It will be interesting to see which of the male leads in The Master will be nominated for the Oscar. Nominating both Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman would assure neither wins though both deliver astounding performance in a film that is as enigmatic as any I've ever seen. What's it about? It's about truth and lies and how they're absolutely essential to human life. At least that's my reading.
I must confess I don't think it's a GREAT film. Its core puzzlement about the complex relationship between the master (Hoffman) and his not so stellar, moonshining but loyal disciple (Phoenix) seems to be a notion without solid mooring. Or it could be I'm too dense to get Paul Thomas Anderson's meaning beneath the surface of the story of one manipulative fraud trying to "save" another manipulative fraud. Singular performances -- including Amy Adams and Laura Dern -- are wonderful, and Hoffman and Phoenix's "chemistry" -- in every sense of that overtaxed word -- is truly potent.