The Top Ten Ridley Scott Films.

In all honesty, I never wanted to do “Top Ten” lists here.

I’ve never read one that didn’t piss me off somehow, and frankly, who am I to authoritatively rank anything? AFI, I am not.

But I have to acknowledge that they’re an extremely popular post format, and going through them can actually be an interesting exercise. For example, as familiar as I am with Sir Ridley’s filmography, I found myself rewatching 3 different films in order to compile this list.

So here we go, our first top ten list here. The top ten films of Sir Ridley Scott.

I’m well on the record here as being a big fan of the man, he’s a great director with a handful of true classics under his belt and a filmography full of solid movies. You can always count on his movies to be visually appealing, and more often than not they’re lavish productions that can transport the viewer to a different place, or time, or even world.

That’s what the magic of movies is all about.

Click through to check out what I feel are his ten best!

  

10) Black Rain (1989)

Black Rain stars Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia as two New York City cops who arrest a prominent member of the Yakuza. Charged with transporting him back to Japan, he escapes their custody… and they wind up assisting the Japanese authorities in tracking him down. Visually impressive, well paced, and featuring a good central performance from Michael Douglas, this isn’t exactly one of Scott’s classics, but still a very decent flick.  

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9) American Gangster (2007)

Perhaps the victim of unreasonable expectations more than anything, I think the book on this one is that it was a little disappointing. The promise of Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington working together in a Ridley Scott film, revolving around one of the most notorious drug kingpins ever known? It may have been a little too much to live up to, as the movie plays its cards very closely to its vest. Still, “American Gangster” remains a solid movie.

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8) Legend (1985)

Legend is an unadulterated Fantasy film. No dipping its toes in to the water, this movie dives in to the deep end of the Fantasy genre. Its world is populated by Unicorns and Pixies and Goblins and Demons. The plot is light, and the characters a little underdeveloped… but the costumes and sets are elaborate, and the film is flat-out stunning to look at. It has the power to charm the viewer with its fantastic, whimsical nature. Lots of fun!

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7) Thelma and Louise (1991)

Lauded at the time of its release for giving the girls an opportunity to play “bad”, just like the boys. It’s a fun road movie and Sarandon and Davis obviously relish their characters. Scott puts them in a sympathetic light and has you rooting for them even as they engage in what amounts to a crime spree. Original and mildly groundbreaking at the time, this movie also comes with an ending that no one can forget.

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6) “Matchstick Men” (2003)

Matchstick Men is that rare gem of a movie. A con movie that can actually con you. Nic Cage shines as a con artist with psychological problems, and Alison Lohman is his estranged daughter. Sam Rockwell flies co-pilot as they work a big con while Cage works through his issues. It’s going to tug on your heartstrings as it lifts your wallet. Very underrated. I like it a lot!

 
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5) “Kingdom of Heaven – The Director’s Cut” (2005)

Restoring 45 minutes of film that was cut due to studio demands apparently made all the difference in the world. Mis-martketed during its initial release as some sort of spiritual successor to Gladiator, “Kingdom of Heaven” is actually a historical epic which examines religious conflict. Boasting unmatched production values and an intricate, complex, involving story, this is an example of historical epic filmmaking at its best!

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4) “Black Hawk Down” (2001)

If one word were used to describe this film, it wold easily be “intense”.  Based on the book of the same name, “Black Hawk Down” recounts the Battle of Mogadishu. American Special forces attempt to apprehend a lieutenant of a Somali Warlord, and things quickly go south. It’s a gritty, realistic movie with excellent directing, a solid cast and taut pacing. It’s guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat for its entire run-time! 

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3) “Gladiator” (2000)

From here out, the all-time classics begin. When you reach that level, it’s really only a matter of personal preference separating them. “Gladiator” won 5 Academy Awards (though NOT for Best Director – Steven Soderburgh, “Traffic”) including Best Picture. Possibly his most entertaining movie, and undoubtedly his most popular, “Gladiator” is a spectacular film. Rousing. Riveting. Thought provoking. Epic. Masterfully directed and acted, undoubtedly one of his finest.

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2) “Alien” (1979)

In space, no one can hear you scream. But in the movie theatre they absolutely can. Alien successfully crossed science fiction and horror to deliver a uniquely blended, unforgettable film. Atmospheric and intense, “Alien” ratchets up the pressure until its practically unbearable. It features a tremendous cast, a groundbreaking heroine, and a legendary creature. This film has spawned a franchise that is still going strong 30+ years later. Incredible.

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1) “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” (1982/2007)

“Blade Runner” is a film that rocketed up my personal favorites list once I began writing about films. It’s incredibly rich. Noir and Sci-Fi meet in a futuristic detective story, anchored by fantastic turns from Harrison Ford and Sean Young. Stunning to watch and full of thought-provoking concepts, “Blade Runner” is easily one of my favorite films. “The Final Cut” takes a great film and tweaks it into a masterpiece. Scott’s finest hour.

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So there you have it folks. MY list of the Top Ten Ridley Scott films.

What do you think? Any of them too high? Too Low? Are there ones you havent seen yet? Maybe you’re crazy like Ian and you think Blade Runner is boring (if so, word to the wise, play it cool). Should I do more top tens going forward, or is was I right in holding off on them in the first place?

Talk to me folks!! :D

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77 thoughts on “The Top Ten Ridley Scott Films.

  1. I’m going to put it out there. Gladiator is my favourite. Haven’t seen Black Rain or Legend. Early reviews suggesting Prometheus not the masterpiece so many were expecting unfortunately.

    • See, Vic? This is why I’ve hesitated to do these (not the critiquing, that’s fine)… I havent seen 1492. Or White Squall, actually either. So… Maybe this should be “Top Ten Ridley Scott Films from an incomplete perspective” LOL!!

      I guess, as always, my own topics wind up giving me homework assignments!

      “Kingdom of Heaven” is really good though, I dig that one…

  2. Nice! Solid list! Ridley Scott is brilliant!

    Blade Runner is truly #1 and Alien #2 (both are on my all time favorites list). Kingdom of Heaven is the underrated one here–I liked it even more than Gladiator (which I enjoyed but I thought KoH has more substance, in my opinion)–and yes the director’s cut is the only way to watch it.

    I actually really liked Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)–Lorraine Bracco steals the show and I think it’s one of Tom Berenger’s best roles. And leave it to Scott to take what could be cliche and familiar and make it intense and memorable.

    Now, let’s hope Prometheus will take a spot on this list!! :D

    • I would leave a one word reply to this one, Nedi, but I can’t change my font size. LOL. So my “YES!” wouldnt come through enthusiastically enough.

      Agreed 100% on your assements of the movies, although in Gladiators defense – it trades off “substance” for “entertainment” which isnt necessarily a bad thing, especially when a movie is AS entertaining as “Gladiator”.

      I have to abstain on “Someone to Watch Over Me”, sadly, another gap in my Sir Ridley checklist. I will however agree with the Prometheus enthusiasm. I hope its an all time classic!!!

  3. Great list. I have to say though, even though he is clearly a brilliant director who has made some GREAT movies, I think I’d struggle to get a top 10 myself. I think that is just me though, ‘cos I find quite a lot of his films incredibly over-dramatic and bombastic; during Kingdom of heaven I somewhat expected barbarian hordes to enter the cinema and the slaughter the everyone in the Odeon.

    I think this is what makes some of his other films all the better though. Blade Runner and Alien were intense and immense simultaneously, without having to do the ‘look at what we can do with 20 million dollars’, which was evident in K. of H, a bit in Black hawk Down, and, although it is still a great film if one I believe to overrated, Gladiator.

    One of my other favourites which I am glad to see had some recognition is Matchstick Men, which is far subtler and loads more fun than any of his other stuff. Nevertheless, I still love Scott, and hopefully Prometheus won’t disappoint.

    • I hope Prometheus doesnt disappoint, either. Based on a comment above, I checked in with Rotten Tomatoes, where the first wave of reviews have it at 85% with the blurbs being all over the place. Some disappointed, some raving.

      His films can certainly be bombastic at times. LOL I dont know if theyre overdramatic too often though. Gladiator might be a little overrated, but it was wickedly entertaining.

      GLAD to see some support for Matchstick Men. I really like that one and feel like it never got its due. You know? It is a lot of fun!

      Speaking of fun, that comment about the barabarian hordes slaughtering your megaplex is funny stuff TCT, I can totally see that movie conjuring that thought for someone. LOL

  4. Fine 10 Top.
    I think BR finalcut needs that top spot you’ve picked because with the great story the look is so stylized and well produced that it really stands the test of time as you mention in your BR MTESS.

    Slight suggestion on latter players- maybe Legend behind AG as I was surprised at how entertaining Denzel and Crowe (and Brolin) are in a rewatch of it. Legend is a Cruise playing opposite Ferris Beuller’s girlfriend Mia Sara; fun flick that I haven’t seen recently. Black Rain always makes me wince because I really enjoy it up until the very last handover scene which I’m not sure carries the ethical perspective of Douglas’ character (maybe I’m wrong), but I do enjoy being ensconced in the film as a stranger in a strange land; very cool. Gladiator is a superb one and deserves that high slot you’ve got. I wonder what would make the list if it were extended to 11 or even 20? Great list.

    • Extend the list to 20? LOL!! Good grief! Hard enough to figure out ten!! :D

      I definitely DO need to rewatch AG, buddy, there’s no doubt. I own it in my collection, already, too… I should just check it out again.

      My initial reaction was being disappointed but now maybe I’d be ready to reassess. Legend is pretty decent, if heavy on the visuals. LOL.

      Black Rain has a lot of flaws. Gotta take a big grain of salt to enjoy it. But there’s a lot there to like, its fun enough. Very 80s, though. Drum machines and whatnot.

  5. Some surprises here! I like the addition of Legend. I think Ridley did it thinking it would open a whole new territory(genre), like Alien. I can’t think of another film quite like it. “The Duelists” is the one I would add. Another unique flik, Cannes gave him the Best New Director prize for it. I know “best new” is something you aspire to yourself! Ridley has alot of things going on. He also produces my favorite commercial TV show “The Good Wife”. If I were you I would lay-off reading about “Prometheus” and approach it with clear head and fresh eyes!

    • Yeah, I’m trying to – honestly. But its difficult.

      I heard that early reviews were mixed, and it freaked me out. I had to run right out and check.It’s only the first wave though, so anything can happen.

      Meanwhile, the Duelists, huh? I’ll have to add that to my ever growing list of movies I’m just now realizing I’ve never seen. :D

      I did know that about Cannes though. I believe that that helped him land Alien.

      • I know you value “Rotten Tomatoes”, they gave “The Duellists”(double L, who knew?) 100%. Actually kinda slow paced flik, reminded me of Kubrick sorta.

  6. 10. Totally forgot about it. Not sure I remember it. Have to rewatch now.
    9. Didn’t like and I normally like Denziel Washington.
    8. LOVED Legend. I was amoung the girls that said dump Cruise and go w/ the Demon. Probably why I really liked Hellboy when he goes fully demon in the first film and his horns sprout out. Oh La La. Grinding those down and keeping them filed is so so sad.
    7. Never really cared for it. They managed to do a girls crime movie and still leave it a chick flick with a sad ending. Nope. Didn’t like.
    6. I know I watched Matchstick Men but it didn’t leave much of an inpression on me. I can’t really remember it.
    5. Kingdom of Heaven, never saw it.
    4. Black Hawk Down. I remember seeing interviews of the person it was about. I remember that when it was being filmed, he was highly critical and very unhappy about what they were doing to the story and how they were changing it. The result is that I had no interest in seeing it.
    3. Saw the ending of Gladiator at my parents’ house when I was on vacation one year. It was pretty good. But I still had the same feeling as when I saw the trailers for it. Eh, Sparticus rehashing.
    2. The first Alien film really didn’t capture me. I saw these all out of order. I loved 3 and someone made me sit down and watch 2 and I really liked that one as well.
    1. Blade Runner. Love this film. I think it is a great movie. I hear Ford was unhappy during the entire process. Maybe he was just channeling his character really well. He did an outstanding job. I saw this film before I ever read Gibson’s books and this movie shaped my image of cyberpunk worlds. Now Gibson’s works may have influenced the design of Blade Runner. But since I saw the film first I tend to think the film influence my imagination.

    • HAHAHA!!! Dump Cruise and go with the Darkness! LOL That’s awesome.

      Cruise is kind of goofy in that one, isnt he? :D

      Black Hawk down is a really good movie. I’m sure that authors or people whom the factual instances get taken from get miffed all the time, it’s probably a normal course of business in Hollywood. I respect your boycott, though, I have a few of those of my own.

      You love Aliens 3? LOL. Have I got a guy for you – @joelburman. LOL!! :D

      YES! Glad you support BR I love it too. My understanding is that Ford and Scott practically hated each other during the shooting. LOL. Ironically this is some of their best work. Both of them.

      Who’s Gibson though? Not sure. The novel was by Phillip K Dick. I know that much.

      • William Gibson? Father of Cyberpunk? Author of Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive among others? Oh, and Aliens 3 was the one that got me interested in the series. It was very different from the rest of the franchise and I liked that about it.

  7. My 3-2-1 would be the same, but in a different order. Glad to see Matchstick Men in there, such a fantastic little Ridley Scott film.

    Gladiator is my all time favourite Ridley film. It opened my heart up to the love of film. I was late to the game!

    Black Hawk Down set the bar for modern war films. It’s brutal and shocking. More so because it happened in my life time. He did excellent work with that one.

    • See? I knew people would want to shuffle 1-3 LOL.

      Sounds like you’d have Black Hawk down in your top five, too, at least. That’s cool. :D He did excellent work on ALL of those, they’re all really really great. He’s a fantatsic director.

      Alright, I need to shut my fanboy self up now. LOL

  8. I’m with Ian….. Blade Runner is boring. No matter how many times I’ve tried, I can’t sit thru the whole thing.

    Other than that, I like the list and would welcome more from you.

  9. I really like Ridley Scott’s films and you are the right the top three are classics and there will be a lot of debate about which comes out on top because they are quite different. One film that I did think could have been on the list was Body of Lies with Leonardo Dicaprio and Russell Crowe

    • It’s a very divisive film Patto. I like it too, yeah. But a lot of people – a lot of people hate on it. As such, I dont know, I wasnt inclined to put it.

      I did like it though. Very intense. Kind of a different sort of portrayal from Crowe too. Great acting.

      Meanwhile, thank you for backing me up on the top three… I definitely recognize that the order on those could definitely switch around easily!

  10. Absolutely SPOT ON! The inclusion of Black Rain makes this a fans list for me and the top five are unquestionably ranked in order. Its usually so easy to argue with top tens but not this time!

    • Ric, there you GO! I like hearin’ that!

      Its tough, man. Tougher than I thought! And literally I chose Ridley Scott because I thought it would be easy. :D

      I’m well aware how easy it is to argue with top tens. LOL. Im usually the guy arguing with ‘em. But this one seems to be doing well, so… I’ll probably run another few out there and see how it goes!

  11. Good stuff, man. Nice to see a list over here. I have only seen half of these (oops), but Alien would be #1 for me. In fact, I just bought the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set that Amazon just had on sale. I am looking forward to revisiting Alien more than anything from that set. Bring on Prometheus!

    • Yeah, Alien is awesome, it’s really aged well. Seems so much better nowadays in contrast to the typical space flotsam Hollywood floats at us.

      Think of it this way, you’ve got a lot of fodder for your next Project, then! :D

  12. Don’t fear the Top Ten list, Fogs! Especially on a site like this, where you’re interested in building community. Nothing will incite conversation like a list of Top Fives, Tens, Twenties, etc.

    As for the Ridley list, I’m shocked and awed by the absence of G.I. Jane. Oh wait…no I’m not. But I’ll second the endorsement for The Duellists. I don’t remember much about it actually; my high school European History teacher showed it to us senior year…a long time ago. But I do remember it being pretty cool, and establishing Scott right out of the gate as a director with an amazing eye.

    Can’t wait for Prometheus, and already I’m getting excited for The Counselor.

    • Prometheus is right around the corner DB. Not long now!

      You’re right about the Top Ten lists, people definitely love them. They’re all over the place in the blogosphere… mainly because people respond to them so well. And yeah, totally, all about the discussion and the camraderie around these parts! :D

      I’ll have to check out the Duellists – not just to say it, either, I will try to track that one down. Since I’ve started writing about movies, Scott’s stock has just gone through the roof for me. So, since I’m so close to completing his filmography, I might as well hit the few I’m missing.

  13. I totally understand how you feel about lists. I feel almost the exact same way and have avoided doing very many of them. And one of them wasn’t even a list fully made by myself. I’m a big fan of every Ridley Scott movie I’ve seen even though I’ve only seen a handful of them – Legend, Blade Runner (not sure exactly which cut, but I know it wasn’t the theatrical cut), Gladiator, and Thelma and Louise.

    I think lists are best done when used either sparingly or quirkily. I love Life vs. Film’s Top 5 lists about lots of fun little themes.

    • Yeah, well, I doubt I’ll lean on them heavily. But I need to get another couple of regular posts going in my rotation, so… I’ll probably do a couple a month if they work out well. This is off to a good start.

      I’d say if “Youre a big fan of every Ridley Scott movie youve ever seen”, you should probably check out some more and see if you like those too! LOL

  14. What makes me a poor member of the discussion is that I haven’t seen several of these films in a long time, especially when we refer to Thelma & Louise, Legend & Black Hawk Down. Another problem is that I haven’t seen Matchstick Man or Black Rain, even though the first has been sitting on my queue for a while.

    Having said that, I think Ridley Scott has the capacity to make great films, but usually I expect solid pieces that are kind of unremarkable, which is how I feel about every single film I have seen of his except the ones you include in your top 4. I think the genre that suits him best is science fiction, which is clearly shown by two very influential films like Blade Runner and Alien.

    I also have a soft spot for Legend as I recently showed in my top 10 films for a 10 year old post but, like I said, I tend to think of Sir Ridley as a good director capable of making excellent films once in a while.
    I invite you to revisit my blog to continue the discussion as I preview Prometheus and I look back at the Alien franchise.

    • If you’ve got a series running, dont be shy about posting up a link here for others, BBI, you’re no spammer, you’ve been around! ;)

      I think its a rare director that ALWAYS makes awesome films, so the fact that he always has the ability at least to really put something incredible up on the screen is remarkable.

      I think some of his “Lesser” movies are still high quality, and definitely worthy of praise… and when you consider them as a body of work (by mixing those top four back in) then you really have an incredible career we’re talking about.

  15. Well, I agree with every single choice here with the exception of Black Rain (which I haven’t seen). Your top 4 are exactly like mine! So, I think I would call this list a success. Bravo, Sir Fogs.

    • Yeaaaah! (quick claps) LOL

      Yeah, uh, dont exactly take this as a recommendation on Black Rain… ok? :D But its pretty good. I mean, if you come across it, you’re not gonna do too badly for yourself sticking around. It’s got some cheese to it, but its enjoyable. And its REALLY well shot. I mean his work with neon and darkness was great. Kind of like seeing a modern day Blade Runner city. So, good stuff there.

  16. I would have placed American Gangster higher, maybe #4. If you get a chance to watch the extras and make sure to watch the one where the Prop Master (who shall remain nameless) demos the drug test.

    Just saying. ;)

  17. Nice list Fogs :D I would have Gladiator as my #1 but glad to see Alien appreciated for its worth. Not the biggest fan of Blade Runner though and surprising to see Kingdom of Heaven so high on the list although I hear the director’s cut is much better than the theatrical version

    • I cant actually speak to the theatrical version, I didnt see it in the theatre… It was getting kicked around pretty bad as I recall. I only checked it out when the Directors cut started to get a bunch of buzz, and yeah, its really really good. It’s a HUGE hisotrical epic. Really long. Tons of characters great story…

      I liked it.

      I was actually surprised to see more people didnt say theyd move Gladiator to number one. When I made the list, I thought I’d get a ton of heat for having it lower than the other two! LOL

  18. It never ceases to amaze me, the love that Gladiator gets. I’d have that in a list of most overrated movies but… You know full well that I share the love for Blade Runner. It’s one of the finest film’s ever made. Well done for compiling this list Fogs. As much as I like Ridley Scott, I’d have found it hard to pick ten.

    • A couple of the ones towards the bottom start to get into “I could take ‘em or leave ‘em” territory, but overall they’re all solid. Not many directors could run ten movies up there that are great, you know?

      No love for Gladiator though huh? It’s not thematically devoid, but even if you take it solely as a piece of entertainment that’s a great movie, man!

      • As a piece of entertainment it’s fine but I was seriously let down by it. I don’t think it’s the classic it’s proclaimed to be. I found the dialogue abysmal and some really hammy acting. Like I say to everyone though, I need to have a rewatch as I’ve only ever seen it once and that was when it was released.

      • Yeah, a lot of times a revisit can increase your estimation of a flick. I know its one thats grown for me over the years, although I still think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon should have won Best Picture that year LOL

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