Tom Hanks won an Oscar from his second nomination for portraying a Andrew Beckett lawyer with Aids in Philadelphia.
Hanks is actually the co lead in the film as the gay lawyer who sues his own law firm for firing him for having aids. The other lead who has more screen time is Denzel Washington, who gives a pretty poor performance, acting far too over the top at times especially when the character says anti-gay things. Hanks has less time but his role is still of lead importance. Hanks I really dislike in my first viewing but he has improved just slightly for me.
I still believe Hanks is rather poor at the beginning of the film and any scenes that show flash backs of Andrew Beckett. In these scenes and these scenes only Hanks does a "gay" voice unfortunately. His voice he uses just seems odd and unnatural and an incredibly forced way to say "I'm playing a gay character." Now I really liked William Hurt's performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman and one could say Hurt did a used a similar technique, but Hurt always seemed realistic, Hanks always seems to be forcing it coming of as incredibly unnatural. Hanks never comes off as convincing in these early scenes and really overdoes it too much.
Now after he starts to show more visible signs of his Aids he does become a lot better in his performance. That is because he stops doing that voice which allows him to be a little more credible. Much of his performance is reduced to short unimpressive reaction shot though. A long time in the performance is just his basic reactions in court which are fine but nothing that really needs to be noted. As he gets sicker and sicker his make up becomes thicker and thicker and I felt Hanks mostly left it to the makeup to show his sickness. He makes some I'm sick faces but again nothing that impressive.
Most of his performance did leave me fully unimpressed except for two scenes which focuses heavily on Hanks. The first being his dramatic, overly dramatic really, speech about Opera. He handles the scene well even if the scene itself is a bit much Hanks does show some strength in his performance in this scene. I myself was not shaken by this scene but that was probably helped by the fact that I found the whole movie overdone anyways. Hanks still does a good job, and many people do find this scene powerful. I can see why even if I am not amazed by it myself. His other scene that was good was his court testimony. He does a very fine job here and I believe in this scene he himself shows his sickness well and for once in his performance does not leave it to the makeup. A performance that has a few good moments, was mostly unimpressive though, and at the beginning was sort of bad.