The future is bright for Joaquin Phoenix

Here we go with another installment of my Spotlight on the Stars series. As a refresher for those of you who aren’t familiar with the series, each week I’ll look at an A-list actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some kind of a way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend (like most weeks, honestly) or just because I feel they deserve to have a moment in the sun, but each time out it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to. You can count on that much.

For this week’s piece, I wanted to take a look at one of Hollywood’s most talented actors…Joaquin Phoenix. He’s definitely been an odd duck at times (just look at everything that surrounded his art experience/mockumentary I’m Still Here), but his skill is undeniable. He’s the sort of actor that you’re shocked hasn’t won an Oscar yet. His time is definitely coming though. It’s a matter of when, not if.

At the start of his career, Phoenix (then known as Leaf Phoenix) was a child actor with plenty of talent on display, even in something like SpaceCamp. For me though, it wasn’t until he first teamed up with filmmaker James Gray in The Yards that we saw what he was fully capable of. He has a new collaboration with Gray out this week in The Immigrant, and between then and now he’s also worked with the director on We Own the Night and Two Lovers, the latter of which is one of his finest performances to date.

Phoenix earned his first Oscar nod for his supporting turn in Gladiator and then worked on a few films with M. Night Shyamalan (Signs and The Village) along with some solid genre fare before earning his second nom and first lead citation for playing Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. That set him up to be a real A-list star, but the actor was uncomfortable with the spotlight and went away for a while, creating the persona we saw in I’m Still Here. Phoenix returned though, and when he did, he was better than ever.

Lately we’ve seen the man at his best. From The Master to Her, he’s shown new range and given two of his absolute top performances to date. It was a crime to me that he wasn’t cited in 2013 for Her, though the Best Actor race was jam packed. He also deserved to win Best Actor in 2012, but he ran into the Daniel Day-Lewis train that year and there was no stopping him. His time is coming though, I can feel it.

Overall, Phoenix is somehow still a bit of an underrated actor, even though he’s more or less considered to be one of the best of his generation. Later this year he’ll contend for a fourth Best Actor nomination and perhaps even his first win with Inherent Vice (which again will team him up with Paul Thomas Anderson) and next year he’ll have his first collaboration with Woody Allen. The future is bright for Joaquin Phoenix, there’s no doubt about that…

Stay tuned for a new spotlight that will shine next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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