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The Joaquin Phoenix Drama Hidden Gem You Can Stream On Netflix

Even before his iconic turn as Commodus, the unhinged heir to the Roman Empire in the 2000 film "Gladiator," Joaquin Phoenix had established himself as a capable actor unafraid to take risks. After that film helped make him one of the most visible actors of his generation, he began exploring even more unconventional roles in films like "I'm Still Here" and "Inherent Vice," building a body of work that challenges as much as it entertains.

As a respected actor willing to put himself out there and take roles that stars with a more conventional image might avoid, Joaquin Phoenix has had the opportunity to work with some of the finest filmmakers of his day. "Inherent Vice," for instance, the 2014 psychedelic, Oscar-nominated detective film based on the Pynchon novel of the same name, put the actor under the direction of legendary filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. In fact, "Inherent Vice" wasn't even the first collaboration between the two. That honor goes to "The Master," a widely praised drama that saw Phoenix nominated for Best Actor.

Anyone who missed the film when it was released in 2012 isn't alone, as the film wasn't exactly a box-office smash, despite its strong critical reception. However, it certainly isn't too late to catch this hidden gem, given that it is now available to stream on Netflix.

Critics praised The Master for its evocative storytelling and masterful acting

Ever since Paul Thomas Anderson positioned himself as a prominent voice in the filmmaking community with 1997's "Magnolia" and 1999's "Boogie Nights," every film he's released has drawn the attention of critics. However, anticipation was exceptionally high for "The Master," his follow-up to the tour-de-force that was 2007's "There Will Be Blood."

The film drew controversy even before its release for its script, which many took as a fictionalization of the life of L. Ron Hubbard and the belief system he founded, Scientology. Despite assurances from the cast that the movie explored many subjects, including a quote from Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The New York Times that read, "Trust me, it's not about Scientology," audiences were intrigued.

When "The Master" arrived in theaters, many saw the connections to the organization in Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), a charismatic writer spreading his unconventional message in post-World War 2 America. However, beyond that was the nuanced tale of a drifter, Freddie Quell (Phoenix), taken in by Dodd's personality. The film that follows is a complex examination of Quell as he travels with Dodd while fighting his trauma and trying to find a place in a world he can't quite seem to understand.

What sets "The Master" apart, however, is the strength of the performances. All three actors in lead roles, Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, were nominated for Oscars. Watching those three explode against one another and try to recover is an experience all its own. Fans of Joaquin Phoenix, and impeccably performed drama, should check out "The Master" on Netflix.