Oliver Stone vs. Steven Spielberg

Oliver Stone’s films often leave you feeling as though you have been beaten about the face and head for 2 hours and then socked in the gut. Scenes/films that come to mind are Wall Street (example: elevator scene with the Sheens, face-off between Bud Fox and Gekko at the end).

Spielberg’s films often end with dramatic music and a picturesque vista or view that evokes emotion (eg: end of ET, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List), and IMHO cause the viewer to react emotionally.

I respect both their work and enjoy there films but prefer Stone’s methods over Spielberg’s

I have had a long-standing debate with friends about this so I thought I would open it up on SD.

I can accept your thumbnail descriptions of these guys’ work and will admit to having similar reactions to them both. Except for Schindler’s List and one of his earliest (Duel with Dennis Weaver as a menaced driver in the desert Southwest by a faceless truck driver) I haven’t been that moved by Spielberg’s efforts. Saving Private Ryan had an incredible opening act (the D-Day Landing sequence, I mean) but went on its way to the same sort of thing war movies generally become. I certainly won’t move him into the Hitchcock category of directors.

Same mostly for Stone, especially when you have to swallow his political persuasions to make it through the movie. I have been entertained by his things, but just can’t put him in the Great Directors club.

For what it’s worth, I have Ron Howard in the same category. I’ve liked some of his work, but it’s mostly pretty sappy when you break it all down. His rah-rah around awards time really gets grating.

I’m having real trouble naming a Great Director working today. I guess I’m spoiled by the greats of the past.

Spielberg has some duds, but it’s hard to deny that “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Schindler’s List” are truly great movies, and a lot of his other less-perfect movies sure have their moments; “Jurassic Park” was a terrific popcorn movie, for instance. “E.T.” was pretty good; “Close Encounters” was pretty good, “Catch Me If You Can” was surprisingly good, and I could name more.

I dunno what the standard for “Great director” is, but offhand I cannot think of too many directors with three genuinely magnificent movies and a number of pretty good ones.

By comparison, Oliver Stone doesn’t really have ANY great movies, does he? “Platoon,” perhaps; I didn’t think as much of it as some did but I’ll give you that one if you want it. What else? “JFK” is certainly memorable, but overlong and silly. “Natural Born Killers” is beloved by some but I found it ponderous.

I like some of Oliver Stone’s work. Natural Born Killers is a flawed masterpiece (but if he had stuck to the Tarantino script better it would have been a much more thematically coherent movie), The Doors is a very effective piece of cinema. Val Kilmer’s performance is great. Platoon is great, too, but Heaven and Hell sucks. Wall Street is fucking incredible. I hadn’t seen it in a long time and caught it on cable a while back and was blown away. But I didn’t even bother to see Alexander, despite the presence of Angelina Jolie.

Stone’s fatal flaws are his heavy handedness and lack of humor (despite the fact that NBK is, essentially, a comedy). He’s gotten progressively less watchable and more ponderous as time goes on, and, as often happens with artsts, the flaws in his later work make the flaws in his earlier work harder to ignore.

Speilburg’s made his fair share of crap, too. But he’s also matured and changed and is still more than capable of turning out great movies. A.I. was a good movie, as was Minority Report, although they both suffered from ill-concieved endings. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Shindler’s List alone are worlds better than anything Oliver Stone has ever done.

I would watch a Spielberg flick before an Oliver Stone flick anyday.

For pretty much the same reasons as the other posters, so I won’t bother repeating them.

If this were a bare knuckle brawl, I’d have to go with Stone cause he’s a friggin looney toon.

For all the rest, I have to go with Spielberg. Even a bad Spielberg film is enjoyable. A bad Oliver Stone film makes me want to punish my television for letting me watch it.

The thing for me is this: When a Spielberg film is bad, it’s usually bad for the same reasons his previous films have been bad – over-obvious structure, sentimentalism, cop-out endings, reliance on spectacle, insincere concessions to lowest-common-denominator expectations, and so on. But when a Stone film is bad, it’s often because he’s trying something new that doesn’t work, because he’s challenging himself but failing to meet his objective. (Spike Lee is similar, in my view.) I get a lot more out of movies that are bad for interesting reasons than I do from movies that are bad for uninteresting reasons.

S.S coz he’s entertaining.

And, though I don’t think it’s mentioned enough, Jaws is a masterpiece.

Though really I think the main reason was his cameraguy (a genius) and the lead trio, who created the greatest buddy-buddy-buddy combo I think I’ve ever seen in a mainstream movie.