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The 5 best Paul Thomas Anderson films available on Netflix

Paul Thomas Anderson has said that he writes “from [my] stomach”. Often referred to as PTA, this brilliant auteur has never won an Academy Award despite having eleven nominations. PTA made his debut with a short film in 1993, titled Cigarettes & Coffee. After a few stints, he made a breakthrough with Boogie Nights. Known for films like Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love and more.

Anderson has been extremely honest about his craft. “I think my job is to try and be as honest as I can with what is in my mind and how I feel – I think that’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re a good writer. So I try to do that. I know I do that. I do, do that,” he said.

He added, “But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every time you go to make a film, you’re desperate to either do it better than you did it last time or to not repeat yourself.”

Here are the five best Paul Thomas Anderson films available on Netflix:

The 5 best Paul Thomas Anderson films available on Netflix

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Quentin Tarantino referred to There Will Be Blood as “one of the best movies made in this decade”. Anderson’s Academy Award-winning magnum opus takes the audience on a harrowing and remorseless journey coupled with the haunting compositions of Johnny Greenwood. 

Anderson deftly explores ambition and extreme hunger for success. As a ruthless and mercenary oilman, Daniel Day-Lewis strives relentlessly to achieve his dream and does not even hesitate to manipulate his adopted son. Greenwood’s unabashedly remorseless music resonates well with the sombre tone of the film.

The Master (2012)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master has been called the favourite film the filmmaker has ever made. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Rami Malek among others. The film saw Phoenix as a war veteran named Freddie Quell who struggles to adapt to the new society after the war. Soon, he finds himself involved in a philosophical moment called ‘The Cause’, which is led by Lancaster Dodd and marks the rise of the Church of Scientology. 

The film is sinister and mysterious. A ragged and frantic portrayal of paranoia, moral ambiguity and degradation of society, it is an absolute masterpiece where Johnny Greenwood’s accompanying, haunting scores add to the darkness that pervades it. 

Phantom Thread (2017)

Daniel Day-Lewis’ final role before his retirement saw him as the obsessive and meticulous fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock who leads a well-planned life. However, his life changes drastically when he meets his new muse and lover, Alma. Admittedly, Day-Lewis said that the film “overwhelmed” him with a strange “sense of sadness”.  

Johnny Greenwood reunited with Anderson to create a haunting and masterful score that added to the general hollow atmosphere of the film. His rich and subtle tracks created a distinct aesthetic for this poignant tale of toxic masculinity, complementing Daniel Day-Lewis’ intoxicating performance. 

Boogie Nights (1997)

Starring Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly and other talented actors, this period piece revolves around the legendary Eddie Adam’s notorious entry into the porn industry under the alias of Dirk Diggler. The film chronicles his drug-fuelled and hedonistic descent towards his downfall. 

The film offers a social commentary on the porn industry and the fierce competition that exists within it. Also, the picture exposes various secrets within the trade. Meanwhile, it boasts an ingenious ensemble that delivers magnificent performances. Anderson uses surreal long takes and incredible visuals, making the film one of the filmmaker’s coolest and most epic films.

Anima (2019)

Rock band Radiohead’s Thom Yorke’s studio album was followed by PTA’s 15-minute feature that was based on Yorke’s concept that all the workers are “pushed by an invisible force” as they are exhausted and their bodies refuse to exert any more. The film features Yorke riding a train when he meets a woman who forgets her bag and he pursues her. They meet, dance and then continue with their journey. 

Inspired by the likes of Metropolis, 1984 as well as Chaplin’s physical slapstick comedy, the short is obsessive and restrictive with a series of uniformed cast. Three songs from Yorke’s album is incorporated in the film which is complemented by unique and innovative cinematography. A wonderful artistically stylised product set in Prague, it explores dystopian societies well while serving visual metaphors.