76. Gladiator (2000)
From one great director to another and this one also has a leading man that complements the director's style as much as the previous one does. Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott have established a working relationship in the last decade that is comparative to that of De Niro and Scorsese. Gladiator was their first of five collaborations and their most successful (critically and financially). It is a historical epic film in the grand scale (likened to Spartacus and Quo Vadis?), but this film has more than just "epic-ness." It has action, intrigue, drama, romance and even a bit of mystery. The plot is so unabashedly epic and so unapologetically cliched (most of the story can feel like deja-vu), although one can do nothing but respect it. Scott puts these conventions in your face and he does not shy away from them. The opening battle scene is one the best ever captured on film. Crowe's Oscar-winning performance as the soldier Maximus who becomes the best gladiator is powerful, raw and fascinating. The supporting cast is solid and amazing. Joaquin Phoenix is extremely icky and vicious as the vainglorious emperor. Connie Nielsen gives the film heart as the villain's put-upon sister. Plus there are some other minor cast members who have proven themselves elsewehere like Djimon Honsou and Derek Jacobi. And three actors who have since passed away counted this one amongst their last films: David Hemmings, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed (who died during filming). This is a truly great film and did not go unnoticed at the Academy Awards winning Best Picture and Best Actor. NOTE: Just in case nobody noticed, this is an EPIC film!
Next Post: #75