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Paul Thomas Anderson’s Favorite Films: Over 35 Movies the Director Wants You to See

Paul Thomas Anderson shares his love for Jonathan Demme, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and Adam Sandler.

Paul Thomas Anderson and his favorite movies.

Paul Thomas Anderson and his favorite movies.

Everett Collection

[Editor’s note: The following gallery was originally published in March 2020. It has been updated accordingly.]

Any list rounding up the greatest American filmmakers working today most likely includes Paul Thomas Anderson at the top or near the top of it. In naming the 100 best films of the 2010s, IndieWire included three Paul Thomas Anderson movies (“Inherent Vice,” “Phantom Thread,” and “The Master”), more entries than any other filmmaker on the list. Anderson is a filmmaker who blends the flourishes of Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, and Robert Altman into his own signature style. It should come as no surprise then to find these three directors included on a list of Anderson’s favorite movies. More surprising might be Anderson’s love for “Big Daddy” and “Girls Trip,” but it’s reassuring to know the director has a soft spot for crowd-pleasing comedies.

Later this year, Anderson will return to theaters with his still-untitled “Phantom Thread” follow-up project. The movie returns Anderson to the San Fernando Valley setting of “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia” and takes place in the 1970s. Cooper Hoffman, son of Anderson’s late collaborator Philip Seymour Hoffman, plays a child actor in high school who befriends a Hollywood director and producer (played by Bradley Cooper). The film has been teased as an ensemble drama, and the cast also includes Benny Safdie and Alana Haim.

With a new Anderson film on the way (MGM is releasing the movie in select theaters November 26), it’s as good a time as ever to watch the films closest to Anderson’s heart. Below is a selection of movies that have Anderson’s seal of approval.

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