‘Phantom Thread’ First Reactions Prove Paul Thomas Anderson Has Made One of the Best Films of 2017

Movie lovers anxiously awaiting the review embargo for Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread” to be lifted can breathe a sigh of relief, for the first reactions make it clear the director will be returning to the big screen in top form. The film reunites Anderson with “There Will Be Blood” star Daniel Day-Lewis in the story of a renowned 1950s dressmaker who falls for a strong-willed younger muse.

Film critics aren’t allowed to publish reviews until December 7, but they have been able to talk about “Phantom Thread” in other contexts. Numerous film critics have already named “Phantom Thread” one of the best films of 2017, including IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn and David Ehlrich. The film been appeared on Top 10 lists from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Vulture, Vogue, and more. Here’s why critics are calling “Phantom Thread” one of the year’s best:

Eric Kohn, IndieWire
Paul Thomas Anderson has typically operated in two modes: Beguiling riffs on history (“Boogie Nights,” “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master”) and peculiar, intimate character studies that transform emotional experiences into haunting, dreamlike journeys. “Phantom Thread” fuses those tendencies into a satisfying whole. Daniel Day-Lewis’ obsessive dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock is a fussy creation for the ages.”

David Ehrlich, IndieWire
The highlight of Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest joint comes at the very end, and the movie isn’t out yet, so we’ll have to leave it as a tease for now: A meal goes wrong, and then maybe it doesn’t. You’ll know it when you see it. Needless to say, if this is truly the end for Daniel Day-Lewis, he’s going out on a high note.

John Powers, Vogue
“If ‘Mother!’ is a deliriously biblical portrait of the artist as a godlike monster (for the record, I liked it), this new film by Paul Thomas Anderson offers a more graceful and far more complicated version of the same idea…Quiet, moody, and deeply perverse (I’ll say no more), this fascinating movie reminds us that Anderson is the kind of alchemist-director who can turn somebody ordering breakfast into a classic scene.”

Emily Yoshida, Vulture:
“Anderson can’t help but bring agonizing humanity to his characters. Daniel Day-Lewis, in what he has said will be his final film role, doesn’t disappear into London dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock so much as he builds him from the impeccably shined shoes on up. But Vicky Krieps’s disarmingly earnest waitress Alma is the real heart of the film…it’s almost unspeakably touching.”

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Two lives — and two perversities — become one in this ravishingly beautiful, often unexpectedly funny film, which traces the relationship between an eminent couture designer (a magnificent Daniel Day-Lewis) and his younger, surprising muse (Vicky Krieps). It’s a story about love and about work, and finally as much about its own creation as the romance onscreen.

A.O. Scott, The New York Times
It awakens other appetites, longings that are too often neglected: for beauty, for strangeness, for the delirious, heedless pursuit of perfection. I’ve only seen this film once (it opens at Christmastime), and I’m sure it has its flaws. I will happily watch it another dozen times until I find them all.

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
Phantom Thread is, in the end, a perverse sort of romantic comedy, a wicked tribute to the compromises and lovable madnesses of couplehood, all staged with elegant restraint by Anderson and given lift by Jonny Greenwood’s lush and alluring score.

“Phantom Thread”

In addition to critics’ Top 10 lists, “Phantom Thread” was also named one of the year’s best films by the National Board of Review. Paul Thomas Anderson has won Best Screenplay honors from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. Even directors like Rian Johnson have been hailing the film.

“‘Phantom Thread’ is among Paul’s damnedest and rarest,” Johnson told Variety. “It has a lush and delicately engaged vigor that evokes David Lean’s romances, though it is always beguilingly idiosyncratic and entirely its own beast. The performances are densely layered wonders and the visual design is exquisite, but the real magic of it is how the thing as a whole transcends technique.”

More praise has been teased on Twitter, with Edgar Wright even raving about the film.

“Phantom Thread” opens in theaters December 25.