Paul Giamatti is much like his theme song in 'Sideways' -- a little off-the-dial, old-school smarmy and time-defying in that insidiously charming way that sucks you in, no matter what your inclinations. On paper, his oft-used cinematic persona is the least likely hero. He's round and schlubby, often oozing bitter discontent. His characters snarl and bitch, involving themselves in any number of unsavory deeds. Yet though he became famous for these distasteful actions, it isn't in a love-to-hate-him sort of way.
From Harvey Pekar to Barney Panofsky, Paul Giamatti has made us love the easy-to-loathe underdog. In his hands, the unlikeable becomes heartfelt and likeable, or at the very least, forgivably engaging. And after one Oscar nomination ('Cinderella Man') and two Golden Globe nods, he finally won one, earning the Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy, this month for his starring work in the Canadian film 'Barney's Version.'