Throughout his long, storied career, Ridley Scott has only known how to pump his films to the maximum volume and to throw the kitchen sink at his audience. Full of large budgets, bloody, bloody carnage, and maximalist aesthetics, his movies are capable of occupying every inch of a cinema.
Stemming from his second film Alien to his latest and second movie this year House of Gucci, Scott has shown no sign of reining in his aggressive, speed of light work rate. Scott is a filmmaker known for an increasingly large color palette and super-slick commercial style, even though his artistry has never suffered.
Even after raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in box office revenue and plenty of Oscar nominations, Scott continues to churn out top-notch work. Here are his top 10 so far.
10 10GI Jane
Playing a supercharged and determined Naval veteran who wants to break strides as the first female Navy Seal, Demi Moore goes against all the awful double standards of the patriarchy while going toe to toe with her master chief played by Viggo Mortensen in GI Jane. Scott’s direction is slick as always and gives plenty of unforgettable moments to its lead, Moore, who proves she has all it takes to be an action badass.
9 9Black hawk Down
Coming off the tails of Gladiator, you’d think no director would be willing to plunge themselves right back into the battlefield, but Scott did just that with Black Hawk Down. Never quite reaching the heights of his early masterworks but, nevertheless, Scott directs this pulsating survivor story featuring non-stop shootouts with utmost finesse.
Featuring an incredibly stacked cast that features the likes of Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, and Tom Sizemore, Black Hawk Down is a scorcher of a film. The story revolves around an elite unit of Army Rangers who get left behind in a Somalian city who have to fend off 100s of militia until rescue comes. Black Hawk never wanes from distraction and keeps the viewers locked in until the end.
8 8American Gangster
The only way Scott could do a crime film is to go epic. In its scale and scope, Scott crafts the story of Frank Lucas – the biggest distributor of heroin at the time – with gritty and ruthless intent. Denzel Washington shines in his portrayal of the suave, smart, and vicious gangster Lucas. Frank meticulously builds his criminal network while slowly and tragically involving his family. But, the epic crime saga chronicles Lucas’ fight against the law with Ridley’s longtime collaborator, Russell Crowe, just waiting to bring him down. American Gangster is a vicious but poignant story of the Harlem crime world.
7 7The Martian
Ridley Scott knows no bounds to the scale or scope of his cinematic vision. Even when shooting for the moon, or this time, Mars, Scott’s commercial viability never lessens the craft or artistry of his films. In the Matt Damon-led story The Martian, Scott lets his lead take the reins for the majority of the film, as the lone astronaut stranded on Mars, staking his life in hopes his crew will come back to rescue him. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and went on to gross $630 Million Worldwide.
After gifting the world of cinema with two sci-fi classics, Scott’s follow-up was the fantasy tale Legend with then-burgeoning superstar Tom Cruise. While the film at that time felt a disappointment, age has only helped the film’s reputation grow. The film builds the beautiful enchantment of a magical forest but is also quick to deepen on its gothic side at the drop of a dime. Legend is gorgeous in design and has a beauty of a score from Jerry Goldsmith.
5 5House of Gucci
Even at the tender age of 82, Scott continues to work at breakneck speed and churn out memorable films. His second film of this year happens to be one of his best. In the true-crime story of the Gucci family, Scott directs a stacked cast in this stylish crime thriller that knows when to lean into its laughs and not be over-serious. Featuring an Academy Award-worthy performance from Lady Gaga, the balance of style and substance was the perfect alchemy to make House of Gucci a great film.
4 4Thelma & Louise
A groundbreaking and instantly iconic film when it was released, Thelma & Louise takes a spin at repurposing the Western ethos as a progressive take on bandits on the run set against the sparse backdrop of the southwest desert. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon shine in Scott’s sleek direction as they empower and liberate themselves from the grips of possessive men while also realizing the love they have for one another is all they need.
In Scott’s only film to land Best Picture at the Oscars and one that should’ve won him Best Director, Gladiator is a Roman epic grounded in the tragic roots of the hero journey. Featuring some of the best duel-to-the-death battles inside the Colosseum and carried by Russell Crowe’s brooding, tough guy charisma, Gladiator is a violent but endearing revenge story from start to finish.
2 2Blade Runner
The only way to follow up a classic is to give the world another. While not as respected upon release, Blade Runner has proven to have legs because of Scott’s impeccable craft and the ambiguity by design. Harrison Ford leads as Deckard, a detective whose job it is to seek out replicants, the hostile artificial intelligence product that is seeking autonomy against the humans who designed it. Ridley built the then futuristic world of Los Angeles in 2017 with a dream-like, neo-noir design, where the mystery of the dream is the subject of ongoing debate.
In only his second film, Ridley Scott would prove to be a director of massive talent, intellect and show a passion for ingenuity that would only push the craft forward as well as influence every film to come after. Alien is not only a story that combines great character arcs – including the one of its lead Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) – special effects and cinematography, but the dread which hangs over every frame of the film throughout is unmatched, even today. Alien is an iconic film and one of the greatest of the sci-fi horror genre.
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