List compiled by Eddie on 24/07/2015
A director who is equally at home with a miniature budget or a gargantuan one (his latest film Exodus saw his production crew build Egyptian sets) Ridley Scott has the rare feat of directors where arguably his finest films were amongst his first in a career that has now spanned five decades.
To say that Scott has not made fine films since his early days would be a disservice though to a director who has his share of big successes and even bigger failures (The Counsellor, Robin Hood ect ect) but has an undeniable handle on what makes cinema so fantastic; imagination and wonder and many of his films display an almost old school production value that harkens back to the golden age of Hollywood pictures.
Scott has found varying degrees of critical love and critical deriding and a similar line at the box office were his films have often flown and fallen in equal measure. Scott is a busy worker, a man that at times has seen multiple films open in the same year and has an illustrious business of producing many a fine production with his film company he started with his late brother Tony, Scott Free.
With an unquestionably intriguing career in the industry, picking a Top 10 Ridley Scott films list is no easy feat but below are some films we deem to be his finest and looking into them with more thought there is also little doubt that there’s a high chance Scott has had a hand in one of your personal favourite films.
Happy reading and happy watching!
White Squall (1996)
With Jeff Bridges leading a cast of talented young actors, Scott’s telling of the true life story of a bunch of teenagers on a school sailing ship adventure on the high seas may not be an outright classic but it’s an intriguing tale of comradery and survival and any film with the “Dude” leading the cast is always watchable.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Seemingly trying to recapture the success he found with the much better sword and sandals epic Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven see’s Scott trying to make Orlando Bloom an appealing lead in at times beautiful yet narratively frustrating tale set in Jerusalem. Made memorable thanks to its fine production values and epic battles and supposedly the Directors Cut is a whole league better than the original Theatrical version.
Reviving the classic Anthony Hopkins creation for a much sillier and over the top journey regarding Dr. Lectors acquired tastes, Hannibal has some very weak moments but there is little point trying to deny that Hopkins powerful portrayal of the Dr. doesn’t once more win out and some gruesome images (plane food anyone?) that have found their way into movie pop culture history are very well put together.
Matchstick Men (2003)
A low key affair for the usually more large scale Scott, Matchstick Men is a more character focussed venture that sees Scott drawing out fine turns from his two male leads Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell. A neatly written and constructed little gem this is the type of movie you’d like to see Scott tackle once more.
Thelma and Louise (1991)
A huge hit thanks largely to the pairing of wild girls Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, Thelma and Louise is a classic that spiked a whole raft of wannabes and a classic ending. A different tone imbues this Scott film than his usual fair and as an added curio this is the film that truly launched the career of a small actor you may of heard of, Brad Pitt.
American Gangster (2007)
The second most memorable collaboration between Australian rough man Russell Crowe and Scott, American Gangster is a fine entry into the crime cannon of films and a truly remarkable true story. Scott handles the film completely from the performances of the always good Denzel Washington and the more low key Crowe, this is a fine crime drama that was both a box office success and critical hit.
Blackhawk Down (2001)
An intense and unfaltering war set tale, Blackhawk Down is an assault on the senses and a hugely visceral movie watching experience. Filled with a quality cast, Scott’s thrilling bullet strewn film is a highly memorable and affecting tale based on a real life event and was justifiably a huge hit upon release.
From the production design, the acting turns and the thrilling gladiatorial battles, Gladiator is blockbuster filmmaking at its finest. Turning star Russell Crowe into an overnight sensation and Oscar winner, Gladiator is by far Scott’s most financially successful and well known tale that to this day remains one of his most endlessly watchable.
The chest bursting scene, the first glimpse of the Xenomorph, Sigourney Weaver, the android – so much could be said about this Sci-Fi staple that it merely goes to show just how much of an effect this classic has had on movie making in the aftermath of its release. Spawning a huge follow on of movies, merchandise and various array of rip offs, Alien is a terrifying, atmospheric and expertly directed movie that heralded in the long career of Scott in Hollywood.
Blade Runner (1982)
Misunderstood on release, the true power of Scott’s adaptation of the short Philip K. Dick story has now long been entrenched in the classic echelons of movie making history. A stunningly designed and immaculately crafted Sci-Fi fable, Blade Runner sees not only stunning futuristic designs and ideas but one of Harrison Ford’s great acting turns in a story that says a lot about what it is to be human. With the one-two punch of Alien and Blade Runner, Scott entrenched himself as a masterful director to the point that he has since failed to replicate since.
Honourable mentions: A Good Year, The Duellists, Legend
Did we get it right in picking Scott’s Top 10 Films? Is there a glaring omission that you’re just buzzing to let us know about? Let us know in the comments below if so!
For our other Director Top 10’s see below –