One of the best actors in Hollywood today is the always enjoyable Paul Giamatti. I always trust that whenever I see a film starring him, I’m in for a good time (with a few notable exceptions). Though I’ve yet to see Barney’s Version, I thought that now would be a good time to list my five favourite characters he has played.
1: Miles, Sideways (2004)
I thought I’d get the obvious one out of the way first. But it’s true, Giamatti is fantastic in his career-best role as Miles in Alexander Payne’s drink-yourself-silly road movie. And paired with the incomparable… well, slightly comparable Thomas Haden Church, it’s a refreshing dip into vino paradise.
2: Toby Oxman, Storytelling (2001)
Oxman is a loser, and in finding the perfect actor, Todd Solondz picked a man who was a clear winner but could easily be mistaken for a loser. Cue Giamatti who takes the role of this selfish, lonely man and runs with it, giving amazing depth and a sense of antagonism toward a struggling documentary filmmaker who embodies the loser characterisation of Solondz’ films.
3: Sgt. Hill, Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Giamatti, looking strangely like a bald Hitler in the above picture, is one of the many characters of Steven Spielberg’s war epic. Whether you love or hate the film, you cannot deny that Spielberg knows what he’s doing when he writes characters, and Hill was a character that Giamatti grabbed and embodied, in one of his first successful roles.
4: Control Room Director, The Truman Show (1998)
In a supporting role alongside Ed Harris, Giamatti isn’t exactly in a leading role here. When I first saw the movie when I was twelve, I wouldn’t have noticed him at all. But a few years back when I rewatched it, I thought, “holy shit, that’s Paul Giamatti,” in a tiny role as a Control Room Director. Nothing special about him here, you might say, but it’s one of those early roles that you don’t really notice but are integral.
5: Nick ‘Santa Claus’, Fred Claus (2007)
I certainly don’t think this is a good film, but this is not Giamatti’s best films, it is his best roles, and after I see Barney’s Version and Win Win there’s a chance the list will change, but seeing Giamatti as Santa is an offer so incredibly ludicrous and strangely suitable that its impossible to pass up, and despite the unattractive quality of this confirmed “kids-only” movie, Giamatti’s presence stands out even in a support role.
That’s my list. Anything you’d like to add? Was Giamatti any good in Barney’s Version or Win Win, or any other films? Leave a comment below.