Alan Parker's 75th Birthday: The 'Evita' Director's Movies Ranked from Worst to Best


Alan Parker, who turns 75 today, has led a long and illustrious career as one of Britain's most eminent directors, producers and screenwriters. Some of his movies, such as Mississippi Burning and Bugsy Malone, are true Hollywood classics and, in total, have won an impressive 6 Oscars, ten Golden Globes and 19 Baftas.

If Parker is less well-known to younger audiences, it is because he decided, at the relatively young age of 60, that his best work was behind him—and so it wasn't worth making anything new. His last movie, which he claims to be his best work, was The Life of David Gale in 2003, starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet and Laura Linney.

"Directors do not improve with age, they repeat themselves," he said in 2015. "And while there are exceptions, their work generally does not get any better. This is the reason why I have decided not to make any more films."

It's a brave call and one that goes against the grain in showbiz, where most celebrities tend to cling on as long as they can. But Parker has always held himself to a high standard. He turned down the opportunity to direct a Harry Potter film despite the wealth that it would bring because, as he put it, "I didn't like it, I didn't understand it and I wasn't interested in it."

In 1995, in recognition of his work, the Queen bestowed on him a CBE, one of Britain's highest honors. It represented quite a journey for someone who grew up on a council estate in London, the son of a dressmaker and a house painter.

To celebrate his 75th birthday, Newsweek has analyzed data from review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb to rank all of his movies from worst to best.

01 The Road to Wellville
Columbia Pictures

14. The Road to Wellville (1994). Total score: 51.75%. IMDb users: 5.8. Metacritic: 45. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.8. Rotten Tomatoes users: 2.8.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, Dana Carey, Lara Flynn Boyle.

Plot summary: A story about the ins and outs of one unusual health facility in the early twentieth century, run by the eccentric Dr. Kellogg.

What the critics said: "All the buoyant lunacy of T. Coraghessan Boyle's lively novel about hucksterism, gumption, and life at a turn-of-the-century sanatorium run by cornflake king Dr. John Harvey Kellogg has been processed out of Alan Parker's earnest adaptation. And what you're left with is a lot of talk about bowel movements." Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly.

02 The Life of David Gale
Universal Pictures

13. The Life of David Gale (2003). Total score: 55.25%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 31. Rotten Tomatoes: 4.2. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, Laura Linney.

Plot summary: A man against capital punishment is accused of murdering a fellow activist and is sent to death row.

What the critics said: "I ended up feeling sorry for Mr. Spacey, Ms. Winslet and Ms. Linney, so contrived was the foolishness in which they found themselves embroiled." Andrew Sarris, Observer.

03 Evita
Buena Vista Pictures

12. Evita (1996). Total score: 59.25%. IMDb users: 6.3. Metacritic: 45. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.1.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Madonna, Jonathan Pryce, Antonio Banderas, Jimmy Nail, Andrea Corr.

Plot summary: The hit musical based on the life of Evita Duarte, a B-picture Argentinian actress who eventually became the wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón, and the most beloved and hated woman in Argentina.

What the critics said: "Madonna, who took voice lessons to extend her range, easily masters the musical material. As importantly, she is convincing as Evita—from the painful early scene where, as an unacknowledged child, she tries to force entry into her father's funeral, to later scenes where the poor rural girl converts herself into a nightclub singer, radio star, desirable mistress, and political leader." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

04 Come See the Paradise
Twentieth Century Fox

11. Come See the Paradise (1990). Total score: 61%. IMDb users: 6.7. Metacritic: 52. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.5.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Dennis Quaid, Tamlyn Tomita, Sab Shimono, Colm Meaney.

Plot summary: The passionate romance between an Irish-American man and a Japanese-American woman is threatened when the Pearl Harbor attacks happen and the woman is forced into a prison camp because of her ethnicity.

What the critics said: "The theme of the whole movie is that all of its characters are Americans, too. That people of various colors and political beliefs are all equally Americans, and if there is not room for them here then there is no purpose for this society... Come See the Paradise is a fable to remind us of how easily we can surrender our liberties, and how much we need them." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

05 Angela's Ashes
Paramount Pictures

10. Angela's Ashes (1999). Total score: 64%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 54. Rotten Tomatoes: 5.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen.

Plot summary: Based on the best-selling autobiography by Irish expatriate Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes follows the experiences of young Frankie and his family as they try against all odds to escape the poverty endemic in the slums of pre-war Limerick.

What the critics said: "Mostly misses the humor, lyricism and emotional charge of Frank McCourt's magical and magnificent memoir." Todd McCarthy, Variety.

06 Fame

9. Fame (1980). Total score: 65%. IMDb users: 6.6. Metacritic: 58. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.2.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Eddie Barth, Irene Cara, Lee Curreri, Gene Anthony Ray, Boyd Gaines, Laura Dean.

Plot summary: A chronicle of the lives of several teenagers who attend a New York high school for students gifted in the performing arts.

What the critics said: "Alan Parker has come up with an exposure for some of the most talented youngsters seen on screen in years. There isn't a bad performance in the lot." Variety.

07 Bugsy malone
Paramount Pictures

8. Bugsy Malone (1976). Total score: 69%. IMDb users: 6.9. Metacritic: 71. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.5.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, Florence Garland, John Cassisi, Dexter Fletcher, Bonnie Langford, Albin 'Humpty' Jenkins.

Plot summary: The classic gangster story of Bugsy Malone told with an all-child cast.

What the critics said: "Bugsy Malone is like nothing else. It's an original, a charming one, and it has yet another special performance by Jodie Foster, who at 13 was already getting the roles that grown-up actresses complained weren't being written for women anymore." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

08 Pink Floyd- The Wall
MGM/UA Entertainment Company

7. Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982). Total score: 69.25%. IMDb users: 8. Metacritic: 47. Rotten Tomatoes: 7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 4.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Bob Geldof, Bob Hoskins, Kevin McKeon.

Plot summary: A confined but troubled rock star descends into madness in the midst of his physical and social isolation from everyone.

What the critics said: "Parker's visual synthesis with the music, much aided by Scarfe's rip-roaring visions of doom and destruction which turn light into darkness at the flick of a pen rather than a switch, is almost perfect." Derek Malcolm, The Guardian.

09 Angel Heart
TriStar Pictures

=6. Angel Heart (1987). Total score: 69.5%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 61. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.6.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling.

Plot summary: A private investigator is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer named Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.

What the critics said: "The movie is by Alan Parker, a director who has vowed to work in every genre. After Angel Heart, he can cross two off his list: private eye movies and supernatural horror films. Parker's films are always made with great gusto, as if he were in up to his elbows and taking no hostages." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

10 Mississippi Burning
Orion Pictures

=6. Mississippi Burning (1988). Total score: 69.5%. IMDb users: 7.8. Metacritic: 65. Rotten Tomatoes: 6.1. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.7.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand.

Plot summary: Two F.B.I. Agents, with wildly different styles, arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

What the critics said: "Mississippi Burning feels like a movie made from the inside out, a movie that knows the ways and people of its small Southern city so intimately that, having seen it, I know the place I'd go for a cup of coffee and the place I'd steer clear from." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

"Unfortunately, the central narrative premise of Mississippi Burning sets up the FBI as the sole heroic defender of the victims of southern racism in 1964, which is more than a little disgusting." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader.

11 Shoot the Moon

4. Shoot the Moon (1982). Total score: 72.25%. IMDb users: 7. Metacritic: 70. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.7.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Albert Finney, Diane Keaton, Karen Allen, Peter Weller.

Plot summary: A fifteen year marriage dissolves. He's preoccupied with a career and a mistress, she with a career and caring for four young children.

What the critics said: "Shoot the Moon is a rare, good film, and yet, afterward, most of my thoughts were about how it might have been better. It is frustrating to feel that the filmmakers knew their characters intimately, but chose to reveal them only in part." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

12 Midnight Express
Columbia Pictures

3. Midnight Express (1978). Total score: 72.5%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 59. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.7. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.9.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Brad Davis, John Hurt, Randy Quaid, Paul L. Smith, Norbert Weisser,.

Plot summary: Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

What the critics said: "There are visions into the inferno, as in a scene in the madhouse where the inmates circle forever around a stone pillar. The movie creates spellbinding terror, all right; my only objection is that it's so eager to have us sympathize with Billy Hayes." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

13 Birdy
TriStar Pictures

2. Birdy (1984). Total score: 74%. IMDb users: 7.3. Metacritic: 73. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.4. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.8.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, John Harkins.

Plot summary: After two friends return home from the Vietnam War one becomes mentally unstable and obsesses with becoming a bird.

What the critics said: "The movie was directed by Alan Parker. Consider this list of his earlier films: Bugsy Malone, Fame, Midnight Express, Shoot the Moon, Pink Floyd: The Wall, each one coming out of an unexpected place, and avoiding conventional movie genres. He was the man to direct Birdy, which tells a story so unlikely that perhaps even my description of it has discouraged you—and yet a story so interesting it is impossible to put this movie out of my mind." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

14 The Commitments
Twentieth Century Fox

1. The Commitments (1991). Total score: 74.5%. IMDb users: 7.6. Metacritic: 73. Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5. Rotten Tomatoes users: 3.7.

Directed by: Alan Parker. Starring: Andrew Strong, Andrea Corr, Colm Meaney.

Plot summary: When Jimmy Rabbitte wants to start a band, he has open auditions at his house.

What the critics said: "This is probably Alan Parker's best film, in part because it's one of his most modest." Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader.

Alan Parker's 75th Birthday: The 'Evita' Director's Movies Ranked from Worst to Best | Culture