If you want to watch a movie to see actors go for an Oscar, watch The Master. Otherwise, carry on to the next film.
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are both equally masterful (pardon the pun), where we see Phoenix as Freddie Quell, a seemingly lost man tired from the second World War and a personal crisis, deliver a pained performance and Hoffman as "The Master" of an emerging science/philosophy-based group that tries to help Quell.
The dynamic between the two is often unclear-- is it a relationship of a rescuer and the rescued, or puppet master and the puppet? There is even a slight glint of homo-eroticism if you look deeper, but the link between the two is undeniable. It's just too bad that the film doesn't hold up for a satisfying conclusion. After everything the pair go through, I didn't find a compelling reason to root for any of them.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson is an auteur and his films are well-made and well-acted. I'm just surprised and a bit disappointed that The Master didn't rise beyond being an acting vehicle for Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.