With the release next week of Prometheus, Sir Ridley Scott can boast an even 20 titles on his illustrious film resume. His results have been routinely stellar with only a few duds on an impressive roll call of work. We took time to go back over the career of Ridley Scott and rank each of the 19 titles attributed to the man who is known for sketching his own storyboards and is renowned for his scrutiny around props and set design. He has been nominated for three Oscars but has yet to take home the golden statue. His efforts span four decades and his impact is indelible.
Ranking Ridley starts here:
19. Robin Hood (2010)
Being that Robin Hood was Sir Scott’s last film before Prometheus, we should all be holding our breath. For when reviewing Ridley’s entire scope of work, we could not think of a worse film that sits on his resume. The ambitious project with a production budget of $200 million and a cast that included Academy Award Winner Russell Crowe was a box office disappointment domestically barely squeaking past the $100 million mark. The issue was that Scott took the story about a 13th Century fighter that stole from the rich and gave to the poor and turned it into one long (140 minutes long) snoozefest. In terms of scope, expectation and story, Robin Hood ranks as Ridley’s worst.
18. A Good Year (2006)
Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe have teamed up five times and twice they have produced absolute duds. A Good Year was the story of an investment broker who tries to fix up his uncle’s chateau left to him by inheritance. Labeled as a comedy/drama/romance, A Good Year had no laughs, little drama and a love story that had less chemistry than the science toy set I got for Christmas when I was 5.
17. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
A historical drama about Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas in the hands of such a master as Scott should have resulted in an engrossing tale that would be standard viewing for High Schools around the world. Instead, this heavy period piece starring Gérard Depardieu, Sigourney Weaver and Armand Assante was overlong and, despite its glorious costumes and set pieces, made you wish that Columbus had called in sick the day he was set to port.
16. Body of Lies (2008)
Anything with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe directed by Ridley Scott should never be terrible. And Body of Lies is hardly that. But it was still a major disappointment considering the talent involved. DiCaprio plays a CIA Agent operating out of Jordan who works to thwart terrorist plots. Crowe plays the CIA puppet master pulling the strings from Washington. Maybe if the two shared some screen time together things would have been different.
15. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
An epic about the Christian crusades, Kingdom of Heaven is yet another attempt of Scott taking on real history and putting it to film. The bloody battle history should have provided the perfect backdrop for Ridley to exploit. Instead, he tried the patience of even the most passionate of Ridley fans with this underwhelming and ultimately unsatisfying violent depiction starring Orlando Bloom and Eva Green. It is not often that battle scenes can incite boredom, but Kingdom of Heaven did just that.
14. Hannibal (2001)
When news broke that Sir Ridley was taking a crack at a Silence of the Lambs sequel, fans of the Hannibal Lecter storyline broke out in unanimous praise. Jodie Foster was out with Julianne Moore taking over in the role as Clarice Starling, but even Foster couldn’t have elevated this movie above mediocrity. Very stylish and another beautifully shot film on location in Europe, the film ultimately loses any steam power provided by its predecessor. And don’t even get us started on the Anthony Hopkins/Ray Liotta dinner scene.
13. Black Rain (1989)
Even the 13th ranked Ridley Scott film is one that we favored in a review. Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia are two cops who are in a fish-out-of-water story as they travel to Japan to track down a member of the Japanese Mafia after he escapes their custody. Douglas is the tough-as-nails cop who has issues with both authority and the customs of the Eastern World and he works well under Scott’s direction exuding cool and bravado. The final battle scene in the rain and mud was brilliantly choreographed.
12. Legend (1985)
Tom Cruise fresh of Risky Business took on the role as Jack in this fantasy/adventure about a young man fighting the Lord of Darkness (always reliable Tim Curry) from eradicating daylight. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off’s Mia Sara co-starred as his love interest and the film was a box office disappointment (only $15 million domestically), but has since become a cult favorite.
11. G.I. Jane (1997)
Star Demi Moore got plenty of headlines back in 1997 after she shaved her head to play Jordan O’Neill, a female Senator that enrolls in the Navy SEALS training program. Determined to prove that a woman can succeed in the highly skilled division, O’Neill pushes herself to physical limits that would break most men. With Alien and Thelma and Louise under his directorial belt, Scott proved that he could direct a strong female lead and Moore was the perfect cast choice for the tough-ass O’Neill. The film, at times, tries too hard to push its message, but the results are ultimately satisfying.
10. The Duellists (1977)
The film starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel was Scott’s first attempt at a feature film and was a wonderful, if now dated, tale set in the Napoleonic era. Carradine and Keitel play two French army officers that duel on more than one occasion in an attempt to achieve their own brand of justice. The Duellists is the least known of Ridley’s work, but should be sought out and given a chance. Ridley’s style and confidence are on clear display in this debut.
9. Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
A different type of film that sticks out among the rest of Scott’s filmography. Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers star in this crime/drama about a NY cop (Berenger) and the woman he is assigned to protect (Rogers). Of course, they fall in love which distracts from the better moments in the movie, but the overall production has Ridley directing Berenger to his best role outside of Platoon.
8. White Squall (1996)
There are a lot of familiar faces in White Squall. Jeff Bridges, Scott Wolf, Ryan Phillippe, Jeremy Sisto, Balthazar Getty, Ethan Embry and John Savage. But the real star of the film was the scenery and action sequences on the high seas as Bridges takes a group of teenage boys on the high seas only to get caught in a catastrophic storm. Edge-of-your-seat action that concludes with a tearful conclusion made White Squall the best movie that nobody saw in 1996.
7. American Gangster (2007)
The true story about a successful black drug dealer (Denzel Washington) and the cop (Russell Crowe) that spends years trying to put him behind bars in 1970’s America had atmosphere and charisma to burn as it attempted to become the new millennium’s Scarface. Following Denzel’s Frank Lucas from his quaint upbringing through his heroin dealing uprising was as refreshing as it was real. The unrated version pushed the 180-minute mark again proving that Scott has trouble in the editing room, but Scott ensures that he keeps the narrative moving along and audiences were engrossed leading to a $265 million gross.
6. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis were given the roles of their careers in Ridley Scott’s brilliant road movie about a waitress and a housewife that after shooting a rapist evade authorities through the vastness of the Arkansas desert. Brad Pitt and Harvey Keitel have supporting roles but the film is all about the women and proved – in 1991 – that Ridley could direct strong character dramas to compliment his work in fantasy and science fiction. Was Ridley’s first Oscar nomination for Best Director.
5. Matchstick Men (2003)
Nicholas Cage gave a stellar performance in Scott’s film about a phobic con man (Cage) who gets an unexpected visit from a teenage claiming to be his daughter. The story is complex and highly entertaining with great supporting work from Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman. The two stories (the grift and the relationship with his daughter) work seamlessly together and the ending highlights the good storytelling in a satisfying conclusion.
4. Gladiator (2000)
The first collaboration of Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe also rates as their best. Crowe plays a Roman general who becomes a gladiator to avenge the murder of his family. Winning five Oscars including Best Picture, Ridley Scott lost out on the Best Director Oscar to Steven Soderbergh who took home the trophy for his drama, Traffic.
3. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Following up from the highly popular Gladiator the year before, Scott took on an adaptation of Mark Bowden’s book about the true story of U.S. soldiers that are outmanned and outgunned when dropped into Somalia in an attempt to capture a warlord. Scott was again nominated for Best Director and we believe it to be his best work behind the camera in capturing a piece of history.
2. Blade Runner (1982)
Harrison Ford played Rick Deckard, a retired blade runner who is brought in to help track and destroy four replicants that have escaped to earth 2019, in this marvelous and visual adaptation of a Phillip K. Dick story. Rutger Hauer and Darryl Hannah play two of the more deadly replicants and Sean Young soaks up the screen as the female lead. Oozing with atmosphere and set within a dismal looking future, Blade Runner has become a classic (if not, THE classic) science fiction film of all-time. Scott, in only his third effort, proved that he was a master behind the camera with a vision unlike any other director working at that time.
1. Alien (1979)
Simply put, this was Ridley’s masterpiece. “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream” was the tagline – one of the best ever associated with a feature film. The story, about a mining ship investigating a distress signal on an unexplored planet was near perfect on every note. Sigourney Weaver became a breakout star as Ripley, a member of the crew that has to fight against an alien organism that has infiltrated their ship. Scott weaves a classic horror tale using the claustrophobia of the space vessel Nostromo. Best known for the scene in which the alien bursts out of John Hurt’s chest much to the horror of the surrounding crew, Alien is a science fiction/horror combination that has never been matched. And Ridley has his masterpiece early in his career.
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