When you look back at the filmography of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one amazing fact pops out again and again—he never gave a bad performance. Not one. That's not to say all the films were good, but every single risk he took, and practically every single choice he made, worked. He wasn't just serviceable, he was exemplary, and he made every movie he was ever in better. Even Twister.
He could be a ham without detracting from his fellow actors (Hard Eight, Along Came Polly), and he could quietly implode with self-destruction (Owning Mahowny, Love Liza). He could play the fool (Boogie Nights) or the king (The Master). He could personify the best in humanity (Magnolia), and the worst (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead). He could become Lester Bangs (Almost Famous) or Truman Capote (Capote).
Gruff (Charlie Wilson's War), tender (State and Main), it didn't matter the emotional or mental state, Hoffman could manifest it and play it with a charisma that communicated what felt like a sheer love of acting—a belief in the power of pretend and storytelling. His death over the weekend at the age of 46 is, by the purest definition of the word, a tragedy.