Scott’s revisionist take on the Robin Hood legend went through multiple permutations on its long road to the screen, including one script in which the Sheriff of Nottingham was the hero and Robin the villain and another in which Robin was the Sheriff! Where Scott ultimately ended up isn’t so far from the melancholic tone of Richard Lester’s marvelous Robin and Marian, with Russell Crowe (in his fifth teaming with Scott) as an older, wiser Robin and Cate Blanchett as a hesitant, widowed Marian. The time is the end of the 12th century, and Robin is an archer in the army of Richard the Lionheart (Danny Huston), a common man who deserts his king and assumes the identity of a slain knight–Robert Loxley of Nottingham–following a roadside ambush. Eventually uniting with the dead man’s father (Max von Sydow) and widow Marian, Robin and his fellow deserters aid the Nottingham villagers in their fight against the insidious policies of King John and an impending French invasion. Splendidly conceived as an old-fashioned epic with equal emphasis on character and action, Robin Hood–which opened the 2010 Cannes Film Festival–is that increasingly rare Hollywood object: an intelligent big-budget “tentpole” movie.

“One of the year’s best films.”
 —Quentin Tarantino