Ridley Scott: His best films to date

Late last week, I got a chance to see Ridley Scott’s latest film, the franchise outing Alien: Covenant. A sequel to Prometheus and prequel to Alien, it is still a few weeks out, but 20th Century Fox is clearly feeling bullish about it. You’ll see what think in detail later on this month, but with it fresh in my mind, I wanted to take a look at Scott’s career on the whole. A few years ago I ranked his ten best movies, and I’m going to be doing that again today, just wish an added twist. Scott is fairly prodigious with his outings, so this can be a fairly consistent thing. There’s always some new coals in the fire for him.

Before I get to the top ten list, I figured I’d do a full ranking of total filmography, up until those best ones, at least. This is what that would look like, including Alien: Covenant. Take a gander:

24. 1492: Conquest of Paradise
23. The Counselor
22. Black Rain
21. Someone to Watch Over Me
20. Robin Hood
19. Exodus: Gods and Kings
18. A Good Year
17. Kingdom of Heaven
16. Body of Lies
15. White Squall
14. Alien: Covenant
13. Legend
12. Prometheus
11. American Gangster

Here now once again are Scott’s ten best, at least according to yours truly:

10. Hannibal – Not a great film, by any stretch, but there’s a silly bit of fun to have with this sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Scott stepped in for Jonathan Demme and gave returning player Anthony Hopkins room to ham it up. It’s not his Oscar winning performance, nor anything close to it, but it’s enjoyable in its own way. If nothing else, it looks beautiful.

9. G.I. Jane – A slightly underrated title that doesn’t fully become much more than a Demi Moore star vehicle, it still has its heart in the right place. I do wonder if this would have been better liked had it come out these days instead of when it did…not that it matters that much. Scott would do better work with military characters later on (see below in this list), but this is far from a bad flick.

8. The Duelists – Scott’s first film is about as different as anything else he’s made since. Closer to Barry Lyndon than his own work, the young director is paying homage to Stanley Kubrick every which way that he can. At times it does seem more like an impression than an homage, but it does work far more often than not. One of his least seen works, it’s well worth checking out.

7. Gladiator – This movie is a bit on the overrated side to me, especially considering the fact that it won Best Picture, but Scott’s direction is excellent, Russell Crowe is strong, and it’s a throwback to a type of movie Hollywood rarely made anymore. His other attempts at this sort of thing (Kingdom of Heaven and Exodus: Gods and Kingd) would fall flat, but this one was definitely a success.

6. Matchstick Men – Easily the most underrated flick of Scott’s career, it’s a caper that’s a ton of fun and features one of my favorite Nicolas Cage performances. The duo of Scott and Cage might not immediately make you see stars, but trust me when I say that they bring out the best in each other. It’s one of his last “small” films, but it’s one of his top tier outings as well.

5. Blade Runner – To some, this is one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it is one of Scott’s best for sure. Harrison Ford’s other iconic sci-fi turn is here, of course, though Scott and his dystopian vision is the true star to me. I don’t consider it to be the masterpiece that many do, but it’s undeniably a fantastic and impeccably made movie.

4. Thelma & Louise – In some ways, this flick doesn’t fit in with the rest of Scott’s filmography, as it’s one of his few female centric ones. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis make it soar though, so while Scott never really returned to making this sort of a movie, it’s evidence that he can do it if he wants, and do it well. If you’ve never seen it, definitely give it a look…

3. The Martian – One of my favorites of 2015, this is Scott’s best work in some time. I’ve already raved about Scott’s direction, Matt Damon’s acting, and Drew Goddard’s script adaptation already multiple times since then, so consider this a final reminder that The Martian is a modern classic. It’s part of the reason why folks were so pumped for Alien: Covenant, yours truly included.

2. Black Hawk Down – One of the great war movies of the past few decades (and possibly of all time), Scott make battle a bloody and visceral experience like few others can. While you can argue that the characters aren’t particularly memorable, it’s pretty much the only complaint that I have about this one. It’s not his masterpiece, but honestly…it’s not the far off to me.

1. Alien – Perhaps the best horror flick ever made, this haunted house in space tale is just perfectly made. Scott’s masterpiece, it also launched one of the more popular sci-fi/horror franchises of all time. Sigourney Weaver and Scott took a simple premise and made this a terrifying and unforgettable experience. It’s phenomenal, no two ways about it for me.

Stay tuned for more on Scott and Alien: Covenant in the weeks to come!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Follow us

Breaking Hollywood News   


Comments are closed.