Todd McCarthy ranks Oliver Stone's Movies

Film critic Todd McCarthy ranks the works of Oliver Stone, from "'most to least (more applicable, somehow, in his case, than best to worst)", as published July 6th, 2012.

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  • Salvador

    1.Salvador 1986

    "Salvador, the first real “Oliver Stone film,” in some ways remains his most vital and raw, a total immersion in politics, war, journalism and risk, with a great James Woods performance."

  • Platoon

    2.Platoon 1986

    "Platoon, his Oscar-winning breakthrough, remains both intense and intensely personal, qualified only by the distancing and sentimentality of the letter-writing device."

  • Born on the Fourth of July

    3.Born on the Fourth of July 1989

    "Born on the Fourth of July, his second go-round with Vietnam, powerfully brings the war home through the extraordinary story of Ron Kovic, portrayed very well by Tom Cruise."

  • JFK

    4.JFK 1991

    "JFK, its promotion of some crazy theories and Kevin Costner's lackluster performance notwithstanding, remains one of the greatest propaganda films ever made."

  • Wall Street

    5.Wall Street 1987

    "Wall Street, another personal story, due to Stone's father's background in finance, has, in Gordon Gekko, one of the icons of the age at the center of a compelling drama."

  • Natural Born Killers

    6.Natural Born Killers 1994

    "Natural Born Killers uses an early script by Quentin Tarantino to channel Stone's wild side and stylistic ambition in a trippy and ferocious account of an unhinged couple's crime spree."

  • Nixon

    7.Nixon 1995

    "Nixon, as problematic as it may be, stays in the mind because of the determined effort of a filmmaker diametrically opposed to the subject temperamentally and politically to understand this uniquely complicated president."

  • Savages

    8.Savages 2012


    "Savages, his latest, feels more like a real Oliver Stone film than anything he's made in a while, as the druggy lifestyle and ultra-violence play to his dramatic and artistic strengths, as do the invitations to outlandish supporting performance and stylistic play."

  • Alexander

    9.Alexander 2004

    "Alexander, Stone's big fiasco, continued to improve through two additional post-theatrical release versions until reaching its likely best possible form as Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, at 220 minutes, which is how it should have been presented in the first place."

  • U Turn

    10.U Turn 1997

    "U Turn, the director's least overtly political film, is a colorful, sometimes outrageous wallow in noirish modern Western pulp, paradoxically appealing only to those with the most and least refined tastes."

  • Any Given Sunday

    11.Any Given Sunday 1999

    "Any Given Sunday, a surprising foray into sports fiction, is simply fun, ribald and energetic."

  • W.

    12.W. 2008

    "As if in an effort to surprise his detractors, Stone bent too far over backwards to be nice to the then-sitting president, resulting in a not-uninteresting but far too mild biopic."

  • The Doors

    13.The Doors 1991

    "The Doors has its moments and Val Kilmer's fine turn as Jim Morrison, but its '60s music scene and counterculture insights feel familiar and rehashed."

  • Talk Radio

    14.Talk Radio 1988

    "Talk Radio, starring Eric Bogosian in a fleshing-out of his claustrophobic play, is well done but sticks in the memory barely at all."

  • World Trade Center

    15.World Trade Center 2006

    "World Trade Center almost feels like the work of a different filmmaker, and certainly that of a director who desires to prove that he can make a responsible, right-down-the-middle topical drama in a conventional way."

  • Heaven & Earth

    16.Heaven & Earth 1993

    "Heaven & Earth, about a woman tossed around by the upheavals of the Vietnam War, is clearly a heartfelt, personal project, but it simply fails to engage dramatically or emotionally."

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

    17.Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps 2010

    "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, about the return of Gordon Gekko, is hackneyed and contrived and, most glaringly, refuses to take advantage of the recent economic collapse to aggressively get at the heart of the matter."