Director Ridley Scott is quite the hot property in Tinseltown these days. According to his IMDb page, he has eighteen projects in development, including an adaptation of the classic novel Brave New World and a movie based on the board game Monopoly.
Tomorrow, Robin Hood, his fifth collaboration with Russell Crowe, hits theaters. So now is a perfect time to rewind the clock on Scott’s career and rank his absolute best films to date. While not all his projects have scored a bullseye, he never fails to skimp in the boldness and ambition departments.
Here are Ridley Scott’s ten greatest works.
10. Matchstick Men (2003)
Why it’s #10: Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman and Sam Rockwell all deliver memorable performances in this nuanced tale of con artists. Scott lets his characters take the wheel and the results are exceptionally good.
9. Black Rain (1989)
Why it’s #9: Dark, gritty and ultra-violent, Black Rain dives head first into the cryptic and dangerous world of Japanese Yakuza. Michael Douglas shines as a hard-boiled NYC detective on the hunt. Scott’s striking visuals of Osaka, Japan echo a 2019 Los Angeles.
8. The Duellists (1977)
Why it’s #8: Scott’s debut film revealed his already honed skills behind the camera as two Napoleonic era French officers battle for respect. It’s beautifully photographed and the various action scenes are expertly staged.
7. Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
Why it’s #7: Scott’s most underrated film is both a romance and thriller. Tom Berenger plays a blue collar cop tasked to guard a Manhattan socialite being threatened by a vicious mobster. A palette of blue and black coats this smoky crime drama.
6. American Gangster (2007)
Why it’s #6: The true story of drug kingpin Frank Lucas is a compelling exploration into New York City’s criminal underworld during the 1970s. Scott again allows his actors to steer the plot to a satisfying end.
5. Thelma & Louise (1991)
Why it’s #5: Scott’s smash hit about female empowerment was a showcase for Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis; both received Best Actress Oscar nominations. It’s a rip roaring road movie that balances humorous and poignant moments.
4. Black Hawk Down (2001)
Why it’s #4: Scott received unprecedented cooperation from the U.S. Military to dramatize the tragic Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. The hellish combat sequences, intense pacing and hand-held cinematography are some of the best ever put to film.
3. Gladiator (2000)
Why it’s #3: Scott’s only film to win Best Picture is an ass kicking epic that impresses from start to stop. The final duel between Maximus and Commodus serves as a how-to guide for filming hand-to-hand sword fights. Scott was deserving of a Directing Oscar, but lost out to Steven Soderbergh (Traffic).
2. Alien (1979)
Why it’s #2: Sci-Fi/Horror has never been done better. Scott’s nightmarish journey aboard the doomed mining ship Nostromo is an effects masterpiece. After thirty years, it can still make your skin crawl. Just watch the trailer if you don’t believe me.
1. Blade Runner (1982)
Why it’s #1: All other dystopian science fiction flicks bow to Blade Runner. The story, performances, special effects, cinematography and soundtrack all hit the mark. Scott was beset by numerous problems during production, but none of them prevented him from creating his most stunning film yet.