Paul Thomas Anderson  

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Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Born in Los Angeles, Anderson developed an interest in filmmaking from a young age. He made his feature-film debut with Hard Eight (1996). He found critical and commercial success with Boogie Nights (1997), set in the Golden Age of Porn, and received further accolades with Magnolia (1999), an ensemble piece set in the San Fernando Valley, and Punch-Drunk Love (2002), a romantic comedy film.

Anderson's 2007 film There Will Be Blood, about an oil prospector during the Southern California oil boom, achieved major critical and commercial success, and is often cited as one of the greatest films of the 2000s. This was followed by The Master (2012) and Inherent Vice (2014). Anderson's eighth film, Phantom Thread, was released in 2017. He has directed music videos for artists including Fiona Apple, Radiohead, Haim, Joanna Newsom, Aimee Mann, Jon Brion, and Michael Penn, and has also directed a documentary, Junun (2015), about the making of the album of the same name in India. More recently, he directed a short film accompanying Thom Yorke's Anima (2019), released on Netflix and in select IMAX theatres.

Anderson's films are often characterized by their depiction of flawed and desperate characters, memorable music, explorations of themes about dysfunctional families, alienation, loneliness and redemption, and a bold visual style that uses moving camera and long takes. He is noted for his frequent collaborations with actors Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Melora Walters, John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis, cinematographer Robert Elswit, costume designer Mark Bridges, and composers Jon Brion and Jonny Greenwood.

His films have consistently garnered critical acclaim. Anderson has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and five BAFTA Awards, and has won a Best Director Award at Cannes, both a Golden and a Silver Bear at Berlin, and a Silver Lion at Venice.

Film style, themes, and trademarks

Anderson is known for films with large ensemble casts, independent film styles, and interweaving storylines, as in the case of Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999). Anderson is a member of the first generation of "VCR filmmakers", much like directors Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, who learned the craft not in film schools, but by viewing thousands of movies on video.

Anderson's films typically deal with the significance of familial relationships, particularly those of fathers and their children. Themes concerning divine fate, the serendipitous nature of love, and the role of contemporary media are also examined. Anderson stresses the interconnections among his characters as volatile circumstances affect their fragile lives. Anderson's stylistic trademarks include logistically difficult steadicam-based long takes (such as the 3 minute opening shot in Boogie Nights), often with bombastic use of sound and music.

In addition to films, Anderson has directed several music videos, including several Fiona Apple pieces. Anderson was a standby director for Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, presumably for insurance purposes, as Altman was 80 years old at the time. Anderson was not formally credited in the film, but receives a "Special thanks to ..." toward the end of the closing credits.


Directed features
Year Title Distributor
1996 Hard Eight The Samuel Goldwyn Company
1997 Boogie Nights New Line Cinema
1999 Magnolia
2002 Punch-Drunk Love Sony Pictures Releasing
2007 There Will Be Blood Paramount Vantage / Miramax
2012 The Master The Weinstein Company
2014 Inherent Vice Warner Bros. Pictures
2017 Phantom Thread Focus Features / Universal Pictures
2021 Soggy Bottom Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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