Paul Giamatti: Jim Wright/Icon
August 22, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Summer’s movie-star MVPs: Paul Giamatti

Age 38

Position Joe Gould, stalwart manager/cornerman to Depression-era boxer Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) in Cinderella Man

Season highlights If you ask us, it was the spectacle of watching one of Hollywood’s premier character actors, best known for embodying lovable unlovables (angst-addled comic-book scribe in American Splendor, wine-soaked wannabe novelist in Sideways), score an emotional knockout with a change-up punch — and without hitting us over the head with Go get ’em, kid! schmaltz. If you ask Giamatti, it was the awe-inspiring experience of heavyweight filmmaking. ”Monstrous,” says the actor of Ron Howard’s $88 million production. ”Just meeting Russell — he’s an epic figure to begin with. The boxing stuff was huge. The Hooverville sets? Big. Everything about it was gigantic.”

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