Top 100 Movies Of The 1990's: #75 Braveheart
Box Office: $75.6 Million
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Mel Gibson), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, Best Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing
Oscar Wins: Best Picture, Best Director (Mel Gibson), Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Sound Effects Editing
Available To Stream: HBOMax
Braveheart seems to live entirely on Mel Gibson's charisma and fury. It's a story that is very loosely based on fact. It takes place around the year 1300 and Gibson wisely chose to make the film entertaining rather than stick to the loose strands of any sort of truth we can uncover from that time. It's also a movie that is too long with one of the worst casts for any Best Picture winner. Despite all of the flaws of the movie, the battle scenes and Gibson's performance make for an impressive watch.
Since it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in March 1996, it's fallen out of favor with a lot of film snobs. Some of that has to do with what Mel Gibson's shitty outbursts. But I think the bigger issue is this isn't a great movie and won the biggest award in film during the heyday of mid/late 1990's filmmaking. I think that's pretty unfair towards Braveheart. Most movies that win Best Picture aren't great. For example, you won't see Forrest Gump anywhere on this list. For as great at 1990's movies were, 1995 just wasn't an amazing year for movies. Someone had to win.
Braveheart is a pretty weird fucking movie. The war scenes almost seem impossible to film and despite the chaos taking place, Gibson's masterful directing never leaves us confused. They used over 1,600 extras to film these and it's just exceptional. Bizarrely, Gibson seems to struggle to shoot the more basic scenes where people are just having a conversation. It doesn't help that outside of Gibson, Brendan Gleeson (Hamish), Patrick McGoohan (King Edward) and Cathrine McCormick (Murron), it's a cast that makes the movie feel clunky at times. The scenes without Gibson feel like a weak PBS production.
I put Mel Gibson with Donald Sutherland and Kevin Bacon as the best actors to never got a Oscar nomination for acting. Of course, Gibson won for Best Director and Best Picture for Braveheart but that's the only time he got any Oscar love. For all of his flaws (of which there are many), he was a great actor in that time. Keep in mind this is before people knew about his anti-Semetic tirades. The movies I love him in like Lethal Weapon, Signs and Ransom may have been too mainstream to be appreciated by the Hollywood elite. Gibson's madness helps him play William Wallace. One look into his wild eyes do make you believe that he could recruit and lead these men into almost certain death solely because he believes so much in the cause.
Having said all of that, I can completely understand why people this past week wanted Gibson removed from as Grand Marshal for the New Orleans Mardi Grad parade. But how should his actions affect the art he creates? Should we never listen to a Michael Jackson song again? What he was accused of was far worse than what Gibson has done. It's a tough situation and it really varies from person to person. For example, I can't watch The Cosby Show anymore. It's way too distracting. Maybe it's because it felt like Bill Cosby was playing a version of himself on the show? Or that Cosby's actions were so heinous (and they were obviously much worse than Gibson)? Maybe Kanye is the better comparison. Will we be able to listen to him a decade from now and not think about his shitty beliefs? Whatever it may be, I can still watch a Mel Gibson movie and judge the art and not the artist. This won't be the last Mel Gibson movie on this list. The 1990's were right in the middle of his heyday. It's a shame that very intensity that created a movie like this has such a dark side to it that has ruined the back half of his career.
77. Cape Fear
83. Total Recall
84. Quiz Show
87. Men In Black
95. Dirty Work
98. Any Given Sunday