Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. I can say that without a doubt. One of the things that makes that statement true is the mans variety of work and the overall quality of his work. In my opinion PTA has never made a bad film throughout his career. Some may take that as light praise considering that he’s only made five films but it should still send the message that this man knows what he is doing.
With films ranging from pornographic epics to dark tales of love to the Citizen Kane of our time, Paul Thomas Anderson has managed it. In honor of his work I am going to be taking a look at each of his films individually, going from earliest to latest.
Hard Eight (Sydney)
While there are those who believe that this is nothing more than an amateur beginning to PTA’s career, I vastly disagree. Hard Eight has a charm to it whether it be from its characters, its setting, or its plot. There is something about it that makes it watchable, enjoyable, and incredibly well-made. Overall it was a very solid debut.
This film is interesting and intriguing but its true highlight is the acting. Remember when John C. Reily was an awesome actor who didn’t do comedy crap? I certainly do. This is Johns greatest performance. He is a lonely man with no one to turn to, and once he does find that person he begins to screw it up immediately. It may sound simplistic or cliched but trust me, it’s not.
Very good film.
This is where the masterpieces of Paul Thomas Anderson started. With this wonderful, infinitely watchable, well-acted, brilliantly written epic that covers the incredibly interesting porno industry in the late 70’s to early 80’s.
The cast of characters is really what makes this film. Not only are they all unique and well written, but the actors take them to a whole new level of perfection. From Luis Guzman to Mark Whalberg, all of the acting here is some of the finest that you will find. In fact I think that this is Whalberg’s finest performance to date. Not only does he take on the emotional baggage of his character but he also portrays his naive optimism in a way that makes you love Dirk Diggler all the more.
Honestly I wish someone would make a film like this now. Oh yeah, this film also has one of the greatest tracking shots in the history of film that appears in the form of one of the greatest openings in film.
I adore this film. It is one of my favorites and even after eight watches it is still awe-inspiring.
Where to begin with a film like this. Similar to Boogie Nights, this film takes a large cast of brilliant characters and follows them through a certain point in their lives. In this scenario all of there lives are going to hell very quickly and we get to come along for the ride.
Not only is this film incredibly acted and wonderfully directed but it is also cinematically beautiful. There are shots in this that will just leave you speechless. That is the power of Paul Thomas Anderson.
I would also like to touch on Tom Cruise. What, a, performance. Honestly I don’t like Tom Cruise but that doesn’t stop me from loving Frank T.J. Mackey. I mean come on, who didn’t laugh when he appears on stage in the spotlight and utters those three perfect words?
Respect. The Cock.
Who would’ve thought that Adam Sandler could pull off a performance like this? Honestly the fact that PTA got this performance out of Sandler truly shows how talented and how great he is when it comes to working with actors.
Not only does this film deliver one of his greatest scripts but it does it in a very comical way. The entire film will make you smile. Whether that be out of its humor or the love between the characters is up to you, but either way this film is an interesting and engaging experience.
The plot of this film is interesting to say the least, and that is part of what makes it such a good film. Who else would have thought to make a film about the guy who cheated a food company out of airline miles using pudding but add a love angle to it. The correct answer is Paul Thomas Anderson. The man is a genius.
There Will Be Blood
Here we are. His Magnum Opus. Everything has been leading up to this point. Although he had made excellent films in the past, none of them can touch There Will Be Blood. This film resides in a level of its own. A level full of all around perfection.
Allow me to go through all of the aspects of this film that are flawless: The cinematography, the acting, the directing, the writing, the plot, the supporting performances, the setting, the feel, the opening scenes, the closing scene, and everything in-between.
In case you haven’t seen in yet, this is my second favorite film of all time, and boy does it deserve that title.
Daniel Day-Lewis delivers what I consider to be one of the greatest male performances of all time as the maniacal and success-centered Daniel Plainview. Daniel Plainview is not a likable man. He hates others and he wishes for them to fail while he succeeds. Who could like a character like that? I could. I love Daniel Plainview for all of his anger and his speeches and his hatred of humanity. He is as interesting a character that you will come across, and you will find yourself inthralled with every second where he is on the screen.
This film is a masterpiece. If only one of PTA’s films could be described as such it would be this.
One last thing. The final scene of this film is quite possibly the greatest scene of all time. Watch the film.