Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Barry Del Sherman, Matthew Braden Stringer, and Sydney McCallister
Academy Awards (2008):
Best Achievement in Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day-Lewis
Academy Award Nominations:
Best Achievement in Art Direction: Jack Fisk, Jim Erickson
Best Achievement in Directing: Paul Thomas Anderson
Best Achievement in Editing: Dylan Tichenor
Best Achievement in Sound Editing: Matthew Wood, Christopher Scarabosio
Best Motion Picture of the Year: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Paul Thomas Anderson
“Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) is a ruthless oil prospector leaving a trail of broken promises and conned farmers wherever he goes. When his search for oil brings him to the Californian community of Little Boston, local preacher Eli Sunday (Dano) becomes determined to at first understand, and later stop, the tyrannical Plainview.” (From 501 Must-See Movies book.)
Seemingly coming out of no where, There Will Be Blood ended up on many film critics Top 10 films of 2007, and later in the best of the decade list for the 2000s. Having now seen the film twice, I still don’t understand why this was the case.
Without Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood would have slipped through the cracks as just another film. For me, his performance is one of, if not the only redeeming quality of this film. Ghandi is the only other film of his that I’ve seen, but I don’t even remember his performance in that film. From a quick look on IMDB, he’s very particular with the acting jobs he takes.
Day-Lewis’ stage presence is of the highest quality. Like his character Daniel Plainview, Day-Lewis does a great job of taking control of all of his screen time. He portrays the ruthless, and also heartless, oil man looking to take advantage of anyone he can. Going so far as to adopting an orphan boy to give the ‘family man’ perception, Plainview apologizes for nothing.
Paul Dano had a huge role to film as the primary antagonist for Daniel Plainview. I think he holds his own well throughout the film, but like his character Eli Sunday, Dano’s acting is overshadowed and overpowered by Day-Lewis.
Something that stood out to me as far as cinematography was the long pans and incorporating background music while telling the story without any dialogue. I think there is a fine line in how a director uses this. Though I think there were a number of good scenes throughout There Will Be Blood, I felt like some of the non-dialogue scenes were too drawn out. Some of those could have been cut shorter without losing the dramatic effect that was achieved.
I wouldn’t say the storyline was pedestrian, but for me it was forgettable. Man cons innocent people, someone stands up to him, blah blah blah. Once again, Day-Lewis brings it to life in an engaging way that provides some entertainment value. His back and forth with Dano was interesting as it developed, however, one or two people’s performances can only take a film so far. I think for a movie that ran this long, perhaps a couple more prominent characters or a couple of sub-plots could have helped.
There Will Be Blood benefits most from an Oscar-worthy performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. He brings to life this story of an ambitious oil man who will stop at nothing to strike it rich. It’s not one I’ll see again, perhaps it’s my disappointment with Paul Thomas Anderson films, but still, it was enjoyable to a degree.
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.