Paul Thomas Anderson movies, ranked

SANTA BARBARA, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Director Paul Thomas Anderson speaks onstage at the Outstanding Directors Award Sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter during The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 6, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - FEBRUARY 06: Director Paul Thomas Anderson speaks onstage at the Outstanding Directors Award Sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter during The 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival at Arlington Theatre on February 6, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF) /
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There Will Be Blood

Okay, I know this is the conventional pick, but There Will Be Blood is a true masterpiece. Adapted from Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel, ‘Oil!,’ There Will Be Blood explores Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as a prospector in the American west in the late 19th century into the early 20th century.

There Will Be Blood is an indictment on capitalism as a belief system. While a successful one, this film alleges how capitalism can often cause pitfalls in our world and amplify character flaws and turn well-intentioned people into greed mongers. The main theme of this film is ambition and how ambition leads Daniel Plainview down the path of chasing financial gain, while leaving his family in the dust. One of the other major themes of There Will Be Blood is the idea that we must ‘atone’ for our sins. Paul Dano plays perhaps his best role as a religious fanatic named Eli Sunday. Sunday makes Plainview confess in public that he abandoned his son after an oil accident left him deaf.

There Will Be Blood gives us multiple fascinating character studies and we’re guided with a ominous score from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood. 2007 was one of the best movie years of the last two decades and it’s a shame There Will Be Blood didn’t want Best Picture, for which is was nominated. No Country For Old Men did and it’s hard for me to argue, since I have that film rated at a 9.9/10. In total, There Will Be Blood was nominated for eight Oscars, including a win by Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor.

I think in the meta sense, the oil in the movie is meant to show how it is the lifeblood of the earth and how extracting it can cause great danger. At points fire is emitted from the ground to suggest ‘hell on Earth’ imagery. This is not only PTA’s best movie, but one that is worthy to show in film courses.

There Will Be Blood is availalbe to stream on Netflix.

My score: 9.7/10

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors and for good reason. His voice is totally unique and his films are all different, yet all sharing the same themes. He’s written each one of his films and even has a cinematography credit on Licorice Pizza. Hopefully, if you’re coming to PTA for the first time with Licorice Pizza, I’ve given you some guide on what to watch!

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