Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese are the best directors at work today. PTA didn't go to Film School and learned film-making by watching loads of movies, like his peer Quentin Tarantino. His scripts are overtly raw and his characters showcase the purest form of vehement emotions and actions. May it be the caring nurse Phil Parma from Magnolia or the 'Renaissance Cop' Bigfoot Bjornsen from his latest Inherent Vice, every character sprouting out like an 'evil sapling' from PTA's brain is zany and humane, under all those flashy sheaths. He is surely an actor's director, like Roman Polanski or Ridley Scott - being the superlative force behind Daniel Day-Lewis's second Oscar win for his turn as the 'Third Revelation Oilman' Daniel Plainview. PTA is my favorite movie director after Stanley Kubrick, and here are the top ten performances in PTA's movies.
10. Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner - Boogie Nights
Boogie Nights was the movie which transformed PTA as a tour-De-force, same like Pulp Fiction transformed Quentin Tarantino. Starring heavyweights like Mark Wahlberg (not so heavy), Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H Macy, John C Reilly, Don Cheadle and Alfred Molina, the true standout performance from the movie is from the veteran himself - Burt Reynolds, who rejected the role of Han Solo, which would surely be one of the biggest decisions someone of Reynolds's mantle will deeply regret. Reynolds pulls off the role of an adult movie director who has an eye for the true performers and stories tailor-made for his movies. He is the man who gave Eddie his big break, revolutionizing the industry and a short-lived opponent towards videotape shooting. He was nominated in the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor, losing out to Robin Williams's turn in Good Will Hunting. Something happened between PTA and Reynolds during the post-production of the movie, making him reject a role in PTA's next movie.
9. Adam Sandler as Barry Egan - Punch Drunk Love
PTA's faced some minimal jokes when he announced that his fourth feature will be an Adam Sandler Rom-com. Punch-Drunk Love might be his softest movie, starring Sandler, Emily Watson, Luis Guzman and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Barry Egan is the proprietor of a company which produces toiletry equipment. He faces emotional and psychological torture from his seven sisters, and meets Lena, a friend of his sister Elizabeth. It goes on all good until Barry meets some unwanted guests, who are extorting money from him because of just one phone sex call. It is a short and feel-good movie and has some great scenes ( the bulb in the Hawaiian phone-booth was just amazing). This role consolidates the fact of PTA being an actor's director, as Barry Egan is considered as Sandler's best performance to date.
8. Katherine Waterston as Shasta Fay - Inherent Vice
Inherent Vice is a fully packed entertainer, with a very hard story to follow. Well, what do you expect from the movie adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel? Joaquin Phoenix reunited with PTA as PI Larry 'Doc' Sportello who is assigned by her soon-to-be-missing girlfriend Shasta Fay to stop her real-estate magnate boyfriend's wife and her boyfriend from sending him to a mental asylum. Even though Josh Brolin is a strong contender for the best performance in this stoner comedy, it is Katherine Waterston who won by a stride. Her soothing physique matched with her voice, and the really unsettling monologue she delivers when she returns to Sportello truly captures her acting caliber. A wonder who has emerged with the right movie and the right director.
7. Amy Adams as Peggy Dodd - The Master
The Master has the reputation of rejuvenating the 65mm film format. It might be the only PTA movie which has received such polarizing opinions from the critic world. The Master received three Oscar nominations, all of them in the acting peripherals. Amy Adams might be best known in the popular world for her accordance in Man Of Steel or Doubt, but her career-best performance is her turn as Peggy Dodd in The Master. The third or fourth wife of the eponymous master Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), Peggy is the co-founder of The Cause and is skeptical with Freddie Quell's (Phoenix) inclusion as a guinea pig to The Cause. Her silent confrontations and her way of making things done is truly personified by Adams, making her a surprising actor, bringing something new to the world every time.
6. Luis Guzman as Luis Guzman - Magnolia
Okay, this one's my personal opinion but something about this man just makes me crack up. He was unforgettable in Boogie Nights (so is the long take which he steers around), and is just purely awesome in Magnolia. He is the buffoon who finds a place in the game show, overshadowed by his peers. His need for milk in the prime moments and the way he mocks the children when Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman) decides to quit after a glassy confrontation with the game show host Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall) is comical acting at its top form. It was heartbreaking to see him so serious and sort of non-responsive in Punch-Drunk Love, but nevertheless it's really nice to see him. Hoping he'll make a return in PTA's next. Recently I found a blooper video of Magnolia, and it made me revere this man more and more. Do check it out and you can hear PTA laughing while shouting CUT!
5. Julianne Moore as Linda Partridge - Magnolia
I should add it here that Magnolia is my favorite PTA movie, followed closely by The Master and There Will Be Blood. It is filled to the brim with characters and a tensile thread connecting them together to amount for a coincidence. Moore's performance as Amber Waves in Boogie Nights can be here too, but Linda Partridge just beats her. The scene in which she asks for forgiveness from Phil Parma (another great performance by Phil Hoffman), crying all the while just shows the real capacity of both the actors. Linda Partridge is a woman who has a change of heart seeing her TV producer husband on his deathbed and tries to give up her claim in his will, beginning to love him more than ever. No doubt she's one of the best actresses working right now.
4. Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell - The Master
Joaquin Phoenix pairs with Philip Seymour Hoffman and PTA as a disgruntled WW2 Navy veteran who has an insatiable thirst towards self-made alcohol and women. Freddie Quell boards the boat of one Lancaster Dodd, the charismatic leader of The Cause and gets inducted in the cult. No one in the industry can personify the turbulent, harrowing and doubting persona of Freddie Quell other than Phoenix himself. This particular scene where he decimates a toilet and provides the full package of his anger would be the best scene, partnered with Phil Hoffman. The bike scene, shot with extreme beauty, is the poster-head of the movie, perfectly in juxtaposition with Dodd's blank stare. Phoenix's best performance to date, no doubt on that.
3. Tom Cruise as Frank Mackey - Magnolia
Frank Mackey is a motivational speaker about sex for those obese and ugly guys, and makes them believe than any woman can be enslaved within minutes by body language. He is the estranged son of dying TV producer Earl Partridge, and he gets the news in midst of an unsettling TV interview, the product of Phil Parma's attempts to reunite the dying father with his son. This is the ultimate Cruise performance, you cannot get anything more than this from him (Although Collateral and Tropic Thunder are serious contenders for this claim). Mackey is a hard shell to crack, strengthened by the acclaim he gets from his preys. The only hammer to open the shell is his disturbed past. He is first skeptical towards his dying father, and ends down to a crying child letting someone go. According to Philip Baker Hall, PTA wrote this screen as a reminiscence of witnessing his father's death. Electrifying and complex at the same time, Frank Mackey is to Tom Cruise, like Terrence Fletcher is to J.K. Simmons.
2. DD-L as Daniel Plainview - There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis is the modern apostle of Method Acting, ascending to the throne after Marlon Brando. It can be agreed that There Will Be Blood is totally Day-Lewis's film. His presence is so gargantuan that he sticks to our brains after we watch the movie. Day-Lewis upgrades the character of Plainview to an all too higher level with his performance, making the character looking down on everyone like an evil king, trampling everyone and everything on his path to success, degenerating him into an money-mad oil pirate. His performance and characterization produces a whole wide spectrum of humane behaviors and emotions, but is a scathing apostle of loathsome humans, including himself. Paul Dano was great, but Day-Lewis is just hypnotizing and truly PT Anderson-ational.
1. Every Performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman
Some people correctly think that Day-Lewis has given the best performance in a PT Anderson movie, but for me and some people, Phil Hoffman is the man. It was really heart-wrenching to let him go, the industry losing out he greatest actor of his generation. Any PTA performance of Phil Hoffman is eligible for this rank (even Dean Trumbull from Punch-Drunk Love). Hoffman brought this softness and duality to a character that truly elevated the movies to a new level altogether. My favorite performance from Hoffman in a PTA movie would be Phil Parma from Magnolia. Hoffman brings his best element to this role, personifying a caring nurse who wants to reunite his dying patient to his son. His body language, the phone calls, his reaction on watching animals rain from the sky, pure awesomeness. The short scene, in which he wraps up the bed sheets, slowly starting to cry, is still engraved on my brain. That scene really moved me a lot, being responsible to make Magnolia my favorite PTA movie. Rest in Peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman. We love you.