Best Picture Spotlight: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood is the latest offering from director Paul Thomas Anderson, following 1997’s Boogie Nights, 1999’s Magnolia and 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love. Despite mixed critical acclaim, and long stretches between projects, Anderson has been revered as an auteur who’s earned himself 19 major awards and over 40 nominations. This is is first Oscar nomination for Best Director and Best Picture.

Based on the novel “Oil!” by Upton Sinclair, it is the tale of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) – the embodiment of greed – in a brutal land grab that promises to make him wealthier than any man needs and to destroy him and his relationships in the process. The story ravages the screen, aided by Day-Lewis’s grueling and immaculate performance. Gritty drama, character study, humane tragedy – it defies easily being shoved into any particular genre.

There Will Be Blood has been marked for the Oscar since it was first screened by critics. That whisper became a roar when it hit theaters nationwide. It has been placed on hundreds of Top Ten Lists, receiving top honors from Premiere, The New York Times, and Entertainment Weekly. It’s tied with No Country for Old Men for Oscar nominations this year (with eight apiece) and has grossed $31 million domestically.

– The film garnered a 91% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 92/100 from Meta Critic.

– Nominated for nine BAFTA awards, winning one for Best Leading Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.

– Won Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture from the Los Angeles Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics.

– Daniel Day-Lewis has won eighteen (18) Best Actor Awards – every one he’s been nominated for.

– Paul Thomas Anderson has won three (3) Best Director Awards.

There Will Be Blood is as close to perfection as you will find in a movie.” – Beth Accomando, PBS

There Will Be Blood… arrives belching fire and brimstone and damnation to Hell.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“As astounding in its emotional force and as haunting and mysterious as anything seen in American movies in years.” – David Denby, The New Yorker

“A force beyond categories.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Why It Might Win
This is one hell of a movie. It’s gripping and detailed in a way that has hypnotized audiences that are lucky enough to feel the glow of its screen. If it wins the big prize it will do so solely on its own merit. So far, it has stayed in the conversation as a top contender, vying directly against No Country For Old Men. In almost any other year, this film would be uncontested, and even against stiff competition, it may end up being the star of the evening.

Why It Might Not Win
The competition is stiff, and talk about There Will Be Blood being the best picture of the year has gone on more in the media than at the podium so far. Daniel Day-Lewis is going to need to add another trophy room to his home, but the film itself has failed to win Best Picture almost across the board. Plus, it’s contending with powerhouse No Country for Old Men and the possibility of indie flick Juno stealing it out from under both heavyweights.

Final Summary
There Will Be Blood has a shot at top honors, but it will come as a surprise to most. Despite being an incredible achievement in film, it had the unfortunate luck of being released in the same year as some other incredible achievements. Daniel Day-Lewis should already leave a space open for his second Oscar, and the film might be rewarded for its cinematography and writing, but Best Picture might prove too elusive for this masterpiece.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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