Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brian Cox, Sean Lawlor
Let everyone else focus on Mel Gibson’s recent descent into nearly Gary Busey-like insanity—we’d rather celebrate Crazy Mel’s cinematic output in the 1980s and ’90s, particularly Braveheart, his magnum opus of both directing and acting. Playing the legendary Scottish knight William Wallace, Gibson holds his own on the battlefield, anchors a romance that’s not groan-inducing, and garners the empathy necessary to sell the film’s tragic ending.
After he’s sold out and captured by his English enemies, Wallace is sentenced to public death, but not before he’s brutally tortured in a series of hard-to-stomach scenes. Ever the defiant badass, Wallace never kisses the king’s feet and begs for absolution, and his pride leads him to an outdoor beheading. His final moment, in which Wallace sees his dead wife and yells “Freedom!” right before his dome’s lopped off, could make any macho man weep.