Over the course of his career, Joaquin Phoenix has solidified his standing as one of the most potent performers of the century. As proven in a diverse range of films, Phoenix consistently serves up A-list performances, from “The Master”, “Her”, “Joker”, to “Two Lovers”, “Inherent Vice”, and “Beau is Afraid”.
Not Everyone’s a Fan
Despite the acclaim, not everyone is on the Phoenix bandwagon. Paul Schrader, for one, recently shared a candid gem on his Facebook:
Everyone has actors they just don’t “get.” First on my list Joaquin Phoenix.Paul Schrader on Facebook
The Mumble Factor
Indeed, some see Phoenix as the most mumbly of actors. Critics have said he doesn’t clearly annunciate his lines. While this may not be far from the truth, it also misses the point of Phoenix’s deliberately stylized and uncalibrated acting.
A Reasonable Argument
Now, is Phoenix the best actor of the 21st century? There’s a case for a discussion. His uniquely unpredictable style mirrors the mood of the era perfectly.
In the early days of his career, Phoenix was a grounded and “normal” actor. Around 2008, however, a shift occurred — marked by strange behavior and a memorable appearance on the David Letterman show in 2009.
The newfound vulnerability and unpredictability of this ‘new’ Joaquin ended up, somewhat astonishingly, improving his acting abilities. Those who have worked with him often mention his immersive preparations for the characters, frequently blurring the lines between fiction and reality.
A Blossoming Performance
Despite speculations on what triggered the shift, Phoenix’s artistry has flourished with some of the most surreal and intense performances ever witnessed on screen. One such performance that stands out is Phoenix’s portrayal of Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master.” An amalgamation of 21st-century nonconformist anxieties, Phoenix’s character is humorous, melancholic, terrifying, and ultimately puzzling. It stands unrivaled as the shining example of his unconventional brilliance.
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