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The 10 Best Oliver Stone Films

From ‘Scarface’ to ‘W.,’ the writer-director’s most essential big-screen works

Oliver Stone

© 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection; © Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection; Mary Evans/MCA-UNIVERSAL/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

There is no one typical Oliver Stone movie, but he does have a few signature moves – all-star casts, big themes and a feeling of ambition that can make for wildly entertaining films. His newest, Savages, is a return to such kinetic crime epics as U Turn and Natural Born Killers, but his movies have gone all over the world. Here are 10 of the best, in chronological order.

natural born killers

© Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

7

Natural Born Killers (1994)

In which Stone calls that whippersnapper Tarantino and raises him a steaming pile of megaviolence by rewriting QT's script and cranking out of the most controversial movies of the 1990s. Mixing lenses, film stocks and shooting styles like a collageist, Stone delivers an ultra-bloody update on the psychopathic lovers on the run a la Bonnie and Clyde or Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate.   Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) go on a good, old fashioned killin' spree, except this time mass media is all over it, embodied by the smarmy journalist Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.). There were a string of alleged copycat crimes, including the Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold massacre in Columbine. One wonders if an Internet era remake is due or would just ignite another blame game.

nixon

© Buena Vista/Courtesy Everett Collection

8

Nixon (1995)

A much more complicated movie than JFK, Nixon is one of Stone's most awesomely ga-ga pictures, an ecstatic fever dream of Quaker guilt, White House mythology and Seventies paranoia.  It remains a damn shame that Tom Hanks didn't play Tricky Dick, as Stone originally wanted, but Anthony Hopkins does a fine job, bringing a little distance to the part as a non-American. Again, an all-star supporting cast is lined up, including lookalike David Hyde Pierce as John Dean and a vaguely hilarious turn by Paul Sorvino as Henry Kissinger. Still not the weirdest movie about Nixon (that would be Robert Altman's Secret Honor) but a great one.

any given sunday

© Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection

9

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Pro football seems a step down in ambition for Stone, but this is an oddly enjoyable picture, notable for a couple of things: Al Pacino chewing his way, post-Heat-style, through his role as coach Tony D'Amato, the metal vs. hip-hop divide between the black and white players, James Woods as a corrupt team doctor, hits that sound like car crashes, Lawrence Taylor looking too old for his part and a really, really, too old Dennis Quaid as an aging quarterback. But it's best known as the dramatic film debut of Jamie Foxx, who does a hypnotic job as quarterback "Steamin'" Willie Beamen.

W.

© Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection

10

W. (2008)

There's something weirdly a priori about Oliver Stone making a movie about George W. Bush. The whole enterprise had a "well, sure" quality about it, especially when Stone zigged instead of zagged and W. turned out to be not an all-out assualt, but a low-key, reasonably sympathetic snapshot of a man who looked to be on a path for anything but the job he ended up in. The third of Stone's presidential trilogy, check it out for Josh Brolin as the Chief Executive – the man does know his way around mutant Texas accents (see also Men in Black III and No Country for Old Men). Ironic/stunt casting alert: Hollywood lefto Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney!

oliver stone SAVAGES

François Duhamel/© Universal Pictures

11

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Three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone returns to the screen with the ferocious thriller Savages, featuring the all-star ensemble cast of Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. The film is based on Don Winslow's best-selling crime novel that was named one of The New York Times' Top 10 Books of 2010.

Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson), a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and his closest friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry — raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Lively). Life is idyllic in their Southern California town … until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them.

When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon — with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (Travolta) — wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.

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