Punch Drunk Love

4. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Punch-Drunk Love is kind of Inherent Vice-lite. It’s a film made explicitly to place a narrative around an emotional state. Here, that emotion is love. This movie is love. From the wild-popping colors, to the huge fits of rage, to the incredible awkwardness, meticulous planning and blaring music, Anderson’s oddball romantic comedy is going for one thing and one thing only. Watching this movie should give you an idea of the ups and downs of what it means to be in love. Talk about a grand task, but Anderson somehow pulls it off. Not to mention one of the best, if not the best Adam Sandler performance of all time, a great turn by the wonderful Emily Watson, and an entire subplot about chocolate pudding. Jon Brion’s score might be my favorite Anderson score ever, and compared to every other Anderson movie, it’s short. There’s very little bad I can say about it.

Daniel Day Lewis There Will Be Blood

3. There Will Be Blood (2007)

When people think of There Will Be Blood, they immediately think of Daniel Day-Lewis’ iconic performance as Daniel Plainview. And rightfully so. The unbelievable work won him every acting award under the sun, including an Oscar for Best Actor. Here’s how good There Will Be Blood is: even if you took that performance out of this film, it would still be absolutely mesmerizing. Anderson’s script tells a story of fathers, sons, regret, greed, and power in a wholly unique setting of pre-developed California. The music, the cinematography, and the editing connects to create an undeniable, palpable tension from frame one. Each set piece feels like like something out of a horror movie, but it’s only because you’re so on the edge of your seat. Pepper in some heavy religious themes and an equally creepy performance by Paul Dano and you’ve got a true classic of America cinema. A towering achievement. And we still have two movies to go.

Continue Reading California Love: Ranking the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

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