The Master is a 2012 American psychological drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. It tells the story of Freddie Quell (Phoenix), a World War II navy veteran struggling to adjust to a post-war society, who meets Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman), a leader of a religious movement known as "The Cause". Dodd sees something in Quell and accepts him into the movement. Freddie takes a liking to The Cause and begins traveling with Dodd's family along the East Coast to spread his teachings.
The film was produced by Annapurna Pictures and Ghoulardi Film Company and distributed by The Weinstein Company. The film's inspirations were varied: it was partly inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as well as by early drafts of Anderson's There Will Be Blood, the novel V. by Thomas Pynchon, drunken navy stories that Jason Robards had told to Anderson as he was terminally ill while filming Magnolia, and the life story of author John Steinbeck. The Master was shot almost entirely on 65mm film stock, making it the first fiction feature to be shot and released in 70 mm since Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet in 1996.
Initially, the film was set up with Universal Pictures, but fell through due to script and budget problems. It was first publicly shown on August 3, 2012, at the American Cinematheque in 70 mm and screened variously in the same way, before officially premiering at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, where it won the FIPRESCI Award for Best Film. It was released in theaters on September 14, 2012, in the United States to critical acclaim, with its performances (particularly those from the three leads), screenplay, direction, plausibility, and realistic portrayal of post-World War II Americans praised.
The Master is cited as one of the best movies of the 2010s. It received three Oscar nominations: Best Actor for Phoenix, Best Supporting Actor for Hoffman, and Best Supporting Actress for Adams. In 2016, The Master was voted the 24th greatest film of the 21st century by 177 critics from around the world. Anderson has repeatedly stated that The Master is his favorite film that he has made to date.