Braveheart

Say what you will about Mel Gibson – and there’s a lot you could say about Mel Gibson – but he crafted a beautiful movie in Braveheart. Even factoring out its much-imitated technical achievement (the melee battle scenes), you’ve still got beautiful imagery set against a luscious Scottish landscape, a rich story that even with a good dozen prominent characters and three-hour runtime neither convolutes nor lags, an emblematic musical score, and a finale edited with an artistry closer to poetry than cinema. It’s not perfect – in his effort to mythify William Wallace, Gibson lingers too lovingly on the close-ups, and it’s hard not to notice signs of less savory things to come from the director – but still it’s close enough.