On Paul Thomas Anderson's 50th birthday, we take a look at the auteur's best movies

author_img Ana M Published :  26th June 2020 04:24 PM   |   Published :   |  26th June 2020 04:24 PM

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice

With eight Oscar nominations to his name, director Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most celebrated filmmakers of this generation.  His latest Phantom Thread won him the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director in 2018. His feature film debut was in 1996 with Hard Eight, and his reputation as one of the most intensive and methodical American moviemakers has continued to grow ever since. As he turns 50, we look at some of his best movies from over the years. 

Phantom Thread
Anderson's most recent film is a powerful character study that takes place in mid-century England. Daniel Day-Lewis, in his final role before retirement, stars as an obsessive and idiosyncratic women's clothing designer named Reynolds Woodcock who takes on a new lover and muse, a foreign waitress named Alma. Reynolds lives in a large manor with his sister, Cyril, who handles his day-to-day affairs. Prone to meltdowns and tantrums, Reynolds's career takes off while his personal relationship with Alma becomes fraught with problems and tensions. The power struggles that exist in relationships are brought forth with Anderson's signature finesse and approach but Alma and Reynolds are eventually able to figure out a way to make their relationship work. 

There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood
is one of the greatest films of the 21st century. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as an ambitious oil driller who becomes embroiled in the on goings of a complicated California settlement. Majority of the film revolves around the epistemological quandary of faith versus knowledge and the religious and capitalistic structures that surround them.


Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson on set

Boogie Nights
Twenty-three years after its release, Boogie Nights remains the crown jewel in Anderson’s career. A gloriously entertaining story about the ins-and-outs of the porn industry in 1970s California, the film shows the then 27-year-old displaying the confidence and talent of a director twice his age. It’s a classic Hollywood story about a young man with the skills to make it in the biz, but whose ego almost destroys him. There are many things that make Boogie Nights re-watchable, from Robert Elswit’s showy cinematography to Anderson’s quotable dialogue to the groovy soundtrack. Yet what makes us return to it over and over again, is its love of people.

A multi-layered, exhilarating, and deeply moving film about the interconnections between people in crisis, this is Anderson’s masterpiece. Hugely ambitious, it may also be the most divisive of his films. Face it, you either love or hate the biblical rain of frogs set to an Aimee Mann tune. But for many of us, that scene is transcendent, and the film is easily one of the most powerful, emotional movie experiences ever. Once we piece everything together, we are left shaken and deeply stirred by this astonishing mosaic of lost and damaged souls.

Inherent Vice
Based on a novel by American writer Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice is a dark comedy about a pot-smoking private eye named Doc. The world of 1970 Los Angeles is on full display here, from the hippies to the cults to the various illicit substances. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Doc, and he's backed up with performances by Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio Del Toro. Anderson's layered and complex narrative style gives an interesting highlight to the drug-addled nature of Doc's life.

Catch these movies on Sony Pix