The Grade Book: “The Master”







The Master

Plot: A WWII Naval veteran returns home unsure of how to go about his life. Then he meets a charismatic man who leads a following called The Cause, and the man takes the veteran under his wing.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. 

Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson. 

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern. 

Genre: Drama.

Running Time: 2 hours and 17 minutes.

MPAA Rating: R.




SUMMARY OF THOUGHTS: The Master is a challenging and beautifully crafted film with amazing acting all around — including a standout performance by Joaquin Phoenix. Not quite perfect, but still a must-see and one of the best of the year.


  • Erik Bajzert:

Grade: B

A film that is so chock full of filler and repetition of the same point, it absolutely hurts to say that the brilliant acting and direction is undermined to an overwhelming level. Still, the brilliant things in the film are no less brilliant. I was let down with the film, but it is still worth seeing.

  • Christian Becker:

Grade: A-

The acting is nothing short of amazing. No one could have pulled what Pheonix has accomplished and he deserves the gold. The story has the power of being both complex and simple. Most of the time it’s fascinating, but at others it can be a little dry. Take it for the brainy treat that it is and watch a “Master” (Paul Thomas Anderson) at work.

  • Ryan Fecskovics:

Grade: A-

Beautifully directed and acted. One of the strongest films to come out this year. Script issues are here but overall are easily looked over, and it is a near lock for Oscar nomination glory. A standout that will leave you wanting more. A must-see.

  • Chad Gleason (MovieManCHAD):


Grade: A

One of the best films of 2012!!!

  • Scott Menzel:

Grade: A-

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film could quite possibly be his best to date. The Master is brilliantly acted and skillfully directed. The film, set in the 1950s, looks and feels as if we as the audience member entered a time capsule and went back in time. Hoffman may in fact earn another Oscar nomination because his performance is practically flawless. As for Phoenix, he gives one of the best performances of his career, with this one ranking up with his most iconic role to date as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. While this movie is both dark and difficult to follow for most, this is definitely one of the best made films of the year. I highly recommend seeing it if you are a fan of films that make you think and showcase some powerhouse performances.

  •  Alex Perez:

Grade: A+

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film is easily my favorite of his and honestly one of the best cinematic achievements I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams all turn in fantastic performances, and Phoenix in particular better get a Best Actor nod! PTA directs this film with absolute beauty, making each scene look more astounding than the next. He writes clever dialogue and realistic situations that these characters get into, which ultimately increases the greatness of the story and the dramatic material. If you skip this movie, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. This, in my opinion, really is film-making at it’s finest.

  • Daniel Rester:

Grade: A

With The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson proves once again that he is one of the best filmmakers working today. The director perfectly captures themes such as loneliness, belonging, and megalomania, all while crafting the film in breathtaking ways — with expert cinematography, production design, and music. Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of his career as the drunken lost soul at the center of the film, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams deliver praiseworthy performances as well. This is a dark, slowly-paced, challenging (and also humorous) film that real film-buffs will greatly admire. To me, this is not quite a masterpiece, but it’s still one of the best films of 2012 and a must-see.


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