Ridley Scott’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Ridley Scott

Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters and composers to assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the latest 10 movies the artist has done, rate them and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 greatest movies and give them the same treatment to compare what they have been doing to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is/has been a regular on a TV show we’ll also grade the seasons individually; artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Ridley Scott is one of the most gifted directors I’ve ever seen.  Ridley Scott is also one of, if not the most, frustrating director I’ve ever seen.  No one does the breadth of material he does.  Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down and Alien were all directed by the same guy.  That’s nuts.  He has a reputation for his epics; something that spawned out of Gladiator’s Best Picture success.  However, he does as many small, star-driven films as he does huge ones.  His latest film, The Counselor, while star-studded, is a fairly small film.  He’s following that with the epic of epics; taking on the story of Moses with Christian Bale and an adaptation of Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.  In addition, he’s tentatively attached to Paradise, the sequel to Prometheus, and a Blade Runner sequel.  Ridley’s 76.  He’s 76.  When I’m 76, I’m not going to be directing the Pentateuch.  I’m going…well…at the rate I’m going 76 is a stretch, but I’m going to say I’m unlikely to be shaping a modern Biblical epic and planning three other huge films.

Blade Runner, Rutger Hauer

Ridley makes me nuts.  Maybe it’s an off-shoot of the breadth of material he does, but there is no signature Ridley Scott feel to a movie.  I know when I’m watching a Spielberg movie (in the last decade it will be because I’m chewing on rock salt and screaming profanities in my head).  I know, when I put on sunglasses to fight epilepsy from excessive lens flares that JJ Abrams is near (it really doesn’t bother me, but I love poking him).  There are films in Scott’s canon that match up nicely – Gladiator & Kingdom of Heaven; Thelma & Louise & Matchstick Men– but overall there’s no binding agent that says THAT is Ridley.

The genre he’s most known for -and has had the biggest effect on- is undoubtedly science fiction.  Alien spawned not just a franchise, but an entire genre of survival creature horror.  The influence of Blade Runner on a generation of film makers in undeniable.  Here, I have to stop though, because this is the thing that will send most people through the roof: I can’t stand Blade Runner.  I have tried!  I want to like Blade Runner so much it’s ridiculous.  I’ve watched it five times!  There are movies I love I haven’t seen that many times.  I do not get it.  To me, it’s a glacially emotionless slog.  However, you cannot deny its legacy and its effect on the genre and I respect that.  I can’t try to like it any more than I already do.

Another Scott film which left me cold was last year’s Prometheus.  I was incredibly skeptical about returning to the Alien saga.  Prequels have, as a rule, been less successful than sequels in the franchise age.  The trailers, though, looked so incredible.  I went into that film knowing that I was going to see something amazing.  I walked out in kind of a befuddled daze.  “Whaa…” is still my official Prometheus review.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s one of the best-looking films I’ve ever seen.  I think Michael Fassbender‘s David is a spectacular character.  I have no clue what the movie was trying to do, why the other characters did anything they did or what the point was.  Too often, that’s been my reaction to Scott’s films in the last ten years and The Counselor was so bad that I’m just done trying.  I think he’s lost his way and I hope Exodus is fantastic, but I have no faith in him any more.

Prometheus, Ridley Scott, Noomi Rapace

1. The Counselor (2013) ………. 1.75
2. Prometheus (2012) …………… 5.25
3. Robin Hood (2010) …………….. 6.50
4. Body of Lies (2008) ……………. 5.00
5. American Gangster (2007).. 7.00
6. A Good Year (2006) ……………. 5.00
7. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)   8.00
8. Matchstick Men (2003) …….. 8.00
9. Black Hawk Down (2001) .. 10.00
10. Hannibal (2001) …………………  3.50


Ridley’s current average is by far the lowest of the three directors we’ve looked at so far in this column and you can see a slow descent from the masterpiece of modern warfare film making (and his best picture aside from Alien), Black Hawk Down to the pathetic Counselor.  He draws big stars and promises big things, but all-too-often promises are all the audience is left with.


Let’s look at Scott’s 10 greatest films and get his average score:

1. Alien (1979) …………………………….. 10.00
2. Black Hawk Down (2001) ……. 10.00
3. Gladiator (2000) ……………………….  9.00
4. White Squall (1996) ………………..   9.00
5. Matchstick Men (2003) ………….   8.00
6. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)………  8.00
7. Legend Director’s Cut (1985) …  7.50
8. American Gangster (2007) ………  7.00
9. Blade Runner (1982) …………………..  6.75
10. Thelma & Louise (1991) …………… 6.50


That Scott’s greatest ten films in my estimation have sixes among them, is kind of statement enough.  He’s done amazing films.  He can be an amazing director.  Some of his smaller films (White Squall and Matchstick Men) are overlooked gems.  Kingdom of Heaven and Legend were both so badly butchered by studio mandated editing that the theatrical cuts don’t even make sense.  If you look at his cut though, both are very good films.  American Gangster is Denzel’s film and Ridley can’t take much credit for it.  Washington put that movie on his back.  Then doubtlessly most would have Blade Runner at a much higher grade which would raise his ‘greatest’ average.  My rating is based on the effect the film has had more than the film itself.

Greatness and frustrating misfires are the rule with Ridley.  It used to be that you didn’t know which you would get.  Lately, the latter has been a pretty sure bet and given what he’s capable of…that’s a shame.
Gladiator, Maximus, Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott

10 thoughts on “Ridley Scott’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies”

  1. A candle that burn twice as bright burns half as long and ridley’s good films have burned oh so bright…

    Also, I love Blade Runner. I can understand if people don’t like the weird pacing and odd tension. I love both. I see it as a film about what it means to be human and what you would do to try to extend your life. It is also unique in the sense that in the end, there are no real villains. Rutger Hower is awsome in that film.


  2. Prometheus sucked. It answered no questions, did not further the aliens universe, and gave you nothing concrete with the deep questions it a asked.100% agree with your brief review. I would like to request a review of Ender’s game when you get a chance. I know you have read the book and would like to see your thoughts on the cinematic version.


  3. Upon sober reflection a year or two later, Prometheus is the most ephemeral film I have ever seen. There is no discernible character development or motivation, and no significance is assigned to any of the events. It’s OK to leave unanswered questions in a movie, but I have no idea what questions Prometheus was even posing.
    I really believe that after a decade, and certainly after two, beloved franchises should be allowed to rest in peace. There is no way a film can live up to that many years of expectations. People change, directors lose their sparks. I am not looking forward to BR2.


    1. Prometheus is so freaking maddening that I’m just out of words to describe it. It’s one of the best-looking movies I’ve ever seen. Maybe if I watched it with the sound off and invented my own dialogue….
      I honestly don’t think Blade Runner 2 will ever be made. Ridley is contractually committed to do Exodus and The Forever War before he even begins work on Paradise or BR2. The man is 76. Time or the law of averages says something there isn’t getting made; at least not by him and without Harrison Ford or Ridley Scott….what’s the impetus for any kind of Blade Runner sequel? It’s not box office, because it’s a very cult film. Even connecting Prometheus to the Alien franchise they had a hard time selling it and those films are way more mainstream than Blade Runner. But HE IS 76!!! He may look 55, but he’s 76, smokes like a foundry and consumes whiskey like a pirate. He’s one of THOSE people, damn him lol. I just think four huge films facing someone his age is kind of wishful thinking.


      1. I’d much rather see him make Paradise, because there is no way to damage the Alien franchise any more than he already has. And maybe with a good script the franchise can be salvaged. I’m not holding out too much hope, but hope springs eternal.


      2. Exactly. Paradise has a script and at least two cast characters. I think it gets made before BR2 if either gets made at all. If he does make the other three, he’s be roughly 82 by the time he got to BR2. There has to be some kind of human limit on cigar/whiskey consumption. I swear he’s like Pirates of the Caribbean character.


  4. However… Alien, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator, and Legend (the director’s cut, of course) are so amazing and thematically diverse that I would probably die to have had Ridley Scott’s career. Some storytellers have only one great story inside them, and Scott has had at least six. Therefore, as is my general custom, I am willing to cut the man some serious slack. He’s old, and a director has to work. If only he would stick to original material.


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