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Paul Thomas Anderson: An Appreciation

Today marks the release of Paul Thomas Anderson’s newest film, The Master.  Anderson writes, produces, and directs, and has been nominated for five Academy Awards.  His directorial output has been very fascinating so far.  His body of work includes the following films: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and now The Master, which has been garnering excellent reviews.  I will keep the focus of this appreciation on the five films he’s directed prior to The Master.

1996’s Hard Eight: A terrific debut for Paul Thomas Anderson.  An outstanding cast (Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson) shines in this story about a tense relationship between an old gambler and his protege.

1997’s Boogie Nights: Charting the rise and fall of a fictional porn star, this is the film that provided breakout roles for Mark Wahlberg and Julianne Moore, and revived the career of Burt Reynolds.  Anderson received one of the film’s three Oscar nods (Moore and Reynolds received the other two).

1999’s Magnolia: Granted complete creative control, Anderson’s third feature is an ensemble piece depicting the interaction between several individuals.  He would receive one of the film’s three Oscar nods (one would also go to Tom Cruise, his third nod overall).

2002’s Punch-Drunk Love: Adam Sandler (in a departure from the usual crap he was churning out) gives a Golden Globe-nominated performance as a small-business owner with anger issues trying to pursue a romantic relationship.  Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman round out the excellent cast.

2007’s There Will Be Blood: Inspired by the Upton Sinclair novel “Oil,” Anderson’s fifth film stars Daniel Day-Lewis (in an incredible Oscar-winning performance) as an oil baron whose morals decline as his fortune grows.  Anderson received three of the film’s eight Oscar nominations.

Thank you, Paul Thomas Anderson, for the films you’ve already made and the films you’re going to make.  I look forward to seeing The Master, hopefully in a theater that’s playing a 70mm print of it.

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