More on Philip Seymour Hoffman from A.O. Scott’s excellent remembrance:
[Hoffman’s] goal seemed to be not just the psychological truth that has long been the baseline criterion of post-Method acting, but a moral uncertainty that remains too fraught and frightening for many of us, in art or in life, to engage.
This is not just a matter of seeking out gray areas or mapping ambiguities. Hoffman’s characters exist, more often than not, in a state of ethical and existential torment. They are stuck on the battleground where pride and conscience contend with base and ugly instincts.
He did not care if we liked any of these sad specimens. The point was to make us believe them and to recognize in them — in him — a truth about ourselves that we might otherwise have preferred to avoid. He had a rare ability to illuminate the varieties of human ugliness. No one ever did it so beautifully.