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There Will Be Blood

8 Academy Award Nominations ~ Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor

Every few years, Daniel Day-Lewis erupts onto our screen like a cinematic volcano, each dramatic explosion more overwhelming than the last. The actor, who has just won a Golden Globe for his ferocious performance as a greedy oilman in There Will Be Blood, is surely on his way to winning an Oscar after yesterday's Bafta nomination. He has already won one Oscar, playing cerebral palsy victim and artist Christy Brown in My Left Foot (1989) and has been nominated twice since, as an Irishman wrongly convicted of terrorism in In the Name of The Father (1993) and for the brutal Bill the Butcher in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York (2002). But it's hard to imagine what Day-Lewis might ever do in the future to better his astonishing performance in There Will Be Blood. He embodies brutal oil prospector Daniel Plainview with such savage intensity that you fear the screen will be torn asunder. From the first moment he appears, silently digging in the near darkness of a mine, you sense you are witnessing one of the greatest performances ever captured on celluloid. "The actor seems to have invaded Plainview's every atom, filling an otherwise empty vessel with so much rage and purpose you wait for him to blow," says Manohla Dargis, film critic for the New York Times. Exactly how he achieves this impact is as inexplicable as how, for example, his broken nose adds to, rather than detracts from, his beauty. But young actors could do worse than follow his lead in three ways that clearly help him distill his performances to their essence. First, he works very sparingly. Now 50, he has made just four films in the last decade, and insists he can only be prised from his normal life when he feels what he calls a "fever" or a "madness" for the role that's calling to him. "I choose to believe that there are some things that can't be avoided," he says. It's not that he's some deeply tortured recluse. "I simply need the time I spend not working in films, the time away, to do the work I love to do in the way I love to do it." Second, he lives far from Hollywood, in the Wicklow Mountains outside Dublin with his wife, director Rebecca Miller, and their two sons, aged nine and five. Day-Lewis and Miller, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller, married in 1996. Ireland allows him to maintain a healthy distance from the ego-pampering and tabloid craziness modern stardom entails. Third, the way in which he inhabits his roles seems almost supernatural. In fact it is the result of meticulous preparation by a careful artisan building from the ground up. He starts with the voice, talking to himself, using a tape recorder to get it right. "I try without thinking about it to have a sense of whether that voice belongs to me in my new life," he says. But it's a transubstantiation he also fears because it's so utterly consuming: Day-Lewis insists on staying in character on and off the set. Why does he go to such lengths? "Most of the movies that I do are leading me toward a life that is utterly mysterious to me," he says. "My chief goal is to find a way to make that life meaningful to other people." Daniel Day-Lewis, perhaps the greatest screen actor we have, succeeds every time. - Christopher Goodwin, The First Post
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Directed by: 
Paul Thomas Anderson
Running Time: 
Daniel Day-Lewis,
Screenplay by: 
Paul Thomas Anderson based on the novel by Upton Sinclair

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