Capote is remembered primarily for Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning performance, and for good reason. He takes a man known for his over-the-top, socialite lifestyle and gives him an interior life that is finally knowable outside the confines of his writing. There's also Catherine Keener as Nelle Harper Lee, whom she portrays as a pillar of patience and good sense, one of the few people who will tell Capote what he needs to hear about the morally questionable approach he takes to his work.
But Capote is truly valuable for putting director Bennett Miller on the map. It is the first of his three narrative films based on real people with dark stories to tell. His comparatively sunny Moneyball has a punchy, witty script by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, but is marked by moments of serious loneliness and melancholy. Miller took a deep dive into dark territory with last year's Foxcatcher, a film that caught some flak for its relentlessly morose tone and Steve Carrell's jarring performance, but is one that I absolutely loved.
Three films in nine years makes Miller one of the less prolific auteurs working today, but each of them feels crafted with the care of a perfectionist. Miller has a distinctive style that he has honed over the course of his three features, one that likes to position his characters in front of a desolate landscape. We see Capote and Lee posed against the funereal, autumnal landscape of Kansas in the fall and winter multiple times, so much so that when they are transposed to beautiful Spain, it feels false. This is because we know where Capote's mind truly is at that moment, something that Miller thoroughly establishes in the earlier parts of the film.