best film:  The Graduate remains Hoffman’s sole top 100 all-time film and it’s fitting because it’s also his best performance. I love Bonnie and Clyde and there are other important American films to mark the “New Age” of Hollywood or the American New Wave (roughly 1967-1979) but it’s The Graduate that is the most singularly important film (and just a flat out artistically and stylistically great one outside of being some historical landmark) and Hoffman is the hero of it. His Ben Braddock spoke for a generation and Hoffman was a new kind of star. Midnight Cowboy is also a masterpiece and I think Hoffman’s second best film. The next tier just a step or half-step down includes All The President’s Men, Little Big Man and Dick Tracy.

best performance: The Graduate but again Midnight Cowboy is the closest contender here. Their both amongst the best male performances of the 1960’s and it’s a hell of a 1-2 punch. The Graduate performance has it all and made Hoffman a giant star so to see him disappear into character as “Ratso” in Midnight Cowboy is something a star really hadn’t done (at least since Paul Muni). He disappears, it is method (the famously improvised “I’m walkin’ here”) and he’s a fantastic character.

stylistic innovations/traits: 19 films in the archives with seven nominations and two wins (Rain Man and Kramer vs. Kramer). Hoffman is as versatile as they come. He can disappear into Rain Man, or the comic “Mumbles” in Dick Tracy. There are impossible roles Little Big Man and Tootsie that he can pull off as well as play it relatively straight Kramer vs. Kramer. I don’t think his two Oscar wins are in incredible films—but those dueling masterpieces (and big performances in them) in the late 60’s are hard to compete with for any other actor. If James Dean is #61 on my list Hoffman basically outdid Dean’s career by 1971 so everything since then has been inching his way closer to the top 20. He’s a method icon (his battles with Laurence Olivier during The Marathon Man are legendary).  His characters are varied but often contain ticks, obsessions and details that Hoffman absolutely nails and inhabits. His career from 1998-2017 hasn’t been sensational but in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), he does some of his best work since the 70’s and I’m not sure with second look it won’t end up somewhere between 8-10 on the list below.

directors worked with:   Schlesinger (2), Levinson (2) and then once a piece with a ton of great directors including Mike Nichols, Penn, Peckinpah, Fosse, Pakula, Pollock, David O. Russell and Noah Baumbach

Top 10 Performances:

  1. The Graduate
  2. Midnight Cowboy
  3. Rain Man
  4. Lenny
  5. Little Big Man
  6. Kramer vs. Kramer
  7. All the President’s Men
  8. Straight Time
  9. Wag the Dog
  10. Tootsie

Archiveable films

1967- The Graduate
1969- Midnight Cowboy
1970- Little Big Man
1971- Straw Dogs
1973- Papillion
1974- Lenny
1976- All the President’s Men
1976- The Marathon Man
1978- Straight Time
1979- Kramer Vs. Kramer
1982- Tootsie
1985- Death of a Salesman
1988- Rain Man
1990- Dick Tracy
1997- Wag the Dog
2002- Moonlight Mile
2004- Finding Neverland
2004- I Heart Huckabees
2017- The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)