Song of the Day #4,865: ‘Future Markets’ – Jonny Greenwood

If one film in Paul Thomas Anderson’s body of work will go down in history as an undisputed masterpiece, it is 2007’s There Will Be Blood. The movie showed up on more decade-end “best of the 00s” list than any other title, cementing its legacy just a few years after its release. Ten years later, its reputation has only grown.

This is Anderson’s first adaptation (the film is loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s 1926 novel Oil!) and his first film to not tap into his typical stable of actors. There’s no John C. Reilly or Philip Baker Hall. No Philip Seymour Hoffman or Luis Guzman. Instead, he joined forces with the legendary Daniel Day Lewis and 23-year-old Paul Dano to craft a story about two men battling for the soul of America in the 1900s.

There Will Be Blood is a dark exploration of greed and ambition through the prism of religion and capitalism, two forces that have grown even more destructive over time. Despite its historic setting, this movie will never be thematically out of date.

Nothing in Anderson’s previous filmography hinted at the gritty authenticity and classical moviemaking on display here. He makes elegant use of wide open spaces to paint a portrait of a country brimming with good and bad possibilities, and stages some truly breathtaking set pieces. A sequence depicting the explosion of an oil derrick is an all-timer.

Daniel Day Lewis, of course, gives a towering performance as a man slowly selling his soul. His Daniel Plainview doesn’t start as a villain. At times you’re very much on his side. But success and jealousy eat away at him until he’s hollow inside.

Paul Dano’s preacher, Eli, is an equally flawed man, no less greedy than Daniel in his own way, interested in collecting souls rather than land. The explosive confrontations between the two men are among the movie’s highlights.

There Will Be Blood has many grandly impressive moments, but just as many small grace notes. This time around I was struck by the elegance of a late shot of two children jumping off a porch cutting to the same pair’s wedding day. Or the quiet scene where Daniel bonds with his new son, the baby curiously reaching for his moustache.

The film landed eight Oscar nominations, winning for Best Cinematography and Best Actor. Anderson received his first Best Director nomination and third Best Screenplay nomination, but went home empty handed. The movie had the misfortune of coming out the same year as another masterpiece, the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men, or else it might have swept.

Regardless, There Will Be Blood has already earned a place among the great American movies of the century, and I suspect time will only deepen the appreciation for this incredible film.

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,865: ‘Future Markets’ – Jonny Greenwood

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This is, no doubt, a great film, though, much like Schindler’s List, not one I have much of a desire to see more than once.

    I will say this deep dive really reminds me of the range and diversity of styles by PT Anderson, making him, for me, the far more interesting, and better, director than Wes Anderson.

    • Clay says:

      The Andersons are two of my top five filmmakers, and it would be tough for me to pick a favorite. PTA is definitely more versatile stylistically, but I don’t necessarily think that equals “better.” Many of the greats (Tarantino, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick) have a distinctive visual style that’s consistent across their movies. I am impressed that PTA has managed to make great movies that look and feel very different from each other.

      • Amy says:

        We were discussing this in person a couple of weeks ago. What I prefer about PTA’s approach is that it allows for the viewer to love one film even if she isn’t equally crazy about another. With WA, if you don’t like his style, you’re not going to like any of his films. Might be similar to a musical artist that performs lots of types of music as opposed to one who plays the same thing always. If you love that thing, great. If not, you’re never going to listen to a song by that artist.

        • Clay says:

          I definitely think there’s something to that, although I think the “love it or hate it” quality of Wes Anderson’s work can be exaggerated. I know a couple of people in my own family who love some and dislike others of his films.

          I’d suggest that if you love Wes’ style, you’re going to like or love everything he does. If you’re wary of his style, you might like some (probably the earlier ones) but will dislike most.

  2. Peg says:

    I must see this movie again! It’s been too long. I have to go with Wes Anderson for my favorite between the two. But this film all by itself makes Paul Thomas a genius.

  3. Amy says:

    An astounding film. Another I should definitely see again. I appreciate Dana’s point about Schindler’s List, but I have seen at least parts of that film multiple times. To appreciate a film as a piece of art as opposed to just enjoying it in the moment, I think you do have to see it multiple times.

    • Clay says:

      I’ve found that all of Anderson’s movies are extremely rewatchable, and not just because they’re good and therefore worthy of revisiting as works of art.

      They don’t drag, the dialogue is rich, the visuals are appealing, and the performances are always excellent. And none of them are tense or uncomfortable in that “slicing off the cop’s ear” kinda way. 🙂

  4. Peg says:

    OMG Clay don’t even bring that scene up 😜

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