25th Hour (2002):
Worth a mention if only for the sheer jolt of that night-club scene with Anna Paquin, this Spike Lee joint, about friendships, drugs and other vices, pitched Hoffman opposite Edward Norton and Barry Pepper as a loyal chum whose pal gets caught up in the wrong crowd.
Going above and beyond impersonation, the actor gave a much-deserved Oscar-winning portrayal steeped in outsize brilliance, bringing to life the famed author of such masterpieces as In Cold Blood, in a biopic that, for me, remains one of the most memorable of the past decade.
The Savages (2007):
In this low-key albeit endlessly amusing comedy-drama from writer-director Tamara Jenkins, the actor (as a theatre history lecturer) kept pace with the dynamic Laura Linney (a playwright), the both of them playing siblings forced to care for their ailing father, giving rise to pent-up resentment and all manner of domestic drama.
As the embattled Father Flynn, a compassionate Brooklyn parish priest accused of a terrible misdeed, Hoffman went toe-to-toe with Meryl Streep's bulldozer of a Mother Superior, earning the sympathy of a lowly nun and schoolteacher (Amy Adams) in John Patrick Shanley's powerful film adaptation of his Pulitzer-winning play.
The Ides of March (2011):
In this astute political thriller from George Clooney, a first-rate ensemble (Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood and Clooney co-star) shines, even as they bring to life complicated characters coming to terms with their own slipperiness on the campaign trail.