By Dan Skip Allen
Ridley Scott admittedly has had his ups and downs in his career. The ups are starting the Alien franchise, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, and The Martian. The downs... they don't need to be mentioned, but lately, they are more prevalent than the ups. Arguably, Gladiator starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Harris, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed (in his last role), and Djimon Hounsou, is the greatest achievement in his career to date.
Gladiator came out twenty years ago at the turn of the century. It started a new trend of the summer event films. Now, all the big blockbusters plant their flags during the summer, trying to find that exact date to capitalize the most on all those summer dollars to be had. Gladiator was a very beloved film come awards season, especially for a summer film. Winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, cemented it as one of the greatest films of all time.
Russell Crowe's career had a great rise in the decade of the 1990s with roles in LA Confidential, Mystery Alaska, and The Insider. His career entered the stratosphere in the decade of the 2000s, though. The role of Maximus won him in an Academy Award in 2001 and launched him into superstardom. Maximus is the epitome of what it is to be a leader, fighter, and a ruler, but all that was taken away from him when Markus Aurelius and his family were slain in cold blood. After that, followed A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander, Cinderella Man, and American Gangster. His career is as varied as the roles he has chosen. Comedies, dramas, action films, and biopics litter his filmography, but Maximus in Gladiator will always be the role I will look back on as the best of his best.
Joaquin Phoenix has some small roles in a few films in the '90s, but it wasn't until he portrayed Commodus in Gladiator did his film career take off. He received an Academy Award nomination for this role. He played this character as a conniving backstabber and a sniveling weasel of a man. He was meant to be hated by the viewer, which made him that much more enjoyable to watch on the big screen. Roles in Walk the Line, Her, and The Master, would cement him as one of the best actors of his generation. Eventually, he would finally win his long sought after Academy Award in 2019 for his performance in Joker.
Gladiator stands the test of time because of its story which is basically a Shakespearean tale set in the era of the Roman Empire. Great performances by the entire cast thrust it into the discussion as one of the greatest films of all time. The visual effects, sound quality, and production design are some of the best in any film before or since. This film is like a throwback to the sword & sandal films of the past, such as Spartacus, Ben-Hur, and The Ten Commandments, all films that stood the test of time. Viewers could really get behind this epic film with this phenomenal story. This is arguably the best film of the 21st century. Twenty years later, it still stands up as one of the greatest films of all time.
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.