Friday Movies: There Will Be Blood
This week, I shall be very brief. I went to see There Will Be Blood because I hoped that it would disprove my discomfort with this year’s Academy Awards nominations. Three of the five best-picture nominees are intensely violent, male-centered dramas. (I say this without having seen No Country For Old Men.) A fourth, Atonement, offers a distinctly unsympathetic critique of the male hierarchy of class background, but it is not without its cataclysms. Only Juno resists this rampant guyism.
There Will Be Blood turns out to be about nothing more than how awful a man can be — and how symphonically that awfulness can be represented on the screen. Potential background stories about such things as the imaginative poverty of the American frontier, cavalier attitudes toward workplace safety, or the anaerobic deadweight of extractive economies are muddled by the protagonist’s bewilderingly inconsistent sociopathy. What this film boils down to is the virtuosity of Daniel Day-Lewis’s acting — and of the men and women of the film’s Makeup Department.
What was the Academy thinking?