When Joaquin Phoenix first began acting (back when he was credited as Leaf Phoenix), he already had a lot to live up to. His older brother, the late River Phoenix, was a blossoming young star of the 1980s and his death in 1993 is considered one of the most tragic losses of a young talent ever. Star of Stand By Me and My Own Private Idaho, the Oscar-nominated older Phoenix (Best Supporting Actor, Running on Empty) had paved a road that Joaquin immediately pursued and despite the huge expectations that came with beginning an acting career, Joaquin Phoenix exceeded all expectations.
In most recent years, Joaquin Phoenix continues to startle, move, engross, and wow audiences and critics alike with his bold film choices and captivating on-screen performances. For an actor that had a very large void to fill, Joaquin Phoenix has definitely done his older brother proud and I am sure I am not alone when I say that the world is forever robbed by the fact that there will never be a film that stars both Phoenix brothers.
This weekend marks the limited release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, The Master which stars Joaquin Phoenix (his first feature film in four years) as Freddie Quell, a disturbed and troubled World War II veteran who, in the wake of the most frightening and mentally crippling time of his life, turns to a man he does not fully understand but believes can save him, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). While believing he has a found a form of salvation, it is not long before Dodd’s cultish new religion takes an even deeper psychological toll on Quell. To celebrate Joaquin Phoenix’s return to the big screen, here are ten of the actor’s finest turns on screen.