Paul Newman's Best: A Filmography

The Grand Old Man: 1998-2006

28. Twilight (1998)
In this quiet, autumnal detective drama — a sort of valedictory sequel to Harper and 1975's The Drowning Pool in every detail but the name of the gumshoe he plays — Newman gives an unmannered, effectively weary performance surrounded by one of his best casts (including Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, James Garner, and Reese Witherspoon).

29. Road to Perdition ESSENTIAL (2002)
At the time, Newman said that playing Depression-era Chicago crime boss John Rooney was ''a marvelous part...of a size that was appropriate for a gentleman of my age.'' And although he's not on screen for long, the old master reveals a few new tricks, most prominently a mesmerizing, frigid stillness as Rooney weighs his remaining humanity against his vast capacity for evil. He's particularly riveting in his scenes with Tom Hanks, as the enforcer who's almost like a son to him, and Daniel Craig, as the vicious brute he actually fathered. Sam Mendes' film earned Newman his ninth and last Oscar nomination for acting.

30. Our Town (2003)
Newman returned to Broadway to play the Stage Manager in an appealing, homespun revival of Thornton Wilder's classic play. This PBS/Showtime version (shot without an audience) can be uneven and off-key; what works in a theater can seem tinny on screen. But Newman scales his performance to the camera, and his economy of gesture and undersold line readings serve the role ideally.

31. Empire Falls (2005)
Newman's last screen appearance is, appropriately, a series of reunions — with author Richard Russo (Nobody's Fool, Twilight), Estelle Parsons (Rachel, Rachel), Robin Wright Penn (Message in a Bottle), and, most poignantly, Woodward. Fred Schepisi's four-hour HBO adaptation of Russo's novel about intersecting lives in a small Maine town unfolds more like a TV pilot than a movie. But Newman has a grand old time in a smallish role as the ne'er-do-well father of Ed Harris — a fortuitous match of blazing blue eyes.

32. Cars (2006)
As he passed his 80th birthday, Newman spoke longingly about taking one last acting job — perhaps something that would pair him with Robert Redford again. But this lively, funny voice-over performance in the Pixar smash — the highest-grossing film in Newman's career — turned out to be an appropriate swan song given the actor's great passion for automobiles. Soon after its release, he announced his retirement.

Originally posted Oct 03, 2008 Published in issue #1015 Oct 10, 2008 Order article reprints
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