Anticipating the announcement of Oscar nominations last week, I decided to take a look back at the list of last year's nominees and watch the year's last remaining best picture nominee that I have yet to see-- There Will Be Blood.
This is one of those quiet movies that's made with the very intention of lording over the awards season, and I get this nagging irritation whenever those kinds of movies end up hogging all the nominations (and lately, yes, they do). Movies should be made to, like, entertain and stuff, right? The awards should be incidental. So it's comes with another nagging irritation that I bring myself to watch the movie and grudgingly admit that perhaps it deserves all the praise it got. Maybe more.
First off, throw away whatever preconceptions you may have about the movie based on the title. It's a shitty title, maybe intended to throw you off, or to discourage the casual masses from getting interested in it.
The movie is about an man named Daniel Plainview (played mesmerizingly by Daniel Day-Lewis), who builds himself up from a lowly prospector to an enormously rich oilman. The name "Plainview" must be some sort of cruel joke, because hardly anything about this man is in plain view. He schemes his way around problems, uses people around him like props, and lies effortlessly and convincingly, all in his quest for oil and wealth. He has a voice of velvet and just as comforting, with a manner of speaking so genuinely that you know there has to be some sinister trick behind it.
Does that make any sense, what I just said right there? Daniel Day-Lewis makes it make sense. His performance is amazing, and he deserves-- beyond a shadow of doubt-- the Oscar that he won for it. How many actors can disappear into their character so effectively that people start to question their sanity? Regardless of his mental health, he further cements his position as one of the greatest living actors in the world.
The other star of the movie is the music, which takes on a life of its own. It's troubling, haunting... doesn't complement the emotion of the scenes, but brings with it an entirely different and unexpected atmosphere.
As with most movies that beg for awards, this one runs on for quite a while-- total running time of 2 hours and 38 minutes. In the end, it won Best Actor and Best Cinematography, along with 6 other Oscar nominations. Heck, maybe it should have won Best Picture too. It's better than No Country for Old Men.