As the Oscar season is approaching and the writers strike has put the main festivities in jeopardy, the Best Picture category is still hotly debated. While movies such as “Juno” and “No Country for Old Men” are heralded for their distinct storylines and authentic characters, another film trumps these two in the battle for best movie of 2007.
With “There Will Be Blood,” Paul Thomas Anderson lives up to the buzz. Having always been compared to young directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, Anderson has finally surpassed his peers and has created a film that stands out as a work of cinema magic.
Unlike Tarantino and Smith, who are still continuing to work only in the realms of pop-culture regurgitation, Anderson has engineered a film that transcends all of his previous work in the medium.
Loosely based on the Upton Sinclair book “Oil!,” the film tells the story of ruthless tycoon Daniel Plainview, magnificently played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and his thirst for domination in the booming oil industry. Originally working as a silver prospector, Plainview gathers up enough funds to finance a venture into a small drilling company that eventually evolves into an empire.
A majority of the story focuses on Plainview’s oil endeavors in the small town of Little Boston. Upon entering the small community on a lead from one of its residents, Plainview sets out to tap the greatest oil bed imaginable, one so full that oil simply seeps through to the surface. Over the course of his conquest of the Little Boston oil bed, Plainview descends into madness and isolation, ultimately declaring his hatred for a greater part of mankind.
Although delving into the relationship with his adopted son and a bitter rivalry with a young charismatic faith healer, the heart of this story lies in the life of man who sees his experience on earth as only a means for doing business.
Superficially this could be seen simply as another “Citizen Kane” knockoff, but it’s the sheer brutality of Day-Lewis’ portrayal that makes this character so superb. A consistently first-rate actor, Day-Lewis slowly transforms himself from a simple prospector into the absolute anti-hero, a vile monster who completely disregards all elements of humanity and civilized existence.
The stark, bleak landscape of turn of the 20th century California is beautifully captured in every frame of celluloid and it visually echoes the barrenness of Plainview’s life.
One of the most extraordinary elements of the movie is its blaring, discordant yet powerfully moving score, created by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. While this soundtrack is executed flawlessly, it nonetheless still can not top the perfect musical juxtaposition Anderson has shown in his previous films, most notably the climactic drug deal scene from “Boogie Nights.”
The only factor that may hurt this film is its run time. Clocking in at 158 minutes, “There Will Be Blood” may be a bit too long for some people, but the film is fast-paced and accessible.
“There Will Be Blood” is one of the paramount motion pictures of the year, largely in part to the unparalleled performance of Day-Lewis, as well as brilliant and versatile directing from filmmaker Anderson.