister Aloysius launches a crusade against Flynn. HerroDer12 admits, “I scrolled to find this one! It is the most tension-filled movie I've ever seen, and he's perfect in it!”

Redditor mg0509 agreed, “I forgot about this. As soon as I read the movie title, all I could think was him talking about how it's ok to have longer fingernails as long as you keep them clean. It's weird how much tension/anxiety I got from watching that.”

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