Top 10 Ridley Scott Films

Alien - top

A classic image from the iconic Alien

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!

The Dude, on a boat. In the White Squall

The Dude, on a boat. In the White Squall

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Hannibal (2001)

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Denzel and his entourage in the 2007 hit American Gangster

Denzel and his entourage in the 2007 hit American Gangster

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Gladiator (2000)

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.

  1. Alien (1979)

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.

  1. 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.

Poster artwork from the Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner

Poster artwork from the Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner

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 –

Martin Scorsese

Steven Spielberg

The Coen Brothers

John Carpenter

Dario Argento

Terrence Malick

64 responses to “Top 10 Ridley Scott Films

  1. I think Thelma and Louise and American Gangster should be higher than Gladiator and Black Hawk Down but that’s just me. Great list guys. It’s always so hard to make a top 10 list but yours is pretty good considering the challenge.

    • Cheers Dan. It’s always a little tough but Jordan and I did discuss that Scott’s films do flutter between really good and sometimes very average! His top 4 or so are all pretty great but then it was tricky figuring out how to rank the others.

      • Yeah definitely. It must be an extremely hard list to put together. Scorsese must have been the hardest out of the bunch though. All of his are masterpieces and classics in their own right.

      • Oh yeh man for sure ha! That was a nightmare lol. I am a massive massive fan of Casino as well so couldn’t help myself naming that one as #1 ha. Just a truly uniquely structured film.

  2. I think I’d take Kingdom of Heaven and White Squall off here and replace them with The Duellists and Legend. Other than that, a nice representation of his work.

    • Ah nice man they were close to making the cut! The Duellists is one id love to watch again seems like years since I’ve seen that! Good to hear from you mate, trust all is well 🙂

      • You should definitely revisit it. I think it’s a minor masterpiece, personally. Would like to have seen Keitel work with Scott more, honestly.

        Glad to be back. Everything has been well. Busy writing over on my end of the blogosphere. Will definitely come back more. Love coming by and seeing what you two are up to.


      • It’s been a great year for music. Thankfully my wife is good with me buying so many records, otherwise I’d be sleeping in the treehouse out back.

        I won’t be such a stranger.

  3. I would put American Gangster at no. 2 and make Alien and Blade Runner joint no. 1. Great list; nice to see some love for Matchstick Men. i just saw The Counsellor and it was even worse than what I was expecting, but it still looks gorgeous

    • Joint number 1’s, something to rememeber for futures lists 🙂 I was saying to Jordan I was interested to see how many would switch between Alien and Blade as the number 1. Oh man the Counsellor ha, it certainly was impressive visually but no goodness I was shocked at its awfulness, especially as a fan of most of those actors and McCarthy’s writings in particular.

  4. I had melancholic dreams about the chest bursting scene in alien. It’s one of those moments in cinema where you think “wow, that can’t get any better even with all the special effects thrown in together”.

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