In 2014, Phoenix reunited with Paul Thomas Anderson for the crime comedy-drama film Inherent Vice, the first adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon book. Phoenix played Doc Sportello, a private investigator and hippie/dope head trying to help his ex-girlfriend solve a crime. Inherent Vice premiered as the centerpiece at the New York Film Festival on October 4, 2014 and went nationwide on January 9, 2015. It was met with mostly positive reviews with many critics praising the film for its acting performances, while some were frustrated by its complicated plot, however it only grossed $11.1 million at the box office. Phoenix was nominated for his fifth Golden Globe Award for his performance.
Following the comeback of his acting career, Phoenix was often cast in supporting roles as conflicted, insecure characters with a dark side. In 1995, he co-starred in To Die For, as a disturbed young man who is seduced by a woman (Nicole Kidman) to commit murder. Directed by Gus Van Sant, the film was screened out of competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and became a financial and critical success, resulting in a domestic box office total of $21 million. New York Times critic Janet Maslin praised Phoenix's performance, writing "So pity poor Jimmy. Rivetingly played by Mr Phoenix with a raw, anguished expressiveness that makes him an actor to watch for, Jimmy is both tempted and terrified by Suzanne's slick amorality. In that, he speaks for us all."More Info
In 2006, Phoenix was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2007, Phoenix reunited with director James Gray for the film We Own the Night, which he also produced. In the film, Phoenix played a New York nightclub manager who tries to save his brother and father from Russian mafia hit men. The film premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, receiving mixed reviews from critics and grossed a total of $54.5 million worldwide. Critic Peter Travers described Phoenix as "electrifying and then some", and he was awarded the People's Choice Award for Favorite Leading Man for the performance. For his second film of 2007, Phoenix also reunited with director Terry George for the film Reservation Road. In it, Phoenix played a father obsessed with finding out who killed his son in a hit-and-run accident. The film failed at the box office and received negative reviews from critics, with film critic Peter Travers writing "Even the best actors – and I'd rank Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo among their generation's finest – can't save a movie that aims for tragedy but stalls at soap opera."More Info
In 2005, Phoenix starred in the James Mangold directed film Walk the Line, a Johnny Cash biopic, after Cash himself approved of Phoenix. All of Cash's vocal tracks in the film and on the accompanying soundtrack are played and sung by Phoenix. Roger Love was his vocal coach on this film. The film was released on November 18, 2005, eventually grossing $186 million. Phoenix's performance received rave reviews from critics and it inspired film critic Roger Ebert to write, "Knowing Johnny Cash's albums more or less by heart, I closed my eyes to focus on the soundtrack and decided that, yes, that was the voice of Johnny Cash I was listening to. The closing credits make it clear it's Joaquin Phoenix doing the singing, and I was gob-smacked". For his portrayal of Johnny Cash, Phoenix was nominated for his second Academy Award, in the category of Best Actor as well as the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for the film's soundtrack. Earlier that year, he narrated Earthlings (2005), a documentary about the investigation of animal abuse in factory farms, and pet mills, and for scientific research. He was awarded the Humanitarian Award at the San Diego Film Festival in 2005, for his work and contribution to Earthlings.More Info
After appearing in the CBS television film Kids Don't Tell (1985), Phoenix made his theatrical film debut in SpaceCamp (1986) as Max, a 12-year-old who goes to Kennedy Space Center to learn about the NASA space program and undergoes amateur astronaut training. He guest starred in the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "A Very Happy Ending" in the same year, playing a child who blackmails a hitman (played by Robert Loggia) into killing his father (John Aprea). Phoenix's first starring role was in Russkies (1987), about a group of friends who unknowingly befriend a Russian soldier during the Cold War. Phoenix then appeared in Ron Howard's comedy-drama Parenthood (1989), in which he played the withdrawn teenage nephew of Steve Martin's character. The film was well received by critics and grossed $126 million worldwide. Phoenix was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film for his performance in the film. After establishing himself as a child actor, Joaquin decided to retire from acting for a while and traveled to Mexico and South America with his father.More Info
Arlyn moved to California, meeting Phoenix's father while hitchhiking. They married in 1969; years later, they joined a religious cult called the Children of God and began traveling throughout South America. They eventually became disenchanted with the cult and decided to leave the group, returning to the U.S. in 1977 when Phoenix was three years old. They changed their last name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, symbolizing a new beginning. Phoenix began calling himself "Leaf" around this time, having been inspired by spending time outdoors raking leaves and desiring to have a nature-related name like his siblings. This became the name he used as a child actor, until he changed it back to Joaquin at age 15.More Info
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