The Martian appears to be a return to form for Ridley Scott after making some critically panned films over the last half decade, but this is a list of his best films. Rather hate on the guy for making some less than stellar films, it’s worth noting his many achievements as a versatile director in Hollywood along with changing the game for the better.
His diversity in his film genres have put atop a list of directors who has managed to tell more than just one style of story and that is what makes him special as a director.
As all my lists are, it is a subjective list made by yours truly that does not follow any formula rather than if the films are what I consider great. Any discrepancies please leave them in the comments, if not, share the sh** out of this.
10. Legend (1985): Legend is a film that no one seems to discuss when you think of childhood fantasy from the 80’s, but Legend is a classic Ridley Scott visual feast with a young Tom Cruise and Mia Sara as the leads. Tim Curray plays Darkness aka a really cool version of Satan while it hoans in on the classic fairy tales of the past. It is a bit darker than most classic fairy tales, but then again, it is a Ridley Scott fairy tale.
9. Thelma and Louise (1991): This is a classic that no one realizes is actually a classic. Every comedy that has parodied the jumping a car into a canyon, but did you ever wonder what it was from? Well, go back to Thelma and Louise for the original source of this iconic scene. It was also a testament to the female leads being able to comfortably hold their own in a film and not to sound preachy, but we need that type of confidence for the women in Hollywood.
8. Prometheus (2012): There are so many people who dislike this movie and I don’t get all the harsh hatred for the movie. I get that it may have confused the fans who didn’t have a history with the Alien franchise and to be fair, even I was confused on whether or not it was a sequel or prequel or something entirely different, but I loved the movie nonetheless. Of the many beautifully directed films by Scott, this is one of his most beautiful. It has rich mythology that is thankfully being explored in the future and is hated on more than I feel it deserves.
7. Matchstick Men (2001): To those that only think of Nicolas Cage as a meme, please go and watch Matchstick Men. Darkly funny, alluring in it’s content, and just down right entertaining this is a great movie. It is a great film because it doesn’t have the usual Ridley Scott quips or trademarks like most of his movies, but it still delivers on every other account.
6. Kingdom of Heaven (The Final Cut) (2005): Critics don’t tend to enjoy this film when you bring it up, but if you and Kingdom of Heaven’s critics have seen the extended cuts of the film it becomes a much better film. I myself, am partial to the sword swinging epics in film, and this was a cool rendition of a true story about the times of the crusades. Not that this is Lord of the Rings, but it does become a great film nonetheless with the extended final cuts, and is worth checking out again if you get the chance.
5. Black Hawk Down (2001): You go back and look at this film, it is clear the cultural bias and often insensitive depictions in this sweeping war drama, but it is still a well crafted piece of cinema. It was Scott who brought this forgotten piece of U.S. military history to life about the Delta team that fought for 15 hours in war-torn Somalia that makes us enjoy the film so much. A great cast that even has a young Tom Hardy thrown in there is excellently portrayed in the genre of war-dramas, and makes your heart race every time.
4. American Gangster (2007): Good cops, gangsters with moral codes, and a shocking true story is the center of this biopic-style gangster flick about Frank Lucas and the cop who tried to take him down. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are electric in this film with Crowe as the cop and Washington as Frank Lucas. Scott loves throwing in those recognizable faces throughout and this movie has no shortages whatsoever. It captures the gritty drug filled world of New York from 1968 into the 80’s as Lucas more or less conquers the five boroughs with a calmly gripped iron fist.
3. Blade Runner (The Final Cut) (1982): Scott loves his epic, deeply intricate tales no matter the genre and Blade Runner meshes neo-noir with sci-fi and does in a visual splendor that is getting a sequel in the next year or so by Sicario director Denis Villeneuve. It is a modern classic that has inspired countless films and one that also affirmed that Harrison Ford was the man of the 70’s and 80’s sci-fi genre. The final cut makes Blade Runner almost a different movie and seems to be a continuing theme for Scott’s films.
2. Alien (1979): While Star Wars was taking over the world, there was a new more menacing breed of science-fiction coming our screens and it scared the living daylights out of us. Scott understands that the scariest films are have things we cannot always see and we always fear what we cannot see nor understand. Alien is perhaps one of the greatest single films ever made and it holds up tremendously to this very day. The technology and techniques for creating so many of the scenes was far more advanced than we give it credit for and it looked beautiful along with giving us a fresh original mythology that is still alive today.
1. Gladiator (2000): It comes off as the obvious choice, but for good reason. The sword and sandal epics of the 50’s and 60’s are not all vanished, but rarer than they once were, and once Gladiator hit theaters everyone realized how great the duo of Russell Crowe and Scott truly were. It has action, drama, and scale to match while it gave us some of the most iconic scenes and characters put on screen. Winning Best-Picture among other accolades, it was a great way to kick off the new millennium and it had us forever shouting drunkenly; “Are you not entertained?!”