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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Thomas Anderson’

With all the talk of the race for the best picture, the more interesting Best Director category has been slightly overshadowed.  One thing that is certain, whoever wins it will be there first Oscar.  Three of them have previous nominations, only one, Paul Thomas Anderson for directing. 

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk.  He is also nominated for Best Picture for Dunkirk.  His previous nominations are; Best Original Screenplay for Memento (2000) and Best Picture for Inception (2010). Christopher Nolan

Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird – Nominated for her solo directorial début, Lady Bird (she co-directed Nights and Weekends (2008) with Joe Swanberg), Gerwig is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay but not for Best Picture (Lady Bird is nominated for Best Picture but Gerwig is not one of the named producers).Greta Gerwig

Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water – Amazingly, del Toro has never won an Oscar! His only previous nomination was for Original Screenplay for Pan’s Labyrinth (2006).  He is also nominated for The Shape of Water in the Best Picture and Original Screenplay categories.Guillermo del Toro

Jordan Peele – Get Out – Get out is Peele’s début as director, he is nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.  They are his first nominations.Jordan Peele

Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread – The veteran of the group, he is nominated for Phantom Thread in the Best Picture category as well as for best director.  His previous nominations are: Best Adapted Screenplay for Inherent Vice (2014), Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay for There Will Be Blood (2007), Best Original Screenplay for Magnolia (1999) and Boogie Nights (1997).Paul Thomas Anderson

Who will win?  My choice would be Guillermo del Toro but I would be happy to see any of them win, they deserve to for different reasons. 

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Hands up, I lied! The title is a little misleading. This article isn’t a debate about who is the better or most successful director. The two Paul Anderson’s (They were both originally credited as Paul Anderson) are a good representation of two extremes of filmmaking.

Both directors, now in their 40’s made their feature directing débuts in the 1990’s when they were in their 20’s. during that time Paul Thomas Anderson has made 6 films in 18 years. He is noted for his innovation, encyclopaedic film knowledge and long thoughtful films. He has been nominated for 5 Oscars and his films have ratings of between 79% and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Paul W.S. Anderson has made 14 films(two of them made for TV) in 20 years, makes dumb, fun action movies with midsized budgets, his Rotten Tomatoes scores range between 10% and 43%, he as yet has not being nominated for an Oscar but his films do tend to make a profit. So is one of them a better or more worthy director? No.Paul W S Anderson v Paul Thomas Anderson

Here is the crux, I have seen every one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films: Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007) and The Master (2012). I have enjoyed, admired and liked every one of them, but the interesting thing, Boogie Nights is the only one I have seen more than once. I have seem most of Paul W.S. Anderson’s movies and have seen the following ones on more than one occasion: Shopping (1994), Event Horizon (1997), Soldier (1998), Resident Evil (2002), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004), Death Race (2008) and The Three Musketeers (2011).There Will Be Blood v Resident Evil

The difference, Paul Thomas Anderson makes films, Paul W.S. Anderson makes movies. To put it another way, Paul Thomas Anderson is an artist who makes films that have artistic merit, Paul W.S. Anderson makes trashy genre movies. The important thing, I don’t use the words trashy or genre in a derogatory way. If you read the reviews for his latest movie Pompeii you will see a trend, something like “it isn’t very good but I enjoyed it”.

This isn’t the first time I have written about Films v Movies, and probably won’t be the last. What is the definition of the difference between a film and a movie I’m not sure there is one, the character Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) in the movie True Romance (1993) had a go: “They ain’t plays, they ain’t books, they certainly ain’t movies, they’re films. And do you know what films are? They’re for people who don’t like movies. “Mad Max”, that’s a movie. “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, that’s a movie. “Rio Bravo”, that’s a movie. “Rumble Fish”, that’s a fuckin’ movie.”Rue Romance

The best analogy I can use is music. Is pop and rock music any less relevant than classical music. Take for example Rod Stewart’s Maggie May that was recorded in just two takes and was never actually perfected. Or The Beatles debut album Please Please Me, most of which was recorded in one 13 hour session with singer John Lennon suffering from a bad cold. Both Please Please Me and Every Picture Tells a Story (the album Maggie May appears on) feature in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The fact people are still listening to them around half a century later demonstrates their lasting appeal.  Or to put it another way, a good burger is better than a bad steak! Every Picture Tells a Story  and Please Please Me

What conclusions can we draw from this? I think we need to draw our own conclusions. For me the measure of a film/movie isn’t how much money it makes, how original it is, how artistic it is, but how much I enjoy watching it and how much I want to see it again. By this measure Point Break and Die Hard are amongst the “best” films ever made and Event Horizon and Resident Evil are as good as or better than any Paul Thomas Anderson movie.

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The Contenders are: 

Argo – A spy story based on real events following the storming of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Ben Affleck has done it again, as both star and director he has given us a film completely different to but as good as if not even better than his first two films. Tense and funny in equal measure and at the right times, a future classic.Ben Affleck in Argo

Rust and Bone – Jacques Audiard follows up A Prophet with a bruising and brutal melodrama. Marion Cotillard is as great as ever as is her co star Matthias Schoenaerts. Sometimes oppressive and hard to watch, at others uplifting but always emotional. A film that needs to find a worldwide audience.Rust and Bone

The Sapphires – Pitched as Good, Morning Vietnam meets The Commitments, its probably a fair comparison. Loosely based on real events. A heavy drinking Irish cruise ship entertainer (Chris O’Dowd) finds himself in the middle of nowhere in Australian until he hooks up with an Aboriginal girl group. They soon find them selves entertaining American troops in Vietnam. A likeable cast and some great music make for an entertaining film.The Sapphires

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 – More of the same from the glittery vampires. Fans of the series will love it, detractors won’t see it. It isn’t the best of the series but its far from the worse.Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2

The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson’s character study of people involved in a religion, cult or possibly religious cult that may or may not be based on L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. The film looks nothing short of amazing and the performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams are all sensational. The film does lack a plot, this will bother some people not others. I like it but don’t love it.The Master

End of Watch – Written and directed by David Ayer,. Made up of little snippets of the daily life of a pair a of cops (perfectly cast Jake Gylleenhaal and Michael Pena) working one of the roughest beats in South Central LA. Director of The French Connection William Friedkin describes said of twitter “End of Watch is a great film…may be the best cop film ever”.End of Watch

Gambit – Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman star in a remake of the Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine and Herbert Lom comedy crime caper. Lightweight and not clever enough to be a classic crime caper or funny enough to be a great farce but it is still entertaining and fun.Gambit

Silver Linings Playbook – Shortly after being released from a mental institution for beating up his wife’s lover Pat (Bradley Cooper) meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a damaged and disturbed young woman whose husband has recently been killed. After a string of crapy comedies Robert De Niro is on really good form but the star of the film is Jennifer Lawrence who electrifies the screen every time she is on it.Silver Linings Playbook

The best film I saw in November was probably Skyfall, that I went back to see a second time but a close second was a more believable spy film:Argo poster

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