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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Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights is what put PTA on the map. It’s based on PTA’s earlier short film, ‘The Dirk Diggler Story’ in 1988 when PTA was just 18 years old. Boogie Nights follows adult film start Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) through his harrowing film career including his rise and fall during the 1970s and 80s. The film chronicles an adult film industry that creates a family-like atmosphere, but when Dirk Diggler’s fame begins to wane, so does that jubilee that fills the movie.

Marking the first time, PTA used a mega cast, Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, and Heather Graham all headline one of the best ensembles of the 90s. In only his second feature film, PTA’s Boogie Nights received three Oscar nominations: Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore), and Best Supporting Actor (Burt Reynolds).

I know some peers who think this is PTA’s best or second best work, but Boogie Nights falls ever so short of my personal Top 3. Boogie Nights has one of the best soundtracks of any movie, a cast that wows for someone’s second ever feature, and a plot that constantly keeps the viewer on edge, but compared to my Top 3, I think Boogie Nights is slightly derivative of past great film makers and doesn’t fully show PTA’s greatness quite yet. Many of the tracking shots directly borrow from Martin Scorsese ad other French new wave techniques that PTA uses less seldom in his future projects.

Boogie Nights is available to rent.

My score: 8.9/10