With 'Iron Man 3' on the way we take stock of his best work
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The year: 2007
The role: Hard-bitten crime reporter Paul Avery
The reason it’s on the list: Downey’s 2008 Best Supporting Actor nomination for his wild comic turn in “Tropic Thunder” stands on its own merits, but I like to imagine at least some voters realized that they’d whiffed on arguably his career-best turn the year before. In casting him as Paul Avery, the real-life reporter who spent several unhappy years trailing the infamous Zodiac serial killer in the 1970s, David Fincher’s superb procedural leans on some familiar Downey trademarks, his dry humor and cocky self-possession in particular. But as Avery is faced with repeated failure, the performance grows more spare and ragged; Downey’s depiction of his slide into substance abuse is particularly close to the bone. All that, and in the best film he’s ever been affiliated with, to boot.
- Guy Lodge