Oliver Stone's star in mainstream cinema may have dimmed somewhat since the utter clusterf*** that was Alexander, but his work in other films still stand the test of time.
Platoon is, undoubtedly, one of the most well-known films made about the American involvement in Vietnam, JFK and Nixon are both key portraits of political figures whilst Born On The Fourth Of July is one of the most searing indictments of how America treats it veterans.
So, while it might be a reductive, we've culled five of his best scenes from his greatest work. Take a look.
5. PLATOON - "He's dead?"
Drawn from Oliver Stone's own recollections in Vietnam, Platoon was undoubtedly his most personal film and his least stylised. There's none of his trademark chaotic edits or overbearing musical interludes; instead, Stone comes at it from a perspective that's honest and not enforcing any particular point of view - other than war is essentially murder on an industrial scale. The twin performances of Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger as Elias and Barnes serves as the core of the film, and it's the interplay between these two that makes it such a deeply emotional film. The way this scene is shot just shows how casual death was in Vietnam, treated without any compunction or ceremony. It just was.
4. NIXON - "The CIA has no policy except what I dictate to you."
It's clear, both with Nixon and JFK, that Stone will frequently play fast and loose with the truth. He's very much telling you his version of events, rather than a factual retelling of them. When you consider that aspect, you can look at Nixon and understand that it's Oliver Stone making a classical epic with it. Hopkins gives one of his greatest performances as Tricky Dick, nailing the mannerisms, the voice and even the very core of Nixon - that he was a deeply, deeply troubled man who embodied America's true nature rather than its own, idealised version of itself. This particular scene, from the Director's Cut, meanders wildly and flicks from experimental arthouse cuts to '70s conspiracy thriller in the bat of an eye - all of it adding to the intoxicating, nausaeating nature of what goes on behind closed doors in the halls of power.
3. BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY - The Republican Convention
Stone's work can never be accused of being subtle or softly spoken. With Platoon, Nixon and Born On The Fourth Of July, he's proudly and clearly nailing his colours to the mast and pointing it right at the audience's face. Although many cite Platoon as Stone's best film about Vietnam, Born On The Fourth Of July was arguably the better film thanks to Tom Cruise's performance as Ron Kovacs, the anti-war activist and Vietnam veteran. This particular scene sees Kovacs and a group of veterans work their way into the Republican National Convention, state their case and are utterly chastised by Republicans for doing so. It's a powerful scene, made all the more by John Williams' elegiac and haunting score.
2. JFK - "Everything I'm going to tell you is Top Secret."
As mentioned earlier, Oliver Stone is known for infusing his own viewpoints into his politically charged films. JFK is undoubtedly his most political film and, by proxy, is told solely from his own view of the events. His low opinion of government, his belief that sinister forces are at play in the heart of America, it's all there - and, yes, it goes right down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and does so in a visually captivating way. Donald Sutherland's character calmly recounts his investigation in the death of JFK, interspersed with real-world footage as Stone is purposefully blurring the lines between narrative and reality. He used a similar method in Nixon, but here in this scene, it makes it all the more frightening and one of the most riveting scenes in Stone's work.
1. WALL STREET - "America has become a second-rate power."
When people watched The Big Short last year, many were struck by how Adam McKay simplified the financial markets into a cohesive story. Oliver Stone's Wall Street was the trailblazer for taking a deeply complex situation - in this case, insider trading - and made it understandable, involved and, most of all, human. While Bud Fox was the audience surrogate, it was Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko that became the villain - to a degree - of the piece. You only need to look at There Will Be Blood and Daniel Day-Lewis to see the kind of influence Wall Street had. The 'Greed Is Good' monologue might just be drilled down to that one line, but it's so replete with fantastic writing and how Stone moves the camera and Douglas just commands your attention is incredible.