I was glad that Daniel Day Lewis won for best actor. His portrait of oilman Daniel Plainview was stunning. He was so charismatic and yet such a villain. I was also surprised that it was about the oil fields of California. I had assumed it was Texas until I heard them refer to Point Hueneme half way through the movie.
I remember the oil derricks in the southern part of central valley of California. We would travel to visit my aunt who lived in Pasadena and pass them along the highway before we headed up over the Grapevine. Their movement facinated me as a child from the window of our car.
Oil did shape a lot of Southern California and even had repercussions into the 1960's when there were efforts to stop drilling off the coast. I passed the San Ardo oil field along Highway 101 on my way to Paso Robles in February just after seeing the movie.
The railroad also had a big impact on the area. Not only for transporting oil but also transporting crops. One of my favorite books in high school was "The Octopus" by Frank Norris. I should go back and read this novel and "Oil!" by Sinclair Lewis which was the inspiration for the movie.