Paul Thomas Anderson
At 12, Anderson started using a Betamax camera to make amateur films; by the time he was 23, he had premiered his first short, "Cigarettes and Coffee" (1993), at Sundance, which he later expanded into his first full-length feature, Hard Eight (1996).
Anderson eventually caught Hollywood's attention with Boogie Nights (1997), an unconventional look at the porn industry that garnered three Oscar nods. Magnolia (1999) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002) would follow, but Anderson wouldn't be courted by the Academy again until There Will Be Blood (2007), an epic tale of greed that earned eight nominations, including honors for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
In this expansive drama, ambitious prospector Daniel Plainview strikes it rich when he buys the oil rights to a California family's ranch. As he turns a simple village into a boomtown, Plainview stokes the ire of a charismatic young preacher.