The Master

The Master ★★★★★

Nothing short of a masterpiece. Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing. What he is able to conjure up within himself to deliver this character to life is earth-shattering. To borrow a phrase from Simone: he's "supernatural". I can say unquestionably that his embodiment of Freddy Quell is easily among a very small handful of the greatest performances by an actor that I've ever seen in my lifetime. It's damn-near criminal that he doesn't have a chance to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. He's absolutely mesmerizing in every scene.
There's good reason Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are also nominated for their supporting roles. Hoffman is commanding and self-assured, and his character so nuanced that his complexities only make him more captivating. Amy Adams has a couple scenes in particular where she is riveting, even with her back to the camera.
And then there's P.T.'s direction. Honestly, when it comes to the way this film looks, it might be his best work to date. It's assured and deliberate, with extra attention to detail payed during dialogue-heavy scenes [and The Master has a lot of them]. But it's what he does with his camera outside of those scenes that is truly remarkable. Sweeping shots of landscape and action, long tracked-out one-shot scenes that take your breath away. Water. There are at least 2 or 3 shots alone of water that are uncommonly beautiful. This is "The Tree of Life" meets...hell, I don't know. This is truly a unique film without any peers. Years from now, when we look back at 2012, we will remember this film far above the likes of "Lincoln" and "Les Miserables" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild". Not just for its once-in-a-lifetime lead performance, but for the work of art that it most assuredly is. Far and away the best film of the year.

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