Paul Thomas Anderson, the man responsible for ‘Magnolia’, ‘There will be Blood’, and most recently, ‘Inherent Vice’. Many people recognize his films but a lesser amount attribute them to him. Paul Thomas Anderson has only directed 7 feature films over the course of the last 25 years (not that he directs/writes/produces shorts, music videos, documentaries year round), each film with a very loyal fan base (and for good reason).
Paul Thomas Anderson’s writing and direction are easily identifiable, as they are catered to the performers by slow pacing, being dialogue dominant, and having a distinct noir feel. What makes Paul Thomas Anderson so special is that each of his loyal fans have a different favorite film and could argue theirs being his strongest for very different reasons. That’s the mark of a successful filmmaker. With that said here is the list of top Paul Thomas Anderson movies, ranked from average to best. You can watch several of these best Paul Thomas Anderson movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
7. Inherent Vice
Although narratively this is Anderson’s most loose project to date, and comes off as a little bit unnecessary and self-indulgent, it’s fun and chalked full of noir and personality. Also Joaquin Phoenix delivers HUGE (which we all know he can do, aka ‘The Gladiator’ and ‘Walk the Line’). Inherent Vice is by no means his most thought-provoking, but it’s much more watchable than a couple of his other films. Also, there aren’t many period driven projects that successfully capture the time in which their characters motivations and settings are driven by, so that’s a major feat in itself. In closing, not the best we’ve seen, but certainly a breeze to get through.
6. Punch Drunk Love
‘Punch Drunk Love’ is probably the least PTA of all of his films, and the overall tonality (though fresh and interesting) just doesn’t stand up against some of Anderson’s other projects. Adam Sandler gives one of his best performances of his career (behind ‘reign over me’ and ‘Spanglish’) and it’s really intriguing of watch as things unfold for one really pitiful guy, but the film lacks something which the other 6 films on this list have: personality. There just isn’t a lot to identify with, and that’s what makes Anderson’s films so distinct in the film community.