The 25 Greatest Jewish Characters in Movies

7. Michael Stuhlbarg as Larry Gopnik in A Serious Man (2009)

Notable Jewish Moment: When a colleague stops by his office to discuss a tenure meeting, Larry starts confessing things he wasn't even asked about. It's an instant-classic breakdown.
Classic Quote: "I am not an evil man! I went to the Astor Art once! I saw Swedish River! It wasn't even erotic! Although..it was..in a way."

There's the cliche of the nebbishy, self-pitying Jewish man who sees the world as an unrelenting assault on his peace of mind, and then there's Larry Gopnik, the Coen Brothers' full-force manifestation of this perception. His family is indifferent to him, his best friend is screwing his wife, his life is coming apart at the seams, and he's just trying to find some meaning in it all (if there is any).

Even worse, he can't seem to get a moment of time with the top rabbi in town to explain any of this to him. Stuhlbarg's performance ages well over time, especially as we see the underrated actor's range continue to develop. For example, his role on HBO's Boardwalk Empire as cunning Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein couldn't be any more different from Gopnik, the great, tragic, existential hero. 

Honorable Mention: Larry Gopnik just narrowly edges out his son, Danny Gopnik (Aaron Wolff), who unlike his father, actually achieves some things of note: performing his Bar Mitzvah stoned out of his mind and getting into the office of the town's top rabbi, from whom he finally gets his confiscated Walkman back.

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