If I were to guess, I would say that about half of the people reading this have heard the name Paul Haggis but I am willing to bet that one hundred percent of the people reading this know his work. Paul Haggis (the pride of London, Ontario) has been a working writer since 1980 and an Academy Award winner since 2004.
When his film Crash won both Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay in 2004, many thought he was a newcomer to the business. They thought wrong and since that night he has, in my opinion, turned out the most thought provoking, high quality films of my generation. I just watched his most recent film The Next Three Days (which he wrote and directed) and it might be the best film he has ever made.
The one constant in his work is that it seems to get better, which is rare. As a writer he started out working on children’s cartoons like Heathcliff the Cat, Richie Rich and Plastic Man and then moved into the sitcoms of the 80s like One Day at a Time, Diff’rent Strokes and Facts of Life. His career took its upswing in the early 90s when he began writing on L.A. Law and in 1996 he created the dramedy Due South which was originally a Canadian production but was picked up by CBS and ran for three seasons. That exposure opened the door for him to be involved in popular network series like Family Law and Walker, Texas Ranger and eventually Lionsgate Films bought his Crash script and allowed him to direct it.
Since Crash his resume is unbelieveable. He wrote Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Casino Royale and Quantam of Solace. Million Dollar Baby won Best Picture and was was nominated for Best Screenplay, Letters from Iwo Jima was also nominated for Best Screenplay. He also wrote and directed In the Valley of Elah and created the short-lived television series The Black Donnellys, both of which are hidden gems that not enough people discovered. As for his latest effort, The Next Three Days, it seems that his writing is either too cerebral or society is just looking for remakes because this is one of the best films I have ever seen and it is practically unheard of.
Whether or not his films are a commercial success is irrelevant at this point as Mr. Haggis has proven himself to be one of the most brilliant and capable writer/directors in history. His legacy is already stronger than some who have been in Hollywood for much longer and if my theory is correct, the best is yet to come.