Fans in the Quad Cities will get their first look at the movie many feel will be leading the Best Picture race by the end of the year. Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix opens Friday, September 21, at Rave Motion Pictures in Davenport.
Fans have become accustomed to Mr. Anderson’s brand of epic movie in his relatively short career. This growing appreciation for Anderson’s work leads one to wonder where “The Master” will rank among Anderson’s oeuvre. Here’s a look at how this critic ranks the director’s work ahead of the arrival of his latest film.
5. “Boogie Nights” – Anderson’s epic of porn and drugs is a remarkable time capsule for a period many on the fringe of Hollywood would like to forget. In the late 70’s porno movies began receiving mainstream attention until they were consumed by drugs and legislated off the backlots and into the dark corners of suburbia where Anderson finds and follows his exceptional pseudo-family of pornstars and hangers on.
4. “There Will Be Blood” – Many Anderson fans will consider my ranking “There Will Be Blood” as Anderson’s fourth best film. Nevertheless, I stand by my ranking because as brilliant as the film is it borders on impenetrable near the end and rides the line between epic tour de force and campy farce on more that one occasion.
3. “Hard Eight” – Anderson’s smallest, most personal film “Hard Eight” is an exceptional study of character. It is, to me, a crime that Phillip Baker Hall was not honored with an Academy Award for his work in “Hard Eight.” At least Anderson’s talent was recognized, his first feature earned him the opportunity to make “Boogie Nights” and become the young auteur of his time.
2. “Punch Drunk Love” – “Punch Drunk Love” is the most underappreciated work in Anderson’s career. Dismissed simply because Anderson cast the much-maligned Adam Sandler in the lead role, “Punch Drunk Love” is nevertheless a thoughtful, sweet, funny, and wonderfully bizarre study of love and extreme couponing.
1. “ Magnolia” – Anderson’s epic of Los Angeles washouts and wannabes is the reason why I became a film critic. The emotional crescendos in “Magnolia” showed me what movies were capable of. I was a fan of the movies before “Magnolia” but afterward I became devoted to seeking and exploring movies and hoping that other movies could stir my soul the way “Magnolia” did.
I can’t wait to see where I will rank “The Master” when it opens this weekend at Rave Cinemas in Davenport.