8. Phantom Thread
Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and star Daniel Day-Lewis previously collaborated There Will Be Blood, for which the actor won the second of his three Oscars; there’s a whiff of James Mason to this performance, though with a bit of elbow room. The character, Reynolds Woodcock, is a man robust in his appetites – eats big meals, drives his sports car fast, moves from woman to woman – but meticulous in his work, and Anderson shows rather than tells (the little blisters in the close-ups of his fingers do the work of pages of expositional dialogue). The picture’s revelation is co-star Ms. Krieps, who is every bit his match; she seems, at the beginning, a variation on the starry-eyed ingénue, but witness the entire conversation they have, without saying anything at all, when he finds her on a dance floor on New Year’s Eve. This is some of the most complex and lived-in acting I’ve seen this year, imbued with a sense of danger and unpredictability that Anderson’s wild script matches. And then some.