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Philip Seymour Hoffman's Museum of the Moving Image retrospective honors late actor's career

It's been more than two-and-a-half years since the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and it's still hard to believe he's gone.

One of the finest actors of this or any era, a man who played a range of characters across all walks of life with consummate skill and grace, in some of the greatest movies ever made, Hoffman will endure forever.

The Museum of the Moving Image pays tribute to the legend with an appropriately titled retrospective, "The Master: Philip Seymour Hoffman," running from Sept. 16 through Oct 2.

Every movie playing there is worth your time; it's indisputably true that you can't go wrong with any of the selections.

Nonetheless, these are our five top picks at an event that's packed with masterpieces, near-masterpieces and movies that you just plain shouldn't miss at some point in time. Visit movingimage.us for more information.

'Boogie Nights'

Paul Thomas Anderson's brilliant epic about the '70s
Photo Credit: BPI / G. Lefkowitz

Paul Thomas Anderson's brilliant epic about the '70s porn industry in Southern California, centered on an up-and-coming star named Dirk Diggler, features some of the most dynamic filmmaking you'll ever find anywhere. And yet for all the sound and fury characterizing this propulsive tale, one of the most memorable scenes involved Hoffman's Scotty, a boom operator in love with Diggler, alone in a car and stricken with sadness and guilt after Dirk rejects him. Sept. 18, 2 p.m.

'Almost Famous'

Hoffman had a habit of stealing scenes in
Photo Credit: Neal Preston

Hoffman had a habit of stealing scenes in every movie, really. One of the finest examples of the way he could just waltz into a picture and turn everything on its head came in his few scenes as famed rock critic Lester Bangs, imparting wisdom to protagonist William Miller (Patrick Fugit), in Cameron Crowe's lovely autobiographical ode to journalism, youthful optimism and the power of rock 'n' roll. Sept. 18, 7:15 p.m.

'Capote'

Hoffman won his Oscar for playing Truman Capote
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics / Attila Dory

Hoffman won his Oscar for playing Truman Capote in this picture about the events surrounding the writing of the seminal "In Cold Blood," and it's truly one of the best and most complicated performances in cinematic history. The actor presents a full picture of an author beset by personal and philosophical turmoil while researching and writing his masterpiece. He takes a gigantic figure and strips him down to small, personal size, in a remarkable fear of humanizing that is timeless evidence of exactly why Hoffman will endure forever. Sept. 23, 7 p.m.

'Magnolia'

Photo Credit: BPI / Peter Sorel

"Magnolia" -- This reunion of Hoffman and Anderson, in the third chapter of a fruitful collaboration (they first worked together in Anderson's feature debut, 1996's "Hard Eight") that would go on to include "Punch Drunk Love" and the "The Master," is another masterful epic about intersecting lives in the San Fernando Valley. It's not the greatest showcase for Hoffman's talents, simply because he has to share the screen with everyone from John C. Reilly to Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore, but any chance to experience Anderson's extraordinarily rich tapestry on the big screen simply can't be ignored. Sept. 30, 7 p.m.

'25th Hour'

New York filmmakers simply don't get more iconic
Photo Credit: VNU / David Lee

New York filmmakers simply don't get more iconic than Spike Lee, so it's fitting that he made what is probably the greatest movie about 9/11 to date. The tragedy occupies the edges of this drama about a man's final day of freedom before a long prison sentence, and the filmmaker expertly weaves the story into a larger milieu defined by abiding civic sadness. Hoffman, playing a childhood friend of Edward Norton's protagonist, is as wonderful as ever. Oct. 1, 6 p.m.

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