1 Through 19: Let's Rank the Films of Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott - 'Kingdom of Heaven'

Because we're a little more than two weeks away from the opening of Prometheus, and because the Film Society of Lincoln Center opens its complete, week-long retrospective of his films this Friday in New York, because it's a quiet morning otherwise and because it's gone so well with other directors in the past, let's rank the 19 feature films of Ridley Scott. The order is obvious:

[NOTE: Scott's "Final Cut" of Blade Runner and "Director's Cut" of Kingdom of Heaven are considered herein.]

19. A Good Year
18. G.I. Jane
17. 1492: Conquest of Paradise
16. Robin Hood
15. Body of Lies
14. Hannibal
13. Matchstick Men
12. White Squall
11. Black Rain
10. The Duellists
9. Legend
8. Someone to Watch Over Me
7. Kingdom of Heaven
6. Black Hawk Down
5. Blade Runner
4. Thelma & Louise
3. Gladiator
2. American Gangster
1. Alien

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  • Noah says:

    American Gangster over Blade Runner?
    No way

    • Way. Blade Runner is sooo overrated. But that's just me.

      Also, Body of Lies and Robin Hood are both highly underrated. It seems, in the case of Robin Hood, people were quick to pile on it after it didn't do very well at the box office. Money doesn't equal quality.

  • Andrew says:

    You don't mention whether the Director's Cut of Legend is "herein" and it's a drastically different version than either the American or European theatrical cuts.

    19. A Good Year
    18. Someone to Watch Over Me
    17. 1492: Conquest of Paradise
    16. Robin Hood
    15. White Squall
    14. G.I. Jane
    13. The Duellists
    12. Hannibal
    11. Body of Lies
    10. Kingdom of Heaven
    9. Black Hawk Down
    8. Black Rain
    7. American Gangster
    6. Matchstick Men
    5. Thelma & Louise
    4. Gladiator
    3. Blade Runner
    2. Alien
    1. Legend: Director's Cut

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      Haven't seen the director's cut of Legend, so I defer to you. It must come with drugs, since it can't possibly be better than Alien.

      • Jen Yamato says:

        I've seen it and, um. NO.

      • Hey great list Stu! I realize the futility in disputing "best of" lists, but in terms of overall impact on film making in general, Aliens, Thelma and Louise and Bladerunner are his most frequently copied by fellow directors.

        Ridley's most engaging titles are genre action flicks: riveting and highly engaging, but ultimately regarded merely as quality titles - not genre defining works that other directors have sought to emulate. Whereas the three films listed above are almost Kubrickian in their wide appeal among movie makers.

        In terms of personal appeal, however, I'd agree with your list. Great stuff.

        • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

          Thanks! I hear you about the genre stuff. American Gangster is part modulated crime epic and part baldfaced, B-level gangsploitation, and Scott's handling of both -- to the point where the viewer can't really tell the difference (thanks in part to the runtime) -- is what makes the film one of his deftest accomplishments.

          And Alien is just... Alien.

      • Andrew says:

        I went back and forth between having Alien at #1 or #2. I love all the Alien films, even 3 and 4 which are pretty universally derided...but I felt that since my list is personal preference over cultural/film impact that it wouldn't be right to not have Legend as #1.

        I think it's a more daring and riskier film than Alien. I love the use of soundstages. It's got Tim Curry being bad ass. Tom Cruise in his prime. And it's probably the best fairy tale movie ever made.

  • Dixon Steele says:

    Decent ranking although "Matchstick Men" should be a lot higher and "American Gangster" should be a lot lower.

  • SD says:

    I know these lists are always subjective but here is my take:

    (Not seen these and don't intend to)
    A Good Year
    Someone to Watch Over Me
    1492: Conquest of Paradise
    Robin Hood
    G.I. Jane

    In order from worst to first...
    White Squall
    Legend: Director's Cut
    Black Hawk Down
    American Gangster
    Black Rain
    Body of Lies
    Kingdom of Heaven - Directors Cut
    Matchstick Men
    Thelma & Louise
    The Duelists
    Blade Runner - original version

  • Nexus 6 says:

    I'm sorry, but Blade Runner should be number 1.....tied with Alien at least! Blade Runner embodies the impressive science fiction content but also employs ethereal, quiet moments which raises the bar on so many levels. The soundtrack by Vangelis adds tremendously to those moments. Also, Legend should be in the top 5 (both American and European although I do have a preference for the Tangerine Dream soundtrack), you can have your Bravehe...er, Gladiator up there as well. And in no reality, that I'd want to live in, does Thelma and Louise hold higher rank than the movies I've mentioned in my comment, neither does American Gangster.

  • kkurman says:

    funny how personal preferences and taste so strongly influence objective judgement...
    even here I would place Gladiator over Thelma and Louise but I can't but allow that T&L is a more significant picture in film history and flawlessly crafted, even though I challenge anyone to find a faulty frame or misplaced word in Gladiator. I get it that everybody loves Alien and that it is, stylistically, Scott's signature picture, I thought it was dumb. From 11 back, to my eyes, is just a pile of commercial pulp and their placement is pretty random and irrelevant, or I haven't seen them, but usually for a good reason.

    19. A Good Year
    18. 1492: Conquest of Paradise
    17. Hannibal
    16. White Squall
    15. The Duellists
    14. Legend
    13. Someone to Watch Over Me
    12. G.I. Jane
    11. Robin Hood
    10. Matchstick Men
    9. Kingdom of Heaven
    8. American Gangster
    7. Black Rain
    6. Black Hawk Down
    5. Body of Lies
    4. Blade Runner
    3. Alien
    2. Gladiator
    1. Thelma & Louise

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      Yowza! Very bold, glad you played along. Thanks!

    • SD says:

      I think what is most telling from everybody's list is that Scott's filmography is very much a top half and a bottom half with the exception of a few outliers (Duellists for me, Legend for others)

      I just do not get the love for Gladiator though. I studied Classics at University and loved seeing the world of ancient Rome brought to life but the film leaves me cold. I get more enjoyment watching Spartacus on Starz.

      As for Alien whilst it is a basic "teenagers trapped in a house with a serial killer" film I think its aesthetic plays heavily into its legacy. I plan to watch it again before I see Prometheus and I shall be interested in whether I still think it deserves the #2 spot I gave it.

  • The Pope says:

    I think Matchstick Man is very underrated. It's a modest, but very slick card trick.

    I can't put the whole 19 in order, but for me the top five would be

    1. Blade Runner
    2. Alien
    3. Thelma & Louise
    4. Gladiator
    5. Black Hawk Down

    The rest I can watch pretty much any time (surely a measure of pleasure), with the exception of GI Jane, Body of Lies and A Good Year.

  • naomi hirano says:

    Ridley Scott's film BODY OF LIES is an astounding film, Leonardo Di Cabrio and Russel Crove shoved some superb acting! i could watch it any time.

  • James says:

    Its interesting how many would put Black Rain over any other of his films, very mediocre and too conventional in that 80s action film way. However I would like to separate the shit from the masterpieces, When I think Ridley Scott I think which world do I want to get lost in this time, and which films define him along side Scorsese, Kubrick, Melville, Ford, and Bergman, and its really 10 masterpieces, 6 very good films, and 4 that are just shit, this is just my opinion but in numerical order

    Body of Lies - enjoyed it, visually stunning, but at the end of the day it doesnt compare
    Black Rain- Nice east meets west crime story, but like I said before too conventional
    Hannibal - photography is nothing spectacular, story is not strong compared to Lambs
    Some one to Watch over me - very stylish, nice set pieces including the mirror sequence, but very weak film

    Very good
    G.I. Jane - a nice film experience with a strong leading character and great imagery, great action
    Robin Hood directors cut - the directors cut gives more atmosphere that is a mix of Legend and KOH
    1492 Conquest of Paradise - Very bold and epic story, beautiful cinematic images, music and is a great accomplishment of a film about the new world
    White Squall - Good coming of age film, with a climactic and tragic ending that is hard and beautiful to watch, also Bridges gives one of his best performances
    Legend directors cut - Again a film of Scotts to get lost in, the atmosphere and tone are brilliantly done in probably the best fantasy film, and the images are still unmatchable by any other film maker
    A Good Year -Sharp, witty and funny film, beautiful photography with a cast that is great, one could say its Ridleys Woody Allen film

    Thelma & Louise - a film that just unfolds like the characters, great film, great cast, very well made
    Matchstick Men - A great comedy, Nick Cage at his best, and a nice story of a father daughter story. interesting to see this kind of story told by Scott in a great visual style
    American Gangster - Quintessential 70s crime saga based in Harlem, great storytelling, characters and cast. Well shot and provocative
    Prometheus - A Sci-Fi masterpiece, well told, well executed in imagery, action and spectacle, best use of 3D and one of the greatest film experiences I every had, saw it in IMAX 3D, I saw no problems with the film
    Black Hawk Down - Every great director has to make a war film, the genre has so much that is challenging to the audience, direction was perfect with shots, sound, photography and emotion.
    Kingdom of Heaven directors cut = The greatest epic of my time, such an achievement in art, spectacle, and historical accuracy, A great story of a knights destiny, quintessential Scott film
    Gladiator - Great Epic, Scotts best film of spectacle, with a great hero story and cinematic film experience
    Alien - A Sci-Fi masterpiece with art, horror and a great cast, Scotts atmosphere of isolation and horror never went together better. beautiful photography and effects
    The Duellist - One of Scotts most perfected films, well shot, well told, great photography, great film experience with Scott delivering on all of his themes, great action and story.
    BLADE RUNNER - The final cut to be exact, fortunate of seeing this film the first time with the directors cut, and it is my fourth favorite film, is one of the greatest and most visually stunning films and worlds ever shown. the colors, music, characters, direction, really make us feel like we are there. This film is so great I cant say nothing more about it, there just isn' enough words, also Deckard is in no way a replicant

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