Top 5 Gus Van Sant Movies, Ranked

You always know when you’re watching a Gus Van Sant movie. His camera techniques, directorial decisions and story content are unique to him. For decades, Van Sant has been making a collection of films to entertain and make you think. At the same time, the director is not afraid to take risks, such as casting an ensemble of unknown actors in the winner of the Palme d’Or elephantor making a shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s psycho† Like any director, some of his films may not have been for everyone. But there’s no question that his style and talent have proven him to be one of the greats. Among his collection are some of the most acclaimed films of his generation.

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Van Sant had a strong interest in painting and filmmaking from a very early age. His passion for art took him to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he majored in painting. His eye for detail and design is clearly reflected in all his films. Van Sant has captured images so beautiful that they could be mistaken for paintings. Shortly after entering college, he switched his major to filmmaking. The intuitive director spent time in Los Angeles studying underserved areas of the city and was inspired to make his directorial debut. bad night† From there, Van Sant’s career took off and since then he has been telling in-depth stories on topics such as love, violence, self-acceptance and much more. If you want to explore Gus Van Sant’s filmography, you may want to start with these five films.

5 5Elephant

Van Sant’s 2003 movie, Elephant, follows the lives of several high school students over the course of a day leading to a school shooting. The controversial film  feels like a documentary at some points due to its long takes and realistic dialogues. Van Sant took a lot of creative risks during production, including casting entirely new or non-professional actors, writing the script while shooting the film, and letting the actors improvise much of their dialogue.

Loosely based on the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the film gives us an artistic take on the tragic events. The movie was shot over the course of twenty days and was filmed in Van Sant’s hometown of Portland, Oregon. Elephant received critical acclaim and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.

4 4Drugstore Cowboy

The 1989 movie, Drugstore Cowboy, gave us an artistic look at the effects of drug addiction. The film follows a group of addicts in the 1970s who rob pharmacies and hospitals to fund their dangerous habit. Matt Dillon delivers a fantastic performance as group leader, Bob Hughes, alongside an ensemble cast. The film shows the miseries and truths of drug addiction in a beautifully filmed movie.

Honest depictions of drugs, violence and self-mutilation can be seen in many of Van Sant’s films. The director clearly has a fascination with outcasts and degenerates and he shows it with every frame of Drugstore Cowboy† Sometimes the film can be difficult to watch, but it is important to show the true results and pain associated with drug addiction. Drugstore Cowboy was very well received and currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes† The cast also includes Kelly Lynch, James Remar and Heather Graham.

3 3Find Forrester

This 2000 drama tells the story of a gifted high school student, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), who gets the chance to attend a prestigious private school while befriending the legendary but reclusive writer William Forrester (Sean Connery). The film delivers on so many levels including the performances, the inspiring story and the beautiful cinematography. Through Forrester’s guidance, Wallace learns to live up to his writing potential while staying true to his morals while others try to bring him down. Connery stars in every scene of the film as the brilliant but struggling writer who learns to make a connection by mentoring Wallace.

It should come as no surprise that Connery himself stated that he based his portrayal on writer JD Sallinger. The film is an inspiration and gives us a beautiful story about our own identity and friendship. The cast of Finding Forrester is packed with talented actors, including F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin and Michael Pitt.

2 2Goodwill hunting

Van Sant’s Oscar-winning film was an achievement on so many levels. Written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the brilliant script tells the story of a genius child prodigy, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), who learns to live with his troubled past and achieves his potential with the help of his therapist Sean (Robin Williams). It’s a perfect script, filled with brilliant monologues, unforgettable lines and heartbreaking scenes about love, friendship and overcoming tragedy.

The film also showcases, arguably, Robin Williams’ best performance. Williams would take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Good Will Hunting Matt Damon and Ben Affleck made superstars overnight after winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Goodwill hunting is a once-in-a-lifetime movie that everyone should see at least once.

1 1Milk

The 2008 biographical film that follows the stories of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) is undoubtedly Van Sant’s highest achievement of his career to date. Sean Penn fully embodies Harvey Milk in a career-defining performance. Perfect in every scene, Penn’s physicality and emotional range pays an epic tribute to the life and achievements of Milk, who was tragically murdered by city supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin).

The film depicts the struggles, prejudice and animosity that Milk and his team had to overcome to fight for gay rights and win elections against all odds. It is a true story of inspiration. Beautifully shot, the brilliant performances and Oscar-winning screenplay by Dustin Lance Black make it captivating from start to finish. Milk’s cast is filled with pure talent, including James Franco, Diego Luna and a scene-stealing Emile Hirsch.