10 Best Ridley Scott Movies, Ranked (Napoleon Didn't Make the List)

10 Best Ridley Scott Movies, Ranked (Napoleon Didn't Make the List)
Image credit: DreamWorks Distribution, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures

Napoleon wasn't as great as we thought, but these movies were.

If Ridley Scott had only directed Alien, his place among the greats would still be guaranteed. But he's a great director exactly because he shoots a lot, well and variedly: in his filmography you can find science fiction and historical films, thrillers, dramas and even road movies. Not all of them are necessarily masterpieces, but we chose 10 best flicks and ranked them.

10. The Martian

A group of scientists exploring Mars is forced to leave the planet in a hurry due to a storm. During the evacuation, one of the members, Watney, is blown away by the wind. His colleagues think he is dead and fly away. But Watney comes to his senses and realizes that he must now survive alone on a distant planet.

In the 2010s, Ridley Scott was often mentioned in connection with his return to the world of Alien. But at the same time, the director released the exciting and witty The Martian. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars, but didn't win any awards because the competition was too strong.

9. A Good Year

After the death of his uncle, successful stock trader Max plans to sell his vineyard in Provence. But once he arrives at the place where he spent his childhood summers, Max realizes that the quiet life attracts him much more than the hustle and bustle of the business world.

In this movie, like in Gladiator, Russell Crowe played the lead role. In one of the scenes where the main character rubs the soil between his fingers, the director even made an obvious reference to their previous collaboration. But the atmosphere here is strikingly different from many of Scott's other films: A Good Year is a very quiet and touching dramatic comedy.

8. American Gangster

American Gangster is the story of a Harlem criminal who, after the death of his boss, has become the main supplier of heroin in New York.

The film can be criticized for romanticizing the criminal lifestyle (Scott felt what it was like to be Martin Scorsese), but all that is quickly forgotten when you see the duo of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe on screen.

7. Matchstick Men

Ridley Scott's filmography has several contenders for the title of underrated masterpiece – one of them will definitely be Matchstick Men. It is a dark comedy about a con man with Tourette's and OCD who is trying to rebuild his relationship with his 14-year-old daughter.

Matchstick Men fascinates for two important reasons – not only is it Scott's most light-hearted movie, but it also features perhaps the best role of Nicolas Cage's career.

6. Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down is an adaptation of a true story about a failed special operation to capture two close associates of a military dictator in the capital of Somalia. Scott doesn't delve too much into the political aspects and gray areas of the story, taking a rather ambivalent position and seeing it as material to demonstrate the chaos and horror of war.

As an outstanding director, he does not get lost in the territory of war cinema and creates a gripping blockbuster not about an individual feat, but about the collective heroism of the men caught in a hopeless situation.

5. Gladiator

Gladiator is Ridley Scott's most successful, popular and beloved film, and it remains the only movie in the director's career to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

Scott himself has special feelings for it, so in the near future we will get a sequel with Paul Mescal in the title role. This love from the viewers, which has not diminished over the years, is easily explained: 20 years ago, it was Gladiator that brought the historical blockbuster back to Hollywood.

4. Thelma & Louise

Despite the fact that Ridley Scott's films have criticized male dominance and introduced several iconic strong female heroines, the director is often accused of sexism.

This criticism is undermined by Thelma & Louise, a thriller about the emancipation of two women suffering from a patriarchal society who become friends and are forced to go on the run after the murder of their rapist. This is not only a socially important film for its time, but also one of Ridley Scott's most atypical films.

3. Blade Runner

It's hard to believe that in just a few years, Ridley Scott went from directing a cheap festival drama to directing two Hollywood hits that changed sci-fi forever. Blade Runner did not present the audience with the space empires that were fashionable at the time, but with a future that looked like a worse copy of the present.

Blade Runner is the ultimate example of cyberpunk, blossoming on the screen not only because of its outstanding production design, but also because Scott sees the fantasy story of a replicant hunter as a philosophical neo-noir about a hero with an identity crisis.

2. Alien

In Ridley Scott's second movie, the great Alien, it's hard not to notice the influence of the masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, while in Kubrick's film the space crew embarks on an expedition in search of an extraterrestrial signal in order to answer existential questions, in Scott's film the characters, on the contrary, meet only death.

Alien, unlike all the sequels, spin-offs and reboots, never relied on action, but primarily on charismatic characters and the creation of a hopeless, nightmarish atmosphere, which Scott managed to achieve through the paranoia of the main characters and Hitchcockian suspense.

1. The Duellists

Ridley Scott had the chance to make his big-screen debut quite late by industry standards – he was about 40 when his The Duellists premiered. This is the story of a confrontation between two French cavalry officers from the Napoleonic Wars that leads to duels, either with swords or muskets, several times over the course of a decade and a half.

This historical drama of honor and rivalry that became an obsession not only helped establish Ridley Scott as a talented director, but also became his exemplary work, similar motifs of which can be found in his work 40 years later.

See also: A Christmas Movie for Every Day of December: The Ultimate List