Paul Thomas Anderson has lost his six Oscar bids to date but his latest film as a writer/director, “Phantom Thread” might finally get him that Academy Award. Set in post-World War II London, his film focuses on acclaimed dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, in his second collaboration with Anderson) who, alongside sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), is among the hottest names in British fashion. Throughout Woodcock’s life, many women come and go, until one particularly strong-minded muse (Vicky Krieps) becomes a more permanent presence in his life.
Over the years, five of his films have amassed a total of 19 nominations, including two wins. Anderson made his first awards season appearance with “Boogie Nights” (1997), which chronicles the rise and fall of the so-called “Golden Age of Porn” in the 1970s and 1980s. He earned his first Oscar nomination in Best Original Screenplay and was joined on Oscar night by featured players Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore, who contended in Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Ultimately, Anderson and Reynolds were edged out by “Good Will Hunting” screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and actor Robin Williams respectivley, while Moore fell short to Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential”).
Two years later, Anderson’s “Magnolia” (1999) also scored a trio of Oscar nominations, this time in Best Supporting Actor (Tom Cruise), Best Original Screenplay (Anderson) and Best Original Song (Aimee Mann‘s “Save Me”). The film, about a wide-ranging set of characters in the San Fernando Valley, failed to pick up a win, as Cruise fell short to Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”); Anderson lost to Alan Ball (“American Beauty”); and Mann was defeated by Phil Collins (for “You’ll Be in My Heart” from “Tarzan”).
At last, in the following decade, an Anderson picture made a splash with Oscar wins.
“There Will Be Blood” (2007), which traces the rise of merciless silver miner-turned-oilman Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis), garnered a total of eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Anderson), Best Actor (Day-Lewis), Best Adapted Screenplay (Anderson), Best Art Direction (Jim Erickson and Jack Fisk), Best Cinematography (Robert Elswit), Best Film Editing (Dylan Tichenor) and Best Sound Editing (Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood).
While Day-Lewis picked up his second career Oscar and Elswit triumphed too, “There Will Be Blood” otherwise came up short, losing Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay to Joel and Ethan Coen‘s “No Country for Old Men” and falling to “The Bourne Ultimatum” in Film Editing and Sound Editing. The Art Direction prize would go to “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
In 2012, Anderson’s drama “The Master,” about a World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) drawn into the movement of a religious leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman), received a trio of acting Oscar nominations, in Best Actor (Phoenix), Best Supporting Actor (Hoffman, in his final appearance at the Oscars) and Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams). They lost out to Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”), Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”) and Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”) respectively.
Most recently, “Inherent Vice” (2014), Anderson’s neo-noir focused on a drug-fueled Los Angeles private eye (Phoenix), earned a pair of Oscar nominations, in Best Adapted Screenplay (Anderson) and Best Costume Design (Mark Bridges). Anderson was defeated by Graham Moore (“The Imitation Game”), while Oscar favorite Milena Canonero scored her fourth Costume Design prize, this time for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.