Magnolia

  • Directors: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Producers: Paul Thomas Anderson, Joanne Sellar
  • Writers: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: John C Reilly, Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, April Grace, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H Macy, Alfred Molina, Jason Robards, Melora Walters

In an introduction three events are described (by an uncredited Ricky Jay) showing coincidences. The events, which are well-known urban legends in the universe of the film, are as follows:

Forthright police officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) is called to investigate a disturbance at the home of a woman named Marcie (Cleo King). He finds a body in her closet, but when the other police officers arrive they pay little attention to his report on the situation. A young boy, Dixon (Emmanuel Johnson) offers to help Jim with the case by performing a self-penned rap. Dixon claims that in the words of the rap he told Jim who committed the murder, but, thinking the boy is just joking, Jim ignores him.

Former TV producer Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) is in the final stages of cancer, and is being cared for by a nurse, Phil Parma (Philip Seymour Hoffman), while his young trophy wife Linda (Julianne Moore) is out collecting prescriptions for a strong dose of liquid morphine that will end his pain. Earl mentions to Phil that he has an estranged son and asks him to find him, saying his name is Frank Mackey. Phil, aware that Mackey is the author of the “Seduce And Destroy” self-help system for men, orders in some pornographic magazines, hoping to find a phone number for his self-help system in there. Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise) is giving a seminar to an audience of men, instructing them how they can manipulate women into “sleeping” with them. As his seminar breaks for lunch, a reporter named Gwenovier (April Grace) takes him aside to interview him. He is initially very confident in his interview, but tells Gwenovier that his father is dead.

Just then, frogs suddenly start to rain from the sky. As Rose drives through the rain of frogs, she crashes her car outside Claudia’s apartment and runs in fear to a reconciliation with her daughter. As Jimmy is about to kill himself, the frogs fall through his skylight and cause him instead to shoot the TV, meaning his house begins to catch fire – whether he survives is never made clear (though in the original script, his body is later seen being removed from the house). The frogs cause Donnie to fall from the pole, smashing his teeth, eliminating his need for braces. The rain of frogs abruptly ceases with a final incongruous object – Jim’s gun falls from the sky and lands right in front of him. Jim helps Donnie replace the money and to forgive himself – Jim chooses to act in forgiveness, rather than in duty, which would have compelled him to arrest Donnie. Having been given the liquid morphine by Phil, Earl dies as Frank watches (the two of them perhaps finally reconciled). Frank then goes to the hospital to see Linda, who is making a gradual recovery. Stanley goes to his father and tells him that he needs to be nicer to him. Rick curtly responds by telling Stanley to go to bed. The film ends as, the next morning, Jim goes to visit Claudia. He talks to her, telling her that he wants to be honest with her as she told him to, and he wants to make things work out between them. She breaks the fourth wall and smiles at the camera.

Punch Drunk Love

  • Directors: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Producers: Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi, Joanne Sellar
  • Writers: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary Lynn Rajskub

Barry Egan (Sandler) owns a company that markets themed toilet plungers (“fungers”) and other novelty items. He has seven overbearing sisters who ridicule him regularly, and leads a very lonely life punctuated by fits of rage. In the span of one morning, he witnesses a bizarre car accident, picks up an abandoned harmonium from the street, and encounters Lena Leonard (Watson), who orchestrated the meeting after seeing him in a family picture belonging to his sister Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub), a co-worker of Lena’s.

Barry calls a phone sex hotline for conversation, but the operator attempts to extort money and sends her four henchmen brothers to collect. This complicates his budding relationship with Lena, as well as his plan to exploit a loophole in a Healthy Choice promotion and amass a million frequent flyer miles by buying large quantities of pudding (based on the true story of David Phillips). After Lena leaves for Hawaii on a business trip, Barry decides to follow her. He arrives and calls one of his manipulative sisters to learn where Lena is staying. At first, Barry explains that he is in Hawaii on a business trip by coincidence, but he soon admits that he came to pursue a romantic relationship.

Barry tells Lena his story and begs her for forgiveness, pledging to use his frequent-flier miles to accompany her on all future trips. She readily agrees, and they embrace happily. The final shot of the movie shows Lena approaching Barry in his office while he plays the harmonium. She puts her arms around him and says, “So, here we go.”

There Will Be Blood

  • Directors: Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Producers: Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi, Joanne Sellar, Scott Rudin
  • Writers: Screenplay, Paul Thomas Anderson, Novel, Upton Sinclair
  • Genres: Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Daniel Day Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) is an embittered and self-centered man who begins his path to fortune as a silver prospector out in New Mexico before becoming an oilman, building his first, primitive oil well with a small crew. One of his workers is killed in an accident, and Plainview takes the man’s orphaned child, H. W., as his own; his initial successes allow him to expand his enterprise over the years, and he negotiates for new leases with a sales pitch that plays up his appearance as a family man through H. W. (Dillon Freasier).

One day, Plainview is approached by young Paul Sunday (Paul Dano), who, for a reward, tells him of an oil source on his family’s property in a small town called Little Boston. Plainview and H. W. travel there under the guise of hunting for quail and discover oil seeping to the surface. He offers to buy the land from Paul’s father Abel (David Willis) to much suspicion from Paul’s twin brother Eli (also played by Dano), who quickly establishes Plainview’s true interests; he demands more money for the deal, but he is brushed aside by Plainview with a much lower offer to his father. Daniel soon begins to lease nearly all the surrounding ranches and construction begins, allowing the hillside community to flourish from the flow of new wealth. Eli, who is a charismatic preacher and self-proclaimed faith healer, plans an expansion of his “Church of the Third Revelation.” He proposes to bless a newly-built oil derrick at its opening ceremony, but he is suddenly turned down when Plainview decides to bless the well himself. Not long thereafter, a worker is killed by a falling drill bit, and gas eruption causes H. W. to go deaf. When Eli finally demands the money promised to him, Daniel attacks him, mocking his faith and his inability to “heal” H. W. Eli returns home to take his anger out on his father, blaming him for selling the land at a greatly undervalued price.

The final scene features Eli, now ruined by poor investments lost to the Great Depression, visiting Plainview in his basement bowling alley. Eli discovers Plainview there, passed out on the floor, manages to awaken him, and Plainview immediately begins to drink more alcohol from a flask pulled from his pocket. Eli announces that the elder Bandy has died, leaving the grandson, and offers to partner with Daniel in order to drill the oil out from the old Bandy property, in exchange for a significant sum of money. But Daniel toys with his desperation by demanding that Eli first proclaim, “I am a false prophet, God is a superstition.” He then tells him that he has already drained the oil from Bandy’s land using the surrounding wells, and reveals that Eli’s brother Paul had years before sold the information to him about the oil on their land – exaggerating greatly the amount that he had paid him, in order to further torment Eli. Daniel announces that he had finally “beaten” Eli, but, unsatisfied with this psychological triumph, he chases and then beats a bewildered Eli to death with one of the bowling pins. His butler appears and approaches cautiously, while a tired Daniel ambiguously declares, “I’m finished!”