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Paul Thomas Anderson is a bright new writer and director whose track record is very good at this point. In 1996 he released his debut, originally titled Sydney. The title was changed to Hard Eight. It was released to glowing reviews but received little commercial succes. It was an emotional, self-contained chamber piece starring Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson.

The next year he released his follow-up and breathrough work, the expansive Boogie Nights. The film chronicles the life and times of porn star Dirk Diggler, who is a fictional character loosely based on John Holmes (whose work is even referenced in the movie; Dirk says his movies are not as misogynistic as Holmes'). It also features Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many others. The movie received excellent reviews from critics and considerable mainstream success. It was nominated for several oscars, including Best Supporting Actor (Burt Reynolds), Best Supporting Actress (Julianne Moore), and Best Original Screenplay (by PT Anderson). Unfortunately, it didn't win any of these.

In 1999, P.T. Anderson released his most recent movie, the epic and majestic Magnolia. It featured a large ensemble cast including Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Melinda Dillon, April Grace, and Jeremy Blackman, as well as Anderson favorites like John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julianna Moore. The story was an expansive series of events recounted from varying points of view in a style reminiscent of Robert Altman. Clocking in at 188 minutes, the movie was a true epic. However, the pacing was excellent, and the film moved very quickly. The film received two Oscar nominations, Tom Cruise for Best Supporting Actor, and P.T. Anderson again for Best Original Screenplay. Again, neither award was won, with Michael Caine taking Best Supporting Actor for The Cider House Rules and the Academy opting for Alan Ball's script for the popular American Beauty over Anderson's expansive and witty masterpiece.

P.T. Anderson is one of the most exciting new directors of this generation, and I'm looking forward to whatever he comes up with next.

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