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

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic, turn-of-the-century, neo-historical tale of oil baron Daniel Plainview feels as essential to understanding the DNA of California as Robert Towne’s Chinatown. Anderson told interviewer Henry Rollins that he began writing There Will Be Blood partly “out of boredom,” taking passages from Upton Sinclair’s novel and re-crafting them as his own. From there, a screenplay “started to stick.” The wordless scenes that commence the film, with Plainview down a mineshaft, hacking away with a pickaxe, are neatly bookended by the film’s ending: Plainview, now rich and alone, hacking away at the head of his arch-nemesis, a preacher, with a pin from his personal bowling alley.