Paul Thomas Anderson is clearly one of the greatest filmmakers working today, and he’s made a lot of exceptionally good films.

His filmography has been praised for its originality, complexity, and darkness. But which Paul Thomas Anderson movies are the best?

This list ranks every Paul Thomas Anderson movie from best to worst. It includes all of PTA’s films as a director, including his feature films and shorts.

While some may debate the order of this list, it’s hard to debate that these are all great films.

The one thing that you have to understand about Paul Thomas Anderson is that he is his own kind of filmmaker.

The fact that he has been able to create some of the best movies ever made is a huge testament to his brilliance.

This list will help you learn more about this amazing director and the films he has created.

Best Paul Thomas Anderson Movies

Who Is paul thomas anderson?

Paul Thomas Anderson (born June 26, 1970) is an American filmmaker. Though his films are often associated with the growing American indie movie scene, he does not consider himself an independent filmmaker.

He is often seen as part of the loosely defined movement known as New Hollywood or the New American Cinema.

Anderson has received consistent praise for his work. In 2002, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized him as a young filmmaker of promise in its annual “Directors’ Showcase” initiative.

PT Anderson is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. His films are some of the most acclaimed, his shot composition and camera movements are among the best, and his character development is second to none.

He has been nominated for Best Director five times, including three for Best Picture.



Best Paul Thomas Anderson Movies

Each and every character in a Paul Thomas Anderson film tends to be very quirky and unique.


They also tend to be very memorable, due to the fact that Anderson likes to focus on smaller details about each character.

He tries to make all of the characters in his films feel like real people, and you can tell because they seem so authentic and believable in each of his films.

The performances are always fantastic, but this is due to Anderson’s ability to create complex characters for them to play off each other.

Magnolia (1999)

Magnoliais a sprawling masterpiece that explores the interconnected lives of several characters in Los Angeles.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson weaves a complex narrative that delves into themes of chance, coincidence, and redemption.

The ensemble cast is nothing short of phenomenal, with standout performances from Tom Cruise as the charismatic motivational speaker, Jason Robards as the dying patriarch, and Julianne Moore as the troubled wife.

However, it is the lesser-known actors, like John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who truly shine and bring a sense of humanity to their roles.

Anderson’s direction is bold and unapologetic, with long takes, unconventional camera angles, and a haunting score by Jon Brion that elevates the emotional impact of each scene.

The film’s climax, a surreal sequence that defies explanation, is both bizarre and beautiful, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.

While Magnolia may not be for everyone, those who appreciate complex storytelling and rich character development will find it to be a deeply rewarding cinematic experience.

It is a film that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll, and one that deserves repeated viewings to fully appreciate its brilliance.

Magnolia [Blu-Ray]
  • Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director)
  • Spanish (Subtitle)

The Master (2012)

“The Master” is a captivating and thought-provoking film that delves into the complex relationship between a charismatic cult leader, played brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a troubled World War II veteran, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterful storytelling and stunning cinematography, combined with the mesmerizing performances of the cast, make for an unforgettable cinematic experience.

The film’s exploration of human psychology and the desire for belonging is both intriguing and unsettling, as we witness the gradual transformation of Phoenix’s character under the influence of Hoffman’s cult.

Amy Adams also shines in her supporting role as Hoffman’s wife, adding a layer of tension and manipulation to the already complicated dynamic between the two leads.

The use of 70mm film and Jonny Greenwood’s haunting score create a haunting and immersive atmosphere that perfectly captures the film’s themes of control and manipulation.

While the film’s slow pacing may not be for everyone, “The Master” is a tour de force of filmmaking that will leave you pondering its themes long after the credits roll.

The Master (Blu-ray)
  • The Master - Blu-ray Brand New
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director) - Paul Thomas Anderson (Writer)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood is a cinematic masterpiece that del into the complexities of greed, power, and ambition.

film follows the journey of Daniel Plainview, a ruthless oil tycoon, as he navigates the early days of the oil industry in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a performance of a lifetime as Plainview, capturing the character’s cunning and ruthlessness with ease.

The film’s score, composed by Jonny Greenwood, serves as a haunting backdrop to the on-screen action, adding to the film’s already tense and foreboding atmosphere.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson masterfully crafts a story that is both intimate and epic in scope, showcasing the harsh realities of the American Dream and the lengths some will go to achieve it.

The film’s final act, which features an unforgettable confrontation between Plainview and a local preacher, is a cinematic tour de force that will leave viewers breathless.

There Will Be Blood is a true masterpiece of cinema, a film that expertly balances stunning visuals, powerful performances, and a gripping story.


It’s a must-watch for anyone who appreciates great filmmaking and storytelling.

There Will Be Blood
  • Daniel Day Lewis, Paul Dano (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director)
  • French, English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Boogie Nights (1997)

Boogie Nights is a tour de force of filmmaking that manages to be both a love letter to the golden age of porn and a poignant exploration of the human experience.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterful storytelling is on full display as he weaves together the lives of a group of characters in the porn industry, led by the charismatic Dirk Diggler (played brilliantly by Mark Wahlberg).

The film’s ensemble cast is simply outstanding, with standout performances from Burt Reynolds as the patriarchal porn director Jack Horner, Julianne Moore as the troubled porn star Amber Waves, and John C. Reilly as the lovable and vulnerable Reed Rothchild.

The film is a visual feast, with stunning cinematography and a soundtrack that perfectly captures the era’s disco-fueled hedonism.

However, what makes Boogie Nights truly special is the way it manages to find the humanity and heart in its characters, even as they navigate the seedy underworld of the porn industry.

Anderson’s script is both funny and heartbreaking, and he handles the film’s darker themes with sensitivity and nuance.

Boogie Nights (Blu-ray)
  • Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Licorice Pizza (2021)

Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest offering takes us on a nostalgic and charming journey through 1970s California, following the unlikely romance between 15-year-old Gary Valentine (played by newcomer Cooper Hoffman) and the enigmatic 25-year-old Alana Kane (played by Alana Haim of the band Haim).

The film is a love letter to the era, with stunning cinematography capturing the sun-soaked streets and vibrant colors of the time.

The soundtrack is also a standout, featuring classic hits from the likes of David Bowie and Joni Mitchell.

Hoffman and Haim deliver fantastic performances, with their chemistry sparking onscreen and carrying the film’s whimsical tone.

However, the real standout is Sean Penn, who appears in a scene-stealing role as a quirky and eccentric Hollywood producer.

While Licorice Pizza may not be for everyone, those who appreciate Anderson’s unique style and love stories of young love and coming-of-age will find much to enjoy.

It’s a film that feels both timeless and of its time, and will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling long after the credits roll.

Licorice Pizza [DVD]
  • Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director) - Paul Thomas Anderson (Writer) - Sara Murphy (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Phantom Thread (2017)

Phantom Thread is a masterful and mesmerizing film that showcases the talents of director Paul Thomas Anderson and lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

Set in 1950s London, the film follows the tumultuous relationship between renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) and his muse and lover Alma (Vicky Krieps).

The cinematography is stunning, capturing the elegance and glamour of high fashion and the inner workings of Woodcock’s meticulous process.

Day-Lewis’s performance as the obsessive and temperamental Woodcock is nothing short of brilliant, and Krieps holds her own as the strong-willed Alma who refuses to be just another one of Woodcock’s muses.

The film’s score, composed by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, is haunting and adds an extra layer of depth to the already rich and complex story.

The script is sharp and manages to balance moments of dark humor with heartbreaking drama.

Phantom Thread is a slow burn of a film, but the payoff is well worth it.

It’s a beautifully crafted exploration of love, control, and creativity that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Highly recommended for fans of art house cinema and period dramas.

Phantom Thread [Blu-ray]
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director) - Paul Thomas Anderson (Writer) - JoAnne Sellar (Producer)
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Punch-Drunk Love is a rare gem in the catalog of writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson.

Adam Sandler delivers a tour de force performance as Barry Egan, a socially awkward and emotionally repressed small business owner who finds unexpected love in the form of Lena Leonard (Emily Watson).

Anderson’s signature style is on full display, with stunning cinematography, a captivating score from Jon Brion, and an unconventional narrative structure that keeps the audience on their toes.

What sets this film apart, however, is the way in which it balances high tension and deep emotion, making for a unique and unforgettable viewing experience.

Sandler’s portrayal of Barry is a revelation, showcasing his range as an actor and elevating the film to another level.

Watson is also fantastic as Lena, bringing a quiet strength and vulnerability to the role that perfectly compliments Sandler’s performance.

Punch-Drunk Love is a beautiful and complex film that rewards multiple viewings.

It’s a testament to Anderson’s talent as a filmmaker and Sandler’s ability to transcend his comedic roots.

If you’re a fan of character-driven dramas with a touch of quirkiness, this is a must-see.

Punch-Drunk Love (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Emily Watson (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Hard Eight (1996)

Hard Eight is a slow-burning crime drama that’s a masterclass in character development.

The film follows John, a seasoned gambler, who takes a young man named Sydney under his wing and teaches him the ropes of the casino world.

The film is filled with tension, suspense, and unexpected twists that keep you on the edge of your seat.

The performances in this film are outstanding.

Philip Baker Hall shines as John, a man with a mysterious past and a deep understanding of the casino world.

John C. Reilly is equally impressive as Sydney, a naive young man who is in over his head but eager to learn.

Gwyneth Paltrow also delivers a solid performance as Clementine, a cocktail waitress who becomes entangled in their world.

The film’s direction by Paul Thomas Anderson is masterful.

He creates a gritty, atmospheric world that feels both authentic and unsettling.

The cinematography is also stunning, with each shot carefully composed and beautifully lit.

Hard Eight [Blu-ray]
  • Hard Eight (1996) ( Sydney ) ( Last Exit Reno 8 )
  • Hard Eight (1996)
  • Sydney
  • Last Exit Reno 8
  • Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly (Actors)

Inherent Vice (2014)

Inherent Vice is a wild ride of a film, with a cast of characters that are both intriguing and bizarre.

The film follows the story of a private investigator named Doc Sportello, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix, as he tries to solve a missing person case in Los Angeles during the 1970s.

The film is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who does a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the time period and the counterculture movement.

The performances in Inherent Vice are outstanding, with Phoenix leading the way with his quirky and captivating portrayal of Doc.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with standout performances from Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Katherine Waterston.

The chemistry between the characters is palpable, and the dialogue is sharp and witty, keeping the audience engaged throughout.

The film’s plot can be difficult to follow at times, with a complex web of characters and subplots that require careful attention to fully understand.

However, the film’s surreal and trippy nature adds to its charm, making it a unique and memorable viewing experience.

Inherent Vice (Blu-ray)
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson (Actors)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Director) - Paul Thomas Anderson (Writer) - Paul Thomas Anderson (Producer)
  • French, Portuguese, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

What Is Paul Thomas Anderson Known For?

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the acclaimed film directors of his generation.

He has directed several critically acclaimed films like ‘Boogie Nights’, ‘Punch Drunk Love’ and ‘There Will Be Blood’.

What is Paul Thomas Anderson known for?

Anderson was born in 1970 to parents Edwina and Ernie Anderson.

His mother owned a video store and his father was a comic book artist, who worked under the name Boodikka.

His parents divorced when he was very young, after which he stayed with his mother.

His stepfather was a blues promoter and musician and with him, he got interested in films at an early age.

He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1989 to 1990 but dropped out due to financial issues after only one year.

He later financed his studies by working various odd jobs like delivering pizzas and working in video stores.

During this time, he directed several short films including ‘Bottle Rocket’, which became a theatrical release in 1996.
The film was well received by critics, who praised its originality and unique style of filmmaking.

In 1999 he released his first major film ‘Magnolia’.

The film received positive reviews from critics who praised its originality and complex narrative structure.