With wildly different films dropping on the same day this weekend, critically lauded director Paul Thomas Anderson is bringing us the religious cult drama (and Oscar hopeful) "The Master," while "Resident Evil: Retribution," the fifth installment in the "Resident Evil" franchise, comes from the series' original helmer Paul W.S. Anderson.
Or, as he's commonly known in the Ain't It Cool News talkback boards, "Paul Worthless S**t Anderson."
Because twee director Wes Anderson was unavailable to referee this grudge match, we're pitting these two similarly-named, almost diametrically opposite artists against one another in a blood feud that has lasted since they both released their debut films in the mid-'90s. Strap yourself in; this one could get nasty.
P.T. Anderson: Burt Reynolds (Oscar Nomination), Julianne Moore (Oscar Nomination), Tom Cruise (Oscar Nomination), Daniel Day-Lewis (Oscar Win), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix.
Paul W.S. Anderson: Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, Milla Jovovich.
Advantage: Whoa, P.T., slow down, we don't want to lap poor W.S. right out of the gate or nothin'. Seriously, though, that is a lot of prestige for one filmmaker, who does all but provide Oscar-nomination guarantees for his leads -- including the two stars of "The Master," Hoffman and Phoenix, who are both virtual locks for next year's ceremony.
P.T. Anderson: AFI Movie of the Year, Silver Berlin Bear, London Critics Circle Film Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, National Society of Film Critics Award and Pen Literary Award for "There Will Be Blood" (2007). Also five Academy Award nominations for "Blood," "Magnolia," (1999) and "Boogie Nights" (1997).
Paul W.S. Anderson: Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film's Pegasus Audience Award for "Event Horizon" (1997), Genie Awards' Golden Reel Award for "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" (2004)
Advantage: Do we really have to say it? Paul Thomas Anderson, you have that golden touch. Like Stanley Kubrick and Orson Welles before you, you might never take home that Best Director Oscar, but you can rest easy knowing that Paul W.S. Anderson probably won't, either.
P.T. Anderson: Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, John Huston, Stanley Kubrick, Max Ophüls, Jacques Tati.
Paul W.S. Anderson: Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Roger Corman, Mario Bava.
Advantage: P.T., baby. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill, but the 42-year-old director has no shortage of respect for his antecedents while establishing his own ever-evolving filmmaking style. He's proved himself adept at both comedy and drama, and we're sure that if he ever took on a sci-fi property the way his 47-year-old namesake W.S. has, it would probably be pretty sick, too.
P.T. Anderson: Made the definitive movie on the porn industry ("Boogie Nights"), a full-on raging Robert Altman pastiche ("Magnolia") and a frickin' Adam Sandler movie … to be clear, THE BEST Adam Sandler movie ("Punch-Drunk Love").
Paul W.S. Anderson: Has made movies based on video games ("Mortal Kombat," Resident Evil"), other popular franchises ("AVP: Alien Vs. Predator") and a steampunk version of Alexander Dumas' "The Three Musketeers," almost all classifiable in the sci-fi/ horror/ action genre.
Advantage: W.S. wins this round. Despite the majority of his movies having been incurably hit by a stupid truck, he has fanboy dollars firmly secured. Also, to give credit where credit is due, at least his "Three Musketeers" wasn't based on the candy bar.
HOT CELEBRITY WIFE
P.T. Anderson: Maya Rudolph of "Saturday Night Live," "Idiocracy" and "Bridesmaids" (three children together).
Paul W.S. Anderson: Milla Jovovich of "The Fifth Element," the "Resident Evil" franchise, pop music and modeling for Revlon and such (one child together).
Advantage: Give this one to the lucky W.S., who bagged the goddess whom MTV referred to as "Every Geek's Dream Girl." Rudolph is no slouch, though, bringing both beauty and humor to her roles with an undercurrent of sly intelligence.
P.T. Anderson: Lifetime Domestic Gross Total -- $107,145,905
Paul W.S. Anderson: Lifetime Domestic Gross Total -- $348,945,649
Advantage: W.S. takes it again -- although, to be fair, this is living proof that money is not a reflection on quality. At all. Ever. Period.
AVERAGE ROTTEN TOMATOES RATING
P.T. Anderson: Between 79% and 92% positive. (Certified Fresh)
Paul W.S. Anderson: Between 10% and 34% positive. (Certified Rotten)
Advantage: Having made only six films since his debut in 1996 with "Hard Eight," P.T. has established himself as the heir apparent to Stanley Kubrick, developing projects carefully with several years between, typically released to a chorus of critical orgasms. Meanwhile, with his ten theatrical releases, W.S. has carved out his own corner of filmdom as the heir apparent to Ed Wood.
BEST PERSONAL QUOTE
P.T. Anderson: "I have a feeling, one of those gut feelings, that I'll make pretty good movies the rest of my life."
Paul W.S. Anderson: "I don't think it would be possible for me to respect people like Ridley Scott or James Cameron more than I already do. They're gods of filmmaking."
Advantage: Well you gotta hand it to P.T., he has no shortage of hubris, although it's pretty well-earned, we say.
AND THE WINNER IS ...
In a "shouldn't have been this close" 5-to-3 victory, it's Paul Thomas Anderson … duh. What do you take us for, cinematic philistines? If your wall is covered in Megadeth posters, your X-Box controller clogged with Dorito grease (again) and your Criterion Collection consists solely of "Armageddon," then Paul W.S. Anderson's movies are for you, good sir or madam. Otherwise get with the program and check out the relatively small but breathtakingly audacious filmic output of "the thinking man's Anderson."