September 23, 2010

Ranking Oliver Stone

Whenever an Oliver Stone film opens, there's certainly always some form of controversy surrounding it. In recent years he turned his cameras towards a sitting President, delved into the darkness of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, and explored the homosexuality of Alexander the Great. Always quick to focus on current political and cultural issues, his latest effort is a sequel to 1987's Wall Street, updating the story of '80s-era greed and excess, to … well, the greed and excess that brought down the economy in 2008. However, much of the controversy this time around, was whether or not Stone would actually return to direct--this being his first sequel. So, with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps heading into theaters, we take a look at Stone's directorial efforts. Below we highlight the Top Five, but head over to MRQE to catch the complete ranked list.

5. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
MRQE Metric: 74

The second film in Stone's Vietnam War Trilogy--which also includes Platoon and Heaven & Earth--Born on the Fourth of July, looks at the hardships many Vietnam veterans faced when they returned home. The film is based on the autobiography of Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist, Ron Kovic, portrayed by Tom Cruise, in a role that landed him his first Oscar nomination. Both the film, and its original source material, explores deplorable living conditions of veteran hospitals and the disillusionment veterans faced on the home-front, and the post-traumatic stress that many vets soon endured.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

4. Wall Street (1987)
MRQE Metric: 74

"Greed--for lack of a better word--is good…" and so it comes that 1980s greed and excess is now personified in Michael Douglas's Gordon Gekko, a wealthy Wall Street player with nothing to lose, but everything. The dubious insider trading, and the notion of getting rich by any means, might still ring a little true today, which explains the sequel--the more things change, the more they stay the same. According to Stone, Gekko is actually a composite of several people, including Ivan Boesky, Carl Icahn, Michael Ovitz, and Stone himself. In fact, the oft-quoted line, is a paraphrase of Boesky, who once said "Greed is right."

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

3. Nixon (1995)
MRQE Metric: 76

Before Stone explored the rise of one controversial president in W., he turned his cameras to a more prolific presidential icon in 1995's Nixon. Released a little more than a year after Nixon's death at the end of 1994, the film was met with harsh criticism from the Richard Nixon Library stating that the film attempted to "defame and degrade President and Mrs. Nixon's memories in the mind of the American public." The film, however, is presented more as an American tragedy in the most classic of definitions. As Roger Ebert wrote in his review, "Tragedy requires the fall of a hero, and one of the achievements of Nixon is to show that greatness was within his reach." Anthony Hopkins received an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Nixon.

2. JFK (1991)
MRQE Metric: 83

From Nixon we come to an even more controversial topic, the JFK assassination. Was it all as the Warren Report said, or was this a conspiracy at the highest level? Stone's more than 3 hour 1991 film explored it all. Kevin Costner portrays Jim Garrison, a New Orleans D.A. who believes there's more to the story than what the federal government is saying, and upon reading the Warren Report, reopens his original investigation to uncover the whole truth. JFK remains as one of Stone's most controversial films. A Washington Post correspondent attacked the film before filming wrapped; and upon release, many newspapers ran editorials blasting Stone for taking liberties with historical facts. Regardless, Stone insisted that people watch the film for themselves so they can be the judge. Truth or not, the film went on to win two Oscars, and was nominated for eight, including Best Picture.

1. Platoon (1986)
MRQE Metric: 84

The first, and arguably most powerful, of Stone's Vietnam War Trilogy, Platoon, perhaps is best known for its brutal depiction of "war as hell." Set up as a counter to the John Wayne war movies that portrayed glorious heros, Platoon, brings the war film down to its gritty earth. Stone himself was a soldier in Vietnam, and much of his experience was poured into a 1968 screenplay called Break. Set to a Doors soundtrack, the screenplay was sent to Jim Morrison in the hopes that he would play the lead. Nothing ever came of it, and in the early '70's Stone and collaborator Robert Bolt worked together on a new screenplay called The Platoon, featuring characters from Break. After the success of films like Apocalypse Now, Hollywood was ready focus more attention on Vietnam. Platoon received 8 Oscar nominations, winning 4, including Best Director and Best Picture.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

There's more to Stone than just the Top Five. Head to MRQE to catch up with the full list of Oliver Stone's Best Movies!


1 comment:

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