In The Squid and the Whale, the third feature from director Noah Baumbach, Jeff Daniels plays Bernard Berkman, a husband, father and allegedly once-great novelist, on the verge of slippping down his own mountain of bravado. Fully, even pathologically aware of his own shortcomings, Bernard is the kind of guy who can't let even the smallest spoken challenge go unmet. He's the kind of guy who challenges his son's ex-pro tennis coach to one-on-one; he's the kind of guy who straight-facedly refers to Franz Kafka as "one of my predecessors." He rents a crap house in Prospect Heights and tries to convince his kids that it's an "elegant home" in "the filet of the neighborhood". His catchphrase, "I think it has very little to do with me," essentially translates to "That's a YP, not an MP" in the language of a literature PhD. With his shaggy beard, long-limbed swagger and mid-80s Dad haircut, Daniels is unrecognizable in what could be the role of his career. He's a large part of the reason why The Squid and the Whale is one of the my favorite films of this year.