In 1993, a 23-year-old Paul Thomas Anderson submitted his short film, Cigarettes & Coffee, to the Sundance Film Festival, and unwittingly changed modern cinema. Before he was 30, Anderson had made three beloved feature films--Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia—and had already secured his spot as one one of the great contemporary American directors. Now, he’s got nine films under his belt, each more singular and masterfully constructed than the last. Anderson’s films, largely character studies rooted in his own San Fernando, are defined by their luminous cinematography, recurring powerhouse performances by revered actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel Day-Lewis and Julianne Moore, inimitable scores by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, and idiosyncratic, unexpected subjects.
Anderson’s new film, Licorice Pizza, knocked us out. The film sees Anderson returning to his Californian roots: A tender character study with an ensemble cast, our critic calls it “a delectable, playful, sentimental reminder of what it means to be young, as well as an embodiment of what it feels like to grow up.”
Unsurprisingly, Licorice Pizza lives up to our exceptionally high standards for the auteur. Given this, we saw it high-time to do a comprehensive ranking of every Paul Thomas Anderson film to date—from great to greatest.
Read more in Paste.
Contributor Paste Magazine, Film School Rejects, Consequence, Looper, & Screen Slate. First cow in the territory.