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Oscar Should-Be Winners: Paul Thomas Anderson

February 24, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
The young American Paul Thomas Anderson has been an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter for over a decade. But his finest hour is now: his most ambitious project yet, “There Will Be Blood,” has been nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Essential Facts on P.T. Anderson

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  • Born in 1970 in Studio City, California, Anderson is the son of voiceover actor Ernie Anderson, who is known for his role in “The Love Boat.” Paul was very influenced as an artist by the San Fernando Valley, where he spent his youth.
  • In high school, Anderson made a short film, “Dirk Diggler,” about a well-endowed porn star. This film was the seed of “Boogie Nights,” Anderson’s first Oscar-nominated project, for which he wrote a 300-page script.
  • Anderson attended New York University for a semester and dropped out, disliking the formulaic nature of the school’s curriculum.
  • He debuted with a short film, “Cigarettes and Coffee,” at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, and was mentioned as a filmmaker to watch.
  • Anderson released his first feature-length film, “Hard Eight,” to mixed reviews, and was tormented by the fact that the film was recut by its distributors. Anderson explains the dilemma in this interview.
  • Anderson was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Magnolia” (2000), his sprawling plot-twister inspired by the music of Aimee Mann. The film “layered multi-character narratives into a tapestry of near biblical proportions," and made use of some seasoned Anderson actors, such as Julianne Moore (of “Boogie Nights”), John C. Reilly (of “Boogie Nights” and “Hard Eight”), and Phillip Baker Hall, the star of “Hard Eight.”
  • Anderson won the Best Director award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for “Punch-Drunk Love,” which he also wrote. The lead character was written for Adam Sandler, whom Anderson successful transformed from goofy, slapstick-prone comedian into a complex, emotional young man bullied by seven older sisters. Watch a clip of the film here.
  • Anderson is nominated for both Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for “There Will Be Blood.”
  • Anderson was linked to the singer Fiona Apple in the late 90s, but has been dating longtime “SNL” star Maya Rudolph for several years. They have a daughter, Pearl Bailey, and reside in New York City.

Anderson’s Colorful Filmography

There Will Be Oscars

“There Will Be Blood,” based loosely upon Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil!," was both written and directed by Anderson. Coincidentally, 1927 was the same year the book “The Gangs of New York” was published, though the Scorsese film was made from a different writer’s script.
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