101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

No modern writer-director has an oeuvre as pointedly divergent, eclectic, and successful as Paul Thomas Anderson, who seems, at each new turn, to be making the point that, no matter the trappings, the same themes of human existence reign. His films cover such disparate realms as the porn industry’s San Fernando Valley heyday in 1970s-’80s (Boogie Nights) to the buttoned-down life of an haute couture dressmaker in 1950s London (Phantom Thread). Perhaps his most esoteric, The Master, is about a struggling WWII vet who finds a sort of refuge with an L. Ron Hubbard-esque cult leader, Lancaster Dodd. Anderson told the L.A. Times in 2018 The Master was likely to remain his personal favorite of all his films. “I’m not sure it’s entirely successful,” he said, “but that’s fine with me. It feels right. It feels unique to me.”