The dynamic duo’s new project has been green-lit.
Few people behind the camera and in front of one are as critically adored as Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis, respectively. Each separately have film masterpieces associated with their names (for me, Boogie Nights for PTA and Gangs of New York for DDL), but their collaboration together for 2007’s There Will Be Blood may be both of their magnum opera. Although beaten by the Coens’ No Country for Old Men at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, There Will Be Blood has maybe proven greater clout and staying power than its rival. A recent poll of 177 film critics from around the world voted There Will Be Blood the third greatest film of the 21st century with No Country for Old Men placing 10th. Rankings and awards may not mean much to some people, but the point of all this is still readily apparent: it’s kind of a big deal that these two are making another movie together.
It’s such a big deal that NBCUniversal’s art-house film division Focus Features (the indie distribution machine behind classics of both the traditional and cult variety, like Brokeback Mountain and Wet Hot American Summer) won an auction for the worldwide movie rights preceding this year’s Toronto International Film Festival by backing the duo at the tune of $35 milli’s. That might not sound like much in today’s superhero saturated market, but that’s the Titanic of film festival deals. All that’s known of the film so far is that it will be set in the 1950s London fashion scene, and the movie hasn’t even hit production yet.
It’s not difficult to understand why so much money is being promised. This yet to be titled project hits all the prestige drama checkboxes. Beloved writer/director auteur original IP: check. Undisputed (that’s right, I said it) greatest living actor headlining the film: check. Seemingly irrelevant, niche theme and setting but is actually super awards baity: check.
When PTA finds an actor he likes, he usually sticks with them for awhile. It’s so his thing that there’s even a ‘frequent collaborators’ section on his wiki page. DDL has been on the film scene for 40+ years and has played in 20 movies. He seems particular on the roles he selects and has only worked with two other directors more than once: Jim Sheridan for My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, and The Boxer and Martin Scorsese for The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York.
Speculation is all we got on what the final product will be. What I love about Paul Thomas Anderson – other than him generally being a master filmmaker – is that he brings unbridled intensity out of his actors better than anyone else that’s ever made movies. Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights looked like he actually, literally wanted to kill Mark Wahlburg in the pool fight scene. Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love looked like he actually, literally wanted to kill those four goons after they injured Emily Watson’s character. Joaquin Phoenix in The Master looked like he actually, literally wanted to kill that guy in the department store during their absurd altercation in the portrait studio scene.
And then there’s Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. The intensity and hatred in his performance during the “I’ve abandoned my child!” scene is awe-inducingly palpable. It’s incredibly unnerving and impressive in its potency. I don’t need to know anything else other than PTA and DDL are making another movie together. If I could pay for my ticket right now, I would.