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The Paul Giamatti Dramedy Hidden Gem You Can Catch On HBO Max

Paul Giamatti is one of the most revered actors in showbiz, but he's also one of the most underrated. He's become renowned for his scene-stealing abilities in supporting roles over the years, standing tall in films like "Saving Private Ryan," "Man on the Moon," and "John Dies at the End." Not surprisingly, the actor eventually earned an Oscar nomination (via IMDb) for his fiery supporting turn opposite Russell Crowe in the biographical boxing drama "Cinderella Man."

Even with his skills at shining in smaller roles, the "Billions" star has displayed legit leading man chops whenever given the chance to take center stage. For proof of this fact, look no further than one of Giamatti's first leading roles: a part in a criminally under-seen biographical dramedy about one of the comic book world's most infamously autobiographical creators. 

If you're curious about this hidden gem from 2003, you can now check it out for yourself on HBO Max.

American Splendor is one of Paul Giamatti's best movies

The film in question is "American Splendor," based on the comic book series of the same name. Debuting in 1976, "American Splendor" was a groundbreaking series that found its creator Harvey Pekar taking the "write what you know" approach to bold new heights, crafting fiercely autobiographical entries based on the events of his own life. "American Splendor" ran until 2008, two years before Pekar's death (via Cleveland.com).

Pekar's life was fraught with enough drama to fill the pages of an epic novel, let alone the runtime of a feature film. Filmmaking duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini clearly agreed. They adapted Pekar's stories — including "Our Cancer Year," which he wrote with his wife Joyce Brabner — into a sprawling, wickedly incisive biographical drama with style, wit, and heart to burn. In doing so, they bring to vivid life (sometimes literally) one of the comic book world's most audacious creations, delivering a truly incredible comic book adaptation along the way. 

In the "American Splendor" film adaptation, Paul Giamatti portrays Pekar, reveling in every mood-swing, quippy aside, and heartrending twist of fate with a cantankerous air of authenticity virtually unmatched in modern cinema. Hope Davis stuns in equal measure, offering a blistering portrayal of Joyce Brabner. Together, their deft work helps make "American Splendor" as singular a work of art as the books which inspired it, and that's as high praise as any comic book adaptation could ever hope to earn.