Click on the MOVIE link above to see the full list of Sam’s top 10 Underrated Actors
The #1 reason Paul Giamatti is #8 on my list of Top 10 Underrated Actors is because of how he can convey emotion. He feels so real in his roles and really makes his characters work. If his character is sad you believe he’s sad, if his character’s angry, happy, crazy, depressed, suicidal, neutral, whatever the emotion he can pull it off extremely well. In the family movie “Big Fat Liar” he plays the role of Marty Wolf, a compulsive liar, ego-maniac, bossy, snob. Each of these he does really well. He’s good about putting his own emotions into his performances and that’s what makes him such a good character actor. Marty Wolf is actually a character with many sides and all were done well.
In “The Illusionist” he plays Inspector Uhl in turn of the century Vienna. He has the difficult job of being deceiving to the audience without breaking character, meaning you might not know what his overall goal in the end is, what he’s trying to accomplish seems simple enough but is deceitful.
His character is not against Edward Norton in mind but his job requires him to stop him. In the very beginning of the movie, Edward Norton does an illusion and then Paul Giamatti proceeds to order an arrest on him. This beginning makes him seem like the main villain, but he’s not, he’s not really a villain at all. The main villain is Paul’s boss, he orders Giamatti but he doesn’t just blindly follow him like a generic henchmen. He almost develops a friendship between himself and the illusionist. Giamatti also serves as the narrator telling the story and the story actually catches up to him, and continues from there.
While I’m the subject of the Illusionist, another interesting thing about the movie is the scenery mainly the backgrounds and environment. It all has a surreal atmosphere and kind of creepy with foggy trees and dark alleys. I like it. The movie has a very serious tone but with some comedy every once in while. That’s enough about the illusionist. Until I get to Edward Norton. One last thing though, I am liking the movie more now in retrospective, and also appreciating it more.
Paul Giamatti plays the main villain Hertz in “Shoot ‘Em Up”. I really like this movie. I think it’s really fun fast paced, adrenalin pumping movie, with great action set pieces. The two things that set his character Hertz apart from other villians is, that he is very smart in his own words, “I notice things that other people don’t,” even the smallest details. It is actual revealed that he was an FBI profiler. The other thing is that he is talking to his wife on the phone in between shootouts who obviously thinks he’s doing something else. Even as he’s dying he says he wont be late for the party. He even picks out a birthday card for his son while amassing an army in the building of a huge fight.PaulGiamatti has a lot of really good lines too. The character is still pretty simple so it’s not an amazing performance but he plays the role perfectly.
In “Sideways”, Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a depressed semi-suicidal writer who’s tried everything to set up a bachelor party for his friend. They go to wine country and meet other characters, drama ensues and stuff happens along the way. The movie really rides on his performance. The supporting actors are okay but the movie would be very mediocre and just plain boring and bad without his amazing performance. So much happens to this character. He just keeps getting more and more sad, and angry, and sometimes happy, or in love. But the real accomplishment is how he makes YOU feel for the character. He does emotions so good and feels so genuine. I don’t know if Giamatti is really a wine lover but he makes it seem so.
His anger and sadness just keep building up higher and higher to the point where you don’t know what he’s going to do. One thing I wished for was for him to just finally snap and go completely crazy and kill a few select characters. He would end up in jail but the last shot should just be the camera panning out from him in a jail cell looking out and just smiling.