Tag Archives: There Will Be Blood

10 “Incorrect” Best Picture Winners

The Oscars aren’t always right (to put it mildly). The best, most innovative movie does not always win Best Picture. So in light of last night’s events, here are ten classic examples (and one soon-to-be classic example) of Best Picture winners which, in hindsight, might not have been as deserving of the victory as certain other nominees. This is not to say that one film is better than the other, but that the non-winner is now generally viewed as the more enduring, influential film.

2010 – The King’s Speech vs. The Social Network

2005 – Crash vs. Brokeback Mountain

1998 – Shakespeare in Love vs. Saving Private Ryan

1994 – Forrest Gump vs. Pulp Fiction

1990 – Dances With Wolves vs. Goodfellas

1980 – Ordinary People vs. Raging Bull

1976 – Rocky vs. Taxi Driver

1971 – The French Connection vs. A Clockwork Orange

1951 – An American in Paris vs. A Streetcar Named Desire

1946 – The Best Years of Our Lives vs. It’s a Wonderful Life

1941 – How Green Was My Valley vs. Citizen Kane

And a few bonus “Sophie’s Choice” picks (in other words, both films are beloved, but only one could win)

2007 – No Country for Old Men vs. There Will Be Blood

1979 – Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Apocalypse Now

1977 – Annie Hall vs. Star Wars

1967 – In the Heat of the Night vs. The Graduate

1965 – The Sound of Music vs. Doctor Zhivago

1962 – Lawrence of Arabia vs. To Kill a Mockingbird

1939 – Gone With the Wind vs. The Wizard of Oz

Now Wave: Paul Thomas Anderson


Current filmmakers on the brink of greatness – and those who’ve already achieved it

In the thirteen years since the release of Anderson’s breakthrough film, Boogie Nights, he’s quickly become one of the most acclaimed directors working today. His output is small, but each of his five feature films have earned a devout following in their own right.

And perhaps none of his projects has earned both as many follows and detractors as 1999’s Magnolia. With a top-notch cast including Tom Cruise (who garnered a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his bizarre, larger than life turn in the film), Magnolia could have been a crowd-pleaser. Instead, the film runs 188 minutes long (a full half hour longer than any of Anderson’s other already extended works) and boasts a climax completely with a rain storm of frogs. But to boil the film down to one surreal scene does a disservice to Anderson’s tightly-woven storytelling and soulful, quietly innovative camera work.

Mainstream fervour over this young director reached a fever pitch with the release of 2007’s There Will Be Blood. The film went up against (and eventually lost to) No Country for Old Men at the Oscars in a race that still has film fans debating the desired outcome. The film also earned star Daniel Day-Lewis an Oscar for his now iconic portrayal of Daniel Plainview, and gave Anderson his first Best Director nomination.

With so few films under his belt, Anderson’s canon feels far from complete. Yet, with each film, he takes his craft in new directions. His next project is rumoured to be a collaboration with Anderson favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman on a film concerning Scientology. Whatever the project may be, Anderson has a legion of fans waiting with baited breath.

Favourite Performances of the Decade: Part 4

Here’s the much-belated fourth installment of my “Favourite Performances of the Decade” series. I’ve seen a few more amazing performances since I compiled my original list, so I’ll likely be posting another five performances soon.


Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There (2007)

Tilda Swinton was quite good in Michael Clayton, but I was shocked when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2008 Oscars, over Cate Blanchett. Blanchett was one of six actors to portray Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, and though she was the only female in the cast, her performance was hands-down the most captivating and convincing performance of the bunch. Playing “Jude” (each of the six actors has a separate storyline, all of which show different facets of Dylan’s life) Blanchet loped, squinted, and mumbled her way to a pitch-perfect Dylan impersonation. She had this great aura of cool in her gender-bending performance, which made her segment of the story infinitely captivating.

Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood (2007)

He’s one of the best working actors, but Daniel Day-Lewis took his career to new heights with his unforgettable role in P.T. Anderson’s 2007 masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. Over the top in the truest sense of the phrase, Day-Lewis’ performance is amazingly fun to watch. Plainview is already a bit of a caricature, and Day-Lewis’ performance – though hammy – is perfectly demented, and really draws the audience in. Other actors might have looked foolish when reciting lines like, “I…drink…your…milkshake! I DRINK IT UP!” (which became 2007’s most unlikely cinematic catchphrase), but Day-Lewis brings just the right tone to it. The movie staggers around in this kind of surreal, woozy state of semi-consciousness, and as Plainview makes bloody blows and sells whatever is left of his soul, Daniel Day-Lewis slips into his character wholeheartedly.

Amy Adams – Junebug (2005)

Amy Adams shines as the eternally optimistic Ashley in Junebug. Stuck in a dead-end Southern town with a husband who seems to resent her presence, Ashley is still bubbly and excitable. When her brother-in-law visits with his new wife from the city, Ashley finds herself eager to please. Adams plays the demonstrative young mother-to-be with a sparkle in her eye that feels like a giant breath of fresh air. Her genuine performance is at times hilarious, melancholy, and heartbreaking. Adams has since gone on to bigger roles, and she always brings wonderful poise to the screen, but her breakthrough performance in Junebug is unforgettable.

Renee Zelwegger – Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Though I may not be a huge fan of Zelwegger, but her motor-mouthed turn as the chain-smoking Bridget Jones was irresistible. Armed with a spot-on British accent and loads of charm, Zelwegger made the romantically unlucky thirty-something relatable, and provided many laughs throughout the film. Bridget Jones was a top-notch romantic comedy, and Zelwegger helped to elevate it beyond the usual fare. She had great chemistry with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, and whether she was flubbing a public speaking engagement or her own dinner party, she was frothy, light, and hilarious. Forget Chicago, and try this infinitely watchable film, instead.

Joquin Phoenix – Walk the Line (2005)

In an ingenious bit of casting, Phoenix portrayed The Man in Black (aka Johnny Cash) in 2005’s Walk the Line. The dark edge to Phoenix is perfectly suited to the troubled country star, and his brooding acting style fits the tone of the film to a tee. Though Walk the Line is a fairly by-the-numbers biopic, Phoenix’s performance helps to elevate it. He makes the best of clichéd material and embodies the musical legend so believably. The musical numbers are a treat to watch (who knew Phoenix had such a great voice?), and whether he’s falling in love with his wife-to-be (played by Reese Witherspoon) or having a meltdown, Phoenix’s presence is undeniable.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5

Top 10 Movies of the Decade

Of course, it was a daunting task to pick my favourite movies of the decade. But after re-drafting my list at least a dozen times, this is what I managed to come up with. These are the ten films that I enjoyed most from this decade.

10. Capote (2005)

For some reason, the #10 spot seemed to be the hardest to fill on this list. But Capote, which won Phillip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar, was captivating in every way. The acting (of course), the story, and the visuals are all stunning. The evolution of Capote’s character, and his relationship with the murderous subject of his next book, were astounding to watch unravel.

9. Finding Nemo (2003)

I guess this is my requisite Pixar choice. Up and Ratatouille underwhelmed me, but this colourful tale of aquatic life was undeniably joyful. The animation is hypnotic, and the characters are unforgettable. It’s both a touching story of family, and an exciting adventure tale. Throw in Ellen Degeneres’ hilarious Dory character, and you’ve got a fantastic family film.

8. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Spend thirty seconds with the foul-mouthed grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine (played by the wonderful Alan Arkin), and you’ll likely appreciate your own family a little more. But underneath the biting, dark humour of this film, there is actually an incredibly heart-warming road trip story. Steve Carrel’s suicidal scholar and Paul Dano’s voluntarily silent teen make one of the best on-screen duos I’ve ever seen.

7. Memento (2000)

Guy Pearce (one of the more underrated actors out there) plays a man who can’t make new memories in Christopher Nolan’s frenzied breakthrough film. The film amazingly manages to keep up its fast-paced momentum, despite the fact that it’s scrambled and chopped, and that scenes play out in overlapping reverse order. It’s amazingly unique, and Memento is both intelligent, and an incredibly entertaining whodunit.

6. There Will Be Blood (2007)

This film seems to be popping up on everyone’s top 10 list (often at the top spot), but that’s probably because There Will Be Blood is such a masterpiece. Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing, there are so many striking, unforgettable moments (the whole oil rig fire sequence was amazing, not to mention the final scene).

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

There is no doubt Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the most unique films of the decade. From the quiet, realistic courtship of Joel and Clementine, to the unusually messy breakup (they decide to erase each other from their memories entirely), it’s a whimsical, gorgeous film. It feels like it’s made for this time, which is probably why so many people connected to it so intensely.

4. The Dark Knight (2008)

Honestly, do I need to say anything at all? I’ll just apologize and move on.

3. Half Nelson (2006)

Ryan amazingly subtle performance as a crack addicted teacher is the anchor of Half Nelson, but the film as a whole is entirely absorbing, and it’s a stunning debut for director Ryan Fleck. Half Nelson celebrates and laments the small moments in life that everyone experiences, as well as delving into the tragic problems of the character’s lives. The relationship between Gosling’s Dan and Shareeka Epps’ Drey is beautiful – full of sorrow, understanding, and respect.

2. Juno (2007)

Maybe it sounds stupid to say this about a fairly lightweight comedy, but Juno is a film that really spoke to me. I love that Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody created a fun, mainstream film that actually has something to say, and it features some amazing well-written characters. It’s touching and funny, and Juno is one of the only honest on-screen depictions of what it’s like to be a young woman.

1. Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous has a wonderful sense of joy, and it captures the feeling of being young and loving music in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson (in what may be her only good performance, like, ever), Frances McDormand, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are vibrant, and the killer soundtrack (featuring the first Led Zeppelin tune to be licensed for a film) tops it all off.

Honourable Mentions:
A Beautiful Mind, The Departed, Donnie Darko, Garden State, Into the Wild, Requiem for a Dream, Signs, Snow Angels, Zodiac