There Will Be Blood

Conspicuously overlooked at the Oscars this weekend will be Paul Thomas Anderson, whose The Master impressed some critics—though not me—but earned none of the plaudits of his 2007 There Will Be Blood, which earned eight nominations. (The Master scored three, for the performances of Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams). Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for Blood, as he may do again for Lincoln, but Anderson will be smiling through clenched teeth. What went wrong from Blood to The Master? For starters, Phoenix's drunken sailor and Hoffman's quack prophet weren't people. They had no depth, made no sense, never changed. They were just weird, frozen emblems of … some dialectic in Anderson's head (he's never one to explain such dyads, which I respect). Back in Blood, however, Day-Lewis' Daniel Plainview was an implacable monster who retained some aspect of humanity. His adopted son inspired tenderness and protectiveness; and his toxic ambition created a plausible contest with the huckster preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano). Oil versus faith turns out to be a different equation: money versus money. Blood is a taming-of-the-frontier tale not so far removed from John Ford, where stereotypes turn to archetypes. Later in The Master, they simply become marble statues. (R) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Feb. 22, 11:59 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 23, 11:59 p.m., 2013

 
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