(out of 5)

Moving tribute to broken hearts and missed opportunities, with Paul Thomas Anderson presenting a wide assortment of residents in the San Fernando Valley who struggle from their lowest points toward a state of grace. As with Boogie Nights, Anderson is very generous to characters that mainstream films usually see as undesirable.  is brilliant in a supporting role as a sexist self-help guru who gets his comeuppance from a relentless interviewer ();  is taking care of ailing husband Jason Robards but can’t get over the guilt she feels for how she has mistreated him; Philip Seymour Hoffman is Robards’ nurse, trying to get his patient in touch with lost family; Philip Baker Hall is dealing with health problems while facing scrutiny from his wife (Melinda Dillon, in a beautifully delicate performance) and hatred from his estranged daughter (Melora Walters); Walters has the opportunity to get happy with a possible relationship she discovers with cop John C. Reilly; William H. Macy is in love with the bartender of his local bar but just can’t get up the nerve to do anything about it; Jeremy Blackman is a quiz kid genius who just can’t handle the pressure being given to him by his struggling-actor father (Michael Bowen) who sees his son as a meal ticket. Wrapping it all up in a warm blanket are beautiful songs compiled and composed by singer-songwriter Aimee Mann, whose ballad “Wise Up” provides a fitting centerpiece for the film’s emotional catharsis. All these and more are the stories that infect you when you watch this very long but very absorbing epic that will probably remain Anderson’s masterpiece in the long run.

USA, 1999

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson

Cinematography by

Produced by Paul Thomas Anderson,

Music by

Production Design by ,

Costume Design by Mark Bridges

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  Berlin 2000

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Academy Award Nominations
Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise as “Frank T.J. Mackey”)
Best Music (Original Song) (“Save Me”, music and lyric by Aimee Mann)
Best Writing (Screenplay Written Directly For The Screen) (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Golden Globe Award
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Tom Cruise)

Best Original Song-Motion Picture (“Save Me”, music and lyrics by Aimee Mann)

National Society of Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore)

National Board Of Review Awards
Best Supporting Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore)
Best Acting by an Ensemble (Tom Cruise, Pat Healy, Julianne Moore, Genevieve Zweig, Mark Flannagan, William H. Macy, Neil Flynn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rod McLachlan)
Top Ten Films

Berlin Film Festival Award
Golden Berlin Bear

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Julianne Moore)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Original Screenplay

Toronto Film Critics Awards
Best Picture
Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Best Screenplay (tie)

Chicago Film Critics Award
Best Supporting Actor (Tom Cruise)

Best Picture
Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Best Screenplay



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