The 92nd Academy Awards are almost upon us, and if there’s one certainty going into Oscar night, it’s that some worthy talent in some category will be overlooked in favor of a lesser talent. No nominee or winner is undeserving of recognition, but snubs are also an essential part of Oscar history and directors are not immune to them. In fact, some of the greatest directors of all time have gone their whole career without receiving a proper Best Director Oscar.
Film is fundamentally a collaborative medium, and we’re only a little over a month removed from a decade where the movie industry shifted to a more producer-controlled landscape in which IP-friendly tentpoles seemed to occupy all the best real estate. Yet the best directors, the ones with the most singular voice or vision, do tend to bolster the case for auteur theory, whereby a director can be considered a film’s primary author. With that in mind, here’s a roughly chronological look at ten great film authors eluded by the golden statuette for Best Director. With each name on this list, we’ll be seeking to answer three questions: who did they lose to (if they were ever nominated), what film or films should they have won for, and why, oh, why didn’t they ever win?
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Over nearly 25 years, Paul Thomas Anderson has established himself as one of the great artists of modern American cinema. His earlier works were defined by the style of filmmakers who inspired him, from Martin Scorsese to Robert Altman. As he’s grown, though, it’s become clear that Anderson is also an incredibly skilled director of actors, not just content to populate his films with recognizable faces and sit back to let them do the work. His eight films encompass a deep and rich span of American history, and those films have boasted some powerhouse performances. Here, then, are the 20 best performances in PTA’s films, in ranked order. Read More »
The magnolia is a perennial flower: its recurring bloom signals spring’s arrival and the bark of the tree it grows from can be used to treat anxiety and cancer. Magnolia Boulevard is a street that runs through Burbank, California—the media capital of the world, just miles from Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Neither of these things is explained outright in Magnolia, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 opus, but even without awareness of them, the viewer begins to form an intuitive understanding of how the beauty, complexity, and fragility of a flower may relate to the tapestry of lives on display in the movie.
Magnolia is a young man’s movie. It’s a crinkled, wet valentine to the Valley (San Fernando, where Burbank is located and where the film is set). Anderson was still in his twenties when he made it, and juxtaposed with the mature back half of his filmography to date, it pulses like a drop-kicked dog without a leash. Sometimes it barks off into the unknown with elliptical subplots. Sometimes it chases its own tail, looping back on itself with crescendoing crosscuts. Though it all, hangs a persistent storm cloud of emotion, the kind that enslaves hurt people until they’re liberated by a rain of frogs.
After the success of Boogie Nights, Anderson’s exuberant porn-family film, New Line Cinema gave the young filmmaker carte blanche to make an achingly personal, 3-hour drama with an ensemble cast and the biggest budget of his career. Blame the audience, blame the Internet, blame risk-averse studio executives, but Hollywood’s gatekeepers don’t allow many movies like that to enter the multiplex anymore. In Collateral, Tom Cruise’s steely hitman pegged L.A. as a place that was “too sprawled out, disconnected.” In Magnolia, he plays Frank T.J. Mackey, a misogynistic seduction seminar leader whose story intertwines with that of other characters to form the obverse narrative, whereby everything is interconnected despite the ungainly sprawl.
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Paul Thomas Anderson has decided to take a break from directing Haim videos and return to movies. Anderson has his first post-Phantom Thread feature already lined-up: a high school movie set in the 1970s. Anderson will write and direct the movie, which is set to begin production next year. This won’t be any ordinary coming-of-age high school flick, though. Instead, the premise will focus on a teen who is also a famous child actor.
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Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson recently sat down and had an almost 35-minute discussion about Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Do I really need to say anything more? The prospect of two filmmaking masters shooting the breeze for over a half-hour is enough to get most movie fans excited. Hear the conversation below.
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The saga to save FilmStruck has taken an interesting turn. In the wake of a popular petition hoping to save the soon-to-close streaming service, a huge list of big names in the movie biz have banded together to plead with Warner Media Group and change the minds of the powers that be. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Rian Johnson, Christopher McQuarrie, Karyn Kusama, and many, many more have thrown their considerable weight behind FilmStruck. Will this make a difference? We can only hope, because the clock is ticking.
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The War on Motion Smoothing has been raging for years, and while many Hollywood directors have spoken out against the consumer TV set before, the fight may finally be approaching its end.
High-profile directors Christopher Nolan and Paul Thomas Anderson have reached out to television manufacturers to ensure that audiences at home are able to see films presented as closely as possible to the director’s original intention, and a new “reference mode” will implement the results of a new director’s survey. Read More »
The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, an animated short runs through 80 years of Superman, started with his comic origins and soaring through his most recent big screen adaptation. Plus, a video essay takes a closer look at the toxic masculinity in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson, and a movie trailer parody imagines what it might be like if Matt Damon bought Jurassic Park. Read More »
Cool Posts From Around the Web:
Paul Thomas Anderson might have his next project lined-up, and it has a whopper of a screenplay. According to the Phantom Thread filmmaker, the script for this film runs a staggering 600 pages. Now Anderson has to find a way to cut it down to a more manageable length. More on Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film below.
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The comedy offerings of Adam Sandler have left plenty to be desired for the past decade-plus. However, it sounds like we might have something to look forward to from Sandler, and not simply because it’s terrible.
This past week, Adam Sandler shot a brand new comedy special for Netflix at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Normally, that might not be cause for celebration, but this particular comedy special was directed by Phantom Thread helmer Paul Thomas Anderson.
UPDATE: We’ve got clarification on Paul Thomas Anderson’s involvement with this project that you can learn about at the end of the story.
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