Movie Views: Unraveling Oscar Run Stop 4, PHANTOM THREAD

Movie Views: Unraveling Oscar Run Stop 4, PHANTOM THREAD

After I walked out of director Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest film PHANTOM THREAD, nominated for six Academy Awards including four of my core 34 nominations I’m trying to see by the Oscars broadcast, I was at a loss. This was the first Oscar Run stop that left me rather…cold. I had been forewarned that I might have such a lukewarm reaction. One reviewer, in defense of the film, argued that the typical American audience would not appreciate the film’s subtleties. I don’t think that’s giving some of us movie buffs enough credit. I have been a fan of many films that I would compliment for their minimalism or subtle charms – like HOPE AND GLORY, MY LIFE AS A DOG, and GHOST WORLD, for example. Some critics have called PHANTOM THREAD masterful, others the year’s most interesting love story, and another described it as Anderson’s first real narrative. If by narrative, the critic means long and rambling, I would agree.


Let me first note: the acting is phenomenal. Daniel Day-Lewis has been one of my all-time favorites for many years, and I first found his quirky and awkward Cecil in A ROOM WITH A VIEW a true scene-stealer. He’s been stealing scenes from others ever since, from MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE and MY LEFT FOOT to THERE WILL BE BLOOD. So I am a true fan of the man, and the announcement that this film will be the last starring Lewis might have brought more attention to the film than it deserves. He is captivating as always as popular dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, and he is joined by an equally top-notch cast in supporting actress Oscar nominee Lesley Manville as his prickly sister Cyril and the also impressive (and perhaps more worthy of an Oscar nod) Vicky Krieps as his muse Alma, who does quite a bit of scene-stealing of her own. (Just keep her away from the kitchen…trust me on that one.)




So if I love the acting so much and I’ve had some luck with previous Anderson films before (PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, BOOGIE NIGHTS and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, to name a few), where does it go wrong for me? Perhaps it is primarily the pace. It felt like a slow…laborious…trudge…up…a…hill. And then once I finally reached the top, I no longer cared about any of the characters or that I had even embarked on the journey. I roll my eyes when I read critics hail the love story in this film. Interestingly enough, I saw two other 2017 films later in the week which to me, provided a much more fulfilling movie experience that touched my heart and my mind in two very different films, one a documentary and the other a “dramedy,” both which did a much better job of depicting true love stories — MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS and THE BIG SICK.




Each of these quietly capture the charming imperfections of love – whether it’s the love-hate relationship we might have with our own family members as in the Avett Brothers’ compelling documentary shot so earnestly by co-director Judd Apatow (along with Michael Bonfiglio) or the charming and honest look at love, culture clash and our insecurities in THE BIG SICK by writer-comedian Kumail Nanjiani and the real-life health scare he and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Emily faced.


Ben Koepp


These are love stories that have the ability to linger with you when you walk out of the theater or I think, even inspire you to pick up the phone and call a family member or look at your long-time sweetheart a little more forgiving and appreciative. I highly recommend each of them over PHANTOM THREAD any day of the week. If you want to see Daniel Day-Lewis at his best, check out one of the other earlier suggestions I mentioned. You won’t be disappointed. With PHANTOM, meh… you might be.


Thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.



On a scale of 0-100, I give PHANTOM THREAD a 79. 


(Oh, and in case you are wondering, I give MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS a 90 and THE BIG SICK an 89.)



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