Ask the general public who they think the best actor in the world is and you will probably be met with replies varying from Bradley Cooper to Ryan Gosling and, with the release of Man of Steel, you may even hear people citing Henry Cavill as ‘the best actor ever’: the general public are fickle when it comes to actors/actresses and they tend to follow the trends, whoever is ‘hot’ right now will be in the public eye more and the public will be tricked into liking them. I don’t wish to take anything away from the three particular actors I mentioned as I do like all three of them: they all have potential, but are they brilliant actors? I would hesitate to say so just yet.

Now if you’re reading this you probably have an interest in films and will no doubt know who Paul Giamatti is, but as the everyday cinema goer if they like him and the likely response will be “who?”; telling them that he is an Oscar nominated actor will probably not help either. While the likes of Cooper, Gosling and Cavill make headlines and get on the covers of magazines Paul Giamatti goes about his versatile projects with the utmost respect for the people he is working with and for the target audience. Giamatti is an actor that can consistently be relied upon to give great performances and make anything all the more enjoyable for his appearance. The reason why I have decided to write about him now is because of his insistence to ever expand his repertoire and has recently joined the cast of British ITV drama, Downton Abbey.

After slumming it for a few years, Giamatti got his first big break in 1997 when he starred in Private Parts, a role which catapulted him to face after he received a lot of praise for his performance. This led to Giamatti getting more and more supporting roles in big Hollywood films such as The Truman Show and Saving Private Ryan. His rise to fame in Hollywood continued after the turn of the 20th century appearing in Big Momma’s House, Planet of the Apes and Big Fat Liar. Okay, so not all of his films are good, but how often does and actor have a slate with no spills upon it? And anyway, it’s what he did after this that starts to get impressive.

In 2004, Giamatti reminded everybody just how good he is: Sideways. In this independent romantic comedy, Giamatti portrays a depressed writer with a very healthy liking of wine. Now I will admit that when I first watched Sideways I failed to see what the hype was about, nevertheless I recognised that Giamatti was putting in a terrific performance. Alongside Thomas Haden Church (another actor I’ve come to like a lot recently) Giamatti is absolutely wonderful, capturing an incredibly realistic portrayal and offering up moments of drama and comedy in equal share and to equal success. Sideways on the whole became a surprise hit and was nominated for five Oscars which helped the whole cast’s career greatly.

But Giamatti was made to wait for his personal Oscar nomination. That came when Giamatti starred alongside Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, playing Joe Gould, boxing manager and friend to Russell Crowe’s character. Although he lost out at the Oscars to that little known actor George Clooney (Syriana) Giamatti proved once again that he was one of Hollywood’s finest.

Since then, Paul Giamatti has gone on to vary his career as much as possible in terms of the roles he takes. Whether it be in the great action film Shoot ‘Em Up, the animated The Ant Bully, comedy in The Hangover Part II, drama in The Ides of March or even a musical such as Rock of Ages, Giamatti will give it all and continue to dominate films with his performance. I fail to think of a film appearance by Giamatti in which he has ever failed to live up to my high expectations I have of him: he is just ultimately captivating and always exciting to watch on screen.

There are a huge number of projects in the pipeline (not least Turbo and the latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) but arguably most exciting is the fact that he will be appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as villain Rhino. This could possibly be the best bit of superhero movie casting since Robert Downey Jr. completely stole the hearts of the world as Tony Stark. Early set photos (pre-CGI) look exciting and as if this is going to be another memorable performance from Giamatti. With critical acclaim being fired at him from every angle, it is about time he became a staple in the minds of mainstream cinema-goers. Here’s hoping…

In my opinion, Paul Giamatti is one of the greatest character actors of all time, allowing himself to completely indulge himself in every aspect of his role and this comes across perfectly on screen. Certainly someone to watch in everything he does.

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