When Paul Thomas Anderson began thinking up a new movie project, he wanted to do something completely different from all his previous work. After reading Upton Sinclair's Oil! he found his material. The first part of the 1927 book inspired the movie, which in its most impressive feat managed to get all sorts of people to sit through two epic and intense hours charting a mad oil man's rise and fall–two hours that begin with a half hour sans dialogue. That is impressive.
Equally impressive is how engaging the whole thing is. Oil drilling isn't a subject I'm usually drawn to, but the trailers had me all excited. The glowing reviews (“BETTER THAN CITIZEN KANE!“) only added to the film's mystique. And everything you've heard is true. Daniel Day-Lewis gives the performance of his–and really, anybody else's–life. The music (by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead), which I expected to be modern, is instead timeless, powerful, disquieting, and affecting. Surprisingly, only about 35 minutes of it were specifically written for the film, a fact that (sadly) made the score ineligible for an Oscar.
The supporting cast is great including Paul Dano, who's perfect with his thin mouth and untrustworthy eyes as a “false prophet” and who knew? Kevin O'Connor (who played the poet in Peggy Sue Got Married) as an unexpected visitor.
I felt these actors often got less credit from viewers and critics than they deserved mainly due to unfair comparisons to the dynamic and other wordly performance given by Day-Lewis.
It's a film that wows you and I had a hard time formulating an entry to sum up the particular way I felt about it. Generally, it's as good as everyone says; but only you can decide how awesome it makes you feel to hear Day-Lewis deliver these stunning monologues (“There's a competition in me…” is my favorite) and how mesmerizing it is to watch him shoot up a mansion and get crazy in a cardigan on a bowling alley.