2. 'Salvador' (1986)
The first of Stone's films that really reflects his let's-call-them-mercurial politics, Salvador follows James Woods as a hard-livin', rather intense (read: Stone-ish) photojournalist who becomes enmeshed in the war in El Salvador, looking for adventure and finding death and complexity. Salvador touches on all the beloved lefto-vs-Central America issues, from death squads to the great Oscar Romero (the Salvadoran arch-bishop and liberation theology advocate who was assassinated by a death squad as he celebrated Mass). Woods delivers one of his all-time great performances and Stone demonstrates the sheer ambition, both thematic and filmic, that would become a career theme.