There will be blood if this film does not win Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Original Music Score. Directed by the now grown-up wunderkind P.T. Anderson and starring the weatherworn Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood is hypnotic, riveting, violent, fascinating and at times painful to watch. It is boldly, unapologetically and immediately an American masterpiece in the company of Citizen Kane, Giant and Raging Bull. I can safely say that because there is little wiggle room here not to say it.
The cinematography is breathtaking. Shot on location in Marfa, Texas and central California by Robert Elswit, we can feel the scope and the grandeur of the wide-open spaces that the West was and in many cases still is. Editing by Dylan Tichenor is tight, slight and seamlessly out of sight.
Jonny Greenwood’s (Radiohead) score is haunting, scary and yes, at times annoying. It surrounds you with electronica and when necessary chokes you with anxiety until you can’t breathe. I mean that in a good way, of course.
While I have respected him as a filmmaker, I have never been a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson. His films, although heralded as pop culture triumphs, have always left me feeling like he was usurping the styles of greater directors. Boogie Nights, the film that put him on the map in 1997, while entertaining, felt snobbish and filled with intentionally dumbed down characters. You got the sense that he was mimicking Scorsese while ridiculing these Goodfellas of the porno world. Magnolia seemed Robert Altman-lite. Punch-Drunk Love, well that starred Adam Sandler. No reason to pile on.
You could tell from all three of these films (four if you count Hard Eight) that Anderson knew what he was doing. He just seemed to lack the guts to do it.
That is until now.