Paul Giamatti received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Joe Gould in Cinderella Man.
Paul Giamatti after being snubbed for his well praised performance in Sideways, he was finally nominated for his supporting role as Jimmy Braddock's manager Joe Gould. Joe Gould is a lively manager and friend to Braddock who not only does his best to find him matches puts his all into the matches staying right along with Braddock during his fights. Gould though always stays as a friend to Braddock throughout even as they are both facing the troubles of the Great Depression.
Giamatti is fine in the role of the two roles Gould has in the film, the loyal friend, and the energetic manager. Giamatii underplays the friendship with Braddock as he never tries to act like Joe and James are the absolutely best friends to the end sort of friends. He instead more realistically shows that although they are always on good terms with one another it is in the end a strong working relationship more than a personal one. In creating this specific sort of relationship Giamatti realistically portrays dynamic between he and Braddock.
Much of Giamatti performance though is in his portrayal of the way Gould tries to work both around the ring and in the back stage dealings of boxing. Giamatti knows these are the scenes for him to shine and he tries his absolute hardest to make an impact in these moments. In his back stage dealings Giamatti shows a sly and somewhat cunning man who always comes with with a quick clever barb to try to get a deal in a way that is best for him and Braddock.
In the actual boxing scenes Giamatti shows that Gould pretty much takes over the showmanship for Braddock. Giamatti does have an appropriate degree of energy in these scenes as he is either tradings insults with Braddock's opponent, or he is furiously motivating Braddock and offering advice. Giamatti is consistently effective here as he realizes the manner and technique of Joe Gould quite well.
The only problem I would say about the role itself is its limits. There is a little bit of Joe at home, but it is very limited at best. Giamatti puts every once of himself into the role, and makes a great effort at all times. The role itself though is never substantial enough for Giamatti to truly take off. It is most certainly a good performance but the the very nature of the role leave Giamatti little to do, and little material to make a truly memorable impact with his character.