Director’s Spotlight: Paul Thomas Anderson
With the release of Inherent Vice this coming weekend (unfortunately only in limited release), I thought it’d be a good time to do another Director’s Spotlight for one of the best working directors today, Paul Thomas Anderson.
Below is everything you need to know (and possibly more) about the director:
Paul Thomas Anderson (often referred to as P.T. Anderson) was born in California on June 26, 1970. Part of his interest in Hollywood was born at a young age since his father, Ernie Anderson, was a late-night horror host.
Like many directors, he began filming at a very young age. His first movie was completed when he was just 8 years old. By the time he finished high school, he had created his first production – a 30-minute mockumentary titled “The Dirk Diggler Story.”
Eventually, he would expand “The Dirk Diggler Story” to become one of his most famous works (and his second best film in my opinion), Boogie Nights. Before that, though, he gained recognition by filming a short called “Cigarettes & Coffee.” This eventually led to funding for his feature debut, Hard Eight. There was a bit of a fallout with the final product of the film which saw Anderson and stars Philip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow, and John C. Reilly personally funding the release (and changing the name from Sydney to Hard Eight). When it was all said and done, though, Anderson’s name was one to watch.
He followed it up with the aforementioned Boogie Nights and Magnolia before the turn of the century. Both films received three Academy Award nominations each (including a Best Original Screenplay for each).
His filmography continued to glow with the releases of Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007), and The Master (2012). Of these three, There Will Be Blood is considered his crowning achievement. The film deservedly received 8 Academy Award nominations, although it ultimately lost most of the major awards. Star Daniel-Day Lewis did take home the Best Actor prize and the film is still considered one of the bests of the decade.
After The Master, Anderson decided to create a film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel titled “Inherent Vice.” His seventh feature film will release this weekend starting December 12th.
0 – Academy Award wins
1 – Ranking of “The 23 Best Film Directors in the World” by The Guardian in 2012.
2 – Anderson spent just two semesters at Emerson College and just two days at New York University. He preferred to learn film on his own.
3 – Films scored by Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood (including the upcoming Inherent Vice)
4 – Short films to Anderson’s filmography, ranging from 1988 to 2002
5 – Films Anderson has directed the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in, the most of an collaborator
5 – Total Academy Awards nominations (3 for Original Screenwriting Academy Awards nominations)
6 – Total feature films directed by Anderson
8 – Number of music videos directed by Anderson (including five for Fiona Apple songs)
86.7% – Average Rotten Tomatoes Score (before Inherent Vice)
92% – Highest Rotten Tomatoes Score (Boogie Nights)
100% – Films Anderson has written as well as directed
$76,181,545 – Highest gross of any Anderson film (There Will Be Blood). By comparison, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 grossed over $121 million its first weekend.
Across all his films, Anderson has a few recurring themes. You can tell based on his movies that he cares about his characters and their motivations. A lot of the time, his characters deal with desperation (most poignantly seen in There Will Be Blood). This also leads to his use of dysfunction and dysfunctional families.
Although his films seem similar on a macro level, there are notable differences when it comes to tone. For instance, Punch-Drunk Love feels a lot different than say, The Master. Ultimately, they’re all great films, just vastly different.
Outside of all this, Anderson should be known an auteur. Not only does he do great things with the camera (his extended shots are mirrored only by Alfonso Cuaron) but he’s great with the script aspect since he’s written every movie he’s directed. Directors tend to bring their stories to life a lot more effectively when they’re the ones in control of the script.
I have no doubt Anderson will go down as one of the best directors when it’s all said and done.
He’ll maybe even get his Academy dues this year. We’ll see!