Total Recall: Oliver Stone's Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the Savages director.

80%

5. Talk Radio

A rare starring vehicle for monologist/playwright/character actor/cult hero Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio found Stone behind the cameras for a loose adaptation of Bogosian's play of the same name. Inspired by the real-life assassination of Denver DJ Alan Berg, Radio centers around Dallas radio personality Barry Champlain, whose deliberately provocative style (and decidedly non-Red State political views) make him a target of hate mail and bomb threats even as his show is poised to achieve national syndication. Saying it "has the loony intensity of those impassioned conspiracy theorists who look out at the world and see patterns of corruption spreading in all directions," the Washington Post's Hal Hinson declared, "it's another of Stone's wake-up calls to America."

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85%

4. JFK

A two-time Oscar winner and controversial, career-rejuvenating smash hit for Stone, JFK reconstructs John F. Kennedy's assassination and then spends most of its epic 189-minute length sifting through the wreckage, treating the killing as a murder mystery that New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) doggedly attempts to solve at any cost. With an impeccable supporting cast that included Sissy Spacek, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gary Oldman, as well as a screenplay that challenged long-held assumptions about Kennedy's death, JFK reignited interest in the assassination, eventually leading to new legislation that ordered a reinvestigation and promised that all documents related to the killing would be made public by 2017. And while many critics agreed that the movie could have benefited from a more rigorous approach to the facts, it remains, in the words of the Washington Post's Desson Thomson, "A riveting marriage of fact and fiction."

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88%

3. Platoon

The first installment in Stone's so-called Vietnam trilogy, 1986's Platoon took a hard look at American involvement in the Vietnam War -- and earned Stone Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars and the Golden Globes in the bargain. Taking a grunt's-eye view of the war, it puts a human face on the conflict, pitting Willem Dafoe (as Sergeant Elias, mentor to Chris, the young soldier played by Charlie Sheen) against a fellow sergeant (played by Tom Berenger) in a dreadful battle for the platoon. It is, as Roger Ebert wrote, "A film that says...that before you can make any vast, sweeping statements about Vietnam, you have to begin by understanding the bottom line, which is that a lot of people went over there."

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91%

2. Born on the Fourth of July

He earned positive reviews for his role in Rain Man, but to many scribes, the Tom Cruise of the late 1980s was little more than the pretty face out in front of critically savaged hits like Cocktail -- likable under the right circumstances, but lacking real depth. Oliver Stone saw something different, trusting Cruise with 1989's Born on the Fourth of July -- and Cruise repaid him by delivering the most harrowing performance to that point in his career, committing so deeply to his portrayal of paralyzed Vietnam vet Ron Kovic that, according to Stone, he came close to injecting himself with a solution that would have incurred temporary paralysis. Not all critics loved Fourth of July, but even those who had issues with the film were forced to take notice of Cruise's performance -- and for Vincent Canby of the New York Times, the end result was "the most ambitious nondocumentary film yet made about the entire Vietnam experience."

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92%

1. Salvador

Stone's films have received a combined 31 Academy Award nominations (and counting), but he picked up his first for his co-writing credit on the screenplay for Salvador, a 1986 war drama about a rather unlikable American journalist (James Woods, also nominated for an Oscar) who's burned so many bridges that his only professional recourse is to head to El Salvador with his unemployed DJ buddy (Jim Belushi) to try and find stories in what they initially regard as a relatively inconsequential war. Like a lot of films that try and shine a light on war while shots are still being fired, Salvador bombed at the box office -- but it found an appreciative audience with writers like Rob Gonsalves of eFilmCritic, who called it "One of Oliver Stone's best films, and absolutely James Woods' best performance."

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In case you were wondering, here are Stone's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:

1. Platoon -- 91%
2. JFK -- 84%
3. Salvador -- 83%
4. Natural Born Killers -- 80%
5. The Doors -- 79%
6. Wall Street -- 78%
7. Talk Radio -- 78%
8. Nixon -- 72%
9. Any Given Sunday -- 70%
10. Heaven & Earth -- 70%


Take a look through Stone's complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don't forget to check out the reviews for Savages.

Finally, here's the trailer for one of Stone's earliest directorial efforts -- The Hand, from 1981:

Comments

Critique Threatt

Brian R

Nixon is Oliver Stone's best film period.

Jul 5 - 01:12 PM

Erik Bauer

Erik Bauer

Definitely one of his best.

Jul 10 - 05:00 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Man, I really do have to check out "Salvador"!

Jul 5 - 01:31 PM

Branden Mata

Branden Mata

Wall Street and Platoon were great. Gotta see JFK though. Never got around to it.

Jul 5 - 01:33 PM

J. Pack

Jeremy Pack

I like the Shakesperean-esque and under-appreciated "Nixon" the best. His most overrated work - "Natural Born Killers"

Jul 5 - 01:41 PM

Jeremy F.

Jeremy Foster

So overrated!!JFK was his only great movie,WTC was just ok.And I have zero interest in seeing Savages,AKA Natural Born Killers meets Traffic!

Jul 5 - 01:43 PM

David G.

David Gee

What's amazing about JFK is you that know from history that Jim Garrison is so full of crap and yet still the film is still so interesting to watch and fairly convincing of Garrison's position.

Jul 5 - 02:19 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I know Right! I read all about how the JFK film is a big fictitious entertaining lie so watched it with low expectations and I loved it! This is the power of good story telling people! In short, I agree with your comment completely.

Jul 7 - 10:16 AM

spiel612

Alex Wiederspiel

Born on the Fourth of July. Hands down.

Jul 5 - 02:35 PM

Sarfaraz Abbasi

Sarfaraz Abbasi

I need to see some of his movies.

Jul 5 - 02:52 PM

Eric Steffe

Eric Steffe

Any Given Sunday and NBK should both be on this list.

Jul 5 - 02:55 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

Where is The Hand !!!! Oh!!! the Humanity ................

Jul 5 - 02:55 PM

Matt Stevens

Matt Stevens

SALVADOR, while leftist claptrap, is an amazing film.

Jul 5 - 02:58 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Thankfully, the internet can allow people to read about the Revolutionary Government Junta for themselves to decide.

Jul 5 - 03:36 PM

Pierre Keddy

Pierre Keddy

yeah Salvador is great i liked it a lot very touching smart and informative.

Jul 6 - 01:52 AM

Captain Terror

Captain Terror

1/ I just realized I've NEVER seen an Oliver Stone film

2/ I just added The Hand to my Netflix queue.

Jul 5 - 03:19 PM

Zachary T

Zachary Thomas

Me neither... :(

Jul 5 - 03:34 PM

Aimee Weide

Aimee Weide

You guys make me sad.

Jul 5 - 03:40 PM

Cornelius H.

Cornelius Hearte

I love to eat afterbirth, its so slimy and black and smooth..hmm, delicious!

Jul 5 - 03:24 PM

Zachary T

Zachary Thomas

Me neither... :(

Jul 5 - 03:34 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Natural Born Killers" is a great film, and the proof is that it remains polarizing 18 years later. It's one thing to say that it came out during the summer of OJ, so maybe audiences just weren't in the mood for a satire of their impulse to vicarious bloodlust. With time, it's simply clear that some people would prefer to leave that as a totally unconscious process. Plus it has Robert Downey Jr's very best performance.

"Any Given Sunday" is one of the greatest sports films ever made.

"Salvador" is not exactly Stone's best film, better more for James Woods' manic performance. Stone's worst are "The Hand", "The Doors" (too idolatristic), "Alexander" and the totally cop-out ending of "Wall Street 2".

Jul 5 - 03:34 PM

Sean D.

Sean D

The big problem with Wall Street 2 was that it lacked the balls that the first one had.

You`re right, the ending was a total cop out.

Jul 5 - 07:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

And such a contemporary opportunity. The first one was on the eve of the S&L crises. Child's play compared to the mortgage securities bust. I don't think it was ever made an issue in the entire film.

Jul 6 - 08:06 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Thankfully, the internet can allow people to read about the Revolutionary Government Junta for themselves to decide.

Jul 5 - 03:36 PM

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